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Buccaneers NFL Draft target: Cornerback Darrell Luter Jr., South Alabama.

Jamel Dean’s new contract may change Tampa’s draft strategy, in a different way than you think.

NFL Combine Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

One of the biggest wins for the Buccaneers this offseason was the team’s shocking ability to retain star cornerback Jamel Dean. Dean, at just 26 years old, coming off a career year, was slated to be auctioned off to the highest bidder in free agency. The Auburn product, instead chose to stick with the organization that drafted him and a coach he was familiar with, in Todd Bowles and the Buccaneers. Dean said as much in his press conference, “[Coach Bowles and I] put in a lot of work together. So, it’s like, why would I let another coach reap the benefits of what me and Bowles did?”

The resigning of Dean along with the team’s ability to lock up Carlton Davis last offseason means that the cornerback position will not check in as major position of need that requires immediate upgrading however, after the loss of Sean Murphy-Bunting there will be some holes further down the depth chart. Beyond Tampa’s starting two corners, Jason Licht and co. may be looking to address the position in the draft.

NFL: SEP 18 Buccaneers at Saints Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tampa may be wise to draft a young talented cornerback. Dean went on record saying that he would like to take on a mentorship role for young players, “For me, I just feel like I want to take that next step in being a vet and developing the younger guys because I’ve seen how much I’ve grown... They just need a true vet.”

Dean went on to elaborate on his new potential leadership role further, referencing what Richard Sherman was able to do for him. Talking about Sherman’s time with the Bucs, where the former all-pro cornerback was more of a coach-on-the-field than a player due to injuries, Dean said, “I see that [Richard Sherman] really helped elevate my game, so I want to do the same thing that [he] did for me.” This type of mentality from a veteran player is one that could easily encourage Tampa Bay to draft young talent at the position. Knowing that a player who is signed to a large multi-year contract is willing to take younger players under his wing can be very persuasive.

Can Darrell Luter Jr. be that guy?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 04 Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Darrell Luter Jr. represents some of the things that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have shown an affinity for at the cornerback position. Luter Jr. looms large at six feet tall with nearly 33-inch arms. The former South Alabama Jaguar ran a sub 4.5 40-yard dash at the combine and flashes similar height-weight-speed potential to that of Dean long ago during the 2019 NFL Draft process.

Jamel Dean measures in slightly taller, at six feet one inch and tested faster, recording an impressive 4.30 in the 40. Luter Jr. still has some formidable numbers to his name.

During Senior Bowl week, Darrell Luter Jr. had the benefit of some hometown love operating in his favor as fans who came to watch cheered loud and proud whenever the Jaguar was around the ball in practice or making a play on gameday. When I spoke with him, he gave a nod to the fact that he had the unique opportunity of having Senior Bowl week on his home turf. Luter Jr. said his favorite part of the week was, “Just his experience... Being in Hancock Whitney once again for the last time [was] something special.”

Homefield advantage aside, after the week’s conclusion he talked about the mentally challenging part of the Senior Bowl, “You have to go through a lot of, you know, meetings and then on top of that [there’s] interviews, with different scouts... consecutively and they’re continuing to ask you the same question over and over but you just gotta have that mental. You gotta keep the same energy throughout your interviews.”

Darrell Luter Jr. may not be able to come in and provide starting caliber reps for the Buccaneers in 2023, but the question is does he need to?

Current state of Tampa Bay’s cornerbacks.

The Buccaneers have two studs that, when healthy, they can count on. The team's starting cornerback tandem is solid, past Dean and Davis the depth chart lacks some depth. Zyon McCollum remains on the team after an uninspiring rookie campaign. The 2022 late-round draft pick performed as such. In limited action on the field, McCollum certainly had his rookie woes. After McCollum, the roster boasts the unfamiliar names of Duron Lowe, Don Gardner, and Anthony Chesley. The depth of Tampa’s cornerbacks is a concern. Last year star safety Antione Winfield Jr. spent a very good deal of time somewhat out of position as he frequently lined up as a slot cornerback. Playing the nickel, Winfield Jr. showed his versatility and did well, however Todd Bowles has made it clear when speaking about Winfield Jr. this offseason that he would like to take some things off his plate. Clearing his plate will begin with playing the safety at his natural position with greater regularity.

Cornerback is not a position where the Buccaneers need a prospect to come in and start but there is no doubt that adding one or two depth pieces behind their front-line starters would be a good idea for Tampa.


What round do you think the Buccaneers address the Cornerback position in?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    First round!
    (0 votes)
  • 39%
    Rounds 2 or 3.
    (20 votes)
  • 60%
    Rounds 4-7.
    (31 votes)
  • 0%
    We don’t need another corner.
    (0 votes)
51 votes total Vote Now

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