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WHAT THE BUCCANEERS ARE LOOKING FOR: Tampa Bay lacks star quality at the defensive tackle position. Anthony “Booger” McFarland has yet to establish himself at the under tackle spot and hasn’t been able to stay healthy, either. Ellis Wyms is coming off shoulder surgery and is pushing McFarland for the starting spot. The Bucs may draft an under tackle, but both McFarland and Wyms have talent and will likely get another shot at starting. Tampa Bay must be more stout against the run at nose tackle. Damien Gregory is the current favorite to start, but if the Bucs draft a defensive lineman, it will likely be a nose tackle.
UPDATE: If Tampa Bay drafts an under tackle candidate on the first day of the draft, it is a clear sign that McFarland could likely be on his way out. His salary cap figure is enormous for a player who has had seven sacks since 2002. But with Chartric Darby gone, Gregory still coming off knee surgery and free agent addition Chris Hovan new to Tampa Bay’s defense, adding a nose tackle candidate makes the most sense. Tampa Bay has to do something to stop teams from running up the gut, and the Bucs’ run defense has been porous since McFarland moved from nose tackle to under tackle in 2004. Tampa Bay will probably draft a defensive tackle at some point in this draft, but it won’t be in the first round, and may not be in round two, either. The addition of Hovan could allow the Bucs to pass altogether on drafting a tackle, but that may be a risky move in case he doesn’t pan out.
IDEAL PLAYERS FOR THE BUCS’ SCHEME: Tampa Bay loves Florida State’s Travis Johnson, but he is a first-round under tackle, and that position is not a pressing need. If Wisconsin’s Anttaj Hawthorne’s had a higher motor, the Bucs may consider him in round 2. USC’s Mike Patterson was dynamic at the Senior Bowl and has been targeted in the second round, but the Bucs may opt for Northwestern nose tackle Luis Castillo instead. Castillo has more size than Patterson and is a better player against the run. Patterson excels as a pass rusher and can also play under tackle, too. The Bucs may be hoping that Castillo lasts into the third round. Iowa’s Jonathan Babineaux is a disruptive force at under tackle, although he is undersized. He might be gone by the third round, but if he’s not, Tampa Bay will give him a hard look. Missouri’s C.J. Mosely is probably a better fit in Tampa Bay than his teammate, Atiyyah Ellison. Mosely will likely be a third-round pick, while Ellison has a chance to be a fourth-rounder. Iowa’s Derreck Robinson and Oklahoma’s Lynn McGruder are candidates in rounds 6-7. A lack of size may keep Auburn’s Jay Ratliff from being drafted, but he fits the Bucs’ scheme and could be an option in the seventh round along with Boston College’s Tim Bulman.
UPDATE: With Hawthorne’s positive drug test for marijuana at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, his stock has fallen considerably at One Buccaneer Place. The same can’t be said for Castillo, whom the Bucs still like, even though he tested positive for steroids at the Combine. Castillo severely sprained his elbow on the second play of the season and played through pain the entire year. He says he took steroids to help the healing process in the post-season, not during the season, which his college coach backs up. His forthrightness has set well with teams, including the Bucs, who likely won’t hold that against him. The Bucs like Patterson’s ability, but there is a desire to get bigger at the nose tackle position to help plug the “A” gap against the run. Patterson is 5-foot-11, 290 pounds, and is similar in size to Darby.
BUCS’ BEST BET – DT LUIS CASTILLO (Northwestern) Castillo is a big, tough run stuffer with enough quickness and speed to be an effective inside pass rusher in the NFL. Even though he tested positive for steroid use at the Combine, Castillo is still highly regarded around One Buc Place. In fact, his positive test may push him into the third round round, where the Bucs would feel more comfortable taking him rather than in the second round where he was originally projected to go.
CURRENT BUCS DEFENSIVE TACKLES: Anthony McFarland, Ellis Wyms, Damien Gregory, Chris Hovan, Keith Wright, Jon Bradley, Delbert Cowsette, Bryan Save
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.
This story is intended to be read by Pewter Insider subscribers only. Sharing of the PI content with non-subscribers of this service can result in cancellation of your subscription to the service and/or further actions by the publishers. Be sure to read the latest issue of Pewter Report on-line in PDF format on PewterReport.com. Buccaneers merchandise in the world.
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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