Thursday, January 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers visiting cornerback corner at Senior Bowl

MOBILE, Ala. — Whoever winds up coaching the Buccaneers will immediately face a number of questions in a very critical area of the roster.

When the new coach looks at his secondary, he will evaluate a unit that soon could be missing its top two cornerbacks depending on Ronde Barber's retirement decision and Aqib Talib's legal issues.

Which brings us to Senior Bowl workouts, where the Bucs have some intriguing options to evaluate before April's draft.

Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard is among that group, as is troubled former Gator Janoris Jenkins, who was kicked out of UF after multiple arrests and played last season at North Alabama.

With significant competition at cornerback, prospects have to work hard to set themselves apart. That's good news for teams evaluating them, like the Bucs.

"Sooner or later this week, I want to distinguish myself," said Iowa State CB Leonard Johnson, an All-Big 12 selection from Largo High who started 39 straight games for the Cyclones. "That's the goal. I want to separate myself from other guys and become one of the top corners (in the draft)."

Johnson wanted to display his sound technique that he says helps him make up for other deficiencies.

"Being a technician, no matter what goes wrong, you're always relying on that," he said. "That will always have you in the right position and you'll be right on point."

Donnie Fletcher of Boston College hopes his feistiness will leave an impression on scouts. The Cleveland native stressed tackling ability and physicality as his primary attributes.

"I feel like I'm a big corner (he measured 6 feet and 201 pounds on Monday) who can get up and press, but I also feel like I'm a good cover guy," he said. "And I'm not afraid to hit. I can go either way. I really want to be a complete cornerback.

"When the receiver catches the ball, I want him to pay for it. I want him to be thinking about it the next time he tries to make a catch."

As for the current Bucs, Barber, the starting right cornerback, hasn't announced a decision on playing a 16th season. Meanwhile, Talib, the starting left corner and most talented member of the secondary, has to resolve a case this spring in which he is charged with assault with a deadly weapon in Texas.

COMING UP SHORT: The Monday morning weigh-in and measurements at the Senior Bowl always prove revealing.

This year was no different, with a big-name quarterback coming up rather short. Boise State's Kellen Moore, one of the top quarterbacks in college football the past two seasons, was measured 5-11¾, 191. Scouts and coaches getting a first-hand look at him during the afternoon workout were taken aback at his lack of size.

NFL quarterbacks under 6 feet are rare.

Meanwhile, Nick Foles of Arizona, projected as one of the top quarterbacks in the draft, didn't disappoint. He looked the part at 6-5, 244.

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