Who’s Got The Slot’s?


Depth to an NFL team is one of the most important and misunderstood concepts for successfully managing a positive and productive organization. All players need to be able to step up when needed, and believing and relying on your teammates to do that is one of the hardest aspects to get across to a younger team.

As our wide receiver group takes shape, there are many names that come to mind without getting down to that definitive 53 man roster mark. Right off the top you can pencil in Mike Evans as our WR1. He received the big time contract as he should have and should make a great Buccaneer receiver for years to come. Follow him up with Desean Jackson as our WR2 opposite Mike and our outside wideouts are taken care of. Many people think Chris Godwin has proved his value and ability to play on the outside, but as long as Desean is on this roster, I see him staying more on the outside and letting Chris work his way into the slot wide receiver spot, or in most cases our WR3.

However, there is plenty of time before the preseason begins and many things can happen. Although I’ve basically penciled in Chris Godwin as our WR3 and our slot receiver for at least this upcoming season, don’t be surprised if you see him develop into our WR2 in the future. Although Godwin has caught the attention of many players and fans, there is still something to be said about the competition behind him. Adam Humphries and rookie Justin Watson have also grabbed the attention of many people as you can expect to see a good group of receivers fighting for playing time and move up the roster. As it sits now, I see Godwin in the slot at the beginning of the season, but be prepared, he can play on the outside too.

As we look at the secondary and its starting lineup, you can sense a looser fit scheme as things look to settle in before any game planning occurs. I don’t mean that in a negative sense, it’s just the personnel we have, matched with the teams we play against, could equal very different matchups on a week to week basis.

Brent Grimes will start out as our teams CB1 as he continues to play at a very high level. Now with the return of Javien Elliott as an ERFA (exclusive rights free agent), he is a low-cost option that has shown some promise, but barely saw the field until the end of the season last year. Combine Elliott with Vernon Hargreaves, Carlton Davis, MJ Stewart and Ryan Smith and you’ve got quite the options for your slot corner.

With all the options as well as the uncertainty of safeties and who is playing what, I see the cornerback competition being an evolving game to see what works best. I have talked before about how I love the acquisition of Carlton Davis to match up against our big-time divisional wide receivers, but like Chris Godwin, Davis’s role will be primarily based on how the other cornerbacks do in their roles.

After Grimes starts at CB1, I think Hargreaves will get the opportunity again at CB2. He struggled last year with positioning, stance, and lack of aggression on the line, but with a full year under his belt and a good understanding of where the improvements need to be, I look forward to seeing what he can do this coming year. Which leads me to this, Carlton Davis starts as the 5th defensive back, the slot corner, or nickelback to add to the defensive backfield of 2 corners and 2 safeties.

The size Carlton Davis brings to the table, matched with his speed, strength, grit and knowledge of football could make him a key contributor to this defense for years to come. He can come down and help in the run game as he loves to play physical, he can cover the bigger tight ends, and he can move with the quicker slot receivers. With all of that being said, I see Carlton as our slot corner or CB3 for this upcoming season.

Let us know what you think here at Bucs Report!