Buccaneers: At the wire final 53-man roster prediction
By Cory Kinnan
Vernon Hargreaves III
In what could be a significant determining factor for the Buccaneers in 2019, Vernon Hargreaves III is looking refreshed and improved under this new regime in Tampa Bay. After much talk this Spring that Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean could take Hargreaves’ job, he has put together a strong summer and has earned the role as the Buccaneers’ CB1.
Like Hargreaves, Carlton Davis also looked displaced by the incoming day-two picks of the Buccaneers from late April, but instead he put together a strong summer and beat Murphy-Bunting and Dean out for the starting cornerback spot. Him and Hargreaves look to lead a significantly better secondary in 2019 for Tampa.
After flip-flopping between cornerback and safety this offseason, second year player M.J. Stewart also looks to have beat out the highly touted rookies for the Buccaneers nickel cornerback job. His improvements are well documented and Stewart attributes it to watching more film, but Bowles looks to have these young corners playing at a higher level than they ever have before.
The biggest disappointment of the summer for the Buccaneers is second round pick Sean Murphy-Bunting. After a strong minicamp, Murphy-Bunting has looked completely lost defensively and could take lumps this season as he experiences growing pains. The Buccaneers have invested too much into Murphy-Bunting and his roster spot is not in question.
Third round corner Jamel Dean has looked solid in his limited time on the field after missing the first preseason game with a nagging injury. Dean’s roster spot is also not in question, but he may have a hard time finding playing time as a rookie after the emergence of Stewart, Hargreaves, and Davis.
Due to the suspension of veteran cornerback Ryan Smith, hometown hero Mazzi Wilkins could win the last roster spot at the cornerback position for the Buccaneers. At least until Smith returns week five. After going undrafted this April, the University of South Florida did not have to travel far to land on a 90-man roster and is now on the verge of making the Buccaneers’ 53-man cutdown.