Tampa Bay’s offseason needs are coming into focus.
For starters, the Buccaneers need a new guard after Ali Marpet announced his retirement. Center Ryan Jensen might sign elsewhere, too.
But Tampa Bay also needs secondary help – especially if cornerback Carlton Davis leaves in free agency, as expected.
The team can find walk-in starters along the interior of the offensive line, as the top center (Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum) and top two guards (Texas A&M’s Kenyon Green and Boston College’s Zion Johnson) could be available when Tampa Bay is on the clock in Round 1.
However, the same can’t be said of the top cornerbacks and safeties, as all could be gone by pick No. 27 overall.
From Caleb Skinner of Fansided’s BucsGameday: “The team has had success in the past with selecting secondary players in the middle rounds of the draft. With so many secondary players in the draft each year it is hard to point out exactly who the Bucs should target.”
The Bucs have drafted 30 DBs over the past 20 drafts. Twelve of the Bucs’ DBs taken since 2001 were drafted in the first three rounds, including four who were taken in Round 1 and five who were taken in Round 2.
But, to Skinner’s point, the Bucs haven’t been shy about taking a DB on Day 3, with 60 percent of their safeties or cornerbacks drafted in Round 4 or later during that time.
Overall, there are 24 DBs ranked among the top 125 players in the latest Fanspeak-Jake Rigdon big board (Tampa Bay’s pick in the fourth round is No. 132 overall).
Here’s five names to watch, including four who are considered Day 3 prospects:
S Kerby Joseph, Illinois: The 6-foot-1, 203-pound senior skipped the 40 at the Combine, because, as Ian Rapaport of the NFL Network reported, he had tweaked a hamstring and was at 85 percent. Still, Joseph’s bench press (18 reps) was the fourth-best among safeties, while his vertical jump (38.5 inches) was second-best. Joseph finished the season with 5 interceptions, the second-most in the Big Ten. However, Joseph didn’t become a full-time starter until this past season, so teams have less tape on him.
S Dane Belton, Iowa: There are no perfect prospects on Day 3 of the draft, and Belton is no exception, as he’s hard to project after playing the “Cash” hybrid position for Iowa. However, two Hawkeyes who played that position – Amani Hooker and Geno Stone – have had success in the NFL who also played that position and were taken on Day 3 of their respective drafts. Belton’s 5 INTs tied Joseph for the second-most in conference, and the 6-foot-1, 205-pound junior ran a 4.43 40 at the Combine.
CB Cam Taylor-Britt, Nebraska: The 5-foot-11, 196-pound senior is a bit of a “love/hate” prospect, as some analysts list him as a Day 2 prospect while others say he won’t go before the fifth round. Either way, Taylor-Britt had a solid showing at the Combine, as his 4.38-second 40 was tied for the fifth-fastest time in a blazingly fast field. He’s also a three-year starter and former team captain who has experience at both safety and cornerback.
CB Mario Goodrich, Clemson: The 6-foot, 176-pound senior doesn’t have ideal speed after running a 4.52 40 at the Combine, but he’s seen as a good fit for a zone scheme, specifically as a Cover 2 CB.
CB Josh Tompson, Texas: The 5-foot-11, 194-pound senior ran a 4.40 40 at the Combine and might seem like an odd fit for the Bucs, as he’s seen as a better player in bump-and-run coverage over zone. But teams are looking for traits this late in the draft and players who can contribute on special teams, which might be Thompson’s calling card in the NFL – at least as a rookie. NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein says Thompson has “plus cover talent on special teams.”
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