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Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Buccaneers Draft Profile: Safety, Jeremy Chinn

The Bucs could use some safety help, plus they’ve been known to pluck from smaller schools in the past...

When it comes to the Buccaneers’ needs in this month’s NFL Draft, a lot of the focus is—rightfully—on the right tackle position. But after that, there’s a lot of discussion about getting Tom Brady a pass-catching running back and a third wide receiver to pair with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. And that makes plenty of sense as well, considering Tampa Bay brought back most of its 2019 front seven (as planned) and more of the focus is now on the guys they want to surround Brady with.

However, the safety position may still be a pretty important need for the Bucs. And barring a late free agency move, they may look to address that need in the draft. How high of a priority it is remains to be seen, as there has been plenty of talk from Bruce Arians about liking the group they have.

But, should the Bucs be looking for a safety, Southern Illinois’ Jeremy Chinn could be an intriguing option to target.

Jeremy Chinn’s Collegiate Career

Chinn played his high school ball at Fishers in Indiana, finishing up with a strong senior season in which he set school records for interceptions in a season, interception return yards in a season and ultimately set the record for interceptions in a career. He was his team’s defensive MVP, plus he earned first-team all-county, first-team all-conference and All-Metro Super Team honors.

Before his senior season, Chinn didn’t have any scholarship offers. He struggled with injuries as a junior, which slowed his recruiting process. His first chance to play at the college level came from Southern Illinois midway through his final year at Fishers, and although he eventually earned offers from Colgate and North Dakota, he chose to sign with the Salukis of Southern Illinois.

As a freshman, Chinn was named to the Missouri Valley Football Conference’s All-Newcomer Team after totaling 51 tackles (39 solo), three interceptions and five passes defensed. He picked off another three passes in his sophomore year while picking up 66 tackles (47 solo), nine passes defensed, four forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. That production landed him a spot on the All-MVFC Second Team, plus he was named to the conference’s All-Academic Team.

He made the All-Academic Team again as a junior in 2018, but was bumped up to the All-MVFC First Team. Finally, as a senior in 2019, he added another four interceptions to bring his four-year total to 13. As a result, Chinn once again found a spot on the all-conference first team in addition to being a consensus All-American. His impressive college career with the Salukis led to an invite to both the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine.

Pros

With 13 interceptions in four years while primarily playing safety, Chinn very clearly has strong ball skills. He was a playmaker in general throughout his college career, really, considering his 13 picks, 31 passes defensed and six forced fumbles. But along with those skills, his size is what jumps out the most. At 6-foot-3, 221 pounds, he is a big-bodied safety, which helps the physicality aspect of his game. But that’s not to say he lacks speed to complement his size. He ran a 4.45-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, which was the third-best time among safeties. There is A LOT to like about the physical aspect of Chinn’s game.

Plus, Chinn has some versatility to him. He has experience at both safety and cornerback, and his size could yield him a role as a cover linebacker in some defensive packages.

Cons

A lot of the criticism about Chinn comes more with the mental side of his game. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, Patrick Conn of The Draft Wire and Joe Marino of The Draft Network all pointed to the safety’s processing ability and football IQ as areas where he can improve. Zierlein notes that he is “slow to read keys and flow to football from the box,” Conn says he is “a bit behind in his mental processing” and Marino agrees that “he needs to develop his processing skills.”

And while transitioning to the NFL level from Southern Illinois will be an adjustment, NFL coaching should help get him up to speed. And if he gets that processing side of his game right, he should become a very productive pro—especially with the combination of size and speed that he possesses.

Why The Buccaneers Need Jeremy Chinn

The need for Chinn depends on how Bruce Arians really feels about his current safety group. He has remained pretty nonchalant about needing to address the position. The Bucs’ current safety room includes Jordan Whitehead, Andrew Adams, Mike Edwards, Justin Evans and D’Cota Dixon. The latter two are question marks, though, as injuries kept them out in 2019 (and Evans hasn’t played since December of 2018). All of those guys have their pluses, but there still seems to be a lingering feeling that the team should probably add another guy.

A player like Chinn would appear to be a nice fit for the Bucs. He has a big frame, explosive speed and truly eye-catching physical ability. He may need some time to transition to the NFL level and shore up his weaknesses, but Tampa Bay would presumably be able to give him that time. With the group the team already has in the building, Chinn wouldn’t need to start from day one. But as he learns the pro game, he could certainly mix in and contribute by putting that physical prowess on display, especially in the type of packages Todd Bowles would use him in. In fact, Chinn’s size and speed make him the type of guy Bowles could get extremely creative with in a variety of packages.

Should It Happen?

The problem here is the fact that Chinn has been a late riser throughout the draft process. As a small-school guy, he would typically be a later-round target. But his impressive combine performance and elite physical tools have him sneaking up into early day two territory for many. Some draft analysts are even thinking he could move up into the first round. Some teams, apparently, agree:

That complicates things for the Bucs. Tampa Bay, of course, picks in the middle of the first round. A trade—whether it’s back from the No. 14 pick or up from their second round selection—could be a possibility. But if we’re to take Arians at his word, safety wouldn’t exactly be a first-round priority anyway. So, some type of trade for a late first might be for a right tackle from the class’ second tier or one of the high-end running backs.

Now, as a second-round option, maybe the Bucs could swing that. It really just depends on the team’s thoughts on its current crop of safeties. The other depth needs may precede the need for another safety.

So, while the fit for Chinn in Tampa Bay would appear to make sense, his projected draft position might keep him from becoming a Buc.

But now we ask you, Bucs Nation. What’re your thoughts on Jeremy Chinn as a potential Tampa Bay Buccaneer? Be sure to vote in the poll and discuss your opinion in the comments down below.

Poll

How Do You Feel About Jeremy Chinn For The Bucs In The 2020 NFL Draft?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Draft Him No Matter What
    (10 votes)
  • 15%
    Trade Back Candidate
    (23 votes)
  • 50%
    I Wouldn’t Mind It
    (76 votes)
  • 21%
    There Are Better Options
    (32 votes)
  • 6%
    Nope
    (9 votes)
150 votes total Vote Now
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