Cornerback – Left on an Island?
The Bucs gave up the 11th most passing yards last season with 4,012 or 250.8 yards per game and surrendered 23.1 points per game. With Vernon Hargreaves being a rookie he was picked on heavily last season per Mike Clay ESPN Fantasy Football Analyst having to make a lot of tackles which he did with 76. However he didn’t post many pass breakups (nine) or interceptions (one) but showed promise in his rookie season. At the NFL owners meetings, Coach Koetter told reporters:
"“I think Vernon needs to be more aggressive.” “I think, sometimes, Vernon was too content to just cover his guy, “They threw it to him and he was right there and made the tackle. Instead of, ‘Vernon, scoot up and make that play!”"
On the other side Brent Grimes played up to expectations when he was signed last year in free agency, making 57 tackles, four interceptions and an amazing 24 passes defended (career high), generally performing as one of the better corners in the NFL. Hargreaves and Grimes both played all 16 games and accounting for 133 of the 193 (68.9%) tackles accredited to Bucs cornerbacks.
Of the other cornerbacks on the Bucs roster (Josh Robinson, Jude Adjei-Barimah, and Javien Elliot) the next highest total tackles was Adjei-Barimah with 22 tackles (11%) and the most starts was one game by Elliot and Adjei-Barimah.
After the season concluded the Bucs chose to move Ryan Smith from safety back to his more natural position of cornerback, and after rookie minicamp ended they also chose to sign free agent cornerback Robert McClain. McClain played for both the Panthers and the Chargers last season only starting in six games, making 39 tackles and no interceptions.
Without drafting or signing a starting cornerback this off-season if Grimes or Hargreaves gets hurt the next option up would be either Javien Elliot, Jude Adjei-Barimah, 2nd year player/1st year corner Ryan Smith, special teamer Josh Robinson, or newly acquired Robert McClain who together started eight games last season. McClain is the most experienced playing in a total of 80 games since 2010 with 247 tackles and four interceptions but was released by two teams last season.
In my opinion I believe that the Bucs should have addressed the cornerback position in free agency or the draft because there isn’t a viable option if Hargreaves or Grimes gets injured. Also they should start looking for a future replacement for Grimes who is 34 this season. Although the team is hoping Smith can become a very good corner back being his 2nd season he has not been able to show it yet.
Out of the five needs that I listed wide receiver, safety, running back, defensive line, corner back I believe that the Buccaneers filled four of them adequately only leaving the cornerback position a little thin so I hope that it does not cost them during the season. Tell me what you think are these all the team needs or do you see other needs and how well did they fill them if at all?