This is part seven in our eight part training camp preview. Today we look at the defensive backs.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have invested heavily in the defense backfield the last two years drafting six players at corner back and safety over the last three seasons.
The Bucs pass defense has been one of the worst in the league the past couple of seasons and the Bucs are making good efforts to turn that trend around.
In 2017 Justin Evans from Texas A@M was the second round pick of the Bucs and was showed good progress over the last two seasons. Evans had surgery on his toe on June 4th and is currently on the PUP list. Evans needs to get on the field and start showing this new coaching staff what he can do as he is competing with Mike Edwards and Jordan Whitehead for the starting cornerback job.
In 2018, the Bucs drafted cornerbacks Carlton Davis and MJ Stewart in the second round, and safety Jordan Whitehead in the fifth round.
This year the Bucs drafted cornerbacks Sean Murphy Bunting and Jamel Dean in the second round and safety Mike Edwards in the third round.
These three draft picks of the Bucs in the 2019 class have a lot of speed and excel in man to man coverage and are very physical, something the Bucs lacked last season as many times it looked as if the Bucs defensive backs were allergic to tacking.
Mike Edwards has a good chance to win the starting job at safety beating out Justin Evans as Evans injury may cost him the starting job.
Vernon Hargreaves and Carlton Davis are the starters going into training camp at cornerback. Hargreaves must have a good showing in camp as he has not even come close to the player he was at Florida. The pressure is on Hargreaves to have a good season or he may be on his way out of Tampa sooner rather than later.
Hargreaves has had just one interception his entire career in Tampa.
Jordan Whitehead and MJ Stewart will battle it out for the other starting position opposite Justin Evans or Mike Edwards. Whitehead and Stewart were both forced to play a lot their rookie years and took their lumps. All that experience should pay off in 2019 with a more experienced safety group.
As a group, the Bucs defensive backs had a total of eight interceptions in 2018 and four of those were by Andrew Adams who is no longer on the team.
Ryan Smith will start the season with a four game suspension as he took a substance banned by the NFL during the off-season. The Bucs will look to Isaiah Johnson, Kentrell Brice, and De’vante Harris as depth options.
With Todd Bowles running a more aggressive defensive scheme, the Interceptions and the turnovers will go up. With the turnovers going up, that should equate to more Buccaneer wins as the team that wins the turnover battle will usually win the game.