We're evaluating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ahead of the 2016 NFL draft, going position by position. Today: cornerbacks.
Currently on the roster: Brent Grimes, Johnthan Banks, Alterraun Verner, Josh Robinson, Jude Adjei-Barimah, C.J. Roberts, Joel Ross
After a disastrous year of cornerback play, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers let their best cornerback walk. No more Sterling Moore. And yet, the cornerback position looks pretty strong. Signing Brent Grimes gave the Bucs an old but still talented veteran, and Josh Robinson adds some crucial depth. Most importantly, the team hopes that a new defensive staff will help Banks and Verner get back to form.
That's not just a fantasy. Verner was a Pro Bowler in 2013 and led the league in interceptions at the time, and he now has the same defensive backs coach he had at the time. He was adequate if not a difference-maker in 2014, though he struggled more last year. Given that he's just 27, he has plenty of time left to find his Pro Bowl form again -- though the fact that he's making over $6 million this year means he'll probably have to stand out in the offseason to stick on the roster.
Banks has been a bit of an enigmatic player. He looked promising as a rookie, though it took him a while to get used to the NFL. He looked terrible at the start of 2014, but had a stellar end to the season. And then he was repeatedly benched last year, and never played well. As with Verner, the Bucs seem to think that was due to the coaching staff. We can only hope they're right.
The Bucs could look to the draft to add some more talent at this position, with Vernon Hargreaves a popular choice for their first-round pick in mock drafts. Going into the season with this group of players would be entirely justified, though. There's a lot of physical talent here, and a decent amount of depth. While the Bucs won't win awards for a shutdown secondary, this group is easily good enough to win with.