One of the biggest topics over the past three years has been the Bucs defense or lack thereof. From making garbage QBs look like future Hall of Famers to just looking plain awful. Our defense was the laughingstock of the league for the last couple of years. One of the most frustrating parts of this defense has been the safeties. The Bucs have tried to fix that problem, mostly with free agent signings. Over the last two years, we have drafted two safeties: Justin Evans in 2017 and Jordan Whitehead in 2018. Before that, you would have to go to 2012 to find the last safety, when we drafted Mark Barron, who now is an LB for the Super Bowl-bound LA Rams.
The Bucs futility at the safety position has been overshadowed only by the kicker situation and running back failures. This past year was an interesting one for the defense as a lot of young players got more playing time than anyone thought due to injuries. The safety position was hit hard as Conte, Evans, Johnson, and Whitehead all missed time. Bucs again dipped into the free agency pool, and signed Andrew Adams, who surprisingly played well. So as of right now, the Bucs have Jordan Whitehead and Justin Evans as the only safeties under contract.
Justin Evans is an interesting case because you look at his draft profile and see all the holes he supposedly has in his game, and have to ask yourself, “Why was this pick made?” Then you put him on the football field, and he looks like a future All-Pro on one play, but on the next one takes a terrible angle to make a tackle, giving up a big gain, or gets destroyed in coverage. Now, as I have stated in different articles, I believe this scheme has hindered all of these players. I believe Evans to be another one in a long line of examples as to why Mike Smith should have been shown the door last year. He is a young player with a lot of upside, who will benefit from Arians and this new coaching staff.
Jordan Whitehead showed last year why he was such a steal in the 4th round of the draft. His open field tackling ability and his instincts in the run game showed that he will be a solid player in the future. Trust me, that is high praise when you consider the scheme he was in.
The 2019 NFL Draft is the most important draft in the history of this franchise. It is the first draft that I can remember where as a fan base, we are all expecting so much from a coaching staff. This is the draft where our identity for the next few years will be set. The safety position will be a hot topic in any debate. “Do we draft someone at #5?” ” Do we draft a safety or sign one?”
I, for one, can’t wait to see these young guys flourish under such an elite staff.
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