The Buccaneers need starters at defensive end, safety and cornerback and there are some good defensive players, especially in the secondary, in this year’s Senior Bowl. There are plenty of interesting small school defenders that will be looking to prove that they belong in the NFL as they go against top players from Power 5 conferences.
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Here are some players Tampa Bay that might be a good fit in Mike Smith’s 4-3 defense:
Northern Iowa CB Deiondre’ Hall – 6-2, 190
Hall, a starter for three and a half years, was the Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 with 82 tackles. He finished his career with 13 interceptions and four pick-sixes. Hall has great size, a long wingspan and good ball skills.
SE Louisiana CB Harlan Miller – 6-1, 180
Miller had 11 career interceptions, including seven over the past two years. Miller is a very good athlete, and led the Southland Conference with a 10.5-yard average as a punt returner. Miller is trying to follow in the footsteps of Robert Alford, another SE Louisiana cornerback who starred at the Senior Bowl.
LSU CB Jalen Mills 6-1, 194
Mills was a four-year starter (44 starts) at LSU with two years at the safety position and two years at cornerback. The versatile defensive back finished his Tigers career with 216 tackles and six career interceptions. Mills has good size to play either safety or cornerback, but will be tried at cornerback at the Senior Bowl.
Samford CB James Bradberry – 6-1, 213
Bradberrt, a four-year starter, finished his career with eight interceptions and 27 pass breakups as one of the best cover cornerbacks in the Southern Conference. Bradberry was consistent, notching two interceptions in all four years at Samford. Played well against SEC teams, recording an interception against Auburn as a junior and breaking up two passes against Arkansas as a sophomore.
Virginia CB Maurice Canady – 6-2, 195
Canady, a two-year starter, has great length for a cornerback. He’s a good athlete, evidenced by the fact he returned punts as a senior, returning one 74 yards for a touchdown against William & Mary. The key for Canady at the Senior Bowl will be to prove he’s fluid enough to turn his hips and run to cover smaller, quicker wide receivers on the outside.
Middle Tennessee S Kevin Byard – Photo by: Getty Images
Middle Tennessee FS Kevin Byard, 5-11, 217
Byard was a four-year starter and a big-time playmaker for the Blue Raiders, recording 19 career interceptions for 377 yards and four touchdowns, in addition to 307 tackles. Also had five forced fumbles in his Middle Tennessee career. Byard is a compactly-built player that isn’t afraid of contact.
Boise State FS Darian Thompson – 6-2, 212
Thompson, a three-year is one of the best ballhawks in the nation. He’s the Mountain West Conference’s all-time leading interceptor with 19, surpassing Eric Weddle. Thompson had five interceptions, 65 tackles and two forced fumbles as a senior for the Broncos. As a junior, Thompson had a career-high seven interceptions, including a pick-six, to go along with 71 tackles.
William & Mary FS DeAndre Houston-Carson – 6-2, 195
Houston-Carson was a three-year starter at cornerback and became a dominant safety his senior season. He racked up 293 tackles, 10 career interceptions and 10 career kick blocks at William & Mary. As a senior, Houston-Carson had 109 tackles, four interceptions, including a school-record 94-yard touchdown. He had six double-digit tackle performances last year, a punt block for a safety, a 70-yard blocked PAT return for a score and a 65-yard blocked FG return for a touchdown.
Maryland SS Sean Davis – 6-1, 202
Davis was a very productive safety for the Terrapins, recording over 300 tackles, six interceptions and three interceptions in his career. Davis recorded five forced fumbles as a senior, which was second in the nation last year. Davis has good size and coverage ability. He also started at cornerback for two years at Maryland.
Eastern Kentucky DE Noah Spence – 6-3, 261
Spence was kicked out of Ohio State after his sophomore year for failing multiple drug tests for ecstasy. He sat out the 2014 season and then played his junior season at Eastern Kentucky where he recorded 11.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for a loss. Spence notched 8.5 sacks at Ohio State, including 7.5 as a sophomore in 2013. Spence is a gifted athlete with a great shoulder dip and is expected to dominate at the Senior Bowl and become a first-round draft pick.
BYU DE Brandon Kaufusi – Photo by: Getty Images
BYU DE Bronson Kaufusi – 6-7, 265
Kaufusi has spent time at defensive end and outside linebacker for the Cougars, but is a better fit as an end in the NFL. He’s BYU’s second all-time leading sacker with 26.5 sacks. He ranks third in Cougars history with 44 tackles for loss. Kaufusi also had two interceptions, including a pick-six. Kaufusi is a high-motor player with a great wingspan and good power.
LSU LB Deion Jones 6-1, 227
Jones, a Butkus Award finalist, replaced Tampa Bay’s Kwon Alexander as a starter at LSU last year and finished with 82 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, two interceptions, including a pick-six against Eastern Michigan, in his first year as a starter. Jones is one of the fastest linebackers in the NFL and is a special teams demon on kickoff coverage with bone-crushing hits. Jones can play weakside or strongside in the NFL due to his coverage ability.
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Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I really wish All us Bucs’ fans could not think about the draft until February. But, as we are picking in the top 10 (AGAIN) we Marcus Whelby. Mike Smith said 2 things that really caught my attention, 1.) if you come out of the same formation for an entire game a modern day QB is going to eat your lunch (F’n Lovie) AND more to the point: your can only have so many fronts in a modern D, the real scheme happens with your shell, your back 4-7 players. Opinion time: I’m not sold on Any of these DE in the draft. Please talk them up fellow posters, I want to like them. I love the FSU kid, I love what hybrid players can do in nickle–SS/LB or FS/CB is an awesome skill set. But, the Bucs’ didn’t lose enough to get him. Jeez, that hurts to type. I want to see the Bucs’ build a 2ndary. think of it as the Back 7, not the front 7. I believe that’s how we help our pass rush. It’s not who plays next to McCoy, but who plays behind him. Every year Horse wants a draft pick that the Bucs’ need, but isn’t the popular choice. He gets beat up on the boards for it, but he’s not wrong in his thinking. I’m channeling my inner Horse this year. I want a CB. If he’s a gator…fine he’s a gator. I want to see us build a 2ndary the way we built our line. In the draft & in FA, we need to go late, early, and often. Nickle and Dime. Watch the playoffs and tell me what you see.
mjmoody…I agree with your thoughts. I do hope we pass on Spence. Don’t like the backround there.
Sorry, I meant to say “I want to see us build a 2ndary the way we built our OLine,” over the past 2 years. –As far as, “watch the playoffs goes: The Packers are a great example of a defense that completely changed because of the return of Sam Sheilds; their top CB.
Scott you mention secondary, and D ends, I think you can make an argument for D tackles as well. McCoy ain’t getting any younger, or better, who’s good after him? You win in the trenches, and Smith I believe likes bigger D lineman. Yesterday Denver got great pressure with the outside rush, but Carolina came up the middle with pressure from Short. I’m not sold on our D tackles, pressing need, maybe not. However when picking at number nine, I’d take the higher rated tackle over reaching for a D end, or corner.
Also being reported Brett Maxie has been hired as DB coach. Another impressive hire.
Was I the only one watching Victor Ochi?
Sorry, you guys are talking about the Senior Bowl, Hey I’m old!
If Tampa could get 4 or 5 of the kids Tampa got steals. I can’t wait to see who Tampa gets through the draft and Free agents-It was a great game for the fans. GO Tampa
One name that you didn’t mention that player from Florida. The pewter Report on Pre Senior bowl was the player named Poole.
This is I george hicks. I believe that Tampa has a high 2nd rd pick.I think Iam impress with Noah Spence the kid from E Kentucky. He reminds myself of Hall of Famer WARREN SAPP.If those other players are not there at pick no#9 then I would see who would trade up for pick no#9 for a mid-rd pick and at least a pick in no#2 or #3.Then I would select this kid and the coaching staff will worked with him.
I’m not seeing the Top DE, CB, or OL at our Spot 9. Even though I see the need at DE, CB, Safety, I actually suppport Best Available Player within reason. I would also prefer to move way down and pick up some more draft picks. Go Bucs!
forgot to add this to my previous statement. If Martin is gone we have to draft a RB 2nd or 3rd round. I see the need right now for 2 DE’s, 2 CB’s, 2 Safeties, 1 OL, 1 Wr; could use additional help in the lower rounds a Center, LB, DT, FGK, Punter,
the two teams in the superbowl lines got amazing pressure yesterday and help their defenses dominate the game… Bucs have to find some rush DE that can get consistent pressure
It seems like to me that many Bucs fans like Jalen Ramsey from FSU, and I am no different. The sentiment is that he will not be there at number 9, but I am not sure of that. There is always a guy who falls each year, and I could see Ramsey being that guy. No actual facts to support my theory. Just a feeling. Also, many of the CB listed in this article are described as big CB that can make plays on the ball. That sounds a lot like the scouting report on Jonathan Banks when he was in the draft. If Mike Smith prefers big CB then hopefully he can find a way to get Banks back on track. The guy is too young to just give up on.
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