Jamel Dean to Start at Cornerback Opposite Carlton Davis III
The regular season has arrived, and with it, cemented jobs on the finalized roster. Throughout much of the offseason, one of the position battles garnering attention was the cornerback role opposite incumbent starter, Carlton Davis III between Jamel Dean and Sean-Murphy Bunting. On Monday behind the podium, Head Coach Todd Bowles revealed the winner. Even though Murphy-Bunting received the majority of reps with the first-team defense, Dean came out on top of the competition.
"He's made great improvements since he got here, and he studies, "Head Coach Todd Bowles described on Dean. "He comes back in shape. It was a tough battle because Sean [Murphy-Bunting] had a heck of a camp, he really did. Dean had just a notch better and they both will play a lot."
Dean was selected by the Buccaneers in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, a year after Auburn teammate Carlton Davis joined Tampa Bay (second-round 2018 draft). In 42 games played for the Bucs, Dean has posted five interceptions, one defensive touchdown, 33 passes defensed, one fumble recovery, 136 combined tackles and five tackles for loss. He is physical at the line of scrimmage and contests at the catch point. According to PFF metrics, no NFL cornerback has allowed fewer yards per coverage snap in press coverage since 2020 than Dean, a testament to his contributions. Dean is comfortable in-and-out of transitions and has the capability of covering both the 'X' and the 'Z.' With a starting role entrenched, Dean has the potential for a breakout year in 2022.
Chris Godwin Makes Progress
Buccaneers' YAC-threat, Chris Godwin, continues to take intermittent strides as he works his way back from a torn ACL suffered in the Week 15 loss to the Saints last season. To begin the week, Godwin still wore the orange, no-contact jersey during Monday's practice but ran routes without a knee brace on, a notable step forward. "It's a plus to always see him without a brace, running around, which means his confidence has grown," Bowles remarked.
Todd Bowles anticipates having all 53 players on the active roster available to play the Cowboys on Sunday in the season opener, presumably that includes Godwin. "Everybody's trending towards playing Sunday night," said Bowles. "We feel pretty good right now." Four Bucs are on the injured reserve list including center Ryan Jensen, guard Aaron Stinnie, outside linebacker Cam Gill and running back Kenjon Barner. Otherwise, the Bucs made it out relatively healthy to begin the 2022 slate.
With the depth at receiver behind Mike Evans, including Russell Gage Jr. and Julio Jones, there is no need to rush Godwin back. The staff continues to exercise caution with Godwin as he returns from a significant knee-injury sustained in December. Regardless of when the highly-anticipated return occurs, Godwin will elevate the Bucs' aerial attack. He possesses stellar contact balance, adjusting to the ball in flight. Godwin is a nightmare for defensive coordinators, with the ability to stretch the field both vertically and horizontally, beating defenders deep and on intermediate routes.
Rookie Luke Goedeke Earns Full-Time Role
Another starting gig has been finalized on the Bucs' roster. Bowles officially named rookie Luke Goedeke as the starter at left guard. The first-year player out of Central Michigan will line up next to second-year pro, Robert Hainsey. The Buccaneers drafted Goedeke in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft, with the expectation that he would compete with veteran Aaron Stinnie to replace retired Pro Bowler Ali Marpet in the interior. Both vied for the vacant role, including Nick Leverett and Brandon Walton. Stinnie suffered a season-ending knee injury, granting Goedeke with a rare opportunity. At Central Michigan, Goedeke lined up exclusively at right tackle out of necessity, although he is a natural fit at guard. He has impressed with his dedication to film study and football IQ. Goedeke made the challenging transition from the right side of the formation to the left, adjusting coordination and hand placement. He will suit up on Sunday to protect 45-year-old, Tom Brady.
Logan Hall Adds Interior Explosion
The Buccaneers added an interior pass rush catalyst by way of the draft with Houston's Logan Hall. He will add to Tampa Bay's rotation, providing the coveted prototype of height (6'6), weight (295 pounds) and speed (sub-five, 40-yard dash). Hall is a quick twitch athlete with the skills to slip by offensive linemen to penetrate gaps in the run game and has an effective arsenal to shed blockers to collapse the pocket.
"The thing about him is, and what we saw from him in college is, his ability to win one-on-one," Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line Coordinator Kacy Rodgers stated on Hall. "So, what we're thinking is – we try to be a pressure-style defense, and, some of the looks that we create, we're going to guarantee a one-on-one. We're going to force you to give us a one-on-one here and what he's shown so far in camp is the ability to win a one-on-one. We know what our edge guys can do, we know what our big guys can do, but they're going to be more power-oriented, it's going to take them longer to get there."
Bowles consistently finds creative ways to generate advantageous one-on-one matchups and Hall will become a focal point on Sundays in certain packages. His speed has flashed throughout camp, and that non-stop motor can solidify the unit during the 2022 season. With a lethal first punch, Hall will be one to watch as the regular season commences and opponents seek to dethrone the Buccaneers.