Searching For A Defensive End

January 19th, 2018

Joe had a chance to chat with arguably the best, most knowledgeable NFL draft guy out there, the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock.

As usual, Mayock will broadcast the East-West Shrine Game Saturday on NFL Network and Joe talked with Mayock at one of the game’s practices this week. In today’s installment, Mayock discusses the riddle of drafting defensive ends. On Monday, Joe will have Mayock’s thoughts on two players Bucs fans should have on their radars for this spring’s draft.

JoeBucsFan: Why is it so difficult for teams to find a defensive end, an edge rush guy?

Mike Mayock: I just think a lot of it is DNA. It is what you are born with. You are talking about what you are looking for is a 6-4 or 6-5, 250-pound guy who runs like a running back. I mean, that is what you are looking for. They are few and far between as far as natural specimens. If you are looking for a Vonn Miller, that’s one thing. But I think there are a lot of really solid defensive ends coming out.

The way the Bucs seemingly cannot develop a defensive end is mind-blowing. Joe likens it to organizations across sports that for whatever reason cannot develop a player at a specific position or positions. You know, like the Braves and closers, or the Rays and hitters or the Bears and quarterbacks.

There may be no deeper crater on the Bucs than defensive end and, sadly, the early look at the crop of defensive end free agents is bare.

34 Responses to “Searching For A Defensive End”

  1. USFBUC Says:

    Unless the Bucs grab one in the draft I don’t like our chances of having a pass rush next season. The “top” DE FAs this year are all those type of players we have already or have picked up in FA before who were busts for us.

    There are two players that I am intrigued by but also concerned about to possibly fix our defensive line. Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson, were part of the incredible Dline in NY but of course have had well documented issues. Signing them together could either be a disaster or brilliant, they won’t be cheap but the Bucs have and can get more cap space.

    The other player that could be hit or miss is Bennett, his best years are potentially behind him, he could be expensive, but he and McCoy have a friendship and obviously want to play together again.

    Those three guys plus McCoy on the Dline and we should in theory have one of the better Dlines.

    I think the Bucs should also bring in Rice as a DE coach on top of whatever FA or Rookie DEs we end up with.

  2. Easy Says:

    Jason Licht needs to throw stupid money at Demarcus Lawrence and make the Cowboys let him walk.

  3. Dewey Selmon Says:

    Licht likes to double up on positions. if we end up with Chubb i would have no problem drafting Davenport also.

  4. USFBUC Says:

    Every indicator is that the Cowboys are going to tag Lawrence if they can’t make a deal with him, so he is like 99% off the table already. Also he is another guy who has had one good season, his contract year, outside of that he had one decent year and two years cut short by injuries. So outside of his contract year which it is well documented that players see an uptick in performance in those years he is averaging 3 sacks per season.

  5. USFBUC Says:

    My aging but proven and possibly problematic D line is affordable even if we kept Wilkerson at his inflated salary (which we could hopefully cut down).

    Sheldon Richardson was making 10m this year
    Michael Bennett was set to make 7.3m next year
    Muhammad Wilkerson was set to make 20m next year

    If the Bucs cut Ayers, Gholston, and Baker they will free up 18.5m which covers two of the three. Then we just have to get the salary down for Wilkerson so we can leave ourselves some room to go get other players.

  6. Jonzey17 Says:

    I think the Bucs need to draft Chubb in first and a OT in 2nd a runningback in the 3rd (Penny). Cut Ayers, Baker, Ward, Conte, Russell and Gholston.

  7. Northend Says:

    Situation is not as dire as some may think. Line needs 2 -3 free agent pieces and 2 -3 draft pieces.

    Chances are Ansah will also get tagged. So a trade may be in order. We should look at guys like Robert Quinn, Dante Fowler,J Sheard,etc for DE if Big names get scooped.
    If Bennett walks that’s a no brainer.

    Star Loutali or those former Jet trouble makers at DT.

    Scoop up one of Chubb, Key,Davenport early/mid first or Payne or Kea(sp) mid round and guys like ostman late. Did you see the spin move and motor on this kid?
    Licht will pounce. Should be a fun offseason.

  8. SteveK Says:


    Thanks for sharing this info from Mayock. I love the “DNA” answer.

    Can you guys discuss, on the next MM Joe or Ira Podcast, and ask Jason Licht his thoughts on drafting players:

    Do players with a pedigree get the nod over similarly talents players in the draft?

    Example of Dominik being a rockstar GM: In 2010, with the 20th overall selection, he drafted Adrian Clayborn this passing on Cameron’s Jordan (the son of a pro bowl tight end). “That’s a bold strategy, cotton, let’s see how it works out.”

  9. Evolvingbucfan Says:

    We need to hire Simeon as the new D-line coach or even as a “consultant”. Who ever we get we need to develop their talent not regress it. Our d-line performance has been the laughing stock of the entire NFL and it needs to change fast! the same could be said of our secondary.

  10. America's QB Says:

    What about Martin? You are saying to cut all these guys to free up cap space. Martin would free up extra cash as well. He has to go! He is as Charles Barkley says “Turrrrrrrrrible”!

  11. Buc4life Says:

    Chubb will be gone before we pick. Ardon Key appears to have all the measurable but had injuries this year and left the team for personal reasons. Kwon and Bekwith went to school at LSU and Bekwith actually played with Key and should be able to give advise about him. His tape looks great, combining speed and power. Draft him, add a FA defensive end and nose tackle and letting Baker and Ayers go.

  12. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    If Chubb, Barkley & Minkah are gone at 7…(and I think one will be there),,,,trade down if we can and take Key.

    We need DE, CB, RB, Oline in this draft….

    We may have to trad a 2019 top (1 or 2) for a DE this year. I would not be opposed to that….but I’d like to see us keep this year’s picks.

  13. Pickgrin Says:

    “If Chubb, Barkley & Minkah are gone at 7”

    Then taking Quenton Nelson and looking for your DE in the 2nd rd would be the most prudent thing to do. Not reaching for a DE with red flags in the 1st.

  14. doolnutts Says:

    I know it won’t happen but if I was Licht I would bring in 2-3 DE’s in FA. Obviously, I am not talking about the top 3 best but just playmakers above what we have. I would invest heavily in the draft. Even DT should be considered. Short of McCoy, Clinton, and Gholston the whole DL stinks from starters to depth. And yes I didn’t mention Spence. He’s “?” until he proves otherwise….

  15. HFXBUX Says:

    A DT is an option for the 7th pick as well. Hurst and Vea would both add to the pass rush from dayb1.

  16. BuccaneEric75 Says:

    Help me understand why some of you guys want Key. He’s not even 240 lbs. We already have a guy like that in Spence. Two DEs under 240 would kill our run defense and we’ve seen teams be able to focus on Spence’s outside rush. I don’t get it.

  17. The Buc Realist Says:

    Trade down and pick up a “Man among boys” Vita Vea!!!!!!!! switch to a 3-4 for a point of difference in the division!!!!!!!!! and If GMC is not on board,,, trade him!!!!!!!!!!!

    GO Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Says:

    Here’s a different take – find us a QB who doesn’t give us 4 or 5 straight 3-and-outs on the reg and who doesnt have a knack for tossing untimely picks on decisive drives. Stop the turnovers, the defense takes care of itself.

  19. Cobraboy Says:

    I’m not sure you “develop” a DE.

    I think you stumble upon one by chance and luck.

    As long as I can remember the success rate of DE’s who are high draft pics is like 10% (off the top of my head), about the same as high QB picks.

  20. Pa Privateer Says:


    This was supposed to be discussion about finding a DE or multiple DEs. Whether talking about FA, 2018 Draft or 2018 UDFA, a commenter should contribute to the topic.

    Your comment is part of the problem with Buc fans. Stay on topic and focus on talent acquisition. YES, Winston turns the ball over, but that can be coached out of someone and comes with experience. We finally have a Franchise QB and you are complaining about him. Half the league would love to have Winston and his turnover issues.

    ON TOPIC: DT Vita Vea and DT Wilkins will climb in ranking and are definitely worth looking at. Arden Key is more of a OLB in a 34 defense. We need DEs who are 6’5″ 260 doming out in the draft.

    If you look at other Team needs in the draft, Chubb is a high probability of being there at #7

  21. 813bucboi Says:

    if chubb is gone at #7….trade down and pick up DT/DE…..grab RB in round 2….oline round 3….GO BUCS!!!!

  22. Jonzey17 Says:

    I agree cut Martin now get a running back 2nd or 3rd. Have you all saw Penny he is the sleeper of the draft.

  23. Jonzey17 Says:

    We need a DE in 1st Chubb or Keys fit the bill. We need a pass rush bad. Chubb on one side and Spence on the other. Or we can get either Georgia Bulldogs running backs in the second.

  24. LakeLand Says:

    Good Defensive Ends don’t fall to you often. You should grab them when you can, the Bucs haven’t done that.

  25. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    Chubb will not be there! That is pretty much the only consensus opinion I’m reading from JBF posters and the draft blogs.

    I wouldn’t be upset if they go with Nelson in the first. I prefer DE/DL/OL but as long as we’re building the trenches I”m cool. He’s likely to be there at 7 Walter FB has him going to the Niners with the 9th pick to protect Garapolo. We certainly shouldn’t let that happen.

    Licht has a real draft challenge this year. Many draftnicks see three QB’s going ahead of our 7th pick. If that happens we should have a solid choice left at 7th.

    Minkah Fitzpatrick projected to go in the top 5. If he falls do we consider him?
    This is one time where I have to address need not just BPA. Build the trenches. Nelson is just as good at guard as Fitzpatrick as S/CB so I’d prefer Nelson.

  26. Says:

    I suppose my point is we have talent on defense already. Getting to the QB ain’t easy when you’re playing from behind.

  27. Pickgrin Says:

    SPBF – We are in good shape to get a blue chip player no matter what if the predictions of 3 QBs taken before pick 7 come true.

    There are 4 supposedly “can’t miss” players in this draft (aside from the QBs) Chubb, Barkley, Fitzpatrick and Nelson. One of them will pretty much for sure fall to the Bucs at #7. Chubb would be best for us – but we have “need” at all those positions so its gonna be hard to flub the 1st rd pick this year most likely. Just have to wait till draft day to see who drops to our spot. One of them will.

  28. NFLNut Says:

    I want 1-2 stud DE’s in free agency so we can draft Quenten Nelson in the 1st and Billy Price in the 2nd and have our O-Line set and dominant … but, this is a weak FA class.

    Ziggy … dominant when healthy … often hurt
    Okafor … coming off an injury
    Gallette … coming off an injury
    Ealy … dominant in Super Bowl … and that’s it

  29. SteelStudBuc Says:

    People look at Gholston like he’s a BUM. He’s the best run defender on the d-line. His pass rushing is sub par but damn when they need to stop the run look out.
    Gotta stop the run first and foremost… then it’s pass rusher who needs to sub in.

  30. Rod Munch Says:

    Obviously you have to consider your board when drafting, but the Bucs would be wise to spend their top 2 picks on DE’s, then their next 3 on DB, then their last 3 picks on maybe an OL, and another d-lineman and another DB.

  31. Rod Munch Says:

    SteelStudBuc – Well the issue is his pay I think, $7-mil is a bit high for a 2-down run stopping DE. Then again the Bucs paid more up front to have the ability to cut him without hurting the cap. So maybe he should be more like a $4.0mil guy, if that was the case he might have gotten like a $10-million signing bonus (on his 5-year deal), meaning he’d actually cost about $6m/year and if the Bucs cut him now you got a bunch of dead contract money. The $7m is high, but the player took a risk in getting less up front in terms of no signing bonus, and the Bucs took a risk in that they paid him more and a higher overall salary. It’s a give and take on both sides.

    With all that said I doubt he’s back at $7m/year, they might redo it for closer to $5m or if they can’t they’ll probably cut him. I doubt he’d have any issue finding work at $5m/year, but I doubt anyone is going to pay him much more than that.

  32. USFBUC Says:

    I like the idea of drafting a DE and a DT too but I just want the position addressed before we get into the draft.

  33. Duke Says:

    Marcus Davenport is a name that should be popping up on some folks radar soon.
    I think after the combine and teams get a look at his measurables He’s going to be a rising prospect. For those of you who aren’t familiar with him he’s a DE and
    a lot smarter pick than keys.

  34. godzilla13 Says:

    I agree about Gholston. The man can not only defend the run as an elite DE, he is dependable and sacks are not the only measurement for rushing the passer. Gholston constantly pressures the QB with his bull rush. Does anyone have the stat on how many pressures he had in 2017? There are some DE’s in this class with potential in round two/three, if Chubb does not fall to us.

    DE Duke Ejiofor (6-4 270) Wake Forest
    DE Rasheem Green (6-4 275) USC
    DE Marcell Frazier (6-5 260) Missouri
    DE Chad Thomas (6-6 270) Miami
    DE Breeland Speaks (6-3 285) Old Miss
    DE Tyquan Lewis (6-4 260) Ohio State