Bucs rookie camp signee actually brings experience to defensive line
The Bucs signed a handful of players on Monday who had a strong showing in last weekend’s rookie minicamp.
Most, as you might imagine, were undrafted rookies looking for a shot. But there was a lone exception: Andre Neblett.
The defensive tackle is far from a rookie. He’s got three years of NFL experience, joining the Panthers as an undrafted rookie himself in 2010 and playing in 30 games as a pro since.
He was in the weekend’s camp on a tryout basis, and it was clear from watching him that he was a far superior player than most of the guys around him. The fact that Neblett had to take the invitation to the rookie camp strongly suggests he didn’t have better options as a free agent. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t someone who can compete for a regular-season roster spot. The Bucs aren’t exactly flush with depth on their defensive line to begin with, so nothing is out of the question.
Whether he makes it will be determined later, but here’s a little more about the 6 foot, 310-pound Neblett. He was a three-time All-MAC selection at Temple before joining the Panthers. In 2010, he was Carolina’s only undrafted free agent to make the opening-day roster, going on to become a regular part of the rotation. Neblett’s made seven starts in his three seasons, with 40 tackles to his credit.
It’s unclear whether he projects as an under tackle or nose tackle with the Bucs. But based on what he showed during minicamp, Neblett moves well enough to be considered as an under tackle.
One reason Neblett, perhaps, hadn’t previously found work, is his league-imposed suspension last season for a violation of the performance-enhancing drug policy.
But he’s still just 24 and might have some untapped upside. That’s what the Bucs, apparently, want to find out.
An interesting side note on Neblett: One of his best games came against, well, the Bucs. On Dec. 24, 2011, he had a sack of Josh Freeman and a fumble recovery after Kellen Winslow coughed up the ball. The Panthers went on to win 48-16.