Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

For Bucs, defense seems to be NFL draft priority

TAMPA — Kwon Alexander is the only defensive player drafted by the Bucs the past two seasons, a steal in the fourth round from LSU who was the team's second-leading tackler as a rookie.

"I'm an athletic guy, and I might look small," Alexander said, "but I'll hit you."

The Bucs are looking to hit on a few more defensive players like Alexander in this year's draft (April 28-30).

According to various reports, the players the Bucs have either worked out or who met with the team for interviews include Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, Eastern Kentucky defensive end Noah Spence, Louisville defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, UCLA linebacker Myles Jack and Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple.

"We've spent a lot of time on defensive players in this year's draft, whether bringing them in or working them out," Licht said during a predraft news conference Thursday.

"It doesn't necessarily mean we're going to draft a defensive player at No. 9 or wherever we are in the first round. We did some things in free agency that gave us some flexibility. We want to still strive. We have several needs on this team. We want to get better, there's no getting around that. But we still strive to pick players where best available and need intersect."

Defensive end and pass rusher would seem to be among the Bucs' biggest needs and they should be able to address one of the needs if they elect to make a selection with the No. 9 overall pick.

"The way I assess it is it is what it is," Licht said. 'You have to work around it. There's a lot of good players in this draft. We have to prepare to take a player there, we have to prepare a situation of moving back and we have to prepare a situation where we're enticed to move up.

"This is a very good draft, the more we dig into it, the more meetings we have, the more tape we watch. It's very deep at certain positions — a lot of positions. There's a lot of good players to be picked and here we are, we're ready to do it."

A year ago, the Bucs netted four starters from the draft — quarterback Jameis Winston, left tackle Donovan Smith, guard Ali Marpet and Alexander. That's why Licht says it's important to target good players throughout all three days of the draft.

"There's also the flashy players, people know about, but there's always the deep tracks on an album that you don't know about now, but some day you're going to know like Kwon Alexander," Licht said. "We want to hit the right one, so we're doing a lot of work on those guys."

It's still unclear what special requirements the Bucs will have for players in the new system under defensive coordinator Mike Smith. The changes won't be major, Licht said, but it's clear they would like more that have Alexander's mentality.

"There's little modifications in every defense that some coordinators or defensive staffs, head coaches, maybe stress one position over another or a certain type of player whether it's size, or whether it's a certain skill set that a certain position has, that they stress over another," Licht said.

"We're still looking for really good football players at the end of the day. I know it sounds vanilla, but from my chair, from our scouts, we're looking for great football players that have a great mind-set and have what we call the 'Buc Mentality.' "

For Bucs, defense seems to be NFL draft priority 04/14/16 [Last modified: Thursday, April 14, 2016 10:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rookie tight end Antony Auclair making case to stick with Bucs

    Bucs

    Don't let his modest preseason stats fool you: Antony Auclair, the undrafted rookie tight end from Canada is making a strong case to stick around on the Bucs' 53-man roster this season.

    Bucs tight end Antony Auclair (82) collides with a defender following a catch during training camp. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  2. Calm (Largo) and clamorous (St. Petersburg) converge Friday night

    Footballpreps

    If Largo and St. Petersburg high schools are going to be successful this football season, it will be because of defense. And if those defenses are going to be successful, it will be because of secondaries that are potentially the best in Pinellas County.

    St. Petersburg High School CB Anthony Johnson  practices with his team Monday, Aug. 21, 2017.
  3. Rays morning after: Secret to Alex Colome's success is staying cool, calm, collected

    Blogs

    The ninth inning couldn't have started much worse for Rays closer Alex Colome on Tuesday, who took over with a 6-4 lead and quickly allowed a single and a double to bring the tying run to the plate.

    Alex Colome said the key to his effectiveness is not altering anything, especially his locked-in focus on getting the final outs.
  4. How will former USF assistant Tom Allen fare at Indiana?

    Blogs

    Big Ten Network analyst Gerry DiNardo doesn't sound particularly optimistic about Tom Allen's chances of keeping Indiana competitive in his first year as the Hoosiers' head coach.

    "He has some challenges," DiNardo said.

  5. ESPN cites safety in removing Robert Lee from UVA broadcast due to name (w/video)

    College

    ESPN has removed an announcer from its broadcast of the University of Virginia's first football game next month because he has the same name as a Confederate general memorialized in statues that are being taken down across the country.

    Louisville lines up for a play against Virginia during an NCAA college football game in Charlottesville, Va., in 2016 ESPN broadcaster Robert Lee will not work Virginia's season opener because of recent violence in Charlottesville sparked by the decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. A spokeswoman for ESPN says Lee has been moved to Youngstown State's game at Pittsburgh on the ACC Network on Sept. 2. The network says the decision was made "as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name." [Associated Press]