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WHAT THE BUCCANEERS ARE LOOKING FOR: Tampa Bay’s starting defensive ends – Simeon Rice and Greg Spires – will both be 31 this year and are still in the prime of their careers. However, both Rice and Spires account for high salaries in 2005 and beyond, especially Rice, whose salary cap value this year is around $10 million. The Bucs need to find eventual replacements sooner or later, although the team likely has one in Dewayne White, a second-round pick in 2003 who had a breakthrough season last year. Josh Savage is a high-motor player who was an undrafted free agent last year. He has the chance to start with more experience and better technique. Tampa Bay’s defensive ends must have good pass rushing ability as defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin often relies on pressuring the passer with the rush of his front four.
UPDATE: Tampa Bay likely won’t draft a defensive end until the second day of the draft unless there is one that clearly is the top-rated player on their draft board when one of the third-round picks rolls around. The Bucs don’t mind undersized defensive ends – even players with short arms like Georgia’s David Pollack or Iowa’s Matt Roth, as long as they possess a high motor and hustle, which both players do. With some whispers buzzing around that Rice’s last year in Tampa Bay may be in 2005, there may be a sense of urgency to find a pass-rushing end in this draft to groom as a replacement.
IDEAL PLAYERS FOR THE BUCS’ SCHEME: It is doubtful that the Bucs would draft a defensive end in the first round and possibly the second round, too. Georgia’s David Pollack has the high motor defensive line coach Rod Marinelli craves. USC’s Shaun Cody is versatile enough to play tackle and end, and is a kick-blocking force. Both will be gone in the first round. LSU’s Marcus Spears and Iowa’s Matt Roth made good impressions on the Bucs coaches at the Senior Bowl, especially Spears, but he’s also a first-rounder. Notre Dame’s Justin Tuck and Troy’s Demarcus Ware have good pass rushing ability that fit Tampa Bay’s needs and will be options in the second round. Vanderbilt’s Jovan Haye would be a fourth-round option if he was more consistent. Cal’s Ryan Riddle, who will go in rounds 4-5, is an overachiever with a high motor and lots of sacks. Florida State’s Chauncey Davis and Kentucky’s Vincent “Sweet Pea” Burns are ideal options in the fifth round. Kansas’ David McMillan is an undersized pass rusher and could be had in rounds 6-7.
UPDATE: The Buccaneers have used most of their pre-draft visit opportunities on offensive players and cornerbacks, which is an indication that the team will likely not draft a defensive end until the second day. Riddle is an undersized player who blossomed as a senior. He may fit what the Bucs do from the right side of the line. McMillan has a similar body type, but is more athletic, while Riddle has more hustle to him. Wisconsin’s Jonathan Welsh and Arkansas’ Jeb Huckeba are two players with traits similar to those of Riddle and McMillan. If the Bucs don’t draft an end, look for the team to sign one or two undrafted free agents to bring to camp. One possibility could be Kansas State’s Kevin Huntley, who is coming off an ACL injury, but should be ready to go by training camp.
BUCS’ BEST BET – DE DAVID McMILLAN (Kansas) McMillan is undersized at 6-foot-3, 255 pounds, but has good speed and great pass rushing ability. He is a developmental prospect with the traits the Bucs look for, and has a good upside. McMillan reminds some of another former undersized Kansas pass rusher who played for the Bucs – Ron Warner. This is the kind of guy Rod Marinelli can make into a solid starter.
CURRENT BUCS DEFENSIVE ENDS: Simeon Rice, Greg Spires, Dewayne White, Josh Savage, Bryant McNeal
For more detailed analyis on each draft prospect, refer to the positional draft previews in the on-line version of the Pewter Report Bucs Draft Preview.
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Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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