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
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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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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