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Bucs draft preview: defensive linemen

The son of Hall of Fame defensive lineman Howie Long, Chris could be the first defender overall selected (or even first player overall) largely because he is a good fit for almost any team.

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The son of Hall of Fame defensive lineman Howie Long, Chris could be the first defender overall selected (or even first player overall) largely because he is a good fit for almost any team.

For bucs draft news and updates, go to bucs.tampabay.com

Bucs Draft 2008,When: Saturday (Rounds 1-2) and Sunday (Rounds 3-7)

Bucs picks (round-overall): 1-20, 2-52, 3-83, 4-120, 5-154, 6-none (Michael Bennett trade), 7-none (Jake Plummer trade)

Top 10 defensive linemen

Chris Long, End, 6-4, 275, Virginia

One of the top criteria teams consider when drafting a prospect is how he'll fit into its system.

For Chris Long, that's not much of an issue. Play a traditional 4-3 defense and want a pass-rusher who comes off the edge? He's your man. Or perhaps your team prefers the 3-4 alignment and you'll ask Long to be a stand-up outside linebacker. Well, that would be fine, too.

The son of Hall of Fame defensive lineman Howie Long, Chris could be the first defender overall selected (or even first player overall) largely because he is a good fit for almost any team. Having had great success in coach Al Groh's defense at Virginia — which employs some 3-4 concepts — Long showed he can do it all. Think Shawne Merriman, the Chargers' do-everything linebacker/defensive end.

"I feel like I can do whatever a team asks me to do," Long said. "With repetition and a little hard work, I think I can do anything."

2,Vernon Gholston, End, 6-4, 258, Ohio State

Registered 22½ sacks in 25 starts and is considered adept at dropping into pass coverage.

3,Glenn Dorsey, Tackle, 6-2, 316, LSU

Game has some resemblance to Warren Sapp's given his quickness and ability to create havoc.

4,Sedrick Ellis, Tackle, 6-1, 305, USC

Boosted his stock at the Senior Bowl in January, where he was, arguably, the most impressive defender.

5,Derrick Harvey, End, 6-5, 252, Florida

Versatile player who can succeed in both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes; started just 18 games but had 20½ sacks.

6,Phillip Merling, End, 6-5, 272, Clemson

Plays well against the run (31 tackles for loss in two seasons); coming off a recent hernia surgery.

7,Kentwan Balmer, Tackle, 6-5, 298, North Carolina

Some are concerned about a college career best described as inconsistent; started just 22 games for the Tar Heels.

8,Calais Campbell, End, 6-8, 282, Miami

Exceptionally tall but vulnerable to the run; might be best suited as a third-down specialist a la the Bucs' Greg White.

9,Trevor Laws, Tackle, 6-1, 304, Notre Dame

Compact build makes him a natural against the run; started 37 games for the Irish with 224 career tackles.

10,Pat Sims, Tackle, 6-2, 310, Auburn

Inexperience — just 12 college starts — is a concern; questions linger about a lack of strength necessary to compete against NFL guards.



Thumbs up

Glenn Dorsey

Has overcome concerns about a 2006 leg injury that cropped up during a February medical exam to establish himself as the top interior lineman.

Thumbs down

Quentin Groves,
Tackle, Auburn

Recent surgery to address a rapid heartbeat is not what anyone needs heading into the draft; if a team is faced with deciding between Groves and another lineman, could that be the difference?

Under the radar

Kendall Langford,
Tackle, Hampton

The 6-foot-6, 295-pounder was recruited by Virginia and Virginia Tech, among others, but lacked the necessary grades; with pro coaching, could develop into one of the surprises of the draft.

GM Bruce Allen's scorecard

The Bucs hadn't invested heavily in defensive linemen under Allen, unless you count sixth-rounder Anthony Bryant in 2005 and fifth-rounder Julian Jenkins a year later. Neither stuck around for long.

Last year, the Bucs went for the no-brainer and drafted Gaines Adams fourth overall. After a slow start, he showed the potential to become a great pass rusher in the latter half of the season.

Fifth-round tackle Greg Peterson, also picked last year, played sparingly in 2007 but might be called upon more in '08.

IMPACT ON THE BUCS

Despite the team spending the No. 4 overall pick on a lineman last year, the pass rush remains an issue. The Bucs will give careful consideration to addressing the interior of their line. Jovan Haye is the starting under tackle, but Tampa Bay would prefer to have a more disruptive force, something its scheme relies heavily on. It also will give much thought to increasing the depth at end given Kevin Carter's age (34) and Greg White's inexperience. Carter did not provide much pass rush last season, and while White led the team with eight sacks, he was a non­factor against the run. White also has not been a full-time player in the NFL.

Stephen F. Holder, Times staff writer

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Bucs draft preview: defensive linemen 04/20/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 22, 2008 9:40am]
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