Jamel Dean is a former four-star prospect that committed to Ohio State out of high school. But he later transferred to Auburn, where he played for two seasons before leaving early for the NFL, racking up 45 tackles, two interceptions, and seventeen passes defensed. The Bucs took him with the 94th pick.
First, let’s take a look at his measurables:
Right off the bat, a pattern is starting to emerge. First Bunting, and now Dean - tall, long cornerbacks with good, and in Dean’s case, blazing speed. This new staff clearly believes the Bucs’ secondary room lacks length and athleticism; and they’re right. Dean looks like more of a linear athlete, but that long speed and above average length will give him good range and the ability to contest catches.
But his large size has also given him stiffness in his hips and below average agility, which has also shaped his game. He will struggle with quick, explosive receivers, and won’t be able to start/stop quickly. He doesn’t have great ball skills. He’s best in press where he can get his hands on a receiver at the line of scrimmage, and uses his size and length to give receivers problems. Like a lot of cornerbacks that come out of Auburn he can also get a little grabby, especially off the LOS and when the ball is in the air. He looks like a boundary corner. And like Bunting, Dean appears less than willing to stick his nose in contact when in run support. This Bucs staff clearly doesn’t care about run stopping from their corners and is just looking for guys with size and speed that can cover. That’s pretty telling.
But the elephant in the room is the knee injuries. Dean tore his ACL and meniscus in the same knee as a junior in high school, then tore the same meniscus again as a senior. He went to Ohio State, where he was medically disqualified. That’s how he ended up at Auburn, where he suffered a knee injury to his other knee that also required season-ending surgery. He still ran a 98th percentile 4.3 40-yard dash at the Combine. If his knee injuries are behind him, Dean could be a guy that will help the Bucs match up again jumbo wide receivers. It’s too early to say if Dean will be able to win a starting job, but he fits a role and will compete.