Third Day DE?

April 5th, 2017

Sleeper edge rusher? He talked to the Bucs — and to Joe.

If there is an area of need on defense, it is still a friggin’ edge rush.

Yes, Joe loves, absolutely loves the passion and fire of Noah Spence and he showed promise. Playing with one arm is what legends are made of, but after offseason shoulder surgery, how will he respond?

Jacquies Smith simply cannot stay healthy and frankly is undependable. Will Gholston is a fantastic run-stopper but he is average at best as a pass rusher.

So, yeah, the Bucs still need an edge rush and it is annoying beyond words how this Bucs franchise has p!ssed away the cream of Gerald McCoy’s career by letting him twist in the wind without more help.

So on the day at the NFL combine when defensive linemen had their media availability, Joe began asking defensive ends if they had spoken to the Bucs. And Joe found one, Carroll Phillips of Illinois. He told Joe he had spoken to Bucs officials a few times.

So Joe, along with a few other reporters, did a Q&A with the Miami native who played his final year at Illinois for former Bucs coach Lovie Smith.

Q. How did Lovie Smith help you in your development? In your first couple of years at Illinois you did OK but this year [Smith’s first year at Illinois] you blew up. Is there a connection with your increased numbers and Lovie taking over?

A. I always had the ability, I just never had the opportunity to make the plays and get in the game. When Lovie came, I just took advantage of the opportunity and did what I had to do. [Lovie] is a role model.

Q. So, you just needed an opportunity to show your skill set in a game?

A. Yes sir.

Q. What did Lovie do that helped you out or was there something he taught you that you said, “OK, this will help me out. This will help me advance to the NFL?”

A. How to be a pro. How to be an NFL player. He came in with an NFL style and an NFL scheme. He brought that to the program which showed me how to be a pro.

Q. Can you give an example or two on how to be a pro?

A. First of all, we practiced how they practice in the NFL. It was also what he expected in practice and in the games.

Q. Intense?

A. Yeah, intense. But [Lovie taught players how to be a pro] on and off the field. He really showed us how to be a pro.

Q. When you talk about practice, was it a completely different set up than it was under Tim Beckman [previous Illinois coach]?

A. Spring ball [for example] everybody had two-a-days, we had one practice a day. More walk-throughs and more film.

Q. So it was more of a mental approach?

A. Yeah, more [of a focus on] mental than anything.

Q. So that didn’t happen with Beckman?

A. No, with Beckman, we had two-a-days. We had to buckle up all the time.

Q. Do teams see you as a 43 SAM or a 34 OLB?

A. I can stand-up end, I can rush-end. I can play in a two-point and drop back into coverage. I can rush off the edge.

Q. Do you think you can play linebacker in a 34?

A. Yes sir, I could.

Q. Have teams talked to you about that?

A. Yeah. I can stand up in a two-point and drop back into coverage. I am a player.

Q. What feedback do you get from teams that is your best trait?

A. My speed and quickness off the edge. They like how I play aggressive. That’s my style of play.

Q. What do they say you need to work on?

A. Shedding blocks. Getting off blocks faster. Have more of a battle of hands so I can make more plays.

Q. Can that be accomplished by just working out and building yourself up a little bit?

A. Yeah, it is easily accomplished. Anyone has room for improvement and that is an area I need improvement.

Q. Now if you have to self-critique, what do you think you need to work on?

A. Just what those guys told me. I know I need to work on that. And the run the defense.

Q. From your feedback from coaches, at this stage of your game, do you think you are more of a specialist as far as just being a rush specialist?

A. I wouldn’t say a “rush specialist.” I am an every-down player.

Q. With all the coaching changes last year at Illinois, how were you able to adapt right away?

A. Well, the level of what everybody expected. Coach Lovie came in with an NFL defense. I am meeting with NFL guys now. How we practiced and everything. He taught me how to be a pro and what NFL teams would be expecting.

Q. Did the walk-throughs instead of two-a-days help keep you fresh?

A. Yeah, it helped stay fresh. Even after the games Saturday, we would come in Sunday and run, watch film, stuff like that. That kept our bodies fresh. Mondays, we were off on Mondays [like NFL teams have film studies on the day after a game on Mondays and off Tuesdays].

Q. Have the Bucs talked to you?

A. Yes. I just got through talking to the Bucs. I have talked to them two or three times.

Q. How has playing in the Big Ten Conference prepared you for the NFL?

A. I mean I went against a lot of good players and a lot of good offensive linemen. Lot of good running backs and quarterbacks. It has prepared me a lot for what I will be seeing in the NFL.

Q. With Lovie and a lot of his staff coming in with so much NFL experience, did that help get you prepared to be an NFL player?

A. It helped us in a major way. Now we know what to expect from an NFL team or from NFL coaches.

Q. Did Lovie sit you guys down and talk to you specifically about it or was it stuff you picked up over the course of a season?

A. Stuff we picked up over the course of a season. When he first came in.

Q. What are teams talking about you playing?

A. A rush linebacker, some defensive end. I can stand up and put my hand in the dirt. A stand-up and defensive end. I love that, stand-up. But in Lovie’s defense, I always had my hand in the dirt.

Q. What are some games that you had, if someone said they wanted to look at a gametape, what are some games you had that you could say, “If you want to see me excel, look at such-and-such a game.” What game or games would that be?

A. Iowa. Minnesota, those types of games,

Q. Now are there some offensive linemen you went up against that people would recognize that you had some success against?

A. Yeah, Stephen Spanellis of Michigan.

Q. And what did you do so well against him?

A. He is big, wide, long strong arms…

Q. Oh, a typical Big Ten lineman?

A. … Yeah! If [Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight] wasn’t so fast, I probably would have gotten a sack every [passing] down.

Q. What was the most difficult offensive line you have faced? Was it Wisconsin, Iowa?

A. The guy at Wisconsin, Ryan Ramczyk. He’s a good guy.

Q. What did he do that made it so difficult?

A. Well, I guess I didn’t watch too much film on him and he kind of got the best of me.

Q. Is there player in the NFL who you try to pattern yourself after or you can point to and say, “Hey, this guy plays like I do.”

A. Von Miller, Khalil Mack, Bruce Irving.

Q. What do you like about Von Miller?

A. How he gets after the ball. Where the ball moves, he moves. He likes making plays in the backfield. He is the sackmaster.

Q. What kind of player can you be in the NFL?

A. I can be a great player. I can be a Von Miller-type guy.

Q. What is your nickname?

A. Wildman.

Q. Why is that?

A. I had that nickname ever since Little League football. I guess I was hitting kids hard and the whole park started calling me “Wildman.” That has been my nickname ever since.

Q. Do you know Uncle Luke? [Rapper Luther Campbell who organizes youth football leagues in Miami inner-city neighborhoods].

A. He had his own park, Liberty City Park. So [his teams] used to come up and play us. He’s mad I never played [with his teams]. He is a great coach. He is a linebacker coach, he is a great coach, he is a rapper.

Q. Why were you a wild man out there?

A. I like to hit. I played D-end and I like to hit.

Q. You were making those little kids cry?

A. Yeah. [Laughs]

A couple of things that intrigue Joe about Phillips. First is, he seems like a late bloomer. Once he got playing time, he started to produce. That’s good to see.

Second, Phillips said he can play outside linebacker in a 34 and an edge rusher in a 43 defense. Joe has a hunch Mike Smith might like to incorporate more of a 34 front at times this year, and if that is the case, then Phillips’ versatility would be a nice fit (remember, newcomer Chris Baker did play some defensive end in a 34 front for the Redskins).

24 Responses to “Third Day DE?”

  1. Ben the Ga Buc Says:

    If Lovie taught him how to be a pro, I hope the Bucs run far away from this kid.

  2. SB Says:

    I believe he can be salvaged from Lovie’s “teachings”

  3. Blake_bucsfan Says:

    Eww, why would we want to have to coach the Lovie out of this kid? Lol jk. But seriously I would argue that continued defensive improvement is more important to our success than a running game.

    Think about it. 2015, best over all running game in the league but lousy af defense. We went 6-10. 2016, hardly any running but improved defense, 9-7 and just missed the playoffs. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

    Ira and Steve made a great point on the podcast yesterday, when it counted the most, we got zero pressure on Prescott & Brees, our coverage slipped as well, and they carved us up.

    Thats why I am now in the camp of Defense in round 1. Be it Pass rusher or safety.

  4. 813bucboi Says:

    good to see lovie making a positive impact on these young men….hope he gets drafted nd does well….GO BUCS!!!!

  5. Not there yet Says:

    A third round sleeper at defensive end? There’s no such thing. The best you can hope for is solid depth on day 3. If a pass rusher lasts that long then he’s extremely raw or there’s some issue, you don’t expect a guy at the position to replace previous starters who haven’t lost a step due to age. There aren’t too many examples and if Licht finds a starting D end on day 3 he’ll be here until he retires from football

  6. macabee Says:

    Let me offer an observation. When I look at some of the latest D-Line signings as well as players under review for the draft, it looks like DC Mike Smith likes big wide a$$ NTs over the center (Baker, Siliga) and DE/OLBs on the edge (Spence).

    This looks like a guy that wants more 3-4 action in the defense. Enter DE/OLB Jordan Willis/Kansas State 6-4, 255, 4.53 (projected 2nd round) who also has a private visit to Tampa. The Bucs have 7 DEs on the roster now but none with this size/speed combination.

    Like I said, just an observation, but I’d put my money on another Spence like addition to the D-Line. I could see two stand-up DE/OLBs with a wide body over the center in the Bucs future. Not going pure 3-4, but hybrid 3-4/4-3 defense.

    RD3 – DE/OLB Tyus Bowser/Houston 6-3, 241, 4.65
    *Honestly, I would have liked Jordan Willis here, but he’s long gone by now so I’m going with the “bulldozer”. Bowser had a huge senior season earning second-team all-conference honors, leading the team with 8.5 sacks among his 12 tackles for loss in just eight games. He is an explosive, quick-twitch athlete that bursts out of his stance and challenges the edge. Good shoulder turn at the edge of rush and can dip and corner with very tight radius. Showed ability to make crisp change of direction and made drastic improvement against the run. DC Mike Smith is going to play more 3-4 schemes this year. Bowser and Noah Spence would make a dynamic pair of stand-up OLBs coming off the edge.

  7. tmaxcon Says:

    at least smith & koetter combo have experience coaching the lovie out of young men. Does not sound good long term for the one dimensional overrated 3 technique with all this 3 – 4 talk…

  8. Blake_bucsfan Says:

    @tmax the most successful season GMC ever had was under schiano when they played 3-4 concepts. Honestly think Gerald would be better utilized at 3-4 DE.

  9. martinii Says:

    Another good edge prospect, raw but full of potential, is Tanoh Kpassagnon. Guys a beast and baring injury should grow into a 10+ sack master for some lucky team.

  10. uckinator Says:

    End of day 3 is usually practice squad. Small school college with a pro body or a senior 1 year starter from a crappy large University like Illinois.

  11. martinii Says:

    Not yet there yet,

    Unless Michael Bennett, (UDFA), James Harrison,Cameron Wake, Or for that matter Jacquies Smith (UFDA who led Buc’s in sacks, stumble onto your roster. There a a lot more 3rd RD+edge rusher projects that make the pro bowl or lead their team in sacks than you might think.

  12. Ben Says:

    Love to scoop up a DE with strong pass rush abilities late.
    Any way I look at the draft and cross referencing needs, just seems like the Bucs could use another pick unless they can find a gem like this late.

  13. Buddhaboy Says:

    Great Vice-sports episode on Liberty City football down in MIami. Check it out if you can. Phenonmenal really.

  14. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Blake_bucsfan Says
    “But seriously I would argue that continued defensive improvement is more important to our success than a running game.

    Think about it. 2015, best over all running game in the league but lousy af defense. We went 6-10. 2016, hardly any running but improved defense, 9-7 and just missed the playoffs. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.”

    I agree 1000 percent.

    Jason Licht has been able to get in RBs that can produce in backup roles lately. I say stick with it, sign Peterson if we must, just to save the pick in the draft.

  15. Jdr Says:

    Second pick Ryan Anderson olb and can play DE.. minions thanks for rushing the passer in tackles for loss

  16. Defense Rules Says:

    Over the years, Bucs haven’t been sterling when it comes to drafting DEs, and we’ve drafted quite a few since say 1990. In the 27 yrs since 1990, Bucs have drafted a total of 8 DEs in the first 3 rnds: Eric Curry (1993), Regan Upshaw (1996), Marcus Jones (1996), Dewayne White (2003), Gaines Adams (2007), Adrian Clayborn (2011) , Da’Quan Bowers (2011) and Noah Spence (2016). The first 7 stayed with us a grand total of 30 yrs … barely 4 yrs apiece. They contributed a grand total of 102.5 sacks … not quite 3.5 sacks per season average.

    We seem to have done considerably better finding FAs like Simeon Rice, Robert Ayers, Michael Bennett, etc. Simeon all by himself had 70 sacks in the 7 yrs he was with us.

  17. Fsuking Says:

    No thanks. He’s a smaller, slower, less talented Noah Spence. I see no possible upside for us here

  18. TarzanTheBucsFan Says:

    Our buggest need on d is safety

  19. rayjay1122 Says:

    I think Spence will be just fine. I look forward to seeing him build upon what he started.

  20. Dooshlarue Says:

    Damn shame about p!ssing away the “ice”cream of Old Softie 93’s prime.
    He deserves better.

    He deserves to be traded.

    Poor, poor Geraldine.
    Oh what could have been……

  21. BigHogHaynes Says:

    Stupid dumba$$!!

  22. Dan Solaz Says:

    If they want a de.. Lets take demarcus walker in rd 2…

  23. Mail man Says:

    #demarcus walker is the right choice 6 3 ht 280 wt loves the game

  24. Dirks GreatGranpappy Says:

    Anyone else turned off when he said he didn’t watch tape and the guy got the best of him. No wonder the Bucs sucked w lovie. Gotta put in the time in the film room