Back in 2017, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had one of the league’s worse defenses against the pass and had grown a reputation of having a horrid secondary.
Ever since that season, the Bucs front office has put a ton of resources into the secondary. In 2018, they drafted three defensive backs in the top 120 picks, with one of those guys being rising star Carlton Davis. Then in 2019, Jason Licht again was aggressive and drafted 3 defensive backs in the top 100 picks. In 2020, they added the last piece to the puzzle after drafting Antoine Winfield Jr in the second round. After adding needed depth with the signings of Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal, the Buccaneers secondary looks like the league’s best.
Antoine Winfield Jr
One of the most underrated players in the NFL right now. Antoine Winfield Jr. proved to be a vital part of the Buccaneer’s defense. With two interceptions last year, I would predict for him to have more this year. It’s always hard to predict production for safeties, but Antoine Winfield is only getting better as his career progresses.
Predicted stat line: 4 interceptions, 8 passes defensed, 90 tackles
Carlton Davis has proven to be one of the league’s best corners over the past two seasons. With all of his talent, he earned himself a 3-year, $44.5 million dollar extension this past offseason. He functions best when pressed up against bigger-bodied receivers and will almost always play the valuable outside role. I think Davis will again provide the solid pass defense and physicality that will make teams think twice about throwing his way.
Statline prediction: 3 interceptions, 19 passes defensed, 62 tackles
Jamel Dean is kinda the forgotten one of this group. He possesses true 4.3 speed and has surprising physicality. In a lot of spread offenses they love to throw screens to open the field up and Dean will blow these plays up with his physicality. His speed and skill set are a perfect match for Carlton Davis.
Statline Prediction: 2 interceptions, 8 passes defensed, 42 tackles
Sean Murphy-Bunting in my opinion is a solid slot corner that’s super athletic and can run with the best of them. He’s a great fit for this secondary and it allows Todd Bowles to play the matchups to his advantage.
Statline Prediction: 2 interceptions, 9 passes defensed, 32 tackles
Mike Edwards has blossomed into a quality player and came up big with an interception in the playoffs. He played more than 500 snaps last year and his growth has been dramatic. I expect a breakout year for Edwards and if he reaches his potential this pass defense could be the best in football.
Statline Prediction: 3 interceptions, 8 passes defensed, 40 tackles
Logan Ryan is a depth addition that was well needed after the last couple of injury-riddled seasons. Ryan didn’t have any interceptions last season but did have 117 tackles. He provides a well-needed veteran presence in the secondary. It’s tough to project Ryan’s stats this year as he’s spent the last few years bouncing between safety and corner. What he is, is a consistent tackler that’s averaged 78 tackles per season in his nine year career.
Statline Prediction: 1 interceptions, 6 passes defensed, 64 tackles
What To Expect
Todd Bowles and the Buccaneers have all the pieces to make this a devastating passing defense. I expect this group to be better than last year and one of the league’s best. With good players on every level of the defense if this defense isn’t ranked among the league’s best it would be considered a disappointment.
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