PewterReport.com analyzes the top players in the 2019 NFL Draft with its position previews. Matt Matera previews the cornerback position with a comprehensive look at what the Bucs have and what they need at corner, a detailed list of this year’s top outside cornerbacks, and Scott Reynolds 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

Tampa Bay will once again have one of the youngest secondary groups that the NFL has to offer. Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III is considered to be the leader of this bunch despite only playing in three seasons, and this includes missing seven games in 2017, and 15 games last season after tearing the labrum in his shoulder in Week One. What will help out Hargreaves now though is he will go from the slot back to outside corner, playing press man coverage up at the line in Todd Bowles defense. Hargreaves feels most comfortable in this position, as it is what he did best in college.

Bucs CB Carlton Davis
Bucs CB Carlton Davis – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

Second-year player Carlton Davis will be the No. 2 cornerback on the other side of the field. Davis had his growing pains as a rookie, but got a great deal of experience and improved towards the end of the year. The Bucs’ top two corners have a combined one interception between Hargreaves and Davis. It could be a live and learn kind ordeal once again.

The nickel position in the slot starts to get a little dicey for the Bucs here. Fellow rookie M.J. Stewart was given the first crack at it, but he had a rough go of it. He’s a hard working player, but his athleticism couldn’t keep up to the point that Jason Licht said this offseason that Stewart will be moved to safety.

That leaves the technical elder statesmen of the group, Ryan Smith, and along with the recently re-signed DeVante Harris to be play in that role. At 25, Smith is the oldest corner in the Bucs group, though has only played in three seasons. Smith has been put into important roles before because of team injuries, starting six games last season while playing in all 16. He had one interception and six passes defended last year.

Harris got one start last year, played in 10 games and recorded one pass defense with nine tackles. Both players will be put in an elevated role in this 2019 season. Rounding out the corner position is David Rivers, who played in two games.

Departing Tampa Bay from last year is veteran Brent Grimes. For the Bucs, this is addition by subtraction as Grimes, who was already on the fence about retiring last season, mailed it in. He then bad mouthed the team after the season on his wife Miko’s “I Heart Miko Podcast” citing his unhappiness about defending the opponent’s top receiver, despite his role despite his role as the top corner on the team.

Cornerback Javier Elliott still has not been signed by the Bucs yet, and is a restricted free agent. He was important to the Bucs and had one interception last year, though don’t rule out a return from him.

It’s going to take a great deal of coaching from Bruce Arians, Todd Bowles, and company to get this young corner group up to par. The Bucs secondary was one of the worst last year, but with a new scheme and players being put where they are best utilized, there’s a good shot that they can improve.

What The Bucs Need At Cornerback

Tampa Bay definitely could use a ball-hawking corner with a knack for finding the football. The Bucs had just nine interceptions on the previous season and only two came from the cornerback position. This team desperately needs a player that can create turnovers off the jump with high amounts of athleticism, because they might be put in the slot based on team needs.

The Bucs should also keep in mind having this player ready to be put in an elevated role. Hargreaves has been injured in two straight seasons and is free agent after this year, while the jury is still out on Davis. There could be a situation in 2020 where Hargreaves is gone and the Bucs are starting from scratch again. Having, only one interception between their top two corners, it’s a precedent that they get more this season at this position.

Keep an eye players such as Amani Oruwariye from Penn State or Jimmy Moreland out of James Madison. The Bucs normally like having a local Florida player on the team and Oruwariye would be that, as he is a Tampa Bay native that also had 8 career interceptions at Penn State. Moreland is trash talking player that provides a spark for his team. He recorded 14 interceptions in three years for James Madison, making the type of plays that the Bucs would want.

This year’s PewterReport.com’s 2019 Draft Previews + Bucs’ Best Bets and Draft Videocast are presented by Edmonson Electric & Security – the official smart home and security company of PewterReport.com.

Watch Pewter Reporters Scott Reynolds, Mark Cook, Taylor Jenkins and Matt Matera, as well as other special guests, live on-air via PewterReport.com from the team’s headquarters at One Buccaneer Place beginning on Day 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft at 7:00 p.m. ET.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. I can add that I’ve watched Long at CB for a couple of years at Michigan and he’s going to be an above average corner in the NFL. Plays a game very similar to Brent Grimes without the drama but is a willing tackler. Loves football and super competitive. Would love to see him on the Bucs. He could be there at the top of the 4th, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he went towards the end of the 3rd.

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  2. On offense the Bucs are really close just need to fix right side of O line.

    Defense is another story. You really can’t say they are set or deep at any position which is kind of crazy. LB went from strength to weakness in one season. CB has been deficient for years. Safety has been below par. DT was pretty solid now with McCoy that’s a weak spot possibly and they could use more DE or whatever you want to call it now with 3-4 they need more pass rushers. If Bowls can get some help still in free agency and draft and make this unit even average I’d be thrilled and amazed. I’m just glad they will attack and not sit back anymore that was so hard to watch for years. Keeping Smith around and the defense being so pathetic probably cost Koetter his job more than anything else.

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  3. This team desperately needs to add another corner. Davis looks like he has the makings of a solid CB2, but I’m not sure how this team can count on getting anything out of Hargreaves. Hoping Greedy or Rock Ya Sin are there in round 2. This team needs to find a player with CB1 potential. Though it doesn’t sound like the Bucs are particularly interested in either player. The Penn State kid ran a 4.70, so no thanks.

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  4. I am sure BA knows more than I do but I will believe it when I see it about VHIII being an outside corner. Don’t understand why a pro football team likes to have a local Florida player on the team. Not like it is doing anything to draw fans, are people coming to see Hargreaves? Secondary is where our scouts and front office will earn their money in the draft, and in the secondary FA market. The young secondary players last year did as good as could be expected being thrown to the wolves, and if I were the coach I would have cut Grimes before the season ended. He was a disgrace, straight up stealing $$. This is the week I always feel the most optimistic all year as a long time Buc fan. I really hope at least one of our starting four secondary players is not on the team as of now.

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  5. There’s some pretty good depth this year at CB. Plus they’re some tall dudes as well. I know I’m a Miami hurricanes homer, but Michael Jackson was a hell of a player on that defense last year. Seems like he could be a fourth rounder due to how deep these positions are. I’m just so over the anticipation for this years draft. Let’s go already!!!

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  6. We really have needs at every defensive position, so I believe we should trade down and pick up some more draft picks. We are not one player away from making the playoffs; our schedule didn’t help either.

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  7. Matt Matera,

    As you note in your analysis, the Bucs, like pretty much every team, would love to get a “ball-hawking CB”.
    But, “The nickel position in the slot starts to get a little dicey for the Bucs here.”

    That being said, the film clips show bot of these guys mostly working outside. Are you thinking Dean outside and Long in the slot for nickel?

    I hope two top spots are given to the offensive line. I would love to have defenders, but the Bucs have a massive decision to make about Winston next year. I want to see the OL and running game strong enough so that Winston can put up or shut up with no excuses. I think supporting Winston and settling the QB question for the future is more important than a couple of top defenders.

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  8. If I’m being completely honest, Dean looks trash. Teams are probably in love with the guy because of his size and speed, but he can’t play. Watch actually game tape against Alabama – he clearly hates physical contact. Now, Long on the other hand looks like he can play nickel at the next level. IDK if he has the physical tools to do so, but clearly has good instincts. He’d be a grab find in the later rounds.

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  9. I think Amani Oruwariye ran better than a 4.7 typo?

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