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Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft breakdown: defensive line

The situation

All you need to know about the performance of the Bucs defensive line in 2009 is this: Tampa Bay ranked dead last against the run, allowing 4.8 yards per carry and 158.2 per game. That kept opponents' chains moving and the ball out of the offense's hands.

The problem is most pronounced at tackle. Veteran Chris Hovan likely saw his last season as a starter as he isn't nearly the player he once was. Ryan Sims is probably best utilized as a rotation player rather than someone who plays the majority of the snaps. Look for Roy Miller to have an expanded role in his second season.

At end, Stylez White, left, is manning the right side for now with the left side up for grabs. Kyle Moore and Tim Crowder are likely to fight it out. The team's results in rushing passers were only a bit better than its performance against the run, with Tampa Bay tied for 26th with 28 sacks.

What they're looking for

The Bucs, having reverted to the Tampa 2 system late last season (with coach Raheem Morris' own twist), are looking for their tackles to play a one-gap style that allows them to attack a single gap rather than attempting to make reads then attack one of two assigned gaps.

That means rather than brute strength, it's possible they could place more emphasis on speed and quickness in the interior of the line. Under former coordinator Jim Bates' scheme, the thinking was the linemen would bulk up to play the two-gap style the Bucs abandoned.

On the edges, the Bucs are in sore need of a more consistent pass rush. Opposing quarterbacks had far too much time to find receivers and picked apart the secondary.

Fitting the bill

Considering the shift in scheme, Oklahoma tackle Gerald McCoy, left, could be seen as a better fit. He is the penetrating, disruptive force the Bucs seek, though that doesn't necessarily make him a better player than Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh, who played in a different scheme in college.

Top 10 prospects

Player, vital STATS Comment
DT Ndamukong Suh Nebraska, 6-4, 307 Lombardi Award winner
DT Gerald McCoy Oklahoma, 6-4, 295 Possesses great quickness
DE Derrick Morgan Georgia Tech, 6-3, 266 ACC defensive player of the year
DE Jason Pierre-Paul USF, 6-5, 270 Thin resume but great athleticism
DT Dan Williams Tennessee, 6-3, 327 Had 25 tackles for loss during career
DE Brandon Graham Michigan, 6-1, 268 Led NCAA with 26 tackles for loss last season
DE Carlos Dunlap Florida, 6-6, 277 Superb athlete with great speed
DE Everson Griffin USC, 6-4, 273 Intriguing prospect as 3-4 outside linebacker
DT Brian Price UCLA, 6-1, 303 Pac-10 defensive player of the year
DT Jared Odrick Penn State, 6-5, 304 First-team All-Big Ten with seven sacks in 2009

Best guess

Gerald McCoy, from all indications, will probably fall to the Bucs at No. 3. Beyond that, look for Tampa Bay to grab a defensive lineman somewhere in the second to fifth rounds.

Stephen F. Holder, Times staff writer

Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft breakdown: defensive line 04/17/10 [Last modified: Saturday, April 17, 2010 9:21pm]
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