Bucs’ state-of-the-union: Safeties

by Gary Shelton on June 8, 2018 · 0 comments

in general

Conte always has challengers for his job./ANDER KRAMER

Conte always has challengers for his job./ANDREW KRAMER

Friday, 3 a.m.

If anyone should know the look of an impact safety, it is he. If anyone knows what skills to examine, it is he.

And so John Lynch, who makes his living these days as a talent evaluator, looked at the prospect. Yes, he could run. Yes, he could hit. Yes, he was a dominating college player.
The more Lynch looked, the more he approved. The more he thought this safety could be ... the next John Lynch.

As it turns out, he was wrong. Mark Barron never made a dent for the Bucs. He was frequently lost, and

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he never made plays. At last word, he has salvaged his career as a linebacker for the Rams.

But the mystery remains: What happened to Barron? And why is it so hard to predict future impact at safety?

To be sure, it's a hard position to play. It's part defensive back, part linebacker. A player has to be fast, and smart, and tough. He has to prove that he has zero DNA in common with Sabby Piscatelli.

Anyone see enough of that around here?

That's the reason that so many draft analysts expected the Bucs to draft FSU's Derwin James in the recent draft. In recent years, the Bucs have been slow and not very instinctive.  They haven't provided enough support in the run game or enough help on deep passes.

Could that change? The Bucs hope that with an improved pass rush, and better cornerback coverage, that their safeties -- Chris Conte and Justin Evans -- will be better.

If not, they hope that draft pick Jerome Whitehead may help. Or backup Keith Tandy, who had some moments in 2016.

It's all a bit different than when Lynch and Dexter Jackson (the Super Bowl MVP) played for the Bucs. In those days, safety was an extra layer of defense for a good defense.

There are questions as to whether these safeties can be good enough. The Bucs are hoping that Evans is better, and that Conte can have the same influence on game he had late in 2016.

Most of all, however, the Bucs are hoping that the safeties are better because everyone around them will be.

Safeties

Best Five

1. John Lynch

2. Dexer Jackson

3. Mark Cotney

4. Mark Robinson

5. Cedric Brown

Pro Bowlers

John Lynch (2)

Best Safeties Ever

1. Ronnie Lott

2. Ed Reed

3. Paul Krause

4. Troy Polamalu

5. John Lynch

Interception Predictions

1. Justin Evans.   4

2. Chris Conte.      3

3. Jerome Whitehead  2

4. Keith Tandy.         2

5. Godwin Igwebuike.  1

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