Rookie Tandy's Versatility Already Giving Buccaneers Flexibility in Secondary

Sigmund BloomNFL Draft Lead WriterJune 27, 2012

TAMPA, FL -  MAY 4: Cornerback Keith Tandy #37 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers runs during a pass drill during a rookie practice at the Buccaneers practice facility May 4, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

At this point in a rookie's career, coaches are usually happy if the player is picking up the scheme at their position. For a late-round draft pick, showing he can learn from his mistakes and be on track to provide depth at his position is considered a successful mini camp/OTA season. Tampa Bay sixth-round pick Keith Tandy is already busy showing he can contribute at multiple positions in the secondary.

During the team's rookie mini camp in early May, head coach Greg Schiano hinted that Tandy would play more than his primary college position of cornerback. Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune reported that Schiano called Tandy a "complete defensive back" with "zone skills, man skills, press skills, (and) off skills."

Schiano expected that Tandy's versatility would allow the team to "mix and match" in the secondary. He also said Tandy was "instinctual" and that he had a "knack" for awareness on the field.

Fast forward to the team-wide mini camp that wound up the spring before the break that extends to the start of training camp, and Tandy has already earned a "DB" designation on the depth chart, according to team's official site.

Tandy saw "a lot more action" at safety, according to the site, and Schiano was pleased with what he saw:

He got, I think, probably the last five workouts, where we split them, played a little safety, played a little corner. I really like the job he's doing.  He's a very sharp football player, mentally.  He's played nickel, dime, safety and corner; he's played all four, and done it with some efficiency.  Certainly not perfect, but some efficiency.  For a young guy to be able to do that…like I tell them all, 'Make yourself as irreplaceable as you can.'  He's taken that to heart.

Schiano wasn't crowning Tandy as an instant All-Pro, but it's obvious that he feels Tandy has passed the test of being able to handle the responsibilities of more than one position in the secondary. If he can carry that over to the field in the preseason, Tandy could be the most important player in the Tampa defense who isn't part of the starting 11.