Newly signed cornerback Robert McClain will be competing for the Buccaneers’ starting nickel position.
This was more than just a depth signing. Robert McClain – former Falcon and Panther – is here to compete with Jude Adjei-Barimah and Javien Elliott for the Buccaneers’ starting nickel position.
Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith spoke about McClain and his experience in the system at nickel and what they expect out of the former seventh-rounder;
"“We brought Robert in here to compete at the corner and the nickel position. He played nickel in Atlanta. Robert has got a number of starts in the league, he started in the Super Bowl for the Carolina Panthers so he’s got a good pedigree. He’s in here to compete, we’re trying to get some guys in here that have some experience. Both Jude [Adjei-Barimah] and Javien [Elliott] don’t have the experience that Robert has. We expect it to be a very good competition at the nickel spot. Again, we’ve got to cross-train him to be able to play outside as well.”"
Cross training is a big thing for the Bucs. Whether it’s at the corner position like Smith spoke about or long the offensive line as we’ve seen with Ali Marpet moving to center and all the players cross training across the line, players being able to play multiple positions in a pinch provides depth and prevents massive drop-offs in production.
Obviously Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves are cemented into the starting outside corner spots so the nickel competition will be very interesting to watch come training camp. However, if Grimes or VHIII go down with an injury, there isn’t much in the way of replacements behind them to take on those big outside receivers.
David Harrison and I spoke about the nickel competition in the latest Walking The Plank podcast which you can listen to below.