Auburn football: Former Tiger receives praise from NFL coach

One former Auburn cornerback is off to a great start in the pros.

Carlton Davis was a three-year starter at cornerback at Auburn, an All-American and overall, one of the best defensive backs the Tigers have had in recent memory.

A 6-foot-1, 202-pound frame and a solid showing at the 2018 NFL Combine led to Davis being selected in the second round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay desperately needed help at cornerback and Davis was able to start 12 games as a rookie.

However, it wasn’t until his second season, this past season, until Davis truly broke out. The former Auburn product was once again a starter for the Buccaneers and recorded 60 tackles and three tackles for loss.

Davis’ true impact came when the ball was thrown his way. The second-year pro ranked second in the NFL with 19 passes defended and according to Pro Football Focus, Davis also led the league in forced incompletion percentage.

And while the Bucs pass defense did allow the third-most passing yards per game (270.1) in the NFL last season, the fault is clearly not Davis’ and entering his third season, the cornerback is already getting some pretty high praise.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians is generally known as an offensive guru and quarterback whisperer but that doesn’t mean he can’t recognize a true talent when he sees one. In an NFC South conference with top-tier wide receiver talent, Arians praised Davis on his performance against the league’s top pass-catchers.

“I think Carlton made that move,” Arians said. “What he did to DeAndre Hopkins was outstanding. He basically just shut him out of the game, and that’s not an easy job. He did a really good job on Julio (Jones). He realized Julio’s a little stronger.

In Tampa Bay’s Week 13 game against DeAndre Hopkins and the Houston Texans, Davis held the four-time All-Pro receiver to just five receptions for 23 yards.

“But the penalties have gone. He’s one of the top 10 guys, in my opinion, right now,” Arians added.

Davis is a part of a Bucs secondary that also features former Auburn CB Jamel Dean who was the team’s third-round draft pick in 2019.

Going into year number three, Davis will look to continue to play well and possibly make his first Pro Bowl appearance on a Bucs team that won the offseason by signing star players such as Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.