As Tampa Bay gets underway with 2021 training camp, head coach Bruce Arians and company are attempting to figure out the best way to put together an ultra-talented roster.
There are tough decisions ahead. With depth galore at numerous positions, skilled players could be sacrificed at some positions to allow for depth in other spots. As such, positional versatility will prove vital for those on the roster bubble.
Defensive back Ross Cockrell showed off his versatility as soon as camp began.
With Jordan Whitehead currently on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list and the recent injury waive of Curtis Riley, the Buccaneers are a bit shorthanded at the safety position. The Bucs signed safety Chris Cooper the morning camp started, but it will take him a couple of days to learn the system, at least.
Therefore, Tampa Bay moved Cockrell, a ninth-year cornerback, to safety for at least the first day of camp. Cockrell left a strong impression on his head coach by making the move with ease.
"He's a guy that he's so smart he can play a lot of positions," Arians remarked about Cockrell's move. "He might give us an ability to bring up another gunner if he can cover three or four spots for roster [on] game day."
Cockrell was signed around the beginning of last season to serve as a backup, and emerged as a playmaker at numerous spots as the year went on, taking 35 snaps at outside cornerback, 209 in the slot, and another 216 on special teams. He would post 11 tackles, including one for loss, and a pass breakup in 12 appearances, making two starts near the end of the season.
After re-signing with the Bucs this offseason, Cockrell has gotten off to a hot start on cementing his roster status by taking on reps at a third position. With his spot relatively solidified, Arians can utilize Cockrell's versatility to make decisions at other positions across the roster.
With Cockrell serving as depth at a handful of positions, Tampa Bay can afford to keep an additional player at thinner spots, ideally prospects who can run gunner on special teams as Arians suggested. That would most likely include an additional body at wide receiver or outside cornerback, or perhaps one of if not both inside linebacker draft picks from this offseason in KJ Britt or Grant Stuard.
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