A Big Year Ahead For Ex-Cocoa High Star Jamel Dean With the Buccaneers
By Space Coast Daily // July 15, 2020
Promising cornerback, Jamel Dean has come a long way since his days at Cocoa High. The 23-year-old, who graduated with Auburn, was eventually selected for the NFL in the 2019 draft following a second-round pick from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It’s fair to say that he made a very positive impression during his rookie season, but even more will be expected of him as a secondary under the watchful eye of the Buccaneers’ defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.
After selection in last year’s draft, Dean was considered an excellent choice by Bucs fans. He registered second quickest at the NFL combine, with his dash registered at a mere 4.3 seconds.
The biggest question mark surrounding Dean was his injury record. Having sustained a string of knee injuries during his time with Auburn, other franchises were ill-prepared to take a chance on his knee. Fortunately for Dean – and the Bucs – the pick has worked out for the best so far.
An incredible transformation in the space of a week
It wasn’t until Game Week 9 of last season when Dean was finally given a chance to shine. An impact injury to the hip of Carlton Davis III forced him off the field saw him introduced. Unfortunately for him, he gave away three touchdowns and a string of lengthy receptions which tipped the balance in a tight encounter with the Seattle Seahawks.
Despite his green misdemeanors in Game Week 9, Dean was given a second bite at the cherry in Game Week 10 against the Cardinals. This time, Dean played like a man possessed, achieving his inaugural career interception deep in the final quarter to save the contest.
Could Dean become a future All-Pro?
There’s no doubt that there will be huge interest in the Buccaneers’ 2020/21 NFL campaign. The arrival of quarterback icon Tom Brady in the offseason was a shock move, given that Brady had spent the best part of two decades with the New England Patriots.
Having Brady in the ranks has seen Tampa Bay cemented as fifth favorites in the Super Bowl futures NFL betting with the likes of FOX Bet. This increasing expectation among Bucs fans will require Dean to rise firmly to the challenge of playing in the defensive line of a Super Bowl contender.
If Dean can make similarly fast progress in his secondary years as his rookie year, things should be very exciting for him. It was an almost overnight transformation for Dean in his debut year, who went from someone that seemed incapable of playing at Division II level of the NCAA in Week 9 to a cornerback with genuine potential to become an All-Pro in the future by Week 10.
By the end of the 2019/20 season, Dean had racked up five starts and 17 passes defended. Had Dean played the entire season and performed at the same level, he would have amassed 51 passes defended, which would have been a new NFL record by some margin.
Aside from Dean fluffing his lines on debut against Seattle, it was a very encouraging start to life in a Tampa Bay jersey. It could also be argued that Dean will only become more comfortable and confident playing on the big stage, which should iron out those minor errors that can be the fine line between success and failure at NFL level.
Some Bucs pundits have tipped him to make a genuine run at the Pro Bowl this year and although this may seem like a bold claim, the statistics we’ve just discussed more than back that up.
It might not be for another 12 months that the Buccaneers are major rivals for the Super Bowl. The same can also said of the Patriots despite the fact that they moved quickly to replace Brady with former MVP Cam Newton. Like New England, Tampa Bay have only minimal room for manoeuver in their wage cap for the coming season, but it could be a different story in 2021.
They may look to strengthen their roster and make their rivals weaker in the next year, particularly the Kansas City Chiefs who have put all their eggs in one basket financially by giving quarterback Patrick Mahomes a new $450m ten-year deal. One thing is for sure, Jamel Dean will be at the heart of everything the Bucs try to do in the next few years.
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