Unpacking Future Packers: No. 37, Iowa State CB T.J. Tampa

The Unpacking Future Packers Countdown is a countdown of 100 prospects that could be selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 2024 NFL draft.

On paper, the Green Bay Packers appear to have a solid group of cornerbacks. Jaire Alexander is an all-pro caliber player. Carrington Valentine showed promise last season as a seventh-round rookie. Keisean Nixon is back to man the nickel position. If former first-round pick Eric Stokes can rediscover his rookie form the Packers could have a solid foundation in place.

There are obvious concerns with this group. Can Alexander and Stokes stay healthy? Will Valentine fall victim to a sophomore slump? With question marks surrounding the group, one would expect the Packers to add another body to bolster the cornerback room at 1265 Lombardi Avenue.

A cornerback that the Packers could target on Day 2 of the 2024 NFL Draft is T.J. Tampa. The Iowa State product checks in at No. 37 in the Unpacking Future Packers Countdown.

A three-star recruit out of Florida, Tampa became a full-time starter for the Cyclones in 2022 and responded with five tackles for loss, one interception and nine pass deflections. This past season, Tampa recorded three tackles for loss, two interceptions and seven pass deflections. 

“My time at ISU was everything I could have asked for,” Tampa said. “From day one, my coaches were committed to developing me into the young man and player I needed to be.  Even in my down times, that never changed. I have had the best teammates who are now friends, and brothers for life. That’s why transferring was never an option when presented with options.”

Tampa checks the boxes with his size (6-0) and length. He has long strides that allow him to make up ground if he’s beaten off the line of scrimmage and his length gives quarterbacks a small window to throw into. Once the ball arrives, Tampa does a good job of corralling the wide receiver and limiting YAC. 

“My film study is key,” Tampa said. “My natural instincts, athleticism, and length allow me to stick with receivers in man or zone coverage.”

During his prep career, Tampa played wide receiver and that background is evident when the ball enters his area code. He showcases plus ball skills and tracks the ball like a wide receiver. He showcases good route instincts and does a good job of challenging wide receivers at the catch point. Over the past two seasons, Tampa picked off three passes and broke up 16 more. 

“I already had great ball skills from playing wide receiver previously,” Tampa said. “I just had to develop my technique as a cornerback to not only mirror the receiver but track the ball.”

Tampa is feisty in coverage and that physicality shows up occasionally in run support. During the first nine games of the season, Tampa was tagged with just two missed tackles. In the final three games, Tampa missed eight tackles.

“I am an enthusiastic tackler,” Tampa said. “At ISU, our defensive backs are expected to provide elite run support more than other schools, so physicality at that position is important.”

Tampa played primarily on special teams during his first season in Ames and finished his collegiate career with 301 snaps on special teams. 

Fit with the Packers

In a perfect world, Alexander would stay healthy and play every game of the 2024 season. Stokes puts the past two seasons behind him and returns to form. If those two things happen the Packers are all set at cornerback.

Even the best-laid plans go amuck. Gutekunst recently said that he’s comfortable with the cornerback depth if they can all stay healthy. Recent history suggests that won’t happen. Gutekunst would be wise to add another talented cornerback to that room.

With his length and ball skills, Tampa could provide the Packers with a playmaker in the secondary.

“I am a long, extremely athletic cornerback, with a high IQ for the game,” Tampa said. “My coverage ability is also matched by my ability to support the run defense. I’m also scheme versatile, so I can quickly adjust to different defensive philosophies and excel in them.  I believe those traits will serve any NFL team well.”

A year after drafting Anthony Johnson Jr, Gutekunst could once again turn to Ames, Iowa for secondary help. Tampa looks great off the bus and has the ability to take half the field away.

With the Packers owning four picks on Day 2 of the draft, Tampa could be a target for Green Bay when the calendar flips to April 26th. 

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire