analyzes the top players in the 2019 NFL Draft with its position previews. Taylor Jenkins previews the defensive end position with a comprehensive look at what the Bucs have and what they need off of the edge, a detailed list of this year’s top defensive ends, and Scott Reynolds offers up the annual Bucs’ Best Bets – one early round pick, and a pick from the later rounds.

What The Bucs Have At Defensive End

The Bucs got good production from their defensive ends last season, with Jason Pierre-Paul becoming Tampa Bay’s first double-digit sacker since Simeon Rice in 2005, and Carl Nassib emerging as a pleasant surprise and bookend opposite Pierre-Paul with a career-high 6.5 sacks. After those starters, though, the Bucs lack experience and depth at defensive end.

Bucs DE Will Gholston - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs DE Will Gholston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The next two ends on the roster at the moment are Noah Spence and Will Gholston, both of whom have more experience under their belt than their production would suggest. Spence has had a career thus far that’s been riddled with injuries and under-performance, and this year could be his last chance to prove he belongs. As for Gholston, he earned a second contract with the Bucs since being drafted in 2013, but has largely been a non-factor, especially as a pass rusher. Gholston should fit better in Todd Bowles’ scheme, however, as a versatile player who can be a base 3-4 five-tech defensive end or defensive tackle if needed.

Then there is a slew of young players. The remaining defensive ends currently on the roster are Demone Harris, Hunter Dimick, Farrington Heguenin and Pat O’Connor, who all have just one year in the league with limited snaps.

What The Bucs Need At Defensive End

Before the 2019 season starts the Bucs will likely be looking to bring in a defensive end to mold and plug in to make an impact sooner rather than later.

Pierre-Paul and Nassib will be outside linebackers in Bowles’ 3-4 scheme and edge-rushing defensive ends when Tampa Bay goes to a four-man front in nickel defense. Spence projects better to a stand up outside linebacker and a lack of depth at the position the Bucs will likely need to take advantage of a very deep class of defensive linemen to bring in a base 3-4 defensive end to fit their new defensive scheme and join Vita Vea as part of the defensive line’s core for the future.

This year’s’s 2019 Draft Previews + Bucs’ Best Bets and Draft Videocast are presented by Edmonson Electric & Security – the official smart home and security company of

Watch Pewter Reporters Scott Reynolds, Mark Cook, Taylor Jenkins and Matt Matera, as well as other special guests, live on-air via from the team’s headquarters at One Buccaneer Place beginning on Day 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft at 7:00 p.m. ET.

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Click Page 2 For The DE Rankings


  1. Jason Pierre-Paul has never put two back to back seasons of 10 plus sacks. Over 9 years he has had three seasons where he has hit 10 sacks or more, twice with the Giants (2011 with 16.5, 2014 with 12.5) and the single season in Tampa in 2018 with 12.5 again. Odds are he will be good but not get over 10 again this year as his last two years he has played all 16 games and had 8 the previous year, with the Giants.

    If he stays healthy he will be good – probably in the neighborhood of 10 sacks so that is a very good performance, but as you might guess his time is limited in Tampa as he is on the wrong end of the age spectrum. I am hoping the Bucs can get two more years out of him with good performance. Hard to tell since we know how McCoy ended up and he is only one year older. Warren Sapp is one of the best of all time and he lasted 13 years, with his last year getting 2 sacks (but second to last year he managed to get 10 sacks – the fourth time he achieved it).

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