A pair of rookies will be asked to play important roles in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers loaded up their secondary by selecting cornerbacks M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis in the second round of the NFL Draft.
In 2017, the Bucs secondary was consistently shredded by opposing quarterbacks. Tampa allowed a league-worst 260.6 yards per game and in hopes of improving the Bucs lackluster secondary, general manager Jason Licht turned to the Draft.
With Davis and Stewart now in the fold, Tampa has some options at cornerback. Veteran Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves will also be key contributors. However, both rookies will be pushing for starting roles throughout training camp.
Thus far in training camp, both Davis and Stewart have made some noise. Davis was able to work with the first team during Tuesday’s practice as Brent Grimes sat out practice with an injury.
As camp opened, Davis lined up with the second team alongside cornerback Ryan Smith. Although Smith entered camp with a slight edge as a veteran, the early reps with the ones can only help Davis’ chances.
At the moment, signs point towards the Vernon Hargreaves playing mostly in the slot/nickel corner spot. Which leaves the number two corner position as an open battle. A big corner like Davis fits the mold. At 6’1″, he can go up and battle with the bigger receivers in the NFC South. He is a willing tackler and isn’t afraid to play press coverage.
With more and more buzz coming out of training camp, Davis seems to have a legitimate shot at the starting job. Already, these rookie cornerbacks are making an impact.
For Stewart, his versatility may get him onto the field very often as well. According to the Pewter Report, he was working with every team during camp, getting time with nearly every player on the roster.
Stewart has also served as both the nickel and outside corner during camp drills. Scouts during the Draft process also saw Stewart becoming a safety down the road. In a secondary which has so many holes, Stewart may be the perfect plug-and-play piece for the Buccaneers secondary.
Once the preseason games start, there will be more chances to see how Davis and Stewart are adjusting to life in the NFL. For now, it signs point towards both rookies making a major impact in 2018.