Why the Slide?: T.J. Tampa, CB, Iowa State

This series was created a number of years ago in response to questions about why certain well-known prospects went unselected in NFL drafts. For these articles, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. The positive response to “Why Undrafted” and questions from readers about why prospects were drafted lower than the media expectations led us to create the parallel series “Why the Slide?”

Both series are back this year. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.

In the spring months leading up to the 2024 NFL Draft, there were some mock drafts that projected Iowa State cornerback T.J. Tampa to be a first-round pick. Tampa had some high projections after a solid career for the Cyclones. He also generated decent production over 2023 and 2022, plus ha excellent size at 6-foot-1, 189 pounds. Thus, some were surprised when Tampa slid to the bottom of the fourth round.

Team sources told WalterFootball.com that they had Tampa graded as a mid-round pick. They said they saw some stiffness in him and felt he had some limitations in coverage. Hence, they never had him graded or projected to be a potential late first-round or second-round pick.

The Baltimore Ravens ended Tampa’s fall late in the fourth round, which was a mixed blessing. On the positive side, the Ravens develop players well and do a good job of coaching up players to improve weaknesses. On the negative side, the Ravens already have a No. 1 corner in Marlon Humphrey and used their first-round pick on Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins. Those should be the team’s starting tandem, and corners other than Tampa are better fits to be slot, nickel corners. Thus, Tampa is stifled on the depth chart to be a starting outside corner. Perhaps he can play well enough as a backup and in practice where the Ravens give consideration to moving Wiggins inside to nickel so Humphrey, Wiggins and Tampa can serve as the starting trio. Tampa will have to fight hard to earn playing time in Baltimore, but he landed with a top-class organization.


2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 12

Fantasy Football Rankings - May 9

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

NFL Picks - Feb. 12