Why Drafting A DE Is So Hard

January 19th, 2016
Packers yoda Ted Thompson talks to Joe about defensive ends.

Packers yoda Ted Thompson talks to Joe about defensive ends.

The Bucs have been trying to replace Simeon Rice at defensive end for so long now that Rebecca Romijn has grown old.

Time after time, year after year, the Bucs swing for a defensive end and miss. Drafts, trades, free agent signings, it’s almost impossible for a franchise to try this hard to fill a hole and continually p!ss in the wind.

And when the team does find a gem off the street like Michael Bennett, they let the guy walk away for no good reason. It’s enough for Joe to just ram his head against a brick wall.

From sackless Kyle Moore to Gaines Adams to Da’Quan Bowers to Ghost Johnson to sackless George Johnson, and too many to document in between, it is just mind-blowing how the Bucs just can’t find a competent and dangerous defensive end.

Hell, it got so bad at one point, former Bucs commander Greg Schiano threw his hands in the air in disgust. He was so fed up and decided, you know, if the Bucs can’t get pressure from the edge, they better get solid cover guys. So the Bucs went out and traded for Darrelle Revis and drafted Johnthan Banks.

Most NFL people suggest outside of quarterback, the toughest position to gauge in the draft is defensive end.

So with so many NFL general managers and scouts hovering in St. Petersburg for the week-long practices before Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game, Joe decided to corner the very best at the NFL draft, and that is Packers yoda Ted Thompson.

First, this took a lot of luck. Thompson, a nice guy, doesn’t like to talk. At all. And the rare times he does, he says very little (though his words pack a punch). Thompson also is at the practices for a reason: It is his job. And he doesn’t like to be hassled while working.

But Joe got the white whale to talk. A little. And what little he said actually said a lot.

Joe asked Thompson why is it that finding good defensive ends, good edge rushers, is so hard.

Thompson came at it from another angle.

“I think it is a question of supply and demand,” Thompson said. “The Good Lord only makes [a few]. It is a very difficult skill to master. There are only so many people who can do it.”

Leave it to Thompson, a man of few words, to take something so complex and make it so simple. Pass rushing is a hard task to accomplish on the NFL level and there are scant humans who can excel at it.

So easy, yet so profound.

38 Responses to “Why Drafting A DE Is So Hard”

  1. tdtb2015 Says:

    Licht if the Bills cut Mario Williams do your magic. Williams is a sure ticket to the playoffs in 2016- IMO

  2. macabee Says:

    They, the really good ones, only come along every so often. Julius Peppers, 36, has 10.5 sacks in regular season, 1 in playoffs, 136 for 14 year career. Hard to find, but can never stop looking!

  3. The Buc Realist Says:

    That is why the 2011 draft was amazing!! It was calked full of good to great DE’s!!! And how in the world the Pop-star found 2 Busts at the top is beyond comprehension!!! to walk away with adrain slowborn and Bowers as top picks is one of the main reason why the bucs are living in the cellar!!! and why other players were allowed to walk away!!

  4. Elle Says:

    It’s all a matter of perspective in the end, especially here in Tampa. If you’re waiting for the second coming of Sapp and Rice, well…. good luck waiting. I think we’ve been spoiled way too much by the past. Dominant players are a dime a dozen. Nowadays, the scheme is way more important and the key to generate a consistent pass rush. Who cares if a single player manages to achieve more than 10 sacks a season. What good does that player serves if the rest of the D sucks anyway? If you can find players who, collectively, can generate a solid pass rush, that’s good enough for me. We don’t need a 10+ sacks guy, we need players who are capable of putting pressure on the opposing QB and disrupting his timing on a constant basis, even if they don’t always manage to hit the QB.

  5. NewTampaChris Says:

    Bucky Brooks’ first mock draft on NFL.com has us taking Shaq Lawson #9. I think I will literally curl up and start whimpering if we take another Clemson DE.

  6. Mike Johnson Says:

    Well, I’ll tell you one thing Joe..If our Bucs get the same ole pass rush we had this season..Look for the..same ole record too!! I don’t care how many ohhs and ahss Jameis generates with his passing game, we’d better have a good Defense. Koetter can score 40 points. But we can’t stop the opposition from scoring 41. DEFENSE WINS CHANPIONSHIPS. Ohhh and I know I sound like a broken record. But I am not impressed in the least with Smith as our DC. His defenses were up and down in ATL. Expect more of the same from our..Tampa Bay Falconeers.

  7. StPeteBucsFan Says:


    Perhaps we can all hope the third time is a charm?

    Given the Peppers example if we can get him at a decent price I do not understand why we would not take a flyer on SuperMario.

    Yeah off season last year…and getting older…but he was playing in the wrong system..and he’s much younger than Peppers.

    I would think the Bucs would be as attractive to Williams as he is to the Bucs.

  8. R.O. Says:

    I say this repeatedly… Sacks are over rated. It’s pressure.. Pressure and perceived pressure. Making QBs think they have less time than they really do. Only time a sack matters is 3rd down (or 4th). Real stat is sacks to get off the field. Pressure causes, early throws, short throws, incompletions, interceptions.need tacles to push the pocket. Ends to squish the outside.

  9. The Buc Realist Says:

    I don’t see how anyone could watch football this past week, and come away with the fact that the Bucs #1 pressing need is DE!!! No question about it!!! Now that lovie is gone, some of the players can get back to “playing weight” so they will not get pushed around as much and exhausted in the 4th!!! but a lot of this past years “starters” will be more rotational guys and second stringers!!!

  10. NewTampaChris Says:

    @StPete –

    Don’t forget that there are a bunch of teams out there that need pass rushing help. It’s #1 on the Giants’ list, and others. So it’s not going to be that easy — we’ll have to outbid others for a scarce resource.

  11. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    This is why we should probably go for a proven DE in FA….and draft a CB with our #1 pick…..I think the CB position is much more predictable….I believe one of the top 3 CBs will fall to us at #9…..
    Perhaps we can trade up later in the first round and pick up a DE.
    I’d like to see us use rounds 5, 6 & 6 along with the Glennon pick to trade up.
    We don’t need any more players to develop.
    We need at least 3 new starters on the Defense.

  12. lurker Says:

    “And when the team does find a gem off the street like Michael Bennett, they let the guy walk away for no good reason.”

    for someone “in the know”, you guys trumpet some useless debate stuff.

  13. Jeagan1999 Says:

    Go out and get Mario Williams….if he is available….and then move up for Bosa, or stay put for Deforest Buckner. Add them to our outstanding young line backing crew, and GMC in the middle…and presto….a defense that will be feared by opposing offenses!

  14. pick6 Says:

    gotta grab that skill set wherever you can find it. even very strong teams are snagging late career guys and relying on them at least situationally…d. ware for denver, jared allen for carolina, peppers in GB, freeney for AZ. mario williams is the next guy like that, assuming buffalo does what everyone expects. let’s get him and keep trying to hit on a young pass rusher in the draft too.

  15. martinii Says:

    I have a few issues on the pass rush topic. First, like a good QB he has to have strong players around him. Simeon was great, but Sapp, Brooks, Lynch Booger,Culpepper,et.al provided him a rout to the QB. Sacks are overrated. Double teams and Hurry-up offenses have neutralized many would be DE standouts. Thompson premise that there are only a few good men is common knowledge. I say platoon the best you can find, build good DB’s. Respect the efforts of Gerald Mc Coy and win the game with your offense. PS. Rule changes regarding protecting the QB would have slowed Simeon down.

  16. Fsuking Says:

    We have an extremely difficult schedule next year. Pass rush is gonna be key to winning more than 8 games.

  17. ToesOnTheLine! Says:

    Agree on going DE with our first pick, but disagree on trading up for Bosa. Seems like there should be a few talented DE’s in this year’s draft with the caveat being who knows how any of them will transition in the NFL. Licht being a disciple of the Great Hoodie himself probably knows that trading down for more picks can improve a team quickly IF you can pick talent to fit your coaching scheme.

  18. LUVMYBUCS Says:


    • 1st Round – Shilique Calhoun
    • 2nd Round – Shawn Oakman

    Free Agency
    • Mario Williams
    • Greg Hardy

    LDE Mario Williams | William Gholston
    LDT Gerald McCoy | Clinton McDonald
    RDT Shawn Oakman | Tony McDaniel
    RDE Greg Hardy | Shilique Calhoun | Howard Jones

  19. Love and Warrick Dunn Says:

    DE, S, or CB. Whoever is rated higher when the pick comes at 9. Don’t reach.

  20. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    *(Mean Front 7 Rotation)

    Defensive Line
    LDE Mario Williams | Shilique Calhoun | Howard Jones
    LDT Gerald McCoy | Clinton McDonald
    RDT Shawn Oakman| Tony McDaniel
    RDE Greg Hardy | William Gholston

    Line Backers
    WLB Lavonte David | Josh Keyes
    MLB Kwon Alexander | Jeremiah George
    SLB Nigel Bradham | Danny Lansanah

  21. StPeteBucsFan Says:


    True dat…it’s not like we simply get to say we want Mario…there will be plenty of competition.


    With you except for Greg Hardy. Since the Bengals are the team from my birthplace and second favorite team I’m fairly familiar with them. They’ve had nothing but aggravation with Marvin because of all the off field issues which are now translating to on field disasters…stupid players cost them a playoff win.

    Greg Hardy is the epitome of a STUPID player. Even after getting a second chance with Dallas he was still a total assswhole. We already gone that route I’d just as soon keep the character of this team like it is…#3 and Kwon with improved coaching will have us playing “physical” enough without playing monsters.

  22. LUVMYBUCS Says:


    I’m not going to defend – ANY of his prior indiscretions.
    But with that said, he’ll be a bargain.
    You match him up with that Line Up = 45+ sacks

  23. LUVMYBUCS Says:


    We can always go after Olivier Vernon, to pair up with Mario

  24. The Buc Realist Says:

    I wonder why Joe has a mental block to name the 1st round draft bust adrain slowborn in the list of failures!!! He is the top of the list of failure when you consider the 1st round draft pick!!!

  25. LargoBuc Says:

    I made it known on BucsNation that I am indeed skeptical of Shaq Lawson. After Gaines(rip) and Bowers, I just cant get excited about a Clemson de.
    Now, a corner from Clemson named Mackenzie Alexander who could be avaiable at nine intrigues me. The kid is big, strong, he can jam at the los, he is fast too, alot faster than his frame would indicate. And he has a little Josh Norman/Richard Sherman in him. We need defenders that WANT TO WIN AND WILL GET PISSED IF WE LOOK A FOOL! Between Alexander, Ramsey and Hargreaves, one of the three is bound to be there at nine. Plus, there is something about Bosa that I just dont trust, beside tbe fact that experts say he would be best in a three down scheme, I just think some team is going to be disapointed ala Clowney. Maybe Buckner could work, or even Eli Apple in round two.

  26. Lord Cornelius Says:

    “I don’t see how anyone could watch football this past week, and come away with the fact that the Bucs #1 pressing need is DE!!!”

    God it makes me mad I agree with Realist. Not sure I’ve seen this optimistic side of him. I just hated that he talked so much trash about other fans based on random delusions of everyone besides him being in some tampa 2 mafia.

    If you can get pressure with a 4 man front the rest of your defense just needs to be average.

    The impact of a constantly disruptive DE is much more than the impact of a good cover corner. You basically need great coverage everywhere to make up for a bad pass rush; but a good pass rush can make up for bad coverage.

    Still I hope we just take BPA which still looks to be a CB/DE which is nice for us. But if they have an o-lineman like the notre dame guy ranked as an all pro player I don’t mind that either if he lives up to the billing. Ideally need and value meet for us this draft.

  27. Trubucfan22 Says:

    I think Kwon should move to SAM backer. Draft or find a protypical middle linebacker. Kwon has the speed to go sideline to sideline. Why let him get buried by blockers in the MLB spot. Let a big MLB stuff the middle and let Kwon run wild as OLB. If you remember when Kwon was draft he thought he would be an OLB. So I’m sure he would be ok with the switch.

  28. Buccfan37 Says:

    Mike Johnson… you seem highly disagreeable at some of the Bucs coaching hires. Thrown in the towel already?

  29. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    Am I the ONLY guy here who would like a premier kicker?

    I get that this is perhaps a final piece on a roster that’s ready to compete for an SB…and we’re not there…YET…but in two years?

    With that in mind a generation FG kicker is on the board this year. A player like Adam Vinateri or Sebastian Janakowski…a player that provides his team a real advantage.

    And with the extra points that were missed this year….I’d just love to have
    Aguayo. Aguayo declared himself eligible for the 2016 NFL Draft on January 6.

    Whenever he’s available I sure would like to make a run at him.

  30. Buccaneers Says:

    I’m not going to say we should get this or that guy in the draft. Or that we must get a certain position with our first pick. Licht has proven himself with his draft picks. I trust whoever he brings in willhave NFL skill set…………that being said, ourcpassrush is a complete joje right now. Something must be done to upgrade our players on the D-Line.

  31. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    tdtb2015 Says
    “Licht if the Bills cut Mario Williams do your magic. Williams is a sure ticket to the playoffs in 2016- IMO”

    Per ROTOWORLD on Mario Williams

    “An anonymous Bills teammate says LE Mario Williams has been giving “zero effort” this season.

    Williams has four sacks in 852 snaps. “The tape speaks for itself,” the teammate said. “He takes two steps and stops.” The player claimed many of Williams’ teammates have been “beyond furious” with his play.”

    The man is turning 31 at the end of this month. He isn’t even trying anymore. It’s a bad gamble to bring him in, and even if he produced, it wouldn’t last more than a year or so.

    That’s not good enough…especially with him quitting on plays. Even if he’s doing it to get out of Buffalo, you have to ask why. Is it to get a bigger payoff at the end of his career? Not a good sign.

  32. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    R.O. Says
    “I say this repeatedly… Sacks are over rated. It’s pressure.. Pressure and perceived pressure. Making QBs think they have less time than they really do. Only time a sack matters is 3rd down (or 4th).”

    Sacks cause yard loss. Yard loss can move a team backward out of 1st down range or field goal range. It can also move them closer to a “safety” situation at times.

    The pressure caused by sacks makes a quarterback predictable. He’ll take chances he should not. That’s why we eventually had Bret Favre’s number. The defense came at him hard and he would make predictable risky passes, resulting in picks.

    On defense…sacks are everything. They set up all of the other areas of the defense for success. It all starts on the line.

  33. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Buccaneers Says
    “I’m not going to say we should get this or that guy in the draft.”

    That’s why I do a “Wishlist” instead of mock drafts. After the first round, mocks are hard to get right anyway. I’d rather have a wishlist and hope to get the guys I want.

    Worked with three picks this year.

  34. Buccaneers Says:

    I read all the articles here and keep hearing people wanting the Bucs to trade their pick for more picks. This concept makes no sense and its a ridiculous idea. Every team in the league would love to get more pick and trade down/up(whatever).

    This cannot simply happen because the Bucs want it……the only way it happens is if there is a true demand on a player that’s available at there time of selection. I have no clue who will be available but I saw a mock saying we get Eli Apple………its not like the Bucs can just make somebody wantApple (or whoever) badly enough to give us extra picks for him. The whole notion of us trading for more pick is just plain silly.

    That is unless we have a pick like last year when there were two good QBs that many teams would want….bottom line is that wanting to get extra picks and actually making a trade for that is not in the Bucs hand……….now if you want to see us trade away picks to move up that’s a different story.

  35. Trubucfan22 Says:

    Bonzai. Williams was rumored to be disgruntled with being in a 3-4. He prefers to be a 4-3 DE. The same thing happened with Jared Allen, and that is why Allen was traded mid season to the panthers. I’m guessing the bills were asking too much to trade him though.

    He was in a clear “square peg, round hole” scenario. And even at half effort still got 4 sacks. Many of our DEs were at full effort and had less production.

  36. tnew Says:

    The Bucs must stop drafting for need. Drafting for need means passing on Keuchly or AP. It means over drafting players position on the board which leads to picks like Gaines Adams, RIP, or trading an extra 4th to move up a few spots in the 4th to get a Luke Stocker.

    Make the best deal. Trading up or trading back or keep the pick if the best player is on the board. If the best player is a Defensive Tackle, pick him. If its an OT, draft. If its a LB, get out of the pick or pick him and figure it out.

    Free Agency looks really strong this year on the defensive side of the ball. There are more than a couple of players in their mid 20’s that could really help this team. Front load some contracts.

    Draft the best players available, then let the chips fall where they may.

  37. Buccaneers Says:

    I agree with you tnew. I never got that premise that this team needs a pass rush so they have to get a DE…….. If a great talent evaluater sees a pro bowl player and passes for team need that is foolish.

    I will make the exception for last year’s pick with Donavan Smith, who was considered a reach. If we didn’t get O-Lineman to protect Jamies he gets hurt and that would be devastating. Getting offensive lineman was too important to overlook.

    Think you can also make an exception on QBs and receivers too if your team is stacked in those positions.

  38. godzilla13 Says:

    It is very difficult to find and draft a quality DE let alone an elite DE. Looking back at the 2013 draft only 1 of 8 DE drafted are relevant today. DE Ezekiel Ansah of the Lions. In the 2014 draft there are three of 8 that are any good including Houstons DE Jedeveon Clowney and Pittsburg’s DE Stephon Tuitt. No, I did not include KC’s DE Dee Ford. 2015 was the year of the DE. 10 OUT OF 12 DE drafted are showing the potential to be starters and there is one who has the look that he could become elite. The Jets DE Leonard Williams. Late 3rd round picks with high potential are the Vikings DE Danielle Hunter and the Colts Henry Anderson. Anyone remember DE Owa Odighizuwa, the DE we were supposed to draft? Me neither? In 2016 DE Joey Bosa has the look of elite potential while DE Shaq Lawson Clemson, DE DeForest Buckner Oregon, DE Emmanuel Ogbah Oklahoma State are the second tier. Rounding out other DE with potential are DE Jonathan Allen Alabama, DE Kevin Dodd Clemson, DE Noah Spence Eastern Kentucky, DE Shawn Oakman Baylor, DE Shilique Calhoun Michigan State, DE Jonathan Bullard Florida, DE Carl Nassib Penn State. After it is all said and done does anyone remember the player we drafted at number 12, who fell to us because of issues with pot? Enter our pick at number 9 – DT/DE Robert Nkemdiche Ole Miss. That wasn’t so hard?