We’ve heard it over the last few years from former Bucs head coach Bruce Arians that Carlton Davis III is a Top 10 corner in the league. As recently as this year’s NFL Scouting Combine, Arians and general manager Jason Licht doubled down on that statement.
Then the Bucs paid him like one. Davis received a three-year, $44.5 million contract with $30 million guaranteed in free agency.
For a moment, Davis was the ninth-highest paid cornerback in the league. That was before extensions were given to other corners around the league. Now Davis is just outside the Top 10 in terms of contract status.
One former top NFL cornerback thinks that’s more indicative of where he belongs. On a Twitter Live Spaces room, former NFL corner Antonio Cromartie said he doesn’t think Davis is a Top 10 corner in the league currently.
“Carlton Davis was hurt with the Bucs for a little bit, so I can’t put him in the Top 10,” said Cromartie, who was a four-time Pro Bowler with three different teams. “There’s a lot of guys that’s in the Top 10 that’s better than him. I don’t think he was a Top 10 corner and his market showed that also.”
Room For Improvement
Bucs CB Carlton Davis III – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
It’s not that Cromartie doesn’t like Davis as one of the top players at the position. He just thinks he needs to stay healthy and be more consistent in his play. He points out the coaching staff the Bucs have in place. Specifically two coaches he’s played under in his career as leaders who can help him take his game to the next level.
“Do I like him? Yes” said Cromartie. ” Do I think he could be better? Yes. I think he’s got a great coach over there in coach Kevin Ross and coach Todd Bowles. Two guys who I’ve been around for most of my career. If he can understand the game and take the game a little more seriously and make it a little bit easier on himself, because he’s not a fast guy. He’s a guy that depends on getting his hands on guys and playing off. He has to do a better job at that, or he won’t be there for much longer. Because it’s all about what you can do for me now not what you can do for me later.”
If Davis can stay healthy this season and make more plays on the ball he could easily take his game to a new level. Already a lock-down caliber player, his 48 forced incompletions is the most by any player since 2019. Where Davis has struggled is coming up with interceptions.
After not recording a pick in his first 21 games, Davis finally came away with his first INT during the 2019 season. He then added four more in 2020 while helping the Bucs win Super Bowl LV that year. Davis missed nearly half the season last year with a quad injury and only had one interception. He dropped several others.
Likely one of the reasons why Cromartie isn’t as high on Davis is that he fact that Cromartie was a ballhawk in the NFL. He had 31 career interceptions in his 11-year career, and led the league with 10 INTs in 2007 in San Diego. Cromartie had at least three interceptions in seven of his 11 NFL seasons.
The 2022 season will be a big one for Davis. If he can focus and finish on the ball he could very well find himself in that Top 10 conversation – and with a potential Pro Bowl nod.