All offseason, many Buccaneers’ fans have been worried about the depth, or lack thereof, in the Bucs’ backfield on defense. When E.J. Biggers was let go, and no free agent corners were brought in, there was panic and frustration at the lack of improvement. The Buccaneers quickly addressed their situation at cornerback surrounding the draft, adding Darrelle Revis and Johnthan Banks, but then Eric Wright was let go, and it appeared the Buccaneers lost more depth in an area where they showed to be lacking in experienced talent in 2012.
But maybe another corner was never really the need with Revis already in place? When Mark Dominik convinced Dashon Goldson to sign on the dotted line to become a Buc, it forced Ahmad Black into a reserve role, despite playing over 400 snaps in 2012 as the free safety on plays when Ronde Barber was playing cornerback. But the plan now appears to use Black alongside Goldson and fellow safety Mark Barron. So it was depth at safety which will open up more options for the Buccaneer defense, rather than depth at corner.
Black performed well during his time on the field last year, grading out positively according to Pro Football Focus, and defending three of the 15 passes thrown his way, and intercepting another. He and Goldson should do very well defending the deep pass, and it will free Mark Barron to play a “Ronde Barber” role closer to the line, where he is more in his element. This also means the Buccaneers don’t have to dig deep into the ranks at corner, as they have an All-Pro, a future All-Pro, and one of the best backups in the NFL at safety, and can use this depth to their advantage.
This should also intensify competition in camp, which is something head coach Greg Schiano loves to see. There have been reports of Keith Tandy working at corner as well, which further lends to competition, and to the Schiano-led desire to have versatile players on the 46 man roster for every game day. If the Buccaneers’ safeties can earn playing time in nickel and dime situations, it will decrease the need to hold an abundance of corners on the roster, and creates flexibility to bring more linebackers, running backs, and other positions where depth might not be so prevalent.