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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs' 2023 Offseason Outlook: Cornerbacks

An overview of the Buccaneers cornerback depth chart during Organized Team Activities

CB 2023 Offseason Outlook

Organized Team Activities (OTAs) are in full swing as each NFL club shapes the foundation for the upcoming season. With the iteration of classroom sessions, on-field training and install implementation, teams look toward the future. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have competition at nearly every position as turnover has shifted the roster, however, the top two boundary cornerback spots are entrenched with Auburn tandem Carlton Davis III and Jamel Dean lining up on the outside. Battles will commence for the slot role in nickel packages, as well as the reserve spots behind Davis and Dean. 

Dean became the Bucs top-performing corner in 2022 and the No. 7 graded cornerback by Pro Football Focus following the season (top rated free agent cornerback). Tampa Bay was able to retain his productive services despite a tight salary cap situation. The Bucs signed Dean to a four-year contract, locking down the standout defender. 

Dean had a breakout campaign in 2022 and has quietly been one of the NFL's most effective corners for the past several years. Dean allowed the fifth-fewest yards (386) as the nearest defender among all NFL cornerbacks (minimum 60 targets) in 2022, per Next Gen Stats. Since he entered the NFL, Dean has allowed the fewest yards per target (5.7) among all NFL defensive backs (minimum 150 targets). Last season, Dean started 15 regular season games, missing two with a toe injury. He posted 54 tackles, one tackle for loss, two interceptions and eight passes defensed. In his first four seasons with the Bucs, Dean played in 57 games (38 starts) and accumulated 193 tackles, six tackles for loss, seven interceptions and 41 passes defensed. He crowds the catch space and disrupts releases with physicality at the line of scrimmage. Dean has the coveted size/speed combo and possesses elite short-area change of direction. He will look to cement his place atop the league's pecking order in 2023. 

In 2022, Davis consistently disrupted aerial attacks with 12 passes defensed and was a force against the run with 65 tackles. He can play the high or low side of the route and blankets some of the NFL's top-tier receivers on an island. Most notably, Davis stifled Ja'Marr Chase in the Week 15 showdown. He limited Chase to three receptions on eight targets in coverage for 32 yards, forcing five tight windows (tied-second most of any WR-DB matchup in 2022). Davis helps set the tone and entering year six, he will strive to make his mark opposite Dean. 

The nickel corner spot is currently undefined. There are several players competing for the hybrid position, including sixth-round pick Josh Hayes, second-year player Zyon McCollum and third-year reserve Dee Delaney. The Bucs can explore options both internally and externally but coaches will take advantage of OTAs for evaluations in-house. 

"The nickel spot is open – there's quite a few spots that are going to be a battle," said Head Coach Todd Bowles. "We have ideas and things we have in mind that we want to see at that position and we think we have some guys that can fill that spot. We'll see as OTAs and training camp go on if we need one or if we're satisfied with what we have."

Josh Hayes saw plenty of reps in the slot for the Wildcats, ranking third on the team in 2022 with 71 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss. He had seven passes defensed, collecting a pass breakup in six-consecutive games during the middle of the year, earning a place on The Athletic's Midseason All-Portal Team. 

"You have the two-way go," said Hayes. "You've got guys who are just as skilled as anyone in the world and they can go anywhere on the field from that spot. Also, with that, you've got to be fast enough to run with those guys, but also aggressive enough to be able to fit in the box and hit some of those [running] backs and tackle some of those tight ends that come out on screen routes or whatever. It's a unique position for sure."

Last season for the Bucs, both Zyon McCollum and Dee Delaney, received an increase in playing time due to a plethora of injuries in the secondary. McCollum had three starts, accumulating 24 combined tackles (17 solo) in 13 games played. Delaney had one game start, registering one forced fumble, 29 combined tackles (25 solo) and two tackles for loss in 17 games played. 

Position Group: Cornerback


  • Anthony Chesley 
  • Carlton Davis III
  • Jamel Dean
  • Dee Delaney 
  • Don Gardner
  • Josh Hayes
  • Keenan Isaac (UDFA)
  • Duron Lowe 
  • Zyon McCollum
  • Derrek Pitts (UDFA)

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