The Pewter Plank’s position preview series continues by taking a look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerbacks.
Last season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers corners struggled. The Bucs had the worst pass defense in the NFL last season, giving up a putrid 260.6 passing yards per game.
As the 2018 season rolls around, a few new additions look to improve a struggling Tampa Bay secondary. The Bucs selected both Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart in the second round of the draft in hopes to boost one of the team’s worst units.
Veteran cornerback Brent Grimes was solid last season, but started to show signs of his age. He missed a handful of games due to injury, but performed pretty well when on the field last season.
Out of all of the returning players from last season though, the biggest question mark is Vernon Hargreaves. The former first-round pick struggled mightily last season and the hopes of him becoming a true lockdown corner are dwindling.
2018 is pivotal for Hargreaves. The Bucs just selected two more corners that are going to compete with him in training camp and may push him further down the depth chart.
This season is something of a development year for most of the Buccaneers corners. Aside from the veteran Grimes, the Buccaneers have four cornerbacks under the age of 25 which could see time in the starting lineup.
If Grimes can help transition a young group of corners in 2018, the Bucs issues at the position may finally end.
On the roster:
Brent Grimes, Vernon Hargreaves, Ryan Smith, M.J. Stewart, Carlton Davis, Josh Robinson, Marko Myers, David Rivers and Javien Elliot
On the bubble:
Marko Myers, Josh Robinson, David Rivers and Javien Elliot
The Buccaneers cornerback unit will be relying on a big year from Hargreaves. Although Grimes has performed at an exceptional level up to this point, Father Time always catches up in the end.
If Hargreaves performs well, the pressure will be off the shoulders of a 35-year-old corner and a group of rookies. If he doesn’t unproven players will be asked to play major roles in a defense which could become one of the league’s best.
At the moment, the cornerback situation doesn’t look good. Hargreaves and Grimes are far from a sure thing and the two new rookies will need time to adjust to the NFL. Tampa’s defense features a stout front seven and this cornerback unit could be its downfall.
There is potential for success, especially with young, versatile corners. However, it will be hard for a team which had the worst pass defense in the NFL to see a major turnaround. Expect some struggles from the Bucs corners.
The future does appear bright on paper however. There are a plethora of young corners on this roster. The roster is in win-now mode so patience will be hard to come by. With time, this unit can become successful.