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PewterReport.com analyzes the top players in the 2018 NFL Draft with its position previews. Trevor Sikkema previews the cornerback position with a comprehensive look at what the Bucs have and what they need from the DB spot, a detailed list of this year’s top players and offers up the annual PewterReport.com Bucs’ Best Bets – one early round pick, and a pick from the later rounds.

What The Bucs Have At Cornerback

What the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have at cornerback going into 2018 looks a lot like what they had going into 2017, which is certainly a roll of the dice since the Buccaneers finished this past season as the worst ranked pass defense in the league. Now, did the lack of pass rush have a lot to do with that? Sure. But, that’s not to say that the old and current cornerback group didn’t have their struggles.

Second-year cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III started 2017  as the team’s outside cornerback, only to get burned hard by the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals, ultimately leading to him taking more a slot cornerback role. Hargreaves actually played very well in that role, and that might be his spot moving forward — we’ll see. Opposite Hargreaves was the wily vet Brent Grimes. Grimes, who will be 35 this summer, was the team’s best defensive back and signed a 1-year, $10 million dollar deal to keep him out of retirement for at least one more season. In reserve, the Bucs have Ryan Smith and Javien Elliott. Both are very young players who don’t have a lot of game experience, though Smith got some in 2017 when players ahead of him went down with injury. They have shown promise, but will both likely be taking starting snaps, at some point, in 2018 unless there are other players brought in.

What The Bucs Need At Cornerback

If Vernon Hargreaves really is just more suited to play as a nickel cornerback, the Bucs are going to have to really prioritize the cornerback position in the draft to get a solid player who can play on the outside. Grimes is only back for one more year, and they needed to get his replacement in the hanger already, even before Hargreaves’ struggles. In an offense-heavy division like the NFC South with quarterbacks such as Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton, the Bucs can’t afford to slip when covering their receivers.

The Bucs have spent some of their private visits on top cornerbacks in this draft like Louisville’s Jaire Alexander and UCF Mike Hughes. That, to us, shows that they are very aware they need to be adding a cornerback and adding one early, if possible. Perhaps they may even double dip into the cornerback class more than once. There are many to choose from with all shapes and sizes.

Click Page 2 For The CB Rankings

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About the Author: Trevor Sikkema

Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: trevor@pewterreport.com
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Schwifty9
3 years ago

If the Big 3 are gone, I’m taking Ward at #7, or Vea at #7 and Oliver at #38.

Oliver over Hughes all day.

TBAtlas
Reply to  Schwifty9
3 years ago

I agree, ya’ll are sleeping on Oliver and he more likely than not will be gone by 38!

Schwifty9
Reply to  JustaBuc
3 years ago

Holding out hope that the predicted mad rush on RB’s will cause him to fall.

SiegeTheBay
3 years ago

17. Alabama CB Tony Brown – Senior – 6-0, 199 – 4.35

His size means he’s not ‘ASS’ fluid, and for that he’s likely a safety/nickel cornerback hybrid in the NFL.

Lmao… someone was typing fast

Spartan01
3 years ago

Jaire on any trade down between 7-15.

Buc-Up
3 years ago

Do we trust these coaches to develope any DB? Name one that has gotten better under their tootelige? Grimes wasalready a Pro-Bowler!

Schwifty9
Reply to  Buc-Up
3 years ago

Oh my god, please don’t pick up that silly Lee Diekemper argument and try to spread it. These secondary coaches haven’t had that much talent to work with. Vernon being the most talented young guy they’ve added, and he looked fine in his rookie year.

Who’s to say his sophmore regression doesn’t have more to do with a lack of personal responsibility and dedication on Vernon’s part?

Schwifty9
3 years ago

The way I see it, if the big 3 are gone that most likely means that Minkah Fitzpatrick and Denzel Ward will still be on the board. Now me personally, I would take Ward, because I think we need an Outside Corner more than a center fielder Safety, and I think that Ward has the makings of a very good NFL Corner capable of taking over in 2019 when Grimey retires. But based strictly on how effusively Licht praised the talent and skill set of Fitzpatrick at his press conference, and he barely uttered a few sparse sentences about Derwin… Read more »

FLBoy84
Reply to  Schwifty9
3 years ago

If you’re relying on gauging a GM’s thoughts off press conference praise one week prior to the draft, would lean more toward the player he says little about over a guy he raves over. All these GM’s know every other team watches everything they say and do leading up to the draft, shouldn’t believe everything you hear.

Schwifty9
Reply to  FLBoy84
3 years ago

Dude, Licht very often speaks exactly the way he feels. It’s very easy to tell when he’s genuine. I tried explaining this to the Joe’s last off season when they couldn’t get it through their heads that if O.J. was available he was going to be a Buc. I based this opinion based on a quote detailing Lichts belief that every team needs 2 TE’s, an F TE and a Y TE. They wouldn’t have it and shot it down at every turn because “you can’t really believe what a GM says before a draft” and “oh they already have… Read more »

FLBoy84
Reply to  Schwifty9
3 years ago

Haven’t visited the Joe’s site in years and your example just exemplifies why. Guys have no clue and are all about the clicks. Was obvious Licht couldn’t get that card in fast enough if Howard were there, though no one saw him ever falling that far. If you recall though, Licht was much more guarded in discussing the pool of players that were realistically projected to be available at #19 last year. Don’t believe this year is any different personally. Thursday can’t get here fast enough.

Buc 1976
3 years ago

IMO the Bucs need a CB that is taller than what we have almost all are around 5’10”. In our div. Alot of the receivers are 6’3″ and taller.

geno711
3 years ago

When talking about these CB’s, no one seems to mention which side of the defense these guys played. For instance, I think Hughes played only left cornerback. Does that mean if we draft him, we try him on the right side for this year and then transition him next year to left side.

I think guys like Ward and Hargreaves played both left and right corner in college.

makski
Reply to  geno711
3 years ago

The biggest problem I see is that most of these guys are cover corners. We play zone. I can’t understand why everybody is so focused on the best cover corners in this draft. Unless we are switching schemes, which of course, none of us know for sure, most of these guys are not a good fit. Also why Hargraves is not a good fit. He is much better at press and man coverage, yet we continued to force him to play zone concepts. I’m not really sure which CB’s in this draft class are better at zone, but that is… Read more »

Schwifty9
Reply to  makski
3 years ago

Because if Mike Smith can’t figure out how to use an extremely talented Man corner like Denzel Ward, he shouldn’t be around for much longer.

cgmaster27
Reply to  Schwifty9
3 years ago

You think Smith will play man with him? I don’t. Every person alive knows Hargreaves is a better man press corner, look where they play him.

owlykat
3 years ago

We need bigger longer DBs to face the 6’3” receivers in our Division unless they can jump as high as our 5’10” All Pro. You don’t talk about that factor in the CBs we should take.
So it is very hard to decide which of the many CBs we should take. I like Jackson a lot more than Hughes.

scubog
3 years ago

When did players become “long” instead of “tall”? Never have understood that now common phrase being used instead of “height”. I must say, when I read the measurables of the CB’s already playing in the NFL and those of the available prospects, the parameters are 5-10 to 6-0. Oh there’s an occasional player who falls above that range, but not many. Instincts, closing speed and leaping ability seem more important to me than “length”. There’s no doubt that CB is the team’s greatest “need”. It’s likely that the “experts” top rated one will be there when Jason Licht is ready… Read more »

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