The next installment of my “Welcome Aboard” series is about one of the undrafted free agents the signed after the 2017 NFL Draft. Jonathan Moxey is a 5’10″/190lb cornerback that will be fighting his butt off for one of the 10 defensive back positions on this team. He’ll have his hands full battling it out with the 9 other corners currently on the Bucs roster, but so far in OTA’s he’s opened some eyes.
Moxey was born and raised in West Palm Beach, Florida before earning his scholarship to Boise State University where he played cornerback in 43 games in 4 seasons totaling 134 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 3 intersections and 31 passes defensed as a 3-year starter. He also returned 12 kickoffs for 258 yards and a 21.5 yards per attempt average.
He wasn’t invited to the 2017 NFL Combine so his school’s pro day was vitally important for him to showcase his speed and athleticism. He performed well posting a 4.50 forty yard, a 4.05 twenty-yard shuttle, a 6.96 three-cone drill and 17 reps on the 225lb bench press.
Although he went undrafted, he received a number of phone calls from teams offering free agent deals. Moxey said that there were a number of reasons he chose the Buccaneers over the others. Besides the opportunity to return to his home state, he said that “The Bucs don’t shy away from smaller corners, their roster is full of guys that are 5’9″, 5’10” and 5’11” like me”. Indeed Ryan Smith is currently the only corner on the roster that’s 6′ tall, every other CB on the team right now is 5’11” or under.
Another deciding factor for Moxey was all of Tampa’s ties to his alma mater. Head coach Dirk Koetter’s first head coaching job was at Boise State from 1998-2000 and the Broncos current head coach Bryan Harsin played quarterback for him there. Buccaneers scout Antwon Murray was a former defensive back and later the assistant director of player personnel at Boise State before coming to Tampa. Then there are the player connections. In addition to Bucs starting running back Doug Martin, there’s also Moxey’s former teammates rookie running back and Bucs fifth-round pick Jeremy McNichols and fellow undrafted free agent wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck. All of these connections have really helped to make him feel at home here in Tampa.
Speaking of his time at Boise, Moxey says “I loved being around a bunch of guys that understand that the program is bigger than themselves” and that’s another similarity between his former college team and his current NFL team. He says “We always played with a big chip on our shoulder” which fits right in with Koetter’s “Speak softly and carry a big stick” mentality.
Even though he’s been impressive not only in the rookie camp but in OTA’s as well, he still has a big mountain to climb. The Bucs currently have 10 cornerbacks on the roster and they’ll most likely only keep 6 of them on the active 53-man roster. Another one or two could possibly end up on the practice squad which still means that at least two of these guys will be jobless come the end of training camp. The team’s top 2 corners are set with Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves. After them, you have a three-way battle for nickel between Jude Adjei-Barimah, Javien Elliott and Robert McClain. That’s already 5 of 6 positions right there. When you add into the mix Ryan Smith, Cody Griggs and Josh Robinson who were with the team last season as well as fellow rookie undrafted free agent Maurice Fleming, the Bucs have themselves a very strong group at cornerback going into training camp. It’s a good problem to have such an abundance of riches.
Despite his battle ahead, Moxey is happy about his situation in Tampa saying “After I got the phone call, I hung up, looked at my mom and said “I’m a Buc!” and I just started crying”. He adds “I feel blessed to be a Tampa Bay Buccaneer right now”. After playing college ball so far away from home, he’s excited to be able to play in front of his family again. “It’s just extra motivation for me to work hard and continue to be that blue collar guy that Boise State taught me to be.”
He’s a player who’s former coaches say is a “technician” and constantly works on his fundamentals, studies route trees, watches receivers, “loves football and wants to be really good at it”. He feels like working with Bucs secondary coach John Hoke and defensive backs coach Brett Maxie can help him get there as long as he listens to their coaching. “I’ll rely on hard work, keeping my head down and just trying to get better every day. I’m going to ride this as long as I can.” Can you blame him?
This cornerback group should be fun to watch all the way through training camp. In the end, the Bucs should have a deep, talented secondary but it should make for an interesting summer. Until then, as usual…GO BUCS!!!