WHAT THE BUCS HAVE AT CORNERBACK The Buccaneers brought in two free agent cornerbacks in Josh Robinson and Brent Grimes. Grimes is expected to start on one side with Robinson competing with Alterraun Verner and Johnthan Banks on the other side. The Buccaneers also have 2015 part time starter Jude Adjei-Barimah back to go along with C.J. Roberts and Joel Ross.
WHAT THE BUCS NEED AT CORNERBACK The addition of Grimes and Robinson certainly helps a unit that was victimized often in 2015. Part of that can be attributed to the coaching and scheme, however if they players didn’t bear some responsibility than the Bucs wouldn’t have been active in free agency. Look for tampa Bay to add at least one cornerback, including possibly going with that position at No. 9. Vernon Hargreaves could very well be there when the Bucs are on the clock and there could be some serious discussion if that is the case. The good news, as mentioned above, with the free agents signed the pressing need is no longer there and if gives Tampa Bay more flexibility when on the clock. BUCS’ BEST BET AT CB (EARLY 1-4) Vernon Hargreaves III – Florida – Junior – 5-10, 204 – 4.50 Despite some late season mediocre games, Hargreaves is ranked as the top corner in this year’s NFL and for good reason. As far as the most complete and natural cornerback in the draft, Hargreaves appears to be the best of this year’s class. Not only is Hargreaves a natural pass defender, his ability and desire to come up in run support is equally impressive. Great hand/eye coordination, terrific body control in the air combined with excellent instincts makes Hargreaves the best in nation in the eyes of most scouts.
BUCS BEST BET AT CB (LATE 5-7)
Anthony Brown – Purdue – Senior – 5-11,192 – 4.33 Brown, a Tampa area native, ran an impressive 4.33 forty time and showed scouts the one thing that can’t be taught and that is speed. Brown became a starter as a sophomore, notching 69 tackles and three passes defended, then started all 12 games as a junior recording 54 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 10 pass breakups. As a senior Brown 12 games as a senior in 2015 and finished four interceptions, with 59 tackles and 10 passes defended to earn All-Big Ten Honorable Mention honors.
TOP 10 CORNERBACKS 1. Vernon Hargreaves III – Florida – Junior – 5-10, 204 – 4.50 Despite some late season mediocre games, Hargreaves is ranked as the top corner in this year’s NFL and for good reason. As far as the most complete and natural cornerback in the draft, Hargreaves appears to be the best of this year’s class. Not only is Hargreaves a natural pass defender, his ability and desire to come up in run support is equally impressive. Great hand/eye coordination, terrific body control in the air combined with excellent instincts makes Hargreaves the best in nation in the eyes of most scouts.
2. Eli Apple – Ohio State – Sophomore – 6-1, 199 – 4.40
Apple is as athletic as an cornerback in the draft and has many cornerback-needy teams feeling like he is one heck of a consolation prize if they miss out on Hargreaves. Apple has great size and instincts, and is equally as effective in playing man or zone coverage. The one draw back scouts tend to say when talking about Apple is his bad habit of getting clingy down the field. While some of those things he was able to get away with in college, in the NFL it will draw flags
. 3. William Jackson III – Houston – Senior – 6-0, 198 – 4.37
Not many players have seen their stock rise since the end of the college football season as much as Jackson has. At one point most scouting services and many teams had him as a second round pick, but at the combine and then during private workouts, teams had taken notice and see Jackson as an almost certain first day pick. Watching his film also helps, as teams see a big physical pass defender who looks like a wide receiver at times when high-pointing pass in the air.
4. Mackensie Alexander – Clemson – Sophomore – 5-10, 190 – 4.49
Alexander is as confident of a cornerback as there is in the nation. Playing with swagger and an intra confidence, quarterbacks tended to stay away from him during his career at Clemson, yet scouts are still amazed that Alexander failed to record even one interception during his time in Death Valley. Still Alexander is an impressive athlete who is excellent in man-to-man coverage.
5. Kendall Fuller – Virginia Tech – 5-11, 187 – 4.49
Fuller was a three-year starter for the Hokies and was one of the best pass defenders in the ACC during his time in Blacksburg. With a solid build and possessing an excellent back pedal and hip bend, technique is not an issue for Fuller. Scouts sat his does have a bad habit of playing the defender instead of getting his head around and also tends to get his hands on receivers downfield. However Fuller’s tape shows a good late first or second round value for the team that hands in the card with his name on it.
6. Sean Davis – Maryland – Senior – 6-1, 201 – 4.44
Davis was one of most physical secondary players in the country during his time at Maryland recording 313 career tackles in 50 games for the Terps. Versatile, Davis split time between corner and safety and that is somewhat appealing to teams, although that brings up the question where he is better suited to play in the NFL.
7. Artie Burns – Miami – Junior – 6-0, 193 – 4.46
Burns has the size and physical tools to be a very good NFL cornerback, but scouts say he relies on his natural talent too much and needs to improve and refine his technique at the next level. Not the most physical tackler, Burns tends to arm tackle and clench as opposed to driving through ball carriers. Still the talent is there and Burns will be an early round selection this week.
8. Xavien Howard – Baylor – Junior – 6-0 – 201 – 4.58
Howard earned All-Big 12 honors as a junior, leading Baylor with five interceptions and 10 pass break-ups to go along with 42 tackles. Howard most often lined up against opposing teams best receiver while at Baylor but drew a number of flags for being too physical at times. Howard lacks elite speed but showed good fluid hips and long arms to disrupt receivers.
9. Jalen Mills – LSU – Senior – 6-0, 191 – 4.61
Mills is ttracitve to NFL teams for a number of reasons, one of which is his versatility in Baton Rouge where he played cornerback, safety and nickel back at times. Lacking elite speed and not viewed as a very physical in the run game, Mills got by on his athleticism in college. Teams are still high on him and feel he still has a high ceiling.
10. Will Redmond – Mississippi State – Senior – 5-11, 182 – 4.45
Suffering an ACL injury last October hurt Redmond’s draft stock and while his rehab is going well, it is still a concern for NFL teams who love his skill set and quick-twitch and athleticism. Redmond recorded 99 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss, while also breaking up eight passes and notching five interceptions, serving as the Bulldogs’ primary nickel corner during his time for the Bulldogs.
BEST OF THE REST 11. KeiVarae Russell – Notre Dame – Junior – 5-11, 192 – 4.49 (Workout) A full-season suspension in 2014 and late-year injury in 2015 limits what Russell has put on tape with Notre Dame. But he still managed to finish fourth in tackles for the Irish last year and impress with his coverage skills. Needs to make more plays on the ball to become a next-level talent.
12. Ryan Smith – N.C. Central – RS Senior – 5-11, 190 – 4.47 Small-school corner who’s draft stock has risen after the season and with a strong combine performance. Broke N.C. Central school records for solo tackles (168) and kick return average (28.1 yards). Has great football instincts and a feel for the position.
13. Cyrus Jones – Alabama – Senior – 5-10, 196 – 4.49 Converted receiver spent past two seasons as an impact corner for ‘Bama as well as being the Crimson Tide’s punt returner in 2015. Jones gets knocked for his stature but plays an aggressive, physical corner. While he may need to further develop on defense, he can bring immediate value on special teams.
14. DJ. White – Georgia Tech – Senior – 5-11, 193 – 4.49 Played extensively all four years at Georgia Tech, starting the last three, and is known for stepping up in big games. Highly athletic, knows where to be and experienced playing man and zone. Hits with a decent amount of pop and may find himself inside at nickelback in the NFL.
15. Zack Sanchez – Oklahoma – RS Junior– 5-11, 185 – 4.50 (Workout) Earned starting job in Norman as a redshirt freshman and was a two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection. Gets knocked for playing overly aggressive but picked off 13 passes the last two seasons and lives for making plays on the ball. Tackling isn’t one of Sanchez’s top attributes, meaning he’ll be best-suited on the outside.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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