Buccaneers: Question marks at safety does not add up to depth

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"The starting lineup at safety might be a mystery right now, but the overall depth of the position is very easy to see. -Scott Smith"

Let us take a deeper look at each of the four safeties I have slated to make the final 53 man roster.

Keith Tandy has spent his entire NFL career as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. He has also never earned a starting job during training camp. Five preseasons have come and and gone and not one of the three defensive coordinators Tandy auditioned for thought he was good enough to make the first 11 for their defense. This includes a defensive backfield that gave up a league high 70% completion percentage.

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To be fair once Tandy did finally see the field as a starter in 2016 his play was Pro Bowl worthy. Filling in for injured Chris Conte, Tandy nabbed 4 interceptions in his 5 starts. That stat is what pro-Kieth fans are hanging their hats on. Call me a pessimist, but expecting All-Pro numbers from a player that couldn’t crack the starting lineup on one of the statistically worst back four’s in NFL history is a fool’s dream.

If life is like a box of chocolates ’cause you never know what you are going to get, then Chris Conte is the NFL equivalent. One week his is giving up two touchdowns in just over a minute versus Arizona. A few games later he is making an interception in the end zone to preserve a road win in Kansas City. Consistency has been Conte’s Achilles’ heel throughout his career. Which in turn creates trust issues, from coaches, from fans, and from me.

New comer J.J. Wilcox describes himself as a “kinda average-good” player and I would agree. Drafted in the third round by the Cowboys in 2013, Wilcox logged 21 starts before Dallas drafted his replacement, Byron Jones in the 2015 NFL Draft. Reduced to special teams and spot starts Wilcox signed with Tampa this March. An average to below average safety Wilcox fits in nicely with similarly talented Tandy and Conte.

Justin Evans hasn’t strapped on a Buccaneers helmet since rookie camp. So it makes it difficult to project how he is going to acclimate to defensive coordinator Mike Smith’s scheme. I have no doubt that Jason Licht likes Evans’ game and is happy he was available when the Bucs selected him with the 50th pick. However, the fact remains that Evans was the 7th safety taken in the 2017 draft.

Justin Evans could come on like gangbusters in training camp and become the Buccaneers best safety. Or he could struggle picking up the calls/communication and be regulated to special teams duty. With such variety of landing spots for Evans week one, he is the biggest question mark of all.

To recap, Tandy had maybe a once in a lifetime run, Conte play goes up and down more than a ships plimsoll line, Wilcox is looking to resurrect his career, and Evans is ungradable. No matter whom wins the starting jobs the two reserve players, I believe, come with huge question marks.