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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Training Camp Goals: 2023 Buccaneers, Numbers 30-39

The Buccaneers have a lot of depth issues to sort out on defense, and the players coming to camp in this range of jersey numbers could be heavily involved in those efforts


After winning Super Bowl LV at the end of the 2020 season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers famously "kept the band together" to chase more championships before the window was shut on the Tom Brady era. That included returning all 22 starters from that 2020 squad in 2021, as well as almost every key reserve. That is very uncommon in the NFL, in which teams generally see about 40% turnover from year to year. In fact, it was such a rare occurrence that the Buccaneers drew attention for being the first championship team to do that since the Steelers in the late 1970s, and that era did not include free agency or a salary cap.

Those days are over. It was a very worthwhile pursuit that produced two more division titles, an NFL-best 13-4 record in 2021 and a subsequent what-could-have-been playoff run that ended in a loss to the eventual-champion Rams on a last-second field goal. In part because of the contract structuring that was necessary to keep that core intact for two seasons, the Buccaneers in 2023 are back in the reality that most teams face in most years – inevitable turnover.

The next group in our ongoing 'Camp Goals' rundown includes a number of players who will try to factor into that year-to-year transitions. As the Buccaneers head into their 2023 training camp, they have at least one open starting spot in the secondary and depth issues to resolve at safety, cornerback, outside linebacker and inside linebacker. We're moving on to players who wear jersey numbers in the 30-39 range, and while those numbers are officially open to running backs, tight ends and wide receivers, Tampa Bay's current roster is all defense in the 30s.

#30 DB Dee Delaney: An undrafted free agent all the way back in 2018, Delaney had played in a total of three NFL games, with four defensive snaps, when he was signed by the Bucs late in the 2021 offseason. He's found a longer-lasting home in Tampa, however, thanks in large part to the versatility he has put on display. As dictated by injuries to other players in the secondary, Delaney has seen regular-season action over the last two seasons at slot corner, outside corner and safety. With the Bucs' slot job wide open following the move of Antoine Winfield back to free safety, Delaney has seen plenty of action at that spot in the 2023 offseason. So the upbeat Delaney has a couple of potential goals entering training camp: Win the third corner spot in the nickel package or continue to show that his versatile skill set makes him the most valuable sort of reserve for the secondary as a whole on the 53-man roster.

#31 S Antoine Winfield Jr.: Winfield, again, is moving back to free safety after spending the 2022 season in a hybrid role that saw him at safety in the base defense and in the slot in sub packages. Putting Winfield in the slot brought him closer to the line of scrimmage and allowed him to take advantage of his excellent tackling and blitzing skills, and the Buccaneers surely will tap into that part of his game in some way in 2023. But allowing Winfield to be more of a centerfielder, and he anticipates that creating more opportunities for turnovers. "Yeah, 100 percent, because I'm more in the middle of the field," he said during OTAS. "I'm able to play around and cover different things a little differently than playing in the slot over slot receivers, so definitely." Winfield's goal as he transitions back to being a full-time safety is to "have [a] presence all over" and to help the Buccaneers' defense get back to creating turnovers on a regular basis.

#32 DB Josh Hayes: When the Buccaneers took Hayes in the sixth round in April's draft, Vice President of Player Personnel John Spytek acknowledged that the former Kansas State defensive back might have been a bit overlooked in scouting circles because the Wildcats had a lot of other eye-catching players on defense. But the Bucs liked what they saw and thought he might have a shot at playing nickel corner right away. Spytek said that Hayes, like Winfield, stands out as a tackler and a blitzer and he's not afraid to get in the mix. In the spring, Hayes worked some in the slot and some on the outside, the latter to utilize his 4.48 speed. He's also a potential option at safety. Hayes can head into his first NFL training camp with a very specific goal of winning the slot corner job, but he can also show off that versatility to help him ensure a spot on the 53-man roster.

#33 OLB Jose Ramirez: Ramirez was the last of the Buccaneers' eight draft picks in April, but that doesn't mean he's a total longshot to find playing time in 2023. The Bucs know that a team can never have enough quality edge rushers in their rotation, and their looking to flesh that spot out behind Shaq Barrett (who's returning from an Achilles tendon tear), Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and Anthony Nelson. The former Eastern Michigan standout has a natural feel for rushing the passer and a good burst off the line. He's a bit undersized (6-2, 242) for an edge rusher, but that profile could also make him an asset on special teams. Ramirez can use his first NFL camp to convince the Buccaneers to keep an extra man for the edge rotation and to try to find a role in the kick-and-coverage game.

#34 S Nolan Turner: After Winfield and presumed strong safety starter Ryan Neal, the Buccaneers have a safety depth chart consisting of four players who have combined to appear in five NFL games. (Versatile defensive backs like Delaney and Hayes do offer a couple more potential options at safety.) Those five games all belong to Turner, a 2022 undrafted free agent out of Clemson who spent most of his rookie season on the Bucs' practice squad but was called up on occasion to help the team weather injuries. While he entered his rookie camp facing the presumed long adds that face most undrafted players, his second camp opens with him in a prominent reserve spot on the safety depth chart. The goal for him is obvious: Take advantage of that opportunity, while also showing that he has value on special teams.

#35 CB Jamel Dean: In the run-up to the NFL's 2023 free agency period, Dean was considered one of the best, if not the best, cornerback likely to hit the market. Given the Buccaneers' precarious salary cap situation, that led many to believe he would be leaving Tampa to land a big deal elsewhere. Instead, Dean and the Buccaneers were able to come together to keep Dean in the fold and give him the lucrative deal he had earned. Dean, who combines 4.3 speed with enviable size for the position, earned that deal despite "only" intercepting seven passes over his first four seasons, with no more than two in any one campaign. There are, of course, plenty of other metrics that display his value, such as the Next Gen Stats note that Dean has allowed the fewest yards per target (5.7) of any outside cornerback in the NFL since 2019. That said, Dean and the other members of the Bucs' secondary are focused on getting more turnovers in 2023. In the offseason, Dean said that involved creating more opportunities for interceptions by getting the quarterback to throw into the spots where they want him to throw. He'll have plenty of chances to work on that in training camp.

#36 CB Don Gardner: Gardner came to the Buccaneers as a rookie free agent out of I-AA South Dakota State, so landing a spot on the practice squad and keeping it all season (also playing in one game after a practice squad elevation), was a very good first step for him in his NFL journey. A good second step was re-signing with the team on a new two-year deal in January, affording him an opportunity to go through an entire offseason program and then get another shot in training camp. Given that there are only three returning players on the Bucs' cornerback depth chart, the fourth, fifth and possibly sixth spots appear to be a wide-open competition. Any player hoping to win one of those spots almost certainly has to be a contributor on special teams, so creating a role in that part of his game and continuing to hone the skills that made him a I-AA All-American would be a good objective for Delaney.

#37 CB Anthony Chesley: Chesley would appear to be in a similar situation as Gardner, given that he spent most of last season on the Bucs' practice squad and was then re-signed in January. However, Chesley did receive a promotion to the active roster in December and between that and practice squad elevations he played in seven games, even drawing 17 snaps on defense. He also played in 12 games for the Texans and Colts before arriving in Tampa and had 86 defensive snaps in Indianapolis in 2021. What's most notable about Chesley's numbers during his seven regular season games last summer was the 110 snaps on special teams, which was 56% of the total in those contests. That indicates that when he had a helmet on he was definitely considered an asset in that part of the game. So, like Gardner, impressing in that arena, particularly during the preseason games, could be a prominent goal for this former Coastal Carolina standout.

#38 CB Derrek Pitts: What's true for Gardner and Chesley is doubly so for Pitts, who will try to follow those two by first getting a foothold in the NFL, most likely by showing he can help on special teams. The good news for Pitts is that he was no stranger to those duties in college, where he played at West Virginia, Marshall and finally North Carolina State. Among his accomplishments in that phase of the game was a blocked field goal that he returned for a touchdown. As a corner, Pitts will likely be looking to improve his ball skills after picking off just three passes in 50 collegiate games.

#39 ILB Jeremy Banks: Banks was a productive defender at Tennessee, where he had a 128-tackle season in 2021 and also displayed good coverage skills, which resulted in three picks and eight passes defensed. His combination of size (6-1, 232), speed (4.53) and a hard-hitting mentality suggest a player who is ready-made to make an impact on special teams right away. Because reserve inside linebackers are usually a big part of a club's special teams core, the Buccaneers started last season with five of them on their 53-man roster and may wish to do so again. If so, there could be a good opportunity for Banks, who will be competing with K.J. Britt, fifth-round pick SirVocea Dennis, Ulysees Gilbert and J.J. Russell. Banks, who played an energetic and aggressive style of football at Tennessee, may simply come to camp with the goal to compete as hard as possible in every drill.

Get a first look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their Creamsicle uniforms.

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