The Buccaneers made strides this year in an attempt to patch up a defense that was quite dismal last year. Five straight defensive picks came off the board before WR Scotty Miller was selected in the 6th round.
The two picks that stick out the most in this defense-heavy Bucs draft aside from LB Devin White would be DE/OLB Anthony Nelson out of the University of Iowa and CB Sean Murphy-Bunting from Central Michigan University. Nelson and Murphy-Bunting were drafted to a self-proclaimed “win now” Buccaneers team. The cornerback and edge rush position were and still are a major question on this football team.
Nelson’s impact will be slightly more leaned on now since the injury to JPP. His current competition is Noah Spence and Carl Nassib. To say the Buccaneers need production from Nelson is an understatement. Nelson was an absolute steal in the 4th round. Physical motor, size, length (6’7) and overall scheme fit.
Murphy-Bunting joins a secondary group who was routinely torched last year with no proven starter. Somewhat of a head scratcher to take a CB that high in the second round, it’s simple to see now why the Bucs were so enamored with the small school prospect. Freakish vertical, blazing make-up speed and a student of the game. Carlton Davis came on as of late but it remains to be seen how he will translate to a completely different defense from what he played in his rookie season. Vernon Hargreaves at this point in his career is nearing bust worthy. With a new defense being implemented to suit the majority of corners on the team, perhaps we’ll witness some revitalized careers.
Expect the two rookies to be used early and often this year by Todd Bowles considering the thin depth at their positions. Hopefully additional help from blitzing linebackers will help both parties out. Additional pass rush equals less time to throw. Less time to throw or hurried passes equals opportunities for young cornerbacks. Seems about right.