Let’s just take a deep breath for a second and relish what the Buccaneers have in their secondary, specifically at cornerback, for the 2021 season.
First off is fourth-year defender Carlton Davis, out of Auburn. 6-feet 1-inch, 206 pounds, and only 24 years old. Proving himself to be one of the league’s top corners, Davis has helped build this defense into one of the league’s best.
Next is Sean Murphy-Bunting. Only 23 and entering his third year with Tampa, the 6-foot, 195-pound Murphy-Bunting has continued to improve being a force to be reckoned with. Stacking up 53 tackles, a forced fumble, and an interception, Murphy-Bunting continues to make everything of his opportunity with the Bucs.
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The third main man in the Bucs cornerback room is Jamel Dean. Another Auburn product, he comes in at 6-feet 1-inch, and 205 pounds, and also only 24 years old. With 61 tackles and one interception, Dean has also improved under the tutelage of Todd Bowles and also looks to improve on his defensive skills more this year. This group is looking to be pretty scary – for other teams – and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Filling out the rest of the cornerback room is Ross Cockrell, Herb Miller, free agent signings Nate Brooks and Antonio Hamilton, and Cameron Kinley, all obstacles to Wilcox’s journey to NFL stardom!
But let’s look at Wilcox’s stats coming in from BYU this year. He’s fast. Maybe, or probably, one of the fastest in all of the Bucs’ secondary. Running a blistering 4.31-40, and coming in at 6-feet 2-inches, and nearly 200 pounds, he may just fall right in with this talented cornerback group quite nicely.
He’s a big hitter as well, another trait Jason Licht and Bruce Arians look for in this unit. Obviously, he’ll need to get up to speed on this defense and the NFL in general, so look for him to try and make his mark on special teams, Arians’ main emphasis this year. Every player drafted, with the exception of Trask (and probably Hainsey), will be given the opportunity to start there!
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, Wilcox is still a little raw, is coming off an ankle injury, and although some of his strengths like playing man-coverage and having good recovery speed work in his favor, he does fall short in cross coverages and can lose where he is in route coverages occasionally.
As most draftees coming out of college have a lot to learn and adjust in the pro game, Wilcox could learn from Bowles’ team and could develop and improve on his shortcomings, just like each and every corner mentioned above has had to do. And THAT could mean a pretty formidable and stacked cornerback room in the next few years to come!
Being a 7th round pick, and if he stays relatively injury-free, and improves his game as each corner has done in this group, he may very well be the steal of the seventh round or even day two or three altogether. If he doesn’t, the Bucs aren’t really out much, and could probably stash him on the practice squad, worst case. Can Chris Wilcox crack into this cornerback room? Antonio Hamilton may be his biggest obstacle, but stranger things have happened, and he could be the number five or six corner on the roster. Just think about having another Carlton Davis in this secondary!