Pro Football Focus apparently closed off their NFL roster rankings by looking at the secondary. And the Tampa Bay Buccaneers once again ranked way at the bottom — number 28 out of 32, to be precise.
Looking to shore up their pass defense, the Bucs brought in Brent Grimes (Dolphins) and drafted Vernon Hargreaves (Florida) in the first round. For a few years, Grimes was among the best corners in the league, but has since been fairly average over the past two seasons. Similarly, Verner has not been the same caliber of player since leaving Tennessee. Tampa Bay hopes that new defensive coordinator Mike Smith can help the pair regain their prior form.
This ranking has to be disappointing for the Bucs, but it also makes some sense. Brent Grimes is clearly close to the end of his career, though he’s still good, and no other defensive back on the team’s roster has a recent history of quality play. That doesn’t mean they’re not talented, though: Alterraun Verner in particular looks like he’s about to get back to Pro Bowl form, and first-rounder Vernon Hargreaves obviously has a lot of traits you want in a cornerback.
But the team’s real problem may be at safety. While Bradley McDougald and Chris Conte aren’t bad, per se — they generally do what they need to do — they are not difference maker, and neither are any of the other safeties on the roster. The Bucs need to come up with more splash plays on defense, and they currently don’t have the personnel to do so in the secondary.
Unless, of course, the change in coaching staff makes as big of a difference as the team hopes. We’ll have to wait and see whether that’s an actual thing.