Two weeks from today, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will report to training camp, which means the wait will soon be over, and in the meantime, another position breakdown for you guys. This is one you’ve been asking for on Twitter — the cornerback position.
Now this was a little tougher to evaluate because a number of guys sat out minicamp due to some minor injuries like hamstring pulls, but one thing is pretty clear: Alterraun Verner is one of your starters. The Bucs inked him to a 4-year deal this offseason worth $26.5 million deal. While it wasn’t a blockbuster deal or even in the same stratosphere as Darrelle Revis’ old salary, it sent an immediate message that the Bucs had big plans for him.
Aside from Verner, the Bucs have two positions up for grab at cornerback: a second starter, who will line up opposite Verner to help defend the opponent’s No. 2 receiver, and then nickel back, who’s responsible for defending slot receivers.
Johnthan Banks and Mike Jenkins will compete for that second starting job. These players are really night and day when it comes to skill sets. At 6-foot-2, Banks has the length and physicality to hang with some of the league’s bigger receivers, while Jenkins has short-area quickness that may naturally fit better into cover 2. Both have starting experience, with Jenkins reaching the Pro Bowl in his sophomore season with the Cowboys, although he has since struggled with injuries.
As far as nickel back, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said at the end of OTAs that D.J. Moore had the advantage based on his familiarity playing that role in Lovie Smith’s defense, which he did for four seasons up in Chicago. There’s also Leonard Johnson who has the ability to line up on the outside too.
Danny Gorrer and Rashaan Melvin both saw a lot more action during OTAs because of minor injuries to Verner, Jenkins and Moore, and both had interceptions off Josh McCown and Mike Glennon. Others in the mix will be Deveron Carr and Quinton Pointer, a former undrafted free agent most recently with the Rams.
Overall, there’s no Darrelle Revis and some fans are still wincing over it, but this group looks to have a lot more depth heading into training camp versus last year, not to mention it’s a more balanced group. Opposing quarterbacks won’t be attacking guy repeatedly over and over. This group may also fair better in this scheme, versus last year’s, with more of an emphasis on flying to the ball.
Only concern — a few guys were dinged up at minicamp, which isn’t an ideal way to start things off, although they’ll have had six weeks to recover.