BUCS’ PRE-DRAFT VISITS-WORKOUTS: DL
The Buccaneers need to add an edge pass rusher in the 2015 NFL Draft to replace defensive end Michael Johnson, who was cut after one disappointing season, but have also spent time meeting with some defensive tackles, too. Tampa Bay defensive line coach Joe Cullen worked out Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton, a mid-first-round pick, in addition to defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha, whose 19 sacks ranked first in college football last year., and Andrew Hudson, who had 12.5 sacks last year and 22.5 in his Huskies career. Kikaha couldn’t crack 4.8 in the 40-yard dash and has had two ACL surgeries on the same knee, so his stock could plummet to the middle rounds where the Bucs might take a chance on him.
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was at Memphis’ pro day to see cornerback Bobby McCain and defensive end Martin Ifedi, who is the Tigers’ all-time sack leader, and the Bucs were also present at Towson’s pro day to watch defensive end Ryan Delaire.
Every NFL club is allowed 30 visits to their team’s facility. NFL teams like the Bucs can work out as many draft prospects away from team facilities as they would like. Here is a list of defensive linemen the team has scouted in either visits to One Buc Place or personal workouts at the players’ respective schools or hometowns.
Florida DE Dante Fowler
Fowler, who is regarded as a top-10 pick, doesn’t count against the Bucs’ 30 visits because he’s a local prospect, and could be the top defensive player taken in the 2015 NFL Draft. Fowler is a tremendous athlete with long arms, but wasn’t a mega-producer at Florida, which is a signal that he’s either still reaching his potential or he could be an overhyped athlete that will disappoint in the NFL.
Utah DE Nate Orchard
First reported by NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, Orchard will be visiting the Bucs this week, and that’s welcome news as the team desperately needs a pass rusher after releasing Michael Johnson, who was an overhyped, overpaid free agent signing last year. Orchard had 18.5 sacks last season after posting just 3.5 the year before, and he abused Stanford left tackle Andrus Peat, who is considered to be a first-round prospect. Because he’s not a quick-twitch athlete, Orchard is likely a second- or third-round pick and may be Tampa Bay’s pick in Round 2.
Clemson DT Grady Jarrett
The Bucs really like Jarrett, who starred at the Senior Bowl, for his ability to trample the run on the way to the quarterback. Jarrett was instrumental in helping Vic Beasley get to the QB so often by providing an inside pass rush with his quickness. The Bucs worked out Jarrett, who carries a third- or fourth-round grade, at Clemson.
Auburn DT Gabe Wright
Similar to Jarrett, Wright is a strong, quick one-gap penetrator that would be perfect in the Tampa 2 scheme, which favors speed over size. Wright is big enough to play in the NFL at 6-foot-3, 300 pounds, and is graded as a fourth-round pick.
Clemson DE Corey Crawford
Crawford is a massive athlete at 6-foot-5, 299 pounds that had mediocre production at Clemson playing opposite Beasley. He has limited pass rush skills, but excels in stopping the run. Crawford, who carries a fifth-round grade and was worked out by Tampa Bay at Clemson, might be a better fit as a 3-4 defensive end than in a 4-3 scheme.
Clemson DE Tavaris Barnes
Barnes split time at left defensive end with Crawford for the Tigers, which hindered his production. Still, Barnes has an explosive burst and great size at 6-foot-4, 282 pounds to play left end in a 4-3 scheme like the Tampa 2. He’s currently viewed as an undrafted free agent.
Idaho DT Quayshawne Buckley
Buckley is a 6-foot-2, 291-pound pass-rushing defensive tackle that compiled 14.5 sacks, including 9.5 over the past two seasons. He carries a seventh-round or priority undrafted free agent grade and could be a nice pick up to bring to training camp.
Indiana DT Bobby Richardson
The undersized Richardson, who is 6-foot-3, 286 pounds, used his quickness to generate 11 sacks and 22 tackles for loss, in addition to blocking three kicks at Indiana. A Tampa native, Richardson will be working out at One Buc Place as a local prospect and could be considered as an undrafted free agent.
Washington DE Andrew Hudson
The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Hudson was benched for most of the 2013 season until getting a second chance last year with the new Huskies coaching staff. Playing on a defense with Kikaha and Shelton, Hudson recorded 12.5 sacks after not recording any as a junior. He wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine or any college all-star games, but impressed Cullen and will visit One Buc Place within the week.
This PR Bucs Blog entry will be updated as more defensive linemen visits and/or workouts are reported.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th 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 spent six years 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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