Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson breaks down the safeties of each NFC South team. Today: Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tanard Jackson is a good player, but his off-the-field issues are very worrisome. He was suspended indefinitely last season after just two games when he tested positive for a banned substance. Jackson does make a lot of plays in deep coverage and is a true free-safety type. He reads quarterbacks and breaks on the ball well. He has been very productive as a Buccaneer and may not have yet hit his prime. But he might not even be back with Tampa Bay in 2011. If we knew that Jackson would be a part of the team, I would be tempted to rank the Bucs first at safety in the division.
Sean Jones is a true strong safety and a good complement to Jackson. He can take on bigger blockers. He is a powerful tackler and excels versus the run. Coverage has always been a problem for Jones. At this point of his career, what you see is what you get. And that isn’t so terrible. But it isn’t so great either.
Cody Grimm, Russ Grimm's son, played quite well when given the chance. This 2010 seventh-round pick plays like he's been around the game his entire life. Grimm is hard-nosed and intelligent. He is not the biggest or fastest safety around, but he rarely wastes steps, is quick to diagnose, is rarely fooled and takes good angles in the run and pass game. But a broken leg cut Grimm’s rookie season short.
Fifth-round pick Ahmad Black has some similarities to Grimm -- he is a step or two too slow and an inch or three too short. But he was a very good football player at the University of Florida and could jump on an opportunity with the Bucs. Black has the makeup of a core special teams player and will look to make a name for himself there initially.
Larry Asante is a young, in-the-box safety who will throw his body around and hit. Tampa claimed him off of Cleveland’s practice squad after Grimm’s injury. Special teams will be his key to a roster spot.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com. Follow Matt Williamson on Twitter @WilliamsonNFL