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April 11, 2011 @ 1:12 pm
Current Rating: 4.00 Stars/1 Votes

2011 Bucs Draft Preview

Bucs Can No Longer Ignore DE

WRITTEN_BY Charlie Campbell Charlie Campbell
Charlie Campbell


With a deep group of pass rushers, the time is now to address the defensive end position as the Buccaneers have ignored the need at the position over the past few years with premium draft picks and premium free agents.

Over the past two years the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have done very little to address the defensive end position. General manager Mark Dominik and head coach Raheem Morris inherited a group of defensive ends that had modest production when they took over their roles with Tampa Bay. Since then the position has gone downhill to the point that the Bucs desperately need two new starters at defensive end. It is no coincidence that Tampa Bay has yet to have a double-digit sacker since Simeon Rice accomplished that feat in 2005. That's how long the Buccaneers defensive end position has been sub-par.

Over 2007 and 2008, former general manager Bruce Allen and head coach Jon Gruden did a lot to address the defensive end position. They signed three veterans in Kevin Carter, Jimmy Wilkerson, and Stylez White. They also used the fourth-overall pick in the ’07 draft on defensive end Gaines Adams.

Dominik and Morris started out going with what they inherited. They hoped to get Adams career jump started by bringing in defensive coordinator Jim Bates. Unfortunately for the Bucs that did not go as planned and Adams was traded to Chicago five games into the 2009 season. Even more tragically than things not working out in Tampa Bay, Adams passed away in January of 2009 due to an enlarged heart. 

Wilkerson and White had modest production in 2009 with each notching six sacks. The Bucs let Wilkerson sign with New Orleans after he suffered a late season knee injury. White returned in 2010 but underwhelmed while leading the team with 4.5 sacks. Currently White is heading into free agency if a collective bargaining agreement is reached. If the old rules apply the Bucs have tendered White a contract to retain him.  

Under Dominik and Morris the Bucs have invested very little into the defensive end position. The Bucs used a fourth-round pick in 2009 on USC defensive end Kyle Moore. He has recorded zero sacks in 16 games. Tampa Bay gave him the starting job at left defensive end to start the 2010 season, but Moore underwhelmed until ending the year on injured reserve. Sources say that Moore will have to fight vigorously to make the team in 2011. 

In 2009, the Bucs signed a pair of released defensive ends in Tim Crowder and Michael Bennett. Both of those players have been serviceable backups that provide quality run defense, but neither has shown the ability to consistently get after the quarterback.

In the 2010 draft, the position was ignored until the seventh round when the Bucs selected Stanford defensive end Erik Lorig. Eventually Lorig found a home at fullback during last season. Dominik also traded a fifth-round pick in the 2011 draft to the Kansas City Chiefs for defensive end Alex Magee and a sixth-round pick. Magee was a third-rounder in 2009 out of Purdue. He flashed some quality run defense with the Bucs and looks like he could turn into a good run defender and potential contender at left defensive end.

Last year the Bucs passed on signing defensive end free agents Julius Peppers, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Jason Babin, James Hall, and Aaron Kampman. All of those players had good 2010 seasons from a pass rushing perspective. Any one of them would have been hands down the best defensive end on Tampa Bay’s 2010 roster.

As a result, the Buccaneers finished second to last in the NFL in sacks with 26, and were last in sacks in the NFC. The Bucs had six sacks in one game at San Francisco, thus Tampa Bay had 20 sacks in their other 15 games. On average, the Bucs had a sack in 20+ pass attempts by the opposition.

It is no accident that the Super Bowl participants were ranked first and second in the NFL in sacks. In one of his first press meetings after taking his current position, Dominik said his approach in regards to the team around the quarterback was to build a team that could protect their quarterback and harass the other team’s quarterback. Now is the time for Dominik and Morris to start finding the edge rushers to put heat on opposing quarterbacks.

After Tampa Bay did not address the defensive end position early in the 2010 NFL Draft some questioned the team passing on the position. After the draft, Dominik and Morris said Rome wasn’t built in a day and they felt that the 2011 NFL Draft would be a strong draft for defensive ends. They were astute in their projection – as many as nine defensive ends could be selected in the first round of the draft. Dominik discussed those plans at the Senior Bowl this past January.

“Before we go into any draft, we talk to our scouts. We just talk about if we’re going to do it this year and what it looks like in 2012. What’s going to be the strengths and weaknesses? So that way you can take advantage of the draft like you are supposed to. Last year, we did,” said Dominik. “We thought that this class was going to have really strong defensive ends. As you see the names and as you see them out here practicing, and you hear about the juniors coming out you’ll see that it’s a heck of a group. I don’t know how many are going to go in the first round, but it’s going to be a good number. There’s a lot of work to do, but there are other positions that we feel like we can upgrade at. We could always use more depth.”

Long before the Bucs are slated to pick with the 20th overall selection a number of the top defensive ends are expected to be gone. Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers, North Carolina’s Robert Quinn, and Wisconsin’s J.J. Watt are expected to be draft, although Bowers stock has plummeted. The Bucs are hoping that one of the group of Cal’s Cameron Jordan, Missouri’s Aldon Smith and Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan fall to their first-round pick.

Georgia’s Justin Houston, Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn and Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward are all expected to be available when Tampa Bay selects. Houston has the best pass rushing résumé of those three while many have projected the Bucs to take Clayborn. However, sources with the Bucs defended Clayborn to Pewter Report late during his underwhelming senior season.

There are some quality collegiate prospects that should be available to the Bucs after the first round. That group includes Miami’s Allen Bailey, Iowa’s Christian Ballard, Pittsburgh’s Greg Romeus, Pittburgh’s Jabaal Shread, Nebraska’s Pierre Allen and Texas’ Sam Acho.

Most teams in the NFL are now drafting the best player available at a position of need. Dominik and Morris were smart to target the 2011 NFL Draft to find their long-term defensive ends, and will be able to get a player at their pick that likely would be one of the top two or three ends in a typical draft. While they waited for the time to be right from a talent perspective, the end position is a dire need on the roster that can no longer be neglected.

• Sources tell Pewter Report that Oklahoma safety Quinton Carter is still an option for Tampa Bay even though he is not being brought in for a pre-draft visit. Carter was interviewed by the Buccaneers earlier this year. The Bucs have made it a habit to draft players, especially in the early rounds, that came to the Buccaneers on pre-draft visits. Gerald McCoy, Brian Price, Arrelious Benn, LeGarrette Blount and Mike Williams all were brought in a year ago. In recent years Josh Freeman, Gaines Adams and Aqib Talib had pre-draft visits with Tampa Bay. The Bucs feel that with their contacts in college football they don’t have to bring in good character prospects like Carter or Purdue’s Kerrigan because they already know the caliber of the individual. The Buccaneers want to use some more of those pre-draft visits on players with more question marks.

• The Bucs were pleasantly surprised with how Dezmon Briscoe showed up after he was signed away from Cincinnati last year. In Briscoe’s interview with the Bucs at the combine he admitted to being lazy and that kind of honesty definitely hurt Briscoe as he fell to the sixth round of the draft. At Cincinnati, Briscoe got motivated from his draft fall, and seeing how wide out teammates Terrell Owens and Jordan Shipley attacked the weight room. As a result, when Briscoe arrived to the Bucs he was stronger and more defined. Briscoe maintained a good work ethic and attitude throughout his first season with Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers are very excited about Briscoe going forward. They believe he will be an excellent third receiver behind Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams. Briscoe could be a starter if Benn is slow to recover from his knee injury, and the team feels it has three starting caliber long-term receivers.
Last modified on Monday, 18 April 2011 05:04

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Charlie Campbell

Charlie Campbell

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  • avatar

    I think that if the 3 top DE's are gone, Then I would take Houston the OLB/DE from Georgia. But I think Tampa could get a quality draft pick at NE pick(their #28-I still think Tampa could get OLB/DE Justin Houston or DE Adrin Clayborn from Iowa, or DE Cameron Heyward, Ohio State. At Tampa pick in Rd-2(51_ I would pick up DE Jabaal Sheard, Pittsburgh, and also get NE own pick #60-I would be delighted to pickup OLB Sam Acho,Texas or grab one of those OT at #60 inJames Carpenter,Bama or OT Chris Hairston from Clemson. The reason NE could be a player, They could trade up from 28 to 20. NE would get 2 great picks #17 &20, plus NE would still have that 33 pick. Tampa would get their #19 in Rd-2 and get NE #28 pick in Rd-2. Plus NE could swap their pick 92 to Tampa for TB #84. But Tampa would have gotten 4 quality picks in the first 92 picks. Thats what I would do.
  • avatar

    everybody at the draft party all wanted price with our 2nd pick but I was thinking if we had miller and mccoy why not draft a de....the de from florida...bengals took him and he had a good year for a rookie....and now we need 2 des.
  • avatar

    Good article. The Bucs have really ignored the defensive end need. Dominik deserves a lot of criticism for not signing an end in free agency last year. After blowing all that money in his first free agency he's now afraid to spend money.
  • avatar

    To think some people on here think we should take a guard or tackle in the first and a TE in the second round obviously they didn't watch our pathetic defense last yr with that thinking lets take a receiver in the third.
  • avatar

    we need greg romeus dude is a beast...same approach as last year 1st round DE second round DE, romeus is as good as or better then some of the first round talent ive seen pair him with a quality first rounder and our line will be the envy of the league for years to come
  • avatar

    The questions becomes, do you take an average, "last one standing" DE at # 20 or take a quality player at another position of slightly lesser "need" ? JonnyG, I know you are of the opinion that our first and perhaps second selection should be "Defensive End or Bust". Let's hope it's not both. Everyone here hopes we are able to draft two or three DE's; but as my friend Horse would say, "Don't reach." We sure don't want the DE we draft at # 20 to be another Gregory White and we have the same need next year. I'm sure Dominik and Morris have a plan. There is little evidence that Bruce Allen and your namesake did with the likes of Gaines Adams and Dexter Jackson.
  • avatar

    I know your saying @#20 we should draft the player with the best draft value at that time which I disagree because the entire draft is a risk and the #1 DE isn't necessarily better than the 5th - 7th round De who might be better, with our desperate need at De we need to take at least three DE's in the draft and hope we can get one that is a stud. We will not go to the playoffs with no pass rush, plain and simple it doesn't matter who we have playing left or right guard, Pittsburgh is a great exaple of why pass rush is more important than guards
  • avatar

    For all of you that think we should trade back with NE, its a good dream but its never gonna happen. Belichick never trades up in drafts, only back, He is the master of turning late picks into probowlers. Hes not going to give up a 2nd rounder just to move up 8 or 9 picks. A more likely senario is us giving up our 4th pick to swap 1st with NE to get the DE we want (which probably will never happen either). I agree with Scubog about not reaching for a DE. If we dont trade and all the good DE's are gone then take the best player avaliable that we need. We can always go after a DE in FA. Edwards on one side and Greg Romeus on the other sounds good to me. Then we can go after LB, CB or Ol with our first 2 picks. We are going to need a CB once Talib gets suspended again.
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