If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are to accomplish their goal of "going for two" - to repeat as Super Bowl champions this year - a handful of select players will have to be at the top of their games all season long.
Therefore, AllBucs has compiled a list of the ten most important Buccaneers entering the 2021 season, ranked from No. 10 down to the most crucial of the bunch at No. 1. Although this list is unique, the most important Buc - who will be revealed at a later date - may seem fairly obvious.
But, who else needs to make a large impact this year in order for Tampa Bay to reach, and win, Super Bowl LVI? Well, we've made it halfway through our list and next up is someone who can lockdown top opposing wide receivers for the Bucs.
That cornerback is Carlton Davis.
Most Important Buccaneers, No. 5: Carlton Davis
The 2021 season will be an important one for Davis as he is playing his final season of the four-year contract he got when Tampa Bay selected him during the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft out of Auburn.
The first half of the last year was a successful stretch of games for Davis as he recorded four interceptions in eight games. While the four interceptions ended up being enough to lead the team, Davis wouldn't pick off another quarterback the rest of the regular season, or in the four playoff games either.
Still, Davis led the team with 18 pass breakups in the regular season and totaled 21 tackles. In the postseason, he added three more pass breakups. The 21 pass breakups ended up being the most in the entire league.
If Davis is able to convert more of his pass breakups into interceptions and record more than four next year, he could increase his value even further and eventually land a long-term deal to remain in Tampa Bay.
And it wasn't just the interceptions last year that Davis showed why he's one of the better cornerbacks in the league. During the NFC Divisional Round matchup against New Orleans, Davis completely shut down the Saints' top receiver Michael Thomas.
Typically the number one option for former quarterback Drew Brees, Thomas recorded zero total catches and was only targeted four times in the game. After the game, Davis let Thomas know what happened:
While Davis did perform well against Thomas and other top receivers throughout last season, the biggest question he faces this year is if he can record more takeaways. While breaking up passes is nice, Davis is aware of what he needs to do for the Bucs.
"Me and (Jamel) Dean got our hands on a lot of balls, and a lot of them should have been interceptions," Davis told local reporters in June.
One thing that will help Davis is becoming more comfortable in Bowles' defensive system. Last year was only his third year in the NFL and just his second playing for Bowles. As a rookie in 2018, Davis played under former Bucs' defensive coordinator Mike Smith and he didn't perform that well.
The past two years, however, while playing under defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, Davis has thrived on defense recording 37 total pass breakups during the 2019 and 2020 seasons. That is seven more than the next closest NFL player on the list. Davis is the only cornerback to appear inside the top five in pass breakups the past two years.
"I think with that season under our belt, it makes us a lot more comfortable to go out there and really play loose and make the plays instead of guessing and being unsure," Davis said in June about last year. "The productivity me and Dean produced last year, we should improve as far as getting those interceptions and creating more turnovers."
Regardless of how many interceptions Davis may record for the Bucs next year, there's a strong chance he'll continue to break up passes and serve as Tampa Bay's top defender in the secondary on the path to a second straight Super Bowl. It's why he's number five on our top ten list and a good reason he'll likely have a nice payday next offseason.
Stay tuned to AllBucs for further coverage of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offseason updates, and other news and analysis.