Tampa Bay Buccaneers Are Suddenly Crowded at the Corner

Tom EdringtonSenior Writer IMay 7, 2012

Greg Schiano is falling in love with Leonard Johnson (23).
Greg Schiano is falling in love with Leonard Johnson (23).Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

One of the cries from the masses during the recently completed NFL draft was: "Where's the corner?"

Once the Bucs passed on Morris Claiborne, you had to know that it was a position for which they didn't feel that desperate when it comes to depth.

It didn't take long, but suddenly, it's getting pretty crowded at the cornerback position.

The Bucs are currently panning for undrafted free-agent gold, and after the just-completed weekend mini-camp, it became apparent to Greg Schiano and his staff that former Largo High product Leonard Johnson may turn out to be their first gold nugget.

Johnson, the former Iowa State corner, was signed as a free agent soon after the last day of the draft. After his showing at the rookie mini-camp, suddenly, it's beginning to look like there's a lot of depth at the corner.

First you've got veterans Ronde Barber, Eric Wright and Aqib Talib. Sure, Talib's got a trial in June, but it's beginning to look like the Players Union is ready to dig in on the technicality that players were not under contract during the CBA lapse and thus not subject to any sort of wrath from Commissioner Roger Goodell. There's also the decent chance that Talib may beat the rap anyway.

So you take the named veteran trio, add golden-nugget Johnson and then throw in draftee Keith Tandy along with returners Myron Lewis, E.J. Biggers and Anthony Gaitor, and you've got enough guys for an NBA roster. One guy who won't be back most likely is Elbert Mack, who remains an unrestricted free agent—the Bucs haven't made any overtures in his direction.

There may be some more guys who are invited to the rest of the OTAs from the mini-camp, but things are starting to shape up nicely. You have a versatile guy like Tandy, who can play both corner and safety and might spell an end to the "Ronde Plays Safety" experiment.

Another date to keep in mind is June 1. That is when NFL teams will release some veteran players for salary-cap reasons. No telling who might show up on the waiver wire at that time, but it will be just another opportunity for the Bucs to continue their "extreme makeover."