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T.J. Tampa May Be the Steal of the Draft

CB T.J. Tampa
CB T.J. Tampa

As names rolled off the board on Days 2 and 3 of the NFL Draft, T.J. Tampa stayed calm – a trait that made him one of the top cornerbacks in this year's class.

The Athletic's Dan Brugler had Tampa ranked at the seventh-best among his peers, but Tampa saw 14 cornerbacks drafted before him.

"You can't think too heavily on it. You can't drift away anywhere," Tampa said. "You just have to stay locked in and know that your name is going to get called and be ready whenever you get there."

Picked near the end of the fourth round (No. 130 overall), Tampa may be one of the biggest steals of the 2024 draft class when we're looking back on it years from now.

Just a couple days after the draft ended, media analysts and his former teammate at Iowa State, running back Breece Hall, are predicting it.

"The Ravens 'let the draft come to them' in every round, grabbing players who had no business falling to them," Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer wrote. "They needed to address secondary multiple times, and Tampa is the ideal follow-up to first-rounder Nate Wiggins as a big cover corner who uses all of his frame well downfield."

Pro Football Focus’ Austin Scott also put Tampa on his biggest steals from Day 3 list, pointing out that Tampa allowed just one touchdown and forced an incompletion or interception on 16.3% of targets into his coverage last season.

What made Tampa slide was partially his 40-yard dash time at his pro day, which was at 4.58 seconds. He also turned down an invitation to the Senior Bowl, which Evan Silva of wrote "ostensibly turned off" NFL teams.

Flip on the tape, however, and Tampa looks the part of an early contributor and high-impact cornerback. He has great size at 6-foot-1, 194 pounds and uses it to advantage to dish out big hits and challenge the catch point against receivers.

As a full-time starter the past two seasons, Tampa registered 83 tackles, three interceptions, and 19 passes defensed.

"Definitely, physicality in all aspects of the game – if that's point of contact, getting off of blocks, making tackles, being a willing tackler, just press, getting hands on, getting receivers [off] their routes," Tampa said.

Tampa was recruited to Iowa State as a wide receiver but was converted to cornerback early on at the suggestion of the team's coaches. He trusted them, and eventually became a first-team All-Big 12 winner his senior season.

"I would just say that you're getting somebody that's going to work hard every day," Tampa said. "I've been at the bottom of a depth chart before, and I'm willing to work my way up again.

"They always say the draft is unpredictable, and of course, I would have liked to have gone earlier. And it's definitely a chip on my shoulder from here on out; for all the teams that skipped me and all the corners that went before me, and I'm going to use that as fuel every day."

Check out the best photos of Ravens fourth round pick CB T.J. Tampa.

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