The Bucs have had success before with getting some productive seasons out of former first-round picks that have been discarded by other teams. But despite the need for a pass rusher, Tampa Bay has no interest in Vernon Gholston.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had some success with reclamation projects in the past, getting useful, productive seasons out of the likes of former nose tackle Chris Hovan, ex-Buccaneers cornerback Philip Buchanon, former wide receiver Antonio Bryant and ex-Buccaneers tight end Jerramy Stevens before parting ways with those players over age, free agency, injury and arrests, respectively. Hovan, Buchanon and Stevens were former first-round picks, while Bryant was a ex-second-rounder.
So a team with pass rushing needs like the Bucs has nothing to lose by taking a chance on 24-year old defensive end Vernon Gholston, a former first-round draft pick of the New York Jets, right?
Not quite. According to sources at One Buccaneer Place, Tampa Bay has no interest in signing Gholston, who was released last week, or even bringing him in for a workout given the bad tape he has put out there since he was the eighth overall selection in the 2008 NFL Draft. The former Ohio State star has suited up for 45 games, but has only 42 tackles and just five career starts, including two last year.
Michael Salfino of the Wall Street Journal has researched the fact that Gholston is the only defensive end that was drafted in the top 10 that has failed to record a sack since the league began counting sacks as a statistic in 1982.
The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Gholston was a defensive end for the Buckeyes but was converted to a stand-up, pass-rushing outside linebacker in New York, which was a mistake as he does not have the agility and speed to play that position. At Ohio State as a defensive end, Gholston totaled 8.5 sacks, 15 tackles for a loss and 49 tackles as a junior, and was tied for third in the nation in sacks with 14 as a senior, including a four-sack game against Wisconsin and a three-sack game against Michigan.
Gholston also had 37 tackles with 15.5 tackles for a loss in 2007 in addition to some success against Michigan left tackle Jake Long, who has become a Pro Bowl left tackle with the Miami Dolphins. In Ohio State’s National Championship loss to LSU during his senior campaign, Gholston had three tackles and a 15-yard sack.
But Gholston’s success in college has not translated at all to the NFL level and the Bucs have seen no indicators on tape that believe that will change. Even though Tampa Bay believes it does not have a starting-caliber defensive end on its roster, Gholston will not be part of the possible solution.
Instead, the Bucs have tendered restricted free agent Stylez G. White, despite the fact he only produced a disappointing 4.5 sacks to lead the team in 2010. Although just because White, who lost his starting job to Michael Bennett at the end of last year, was tendered on offer from the team doesn’t mean that he will necessarily be re-signed.
The Bucs will entertain the idea of keeping restricted free agent Tim Crowder, who was also tendered an offer by the team, in addition to letting Kyle Moore, a fourth-round pick in 2009, Michael Bennett, Alex Magee, George Johnson and Doug Worthington compete for the starting jobs at left and right defensive end. However, Tampa Bay is expected to address the defensive end position early in the 2011 NFL Draft and likely in the first round, in addition to possibly seeking an upgrade in free agency. Yet don’t expect Gholston to be one of those free agent options.
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