Saturday, November 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Breaking down the 2016 NFL draft: defensive backs (w/video)

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Whom the Bucs have

Brent Grimes, CB (5-10, 185): Big free agent veteran signing has 13 INTs in past three years; no other Bucs player has more than eight in that span.

Johnthan Banks, CB (6-2, 185): Contract year, free agent in 2017; Banks fell out of favor last season, gets fresh start with new defensive staff and scheme.

Alterraun Verner, CB (5-10, 187): Looked like potential cap cut in January, another fresh start with coaching change. Is he a nickel? Starting cornerback?

Josh Robinson, CB (5-10, 199): Signed to one-year, "prove it" deal, UCF grad is wild card in secondary after four years with Vikings.

Jude Adjei-Barimah, CB (5-11, 200): Started seven games last year as undrafted rookie, now starting from scratch again, perhaps battling for roster spot.

Chris Conte, S (6-2, 203): Came back on one-year deal, has good history with Bucs secondary coach Jon Hoke. Played well when healthy last season.

Bradley McDougald, S (6-1, 209): Also a free agent in 2017; big raise to $2.5 million this year, carries expectations of playing well in new defense.

Keith Tandy, S (5-10, 205): Stepped up at end of last season, consistent special-teams player battling for larger role in crowded safety room.

Major Wright, S (5-11, 204): Like Conte, has history with Hoke but has zero INTs in two years with Bucs, missing 11 games with injuries.

Depth: Bucs have four other DBs on roster in CBs C.J. Roberts and Joel Ross and safeties Gerod Holliman and Kimario McFadden, but they're likely on outside of final roster looking in, and that's before Bucs have added any rookies to the mix.

Top five draft prospects

Jalen Ramsey, CB, FSU (6-1, 209): Rare to see DB as potential No. 1, but he was before trades to grab QBs. Has size, speed (4.41 40), and will go in top five.

Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida (5-10, 204): Wharton and Gators playmaker is often paired with Bucs at No. 9; will concerns about his height make him fall?

William Jackson III, CB, Houston (6-0, 189): Ran a 4.37 at combine, had five INTs for Cougars; should go in top half of first round as No. 3 corner in draft.

Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State (6-1, 199): Should go in mid to late first round, with height to match Ramsey and 4.40 speed. Could see five Buckeyes in first round.

Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia (5-10, 205): Might not see a safety in first round, but Joseph (9 career INTs) should go first, ahead of Gators' Keanu Neal, Ohio State's Vonn Bell.

Under the radar

Miles Killebrew, S, Southern Utah (6-2, 217): Bucs were first team to work him out and also gave a close look to his teammate, CB LeShaun Sims. You'll look smart by remembering their mascot is the Thunderbirds.

Free agency

Might have expected more change — Bucs spent big to bring in Grimes, added depth with Robinson and brought back Conte, McDougald and Tandy. Depending on where draft picks fall, not everyone back is guaranteed to stick.

Best guess

If Bucs like the depth at defensive end to address that on second day, they could use the top pick on a corner like Hargreaves or trade down a bit and still get a talent like Jackson or Apple. Expect a safety in later rounds as well; position needs an infusion of young talent.

Greg Auman, Times staff writer

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