2014 Bucs Camp Preview: Cornerbacks
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LEADER OF THE PACK: Alterraun Verner
With Revis Island shipping up to Boston, free-agent acquisition Alterraun Verner now takes over as the number one corner in the Buccaneers secondary. The former Titan is coming off his most successful season, racking up 5 INTs with a TD return in 2013. He is an ideal fit in the Cover 2 scheme, playing off receivers and reacting to the quarterback. And at only 25 years old, his ceiling is still very high. The only thing keeping Verner from being considered an elite NFL CB is wins. Given the other talent on this defense, he could be the unsung hero of the Bucs defense if they reach the playoffs.
ALL EYES ON: Johnthan Banks and Mike Jenkins
These two are the favorites to start opposite Verner. Banks is coming off his rookie season that was somewhat average. Despite solid numbers (3 INTs, 55 combined tackles), he gave up many big plays as well. Meanwhile, seven-year veteran Mike Jenkins comes in and is hungry to start. The former USF Bull comes back home off perhaps his most productive season with 65 combined tackles and 2 interceptions in Oakland. Banks still has a lot room to grow, but Jenkins is a solid corner that can play almost anywhere you put him. Watch these two battle it out throughout camp.
X-FACTOR: Danny Gorrer
Gorrer has been fighting for his place in the NFL his whole career. An undrafted free agent in 2009, the Texas A&M grad has bounced around the league between teams for years until 2012 when the Bucs brought him in. He stood out last year in the preseason, even picking off Joe Flacco in the preseason opener at home. Unfortunately a groin injury required him to have surgery and didn’t return until mid-season. Gorrer has already showed flashes of brilliance in OTAs and mini-camp. If he continues to make plays in this camp, he might sneak past Leonard Johnson on the depth chart and get a considerable amount of playing time this year.
CAMP OBJECTIVE: Grow and Develop
Every cornerback on the roster is under 30 years of age. In the past couple seasons we’ve seen Ronde Barber retire, Eric Wright waste chances, and Darrelle Revis on loan. There hasn’t been a sense of stability at this position for some time. Now with Alterraun Verner locking up a 4-year deal, that could change quickly. And if the younger, less experienced corners are brought along the right way, this could be the most opportunistic Bucs secondary in years.