The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have three of the 101 best players in the NFL, which is pretty much exactly the average. That, at least, is what Pro Football Focus decided was the case in their top 101 list of 2016’s players.
Mike Evans was ranked 12th overall, and we talked about that ranking a few days ago. We hadn’t mentioned the other two Bucs, though: Brent Grimes at number 43, and Gerald McCoy at number. McCoy’s ranking seems a little on the low side, but his presence on the list should surprise no one.
Grimes’ presence is a lot more interesting, though, especially because there was some evidence of a decline in his play in 2015, and there were serious doubts about how he’d do in Tampa.
Brent Grimes was vulnerable to getting beat at times this season — surrendering five touchdowns — but he offset that with some playmaking ability of his own, notching four picks and 14 pass breakups. He allowed 54.9 percent of the passes thrown his way to be caught, and in the final week of the season, had one of the best games by any cornerback over the entire season, shutting down QB Cam Newton and the Panthers’ passing game almost single-handedly.
Officially, Grimes even had 24 passes defensed (including his four interceptions), which led the league. He struggled a bit early in the season, but was especially impressive over the final two months of the year, as was the case for most of the Bucs defense. Having him back this season and playing at that same level will be key to the Bucs’ playoff hopes.