Bucs’ state of the union: cornerbacks

by Gary Shelton on June 7, 2018 · 0 comments

in general

Cornerback Brent Grimes knocks the ball away from DeSean Jackson./CARMEN MANDATO

Cornerback Brent Grimes knocks the ball away from DeSean Jackson./CARMEN MANDATO

Thursday, 3 a.m.

You can tell a quarterback, perhaps, by his arm. You can tell a running back by his thighs. You can tell a wide receiver by his hands.

A cornerback?

You simply look to the eyes.

They are hollow eyes, hunted eyes. It is a look that comes from too many years on the tightrope, from too many chances of chasing a receiver across a goal line. There is a hunger in those eyes, a mistrust. A defensive tackle makes a mistake, and maybe a

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linebacker can make up for it. An offensive guard misses a block, and maybe the fullback can cover for him. But a corner makes a mistake, and the score changes.

Just ask the Bucs, who chased far too many receivers across the goal line.

The Bucs were 32nd against the pass a year ago. They were 29th in completion percentage. They were tied for 29th in opposing quarterback's rankings. The Bucs' defensive line didn't rush, and the Bucs' defensive backs didn't cover.

The Bucs addressed their line during free agency (and the draft), and they addressed their secondary through the draft. The drafted M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis in the second round. Davis should see plenty of time at corner. Stewart will complete with former No. 1 Vernon Hargreaves, a disappointment, at the nickel.

They'll need to be good. Julio Jones and Michael Thomas are still in the division. Alshon Jeffrey, Odell Beckham, A.J. Green, Marvin Jones and Antonio Brown are on the schedule.

Oh, there was a time that the Bucs were solid at corner. Back in the days when they had Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly, the was very good at corner. When those two shut down Tim Brown and Jerry Rice in the Super Bowl -- particularly in the early going -- it helped the team win a title.

Ah, but that was long ago.

Does Hargreaves still have enough talent to hold off Stewart at the nickel? Does  Brent Grimes still have enough in his legs? Can Davis start as a rookie?

Right now, all jobs seem open.

A lot of receivers, too.


Bucs' Best Five

1. Ronde Barber

2. Aqib Talib

3. Donnie Abraham

4. Brian Kelly

5.Darrelle Revis

Pro Bowlers

Ronde Barber (3)

Donnie Abraham (1)

Darrell Revis (1)

Wayne Haddix (1)

Biggest Busts

1. Rod Jones

2. Jeremiah Castille

3. Vernon Hargreaves

4. Mike Jenkins

5. Johnthan Banks

Best Cornerbacks Ever

1. Deion Sanders

2. Darrell Greene

3. Aeneas Williams

4. Willlie Brown

5. Ronnie Lott

Projected Interceptions

Brent Grimes.     3

Carlton Davis.     2

M.J. Steward.     1

Ryan Smith.        1

Vernon Hargreaves. 1

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