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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2024 State of the Bucs: Cornerback

Taking a position-by-position breakdown as the Buccaneers head into the 2024 season, continuing with cornerbacks


Position Group: Cornerback

Players: Jamel Dean, Carlton Davis III, Zyon McCollum, Christian Izien, Josh Hayes, Keenan Isaac (Reserve/Future), Quandre Mosely (Reserve/Future)

2023 Evaluation: When healthy, former Auburn teammates and Bucs' tandem Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis III solidified the back end. Dean missed several games with an ankle injury and amassed four passes defensed, two fumble recoveries and 61 tackles in 13 starts during the 2023 campaign. Davis dealt with a myriad of injuries this past season, including toe, hip and groin ailments that limited his time on the field to 12 game starts. He amassed nine passes defensed, 52 tackles and two interceptions in 2023. Dean quickly accelerates to top speed, keeping pace with deep threats. He crowds receivers along the boundary in press and smoothly transitions out of his breaks. Davis is a nuisance for receivers around the league, with an elite size/length profile. He effectively blankets opponents and disrupts the catch window with aggression. Dean contributed 712 snaps last season, while Davis notched 715.

 Zyon McCollum became the interchangeable plug-and-play chess piece in the secondary, filling a variety of roles when needed in his second year. Due to his athleticism, the Bucs' staff wanted to get McCollum on the field in whatever capacity they could. McCollum played 665 snaps at outside corner, 59 at slot corner and 31 at safety in 2023. He totaled 41 tackles, two forced fumbles and showcased his fluid footwork to mirror and match receivers out of his backpedal. McCollum elevated the Bucs' defense with patience and balance on the back end. He put up impressive numbers at the Combine, including a 4.33-second 40-yard dash. That blazing agility, paired with his size, made McCollum an ideal fit as a gunner on the Bucs' special teams coverage units as a rookie. In his second year, he took on a larger role on the defense and worked to control his speed, as well as footwork in open-field tackling.

After going undrafted in the 2023 NFL Draft, Rutgers' Christian Izien was signed by the Buccaneers and made a quick impression during training camp to make the club's final 53-man roster. Throughout the 2023 slate, Izien started in the Bucs' nickel package, causing disruption in the box with quick-twitch athleticism. He is a willing and physical run defender that possesses range over the top. Izien recorded interceptions in his first two games and finished the 2023 season with two passes defensed, one forced fumble, 65 tackles, three tackles for loss and two quarterback hits on 719 defensive snaps.  Rookie corner Josh Hayes primarily worked on special teams (279 snaps) and accumulated 17 tackles on defense (29 snaps) in 15 games played.

2024 Outlook: The Buccaneers will have continuity in 2024 as none of the aforementioned names are set to become free agents. Dean became the Bucs' top performing corner in 2022 and earned a four-year contract extension in March. In March of 2022, the Bucs re-signed Davis to a three-year deal, locking in the physical man-to-man defender. With a fresh bill of health, the Bucs will continue to take strides forward in 2024 with their tandem intact.

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