If anything, no one can claim GM Jason Licht didn’t try his darndest to fix the Bucs secondary. Ignoring needs along the offensive and defensive line, Tampa Bay completed a Day Two sweep of defensive backs by selecting Auburn CB Jamel Dean and Kentucky Safety Mike Edwards in the 3rd round. Tampa Bay got the extra 3rd round selection by trading out from the 70th overall selection and receiving picks 94 and 99 overall.
Dean is a fascinating pick. A player with who has had two torn MCLs and a torn ACL is not typically one you’d pick on Day Two. But Dean ran a stunning 4.3 at the combine and has the size and speed the Bucs are looking for at cornerback.
Scott Reynolds of the Pewter Report says:
Dean had 17 pass breakups over the past two years, and came up with the first two interceptions of his career in 2018. Dean has great size at 6-foot-1, 206 pounds, and really turned heads at the NFL Scouting Combine with a blazing 4.30 time in the 40-yard dash.
The Bucs had Dean in for a Top 30 pre-draft visit and like his size, speed and physicality, which fit well in Todd Bowles’ aggressive press man scheme. Tampa Bay needs help at cornerback as both Vernon Hargreaves III and Ryan Smith are both entering contract years. Dean and (Bucs 2018 2nd round pick Carlton) Davis played together two years and reuniting the former Auburn duo could help the Bucs for years to come.
Frank Marino of The Draft Network:
A two-year starter at Auburn, Dean dealt with extensive injuries in high school and early in his college career that started at Ohio State. What makes Dean appealing is his blend of size and speed, which leads to some flashy plays on tape. With that said, his processing, ball skills and run defense are notable areas of concern. Dean is a work in progress and his tantalizing physical traits will likely get him over-drafted, but his ceiling is impossible to ignore.
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com:
Dean’s combination of height, weight and speed will get the conversation started off in the right direction for NFL evaluators, but there is no way around the fact that multiple knee surgeries will be a cause for concern in those same circles. His length and ability to disrupt catch space is a big plus in his favor and he has the athletic ability to play in a variety of coverages. However, he needs more consistent competitiveness and better technique for the next level.
After Dean, the Bucs continued to address their historically terrible secondary with the selection of Kentucky Safety Mike Edwards. A four year starter for the Wildcats, Edwards is a playmaker who ended his Kentucky career with
Jon Ledyard of the Draft Network says:
For almost four full seasons, Edwards was a guiding force in Kentucky’s secondary, playing all over the defense to help elevate the unit to one of the country’s best this past season. Edwards never missed a game for the Wildcats, playing in 51 and starting 44 consecutive contests while showing the smarts, toughness and versatility to lead the defense in a variety of ways.
A limited athlete and smaller safety, Edwards’ best spot at Kentucky (and likely in the NFL) will be in the slot, where his quickness and processing skills are useful in man and zone coverage. His ability and desire to play the run is a strength, and while he may be overwhelmed physically by certain ball carriers and blockers, Edwards has enough strength and technique to be a good perimeter defender against opponents’ short passing attacks and ground game. I think he could be a solid starter for certain NFL teams, but there may also be some matchups that don’t exactly play to his strengths.
Zierlein of NFL.com adds
Versatile defensive back with above-average instincts, awareness and toughness. Edwards has the instincts and range to become an eventual starter at safety, but some evaluators might view him as a big nickel with the size to handle bigger slot receivers and the toughness to get his nose dirty in run support. Edwards is a smart, tough and consistent player who could find early starting work if he tests well.
Needless to say, the Bucs hope that after spending 8 draft picks in the last 3 years in the secondary, they have found enough guys to make the difference.
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