SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, Pewter Report publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place:
FAB 1. NICKEL CORNERBACKS APLENTY FOR BUCS IN 2015 NFL DRAFT
The middle of the field between the hashes was fertile passing ground for Tampa Bay opponents in 2014.
Do you need a first down? An easy toss off play-action to the tight end down the seam behind the linebackers will work.
Do you want a touchdown? Attack the safeties and the nickel corner.
Collectively between the linebacking corps, the safety positions and nickel cornerback spot, the Bucs recorded just six interceptions last year. To put that number in perspective, linebacker Lavonte David recorded five interceptions by himself in 2013, although last year he failed to produce one.
Strongside linebacker Danny Lansanah produced half of the 2014 interceptions of the aforementioned units with three, including two that were returned for touchdowns.
But what’s even more damning is the fact that he was the only linebacker to record a pick last year, and no safety or nickel cornerback recorded an INT under the season finale against New Orleans. That’s where safeties Bradley McDougald and Keith Tandy and nickel corner Leonard Johnson recorded their first – and only – interceptions in 2014.
The middle of the Bucs pass defense, especially in nickel defense, was as soft as a pillow last year. That’s why Tampa Bay will most likely not be re-signing starting middle linebacker Mason Foster and is expected to part ways with underachieving free safety Dashon Goldson, who failed to record an interception for the first time since 2008, which was his second season in the NFL.
The Bucs will also be looking to upgrade the talent at nickel cornerback as the team signed Isaiah Frey, a former Chicago Bear, at midseason because of its displeasure with how Johnson was performing.
“We want to get more from our nickel player,” Bucs defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said at the time of Frey’s signing. “That position in today’s NFL, you’re like a starter. Some of the teams are going three and four wide receivers – you play a lot of snaps. We need to get more from Leonard at that position. He was in a position on Sunday in a third-down situation to make a play. Didn’t make that play and we’ve got to make some of those plays.”
In last week’s SR’s Fab 5, I discussed how improving the talent to the team’s nickel defense was imperative if the defense wants to improve enough to become playoff-caliber and truly be considered great, focusing on some free agent fits for the Buccaneers at several positions, including nickel cornerback. In a pass-happy division like the NFC South, finding a nickel cornerback that can play close to the level of legendary Pro Bowler Ronde Barber is critical, and it takes a special player.
“Playing the nickel position is a valuable position,” Bucs head coach Lovie Smith said. “Just anybody can’t go in there.”
Smith was on Tampa Bay’s coaching staff in 1997 when Barber was drafted and also coached another great one in Aeneas Williams in St. Louis from 2001-03 and believes so strongly in the importance of the nickel cornerback position. In fact, Smith started coaching the nickels separately from the regular cornerbacks in Chicago before turning over that job to his son, Mikal Smith, who is now the Bucs’ safeties coach.
Upon his arrival in Tampa Bay, Smith hired Larry Marmie to only coach the nickels, while Gil Byrd was responsible for coaching the regular cornerbacks. That’s a departure from the old days with the Buccaneers when Barber would play an outside cornerback position in base defense and move inside to the slot to play when the team went to nickel defense.
In the defense run by Smith and Frazier, players like Johnthan Banks and Alterraun Verner never even practice playing the slot. They are strictly outside corners, while Johnson and Frey play the slot.
Smith routinely calls the nickel cornerback the team’s 12th starter because of their value to the Tampa 2 defensive scheme. A lot is expected from the Bucs’ nickels, but it is a position that underwhelmed in 2014 and needs an upgrade in talent.
“We need all our players, the nickel position and everyone, to come up with more make-a-difference plays: interceptions, fumbles, stripping the ball away, some of those kinds of things; big third-down stops,” Smith said.
Johnson only recorded three pass breakups one interception while splitting time with Frey, who had just one pass deflection and no picks, last year. After taking a look at some free agent nickel cornerbacks last week, let’s explore the nickel corner spot in this year’s draft. This is actually a pretty rich year for nickels, and Tampa Bay needs to spend a draft pick on one this year to bolster the talent at that position.
Oregon CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu – 5-9, 195 – Senior
Ekpre-Olomu is a cornerback with amazing production. He has recorded 244 tackles, 48 passes broken up, nine interceptions, eight forced fumbles, 6.5 tackles for loss, one fumble recovery and one defensive touchdown. A four-year starter, Ekpre-Olomu had a breakthrough sophomore season in which he had 63 tackles, 20 pass breakups, six forced fumbles, four interceptions, including one for a touchdown, and a fumble recovery.
Last year, Ekpre-Olomu was a consensus All-American and the No. 1-rated senior cornerback after recording 63 tackles, 11 pass breakups, two interceptions and a forced fumble before tearing his ACL prior to the Rose Bowl. That injury, and the fact that he may not be ready for training camp, could cause his stock to slip into the second round where he may be too good of a value for Tampa Bay to pass up.
An ACL injury might knock the No. 1-rated senior cornerback out of the first round and into the second round where he would be an absolute steal for the Buccaneers. Ekpre-Olomu loves contact the way Barber did, and is fierce in run support, in addition to being an absolute ballhawk.
Florida Atlantic CB D’Joun Smith – 5-10, 189 – Senior
Smith was a standout at the Senior Bowl where he played bigger and more physical than his size would indicate. He had a breakout season as a sophomore, recording 35 tackles, 13 pass breakups, seven interceptions, which ranked third nationally, in addition to two tackles for loss and a sack. Last season, Smith recorded 53 tackles, eight pass deflections, 2.5 tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and an interception.
With 120 tackles, 29 pass breakups, nine interceptions, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a sack in his Owls career, Smith has proven to be an all-around cornerback that can defend the run and the pass well. The Bucs may not necessarily want to invest a third-round pick in a nickel cornerback, as there are some talented players later in the draft, but Smith may tempt them.
TCU CB Kevin White – 5-9, 180
Like Smith, White fared well during the Senior Bowl week, and actually had an interception in the game. He has a good deal of experience playing in the nickel in college where he notched 146 tackles, 27 pass breakups, six interceptions, three forced fumbles and 2.5 tackles for loss. The Horned Frogs’ star met with the Buccaneers several times in Mobile, Ala.
White played in the pass-happy Big 12 conference against the likes of West Virginia’s Kevin White, Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett and Baylor’s Antwan Goodley among others. He finished his senior season with 51 tackles, 11 pass deflections, two interceptions and a sack. White is a feisty defender that played for a rugged TCU defense and he would be a solid addition to Tampa Bay in the third round.
Oregon State CB Steven Nelson – 5-10, 199
Nelson also helped himself with a great week in Mobile, Ala. at the Senior Bowl, including the game where he broke up two passes. A bigger nickel corner-type, Nelson was a junior college transfer that had two fine years at Oregon State. Nelson recorded eight interceptions in two years, including six as a junior where he returned one for a touchdown.
Nelson had two interceptions as a senior, in addition to 60 tackles and 10 pass breakups in 2014. With 122 tackles and 24 pass breakups, the Beavers star has a good degree of toughness against the run and the pass. Nelson is one of the few players that have picked off Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. He has quick feet and incredibly flexible hips that allow him to pivot and transition in and out of breaks with ease while covering fast slot receivers. Nelson would be a solid third-round pick because he has the size to play outside as well as the agility to play inside at nickel corner. (Warning: highlight video contains profanity)
Ole Miss CB Senquez Golson – 5-9, 174
Golson’s lack of ideal size essentially forces him to play inside at the nickel cornerback position, but the Rebels star plays bigger than his smallish frame would indicate. Golson is not afraid to come up in run support and make a tackle, evidenced by 136 stops in his three years as a starter at Ole Miss. He would also blitz from the nickel cornerback position on occasion and finished his senior season with 43 tackles, three tackles for loss and half a sack.
But what has NFL scouts interested in this mighty mite is his ball skills and instincts. Golson had a career-high 10 interceptions in 2014 and finished his Ole Miss career with 16 picks, in addition to 15 pass breakups. For a team like Tampa Bay that needs more takeaways from the nickel cornerback position as well as better pass coverage, Golson would be a nice third-round pick or a steal at the top of the fourth round.
Texas CB Quandre Diggs – 5-9, 196
Diggs isn’t the athlete that some of the earlier mentioned nickel cornerbacks are, but he’s a compactly built playmaker with good instincts, toughness and a nose for the ball. He has logged 49 starts at Texas and finished with 241 tackles, 37 pass breakups, 17 tackles for loss, 11 interceptions, 5.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Diggs could be a late-round steal for the Buccaneers at the top of the fifth round. He was a consistent playmaker for an underachieving Longhorns defense, notching four interceptions as a freshman, four as a sophomore and three picks as a senior. He fared well at the Senior Bowl, too, having a good week of practice and recording a pick in the game, which he returned 41 yards.
Georgia CB Damian Swann – 6-0, 180
Swann is an interesting player because of his great leadership ability and the fact that he’s a big-time playmaker. After a sensational sophomore season, Swann’s numbers dipped during his junior season as Georgia switched defensive schemes. Swann quickly grasped the new defense, but tried to do too much and help his teammates, which in turn hurt his numbers.
Entering his senior campaign, Swann had amassed 115 tackles, 13 pass breakups, 5.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions, two sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. During his final year at Georgia, Swann erupted for 65 tackles, eight pass breakups, four interceptions, four forced fumbles, two sacks and a 99-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown against Georgia Tech. Swann, who will likely be a sixth-round pick, is a great special teams contributor that would be a real asset to Tampa Bay, making him a four-down asset.
Memphis CB Bobby McCain – 5-10, 192
McCain is a tough, hardworking cornerback with tremendous leadership ability and better athleticism than you might think. McCain was a big-time playmaker at Memphis, recording 136 tackles, 15 pass breakups, 12 interceptions, including three he returned for touchdowns, 6.5 tackles for loss, three fumble recoveries, 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble. He had a great week at the East-West Shrine Game, leading the West with four tackles, and met with the Buccaneers.
The Tigers’ undisputed leader, McCain recorded 11 of his interceptions over the past two years in addition to his three fumble recoveries. He’s a big-time playmaker, who can also help Tampa Bay on special teams. McCain averaged 25.3 yards on 42 kick returns with a long of 95 and would be a great selection in the sixth round.
Rice CB Bryce Callahan – 5-10, 192
Callahan is a good, ball-hawking cornerback with great coverage skills. He burst onto the scene as a freshman with nine pass breakups and six interceptions. Callahan finished his Rice career with 145 tackles, 33 pass breakups, 14 tackles for loss, 13 interceptions, two sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
The quick-footed Callahan stood out in the East-West Shrine Game and had a nice pass breakup after a good week of practice. Callahan has the ability to start at the nickel cornerback position in the NFL and could be a late-round gem in the sixth or seventh round.
Tennessee CB Justin Coleman – 5-11, 184
Coleman really opened some eyes with his athleticism at the East-West Shrine Game where he performed well on defense and on special teams. A bit of a late bloomer, Coleman didn’t really emerge until his junior season where he had his first interception, which was returned for a touchdown against Western Kentucky.
A great senior season has moved Coleman from being undrafted to a late-round pick. Of his 157 tackles, 17 pass breakups, 8.5 tackles for loss, five interceptions, Coleman notched 42 stops, five pass breakups, four interceptions and four tackles for loss in 2014. Tampa Bay was watching him closely in St. Petersburg, Fla. and could use a seventh-rounder on Coleman.
To see these 10 nickel cornerback candidates in the 2015 NFL Draft close up, click here for a special, accompanying photo gallery on PewterReport.com entitled Bucs 2015 Draft Preview: Nickel Cornerbacks Photo Gallery.
FAB 2. NICKEL CORNER McCAIN WOULD BE A GREAT PICK IN SIXTH ROUND FOR BUCS
There are a lot of nickel cornerback candidates that would look good in pewter and red in the 2015 NFL Draft. I wouldn’t complain a bit if Oregon’s Ifo Ekpre-Olomu was drafted in the second round, and I think TCU’s Kevin White would be a nice pick up in the third round if that’s where the Bucs wanted to address the nickel corner position.
Yet I have a feeling that Tampa Bay will draft a nickel cornerback on Day 3 and there are several good options, including Texas’ Quandre Diggs in the fifth round. But the one nickel corner I have really favored for the Buccaneers is Memphis’ Bobby McCain, who is the current sixth-round pick by the team in PewterReport.com’s 2015 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft.
McCain can do it – support the run, cover the pass, rush the passer from the slot and play on special teams. At 5-foot-10, 192 pounds, McCain is about the size of former Bucs legend Ronde Barber, who mastered the nickel cornerback position for a decade and a half in Tampa Bay.
“I grew up watching Ronde Barber, Cortland Finnegan and Deion Sanders,” McCain told me at the East-West Shrine practices in St. Petersburg, Fla. back in January. “I really like Patrick Peterson, too. I love his mental preparation to the game.
“But my favorite is Finnegan because he’s a smaller guy. He’s one of the toughest guys on the field and he’s one of the smartest. He’s going to get in your grill and tell you about it, but he’s going to be smart about it. I feel like I’m that kind of player.”
McCain isn’t afraid to come up in run support, which is prerequisite for playing in the Tampa 2 defense, which routinely has its cornerbacks play the short area of the field. In nickel defense, the nickel corner is essentially the team’s third linebacker, so finding a tough cornerback is a must.
“I did play a little Tampa 2 at Memphis, but we were more of a zone blitz and man blitz team,” McCain said. “I played in the slot or I would press the best receiver. I played inside and out and I like them both. I like playing nickel and corner. I also blitzed a little out of the nickel.”
McCain had 1.5 sacks, but those weren’t his only splash plays in the passing game. He recorded 12 interceptions, including three that he returned for touchdowns. He nearly had a kick return for a touchdown during his sophomore year, running one back against Duke for 95 yards before getting tackled just shy of the goal line.
“I just have a feel for getting the ball,” McCain said. “Getting the ball out of the air just comes natural for me after years of playing baseball in the outfield and reading the ball. After playing baseball reading that big football is easy.
“In the return game, that’s just me being an athlete. It just goes back to my youth when I have the ball in my hands – I want to score. I’m looking for the end zone every time I get an interception or in the return game.”
McCain said that he did speak to Tampa Bay while playing in their backyard for the East-West Shrine Game.
“I did talk with the Buccaneers and it went well,” McCain said. “There’s nobody that works harder. I have the mental preparation in the film room and I take care of my body. It’s not about the check. It’s about winning ball games. That’s all I care about. That’s all I know.”
FAB 3. ANTHONY WOULD BE AN IDEAL TAMPA 2 MIKE LINEBACKER
With the Buccaneers looking to move on from Mason Foster, a four-year starter who is slated for free agency in 2015, Tampa Bay will need to find a more athletic middle linebacker that can drop into coverage and defend the middle of the field against tight ends and receivers working the seam.
There were a couple of candidates at the 2015 Reese’s Senior Bowl, including the likes of Miami’s Denzel Perryman, USC’s Hayes Pullard and Cincinnati’s Jeff Luc. But perhaps the best fit is Clemson’s Stephone Anthony, who wowed NFL scouts, coaches and general managers at both the weigh-in and during the practices.
With a well-built, 6-foot-2, 245-pound frame, Anthony looks the part. After the South’s practice on Tuesday, the three-year starter at Clemson sounded the part of a starting-caliber middle linebacker in the NFL.
“I definitely take pride in being a leader,” Anthony said. “The Jaguars today were talking to us about being a servant and wanting to help others. I want to lead people and I want them to feel my energy and feed off me.”
Anthony was a team captain and the undisputed leader at Clemson where he notched 330 tackles, 34.5 tackles for loss, 13 pass breakups, 9.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, three interceptions and a fumble recovery during his illustrious All-ACC career. Anthony’s head coach, Dabo Swinney, and defensive coordinator, Brent Venables were on hand in Mobile, Ala. to watch him perform on Tuesday. I had the chance to speak to both coaches about him.
“Stephone is a quarterback on the field,” Swinney said. “He has all the measurables and the intangibles to be a great player on the next level. He’s a natural leader and he always has been. He’s a great player that started as a freshman and he graduated in three and half years. He’s a guy that has always had it together and he’s had a plan. He works really hard. If you put a great work ethic with a great talent you get a great player, and he is.”
Venables, who was a linebacker at Kansas State when I went to school there in the early 1990s, marveled at Anthony’s abilities.
“He’s incredibly talented and he has great instincts,” Venables said. “He’s a prototypical middle linebacker. He can also play outside. He’s 6-foot-2 and some change, and he’s 245. He’s a legit 4.5 guy with speed. He’s highly intelligent and is very physical. He plays behind his pads well. He really understands the game and he’s an even better person than he was a player. He’s the model of consistency and was that for us for the past three years at Clemson. He was a leader on and off the field. He was an exemplary ambassador for our football program and you would want to build a defense around this guy.”
When asked how he would fare in a Tampa 2 defense like the Bucs run occasionally in which the middle linebacker has to drop and cover the deep third of the field, Venables didn’t blink when suggesting Anthony could handle that role.
“He’d be a great fit,” Venables said. “We play a little bit of that defense and he knows it. He’s a guy that can run all day and a guy that can put a toe in the ground like a DB and cover. He’d be a natural fit.”
Swinney also chimed in on that topic when talking about Anthony’s coverage skills.
“He can play in any system,” Swinney said. “He can play Tampa 2. He’s done some of that with us. He can play in man coverage. He can play inside and he can play outside. He’s very versatile and he can play special teams, too.”
When I asked Anthony about playing Mike linebacker in a Tampa 2 system he said he would relish the chance to play in Tampa Bay.
“I would love to be a middle linebacker for the Bucs,” Anthony said. “We did some of the Tampa 2 at Clemson and I have that ability. Trust me. Just give me the job and it’s going to get done. I definitely feel like I can cover and play fast. I’m going to bring leadership, physicality, energy and that voice. Let’s go.”
Anthony had a great week at the Senior Bowl, notching four tackles for the South in the game and helping to boost his draft stock. Scouts PewterReport.com spoke with feel as if he raised his stock from the fifth round to the fourth round after a good showing in Mobile, Ala.
Speed is the number one thing the Bucs are looking for at the linebacker position, followed by the ability to drop into coverage. However, with the Mike linebacker position being the quarterback of the defense, having great leadership qualities is also important. Anthony is the kind of player that checks all the boxes at middle linebacker for Tampa Bay.
FAB 4. RECALLING MY VERY FIRST BUCCANEERS INTERVIEW IN 1995
To celebrate my 20 years of covering the Buccaneers I’m going to share with you some of the behind-the-scenes encounters I’ve had over the last two decades. These stories will appear in the first 20 SR’s Fab 5 columns of 2015, which encompasses much of the offseason.
The fifth entry recalls my first encounter with a Bucs player shortly after I had graduated from Kansas State University and moved to Tampa on May 17. I had an interesting experience with my very first interview with a Tampa Bay player back in the summer of 1995 after I was hired by Buccaneer Magazine.
I had followed Errict Rhett’s career at Florida and was excited to see the Bucs select him in the second round of the 1994 draft. I was even more excited to interview Tampa Bay’s primary weapon on offense.
I met Rhett after a mini-camp workout in one of the cramped meeting rooms at the old One Buccaneer Place. I had just purchased a copy of Lindy’s pro football annual, or perhaps it was Athlon’s, at Publix prior to heading to Bucs practice, and it had Rhett on the cover.
As I asked Rhett some questions he kept staring at the magazine with his picture on the front rather than make eye contact with me. After a few minutes, he asked if he could flip through it while the interview continued. Now I was completely distracted as I wasn’t sure if Rhett was actually paying attention to me or was more interested in reading about himself.
Our 10-minute interview had concluded and I thanked Rhett for his time. Rhett was quite friendly. He certainly wasn’t rude to me. Instead, he was just like a giddy kid that was enthused to see his mug on the cover of a national magazine. So what came next didn’t really come as a surprise after the interview.
“Would you mind if I have this?” Rhett asked me, picking up the magazine from the desk he was sitting at.
“You mean the magazine?” I asked with some hesitation, hoping that Rhett didn’t really mean it.
“Yeah, it’s cool – I’m on the cover!” Rhett exclaimed.
I sighed, thinking about how I took a job making $13,000 out of college and I hadn’t gotten my first paycheck yet. I had just moved to Florida and only had a couple hundred dollars to my name at the time. I had just spent $6 of it on that magazine, while Rhett was scheduled to make over a million dollars over the life of his contract.
Not wanting to upset Rhett, I shrugged and said with a pinch of sarcasm: “Sure, why not?”
I thought about how there were hundreds of copies of that magazine in area convenience stores and groceries stores within minutes of One Buc Place, yet Rhett wanted my copy.
With a huge smile on his face he grabbed the magazine and abruptly walked out, reading what was written about him and the Buccaneers. I don’t even think he said thank you. He was just grinning ear to ear. I had clearly made Rhett’s day, and it was an interview I wouldn’t forget.
The lesson I learned that day? Despite being rich, NFL players love free stuff – and some of them come to expect it.
Rhett was quite a character and he invited me over to his house during his contract holdout in 1996 where I got to meet his Rottweiler. Two funny Rhett & Rottweiler stories coming in next week’s SR’s Fab 5. Stay tuned.
FAB 5. SR’s BUC SHOTS
• If the Buccaneers drafted Missouri defensive end Markus Golden and Ole Miss nickel cornerback Senquez Golson this year, and decided to keep free safety Dashon Goldson, Tampa Bay could have Golden, Golson, Goldson and defensive end Will Gholston on the field at the same time. Could you imagine that?
Can’t you hear Gene Deckerhoff, the voice of the Buccaneers, with that crazy call?
“Golden and Gholston with the pressure on the quarterback. Errant throw – tipped by Goldson to Golson. Interception by the Buccaneers!”
• When talking to an old acquaintance of mine from college, Brent Venables, who is Clemson’s defensive coordinator, I had to ask him what he thought of Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, whom Tampa Bay is considering drafting with the number one overall pick. Although Winston only played against Clemson once while with the Seminoles due to his suspension against the Tigers this year, Venables saw what he was capable of in 2013.
In what was deemed to be Florida State’s first real challenge of the 2013 season, Winston led the Seminoles into Death Valley and came away with a stunning, 51-14 victory. Winston was superb, completing 22-of-34 passes for a career-high 444 yards with three touchdowns and one interception, in addition to a rushing TD.
“He’s a great competitor and a winner,” Venables said of Winston. “That’s the main thing. He’s a winner. You can’t argue with that. He can throw in tight windows and he’s great in the clutch. He lost one college game in two years. He’s pretty special.”
Notice how most of the reputable mock drafts now have the Buccaneers taking Winston? Todd McShay’s on ESPN is the latest to come around.
“Ultimately if [teams] feel like they can trust Jameis Winston to be the face of their franchise, then it goes to on the field and on the field I think there is a big gap between Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston. Winston does things from inside the pocket, where you have to win in the NFL, that very few others you rarely see coming out of the college level do. … From purely on the field, the grade for Jameis Winston is just behind Andrew Luck’s in the last 10 years and there is nobody else in between.”
PewterReport.com has maintained the need for a pocket passer in Tampa Bay and has said that from its first mock draft that Winston should be the pick. For those Bucs fans that love Mariota, you need to come around to the idea that this team will draft Winston.
• If you’re looking for a sleeper at the linebacker position for Tampa Bay look no further than Texas State’s Michael Orakpo. If that name sounds familiar it’s because he is the younger brother of Washington’s Pro Bowl outside linebacker Brian Orakpo.
Michael Orakpo started his college career at Colorado State where he recorded 124 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, an interception and a forced fumble before being kicked off the team for getting into a fight with students. Orakpo landed at Texas State where he recorded 71 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, a team-high 4.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.
Orakpo moved from weakside linebacker to middle linebacker in 2014, but tore his ACL in the second game of the year after a promising start to the season. He is expected to be a seventh-round pick or an undrafted free agent due to the injury and missing most of his senior campaign.
Orakpo is considered to be one of the more freakish athletes in the 2015 NFL Draft after having set the Bobcats school record for the incline bench by lifting 500 pounds. He benched 560 pounds, which is more than double his body weight, has a 41.5-inch vertical leap and has been timed at 4.53 in the 40-yard dash. He’s a player to keep an eye on for the Buccaneers.
• The contract for Detroit Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh voids on Friday, February 6. Expect the Buccaneers to have some interest in pairing Suh and their own Pro Bowl defensive tackle, Gerald McCoy, together. Tampa Bay may be a dark horse for Suh’s services, but the team very well could make a run at him in free agency. Suh hails from Nebraska, the same alma mater as Bucs general manager Jason Licht, and would do wonders to improve Tampa Bay’s run defense and interior pass rush.
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