Monday evening on 620 WDAE, Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris discussed the possibility of selecting standout Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in April's draft.
"[Suh] is a great player," Morris said. "Obviously he has the talent because he is in the running for the Heisman Trophy. We were fortunate enough to be able to watch him play and see what he was able to do against Texas on Saturday night in our hotel room."
Suh, 22, had a tremendous individual effort against Texas in the Big 12 Championship game where he recorded 4.5 sacks and totaled 12 tackles, seven of them for a loss. Throughout the season, Suh has registered 82 tackles, 12 sacks, 22 tackles for a loss, 10 pass breakups, three blocked kicks, and one interception. Defensive tackles with Suh's pure talent and athleticism don't come around very often.
Suh's teammate in college, defensive tackle Jared Crick, was a major beneficiary of Suh's dominate play in 2009. Crick played opposite Suh and recorded nine sacks. If the Bucs added Suh to their defensive line in April, his play would not only improve the team's 31st ranked run defense, it would also boost the rest of the line's play.
The Bucs have a glaring need at the defensive tackle position and the Nebraska star could help give their pass rush and run defense a much needed face lift. Starting defensive tackles Chris Hovan and Ryan Sims have combined for 1.5 sacks and only have one tackle for loss on the season. Suh would help in the pass rushing department by bringing pressure by himself and opening up pass rushing lanes for the rest of the defensive line.
"I'm sure he will be at the top or somewhere around the top of our big board," said Morris. "He will be on top of the other thirty-one NFL teams' [big boards] as well. After the season ends, I'm going to get with Mark Dominik and our personnel staff and go through our rankings."
The Bucs are projected to have a high pick in this year's draft, but might have to battle other struggling teams such as the Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns, and St. Louis Rams in order to get in position to draft the 6-foot-4, 300-pound defensive tackle. The Lions (2-8) could be in the market for Suh, as their top defensive tackle, 13-year pro Grady Jackson, could have his career come to a close soon. Suh may not be well-suited to play in Cleveland's 3-4 scheme, but he can't be ruled out as an option for the Browns (1-11) just yet. The Rams (1-11) may also be interested, as their head coach Steve Spagnuolo made a staple defensive line during his tenure as defensive coordinator with the Giants and Suh could be the anchor that Spagnuolo is looking for.
"It's a lot of fun to see all these guys out now because they were all freshman while I was with Kansas State," said Morris. "[Suh] has a teammate named Larry Asante who is a safety that I tried to get to come to Kansas State. He will probably enter the draft this year. My guy Jay Kaiser, the Assistant Director of Football Operations at Kansas State, knows all about the Big 12 and the guys in it. It's going to be fun to get the chance to draft the guys you tried to recruit in college."
The 2010 free agent class is also another option for Tampa Bay to address this need, but there is no guarantee that any of the players will be available at the start of free agency. Top names entering free agency include Vince Wilfork, Ryan Pickett, and Casey Hampton, all of which are over 27 years old.
If the Bucs don't address this need in free agency, the team could be in for a big Suh-prise if Ndamukong Suh is still on the board when they pick.