Top Six Safeties Bucs can Pursue in 2015

NFL NEWS: Tampa Bay Bucs

Bucs improved secondary depth with re-signings of Major Wright and Bradley McDougald, but more work is needed to make the 5th worst passing defense better.

Wright, McDougald, Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron (who was traded to the St. Louis Rams during the season) accounted for 182 of the teams 1,165 total tackles and only one of the teams 14 interceptions. Suffice it to say, its been an underperforming unit.

While Barron never panned out to his first round potential, Goldsons only been on par when it comes to his tackling. Prior to arriving at Tampa Bay, Goldson had 14 INTs, five fumble forces and four fumble recoveries with the San Francisco 49ers through 81 games in six seasons. Since then hes only had one INT and fumble forced, a piece and two fumble recoveries in 27 games through two seasons.

Whether or not general manager Jason Licht wants to rework Goldsons deal remains to be seen, but here are a number of faces who can contribute to the position.

Chris Conte

Conte, like Wright, has a history with head coach Lovie Smith with the Chicago Bears being selected in the third round in the 2011 draft. Despite rehabbing a shoulder injury, Contes been productive with the Bears through his four seasons with the team playing 57 of 64 games with 231 combined tackles, nine INTs, one fumble forced and recovered. Hes had six INTs in his last two seasons.

Conte would likely not come with near Goldsons price tag seeing how Conte made $1.6 million in 2014 compared to Goldsons $6 million.

Eagles_Nate_Allen_2013Nate Allen

Allen, a second round selection from University of South Florida in 2010, has had five serviceable years with the Philadelphia Eagles. Hes amassed 324 combined tackles, four sacks, three fumbles forced, three fumbles recovered and 10 INTs (including a career-high four in 2014) playing 74 of 80 games. As the fourth highest-paid safety now turned free agent, Allens return to Tampa could make him a force to start should the Bucs decide to part with Goldson. Allen made $3 million in 2014 and should be one of the top-earning safeties this offseason.

Allens biggest deficiencies is his lack of on-the-field discipline which may affect his value.

Stevie Brown

Browns made an impression with the New York Giants in his three seasons with the team after stints with the Oakland Raiders and Indianapolis Colts. Despite missing out on the 2013 season, Browns made 114 combined tackles, one sack, two fumble forced, two fumble recoveries and eight interceptions through 32 games.

While his fellow safety Antrel Rolle is also a free agent, Brown may come at a more affordable price when comparing what each made in 2014. Rolle made $9.3 million at the age of 32 while Brown made $2.8 million at 27. If Brown wishes to test the free agent waters, dont be surprised if the Bucs takes a chance on him.

Damarious Randall

The Arizona State prospect has the speed and persistence to never give up on plays, according to Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com. With Randalls aggressive-style of play and speed, he has the awareness to read the quarterback and jump on routes. Creating turnovers is key to thriving in a Tampa 2 defense and with Randalls two seasons with the Sun Devils, hes already caused 10 turnovers with six INTs and four forced fumbles.

Projected as a third rounder, Randall, who stands at 5-foot-11 and 196 lb., can make defenses pay for going over the middle with some coaching up.

Gerod Holliman

While not one of the best tacklers in the draft, Holliman possesses the attributes to make plays on the ball, which is ideal in an opportunistic scheme like the Tampa 2. Holliman thrived in 2014 with the Louisville Cardinals with Calvin Pryors exist with an FBS-leading 14 INTs, tying an NCAA record set 46 years ago.

Holliman doesnt possess the most sound angles or technique as a hitter, according to Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com, but the six foot, 218 lb. prospect can more than make it up with his clutch plays.

Chris Hackett

Hackett, the six feet and 195 lb. prospect from TCU, has the closing speed and awareness to make big plays. His long limbs make him an intangible for big plays. Since being redshirted in 2011, Hackett recorded 224 tackles, 12 INTs and five forced fumbles. Since 2013, he recorded eight tackles for a loss, which makes him an ideal eighth man in the box.

Rang compares Hackett to the Tennessee Titans Michael Griffin, possessing similar awareness, open-field tackling ability and big play chops. Griffin, as the Titans first round selection in 2008, started all but nine games and recorded 24 INTs and 11 forced fumbles.

The only things going against Hackett are his progress at the NFL Combine, which either won’t affect his late round status or he could be the diamond in the undrafted rough.

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About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News, Examiner.com, and Tampa Tribune.
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