This past year saw the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play several young defensive backs, both by choice and need. Here is my opinion on how the season went for those defensive backs.
The Bucs decided to attempt to upgrade the secondary by drafting M.J Stewart, Carlton Davis, and Jordan Whitehead. For most of us fans of the team, this did not come as a surprise to me. This was by far the weakest position of the team. The Bucs corner back position was one of the weakest in the NFC south.
Stewart was one of the better press corners in the draft. His physical play at the line of scrimmage helped him become the first of two picks in the second round for the Bucs. Stewart appeared in nine games this season. Stewart had growing pains. In my opinion, his play was on pace with most rookie corners. M.J Stewart plays bigger than his 5’11 frame . He possesses tremendous upside.
Carlton Davis III
Carlton Davis III was the second pick, of the second round for the Bucs. Davis was known for being a physical corner that had great hips, and feet. The rookie from Auburn University started 13 games and amassed, what I think, was the best overall season of all the young defensive backs. His willingness to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage played a big part in him being matched up on the #1 receiver.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made Whitehead the final defensive back taken they took in 2018. An undersized safety, Whitehead was taken in the fourth round of the draft. Whitehead has the ability to play and excel at multiple positions. Whitehead appeared in 14 games, and from a stats prospective, had the best season with 61 tackles and 15 assists.
I think with the new system that will be in place, these young men will have a far better season in 2019. Coach Todd Bowles plans to run a defense that likes to attack. Attack is a foreign word to most of us Bucs fans. The back end of the Bucs defense must improve if they want to have any success. All three young defensive backs excel in press coverage. Not one of the three have any problem getting physical in the pass defense or run defense. 2019 will look far different than the 2018 season. With the changes made with the scheme, I see this secondary being good for a long time to come. Go Bucs!