Saturday, February 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL draft: Assessing Bucs at defensive back

Breaking down the Bucs

Who's back: Cornerbacks Eric Wright, Leonard Johnson, Myron Lewis, Anthony Gaitor and Danny Gorrer; safeties Cody Grimm, Mark Barron and Keith Tandy. Restructuring Wright's contract this offseason allows him to remain on the roster at a much-reduced price and gives the Bucs much-needed help. Hopes are high for Barron in his second year. Johnson looks to build on unexpected experience he gained as an undrafted rookie. Lewis, Gaitor and Gorrer will have the chance to provide depth at a thin position.

Who they picked up: With the Darrelle Revis trade done, the Bucs have overhauled half of their starting secondary. Tampa Bay previously signed the consensus best safety available in free agency, Dashon Goldson, formerly of the 49ers. The 2012 All-Pro makes the back end of the defense much better. His range and athleticism provide an upgrade over aging Ronde Barber. The addition of Revis, considered the game's best cornerback before last year's torn left ACL, makes the secondary one of the Bucs' strengths.

Who left: Cornerback E.J. Biggers, Barber. Biggers, who spent four years in Tampa Bay and started 24 games, left for the Redskins. Barber hasn't retired but isn't under contract. He remains undecided about returning for a 17th season.

Top five in the draft

CB Dee Milliner, 6-0, 201, Alabama The consensus top defensive back in this class, he figures to be a top-10 pick. He's a true cover man.

CB Desmond Trufant, 6-0, 190, Washington — He has a well-rounded skill set that makes him a fit for numerous teams. He has great bloodlines; two brothers are NFL corners.

CB Xavier Rhodes, 6-2, 210, FSU — He has strong one-on-one coverage skills and can play press coverage, as the Bucs do.

S Kenny Vaccaro, 6-0, 214, Texas — In addition to strong coverage skills, he is solid against the run.

S Matt Elam, 5-10, 208, Florida — Has superior athletic ability and blends it with instincts and physicality, making a nice package.

Stephen F. Holder, Times staff writer

Overall draft assessment

The Bucs' pursuit of cornerback Darrelle Revis was the worst-kept secret in the NFL. But despite the deal being done Sunday, the Bucs still are in the market for cornerback help because they lack depth. And without a first-round pick, it's time to focus on options beyond the elite prospects. They include potential second-rounders Johnthan Banks of Mississippi State, Jamar Taylor of Boise State and former LSU standout Tyrann Mathieu.

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