“It’s Hard To Evaluate The Pass Rushers”

April 11th, 2019

“Greg, I said, ‘Put a shirt on’ not ‘bank on Da’Quan.”

Slam-dunk picks in the first-round of the NFL Draft are extremely rare. Just look at the mess Bruce Arians’ Cardinals made in Round 1 over five years.

Sure, Andrew Luck, Luke Kuechly, Ndamukong Suh, Quenton Nelson and Ezekiel Elliott, for example, were considered 100-percent, can’t-miss picks in advance of their respective drafts.

All those guys were instant studs; among them only Kuechly missed the Pro Bowl his rookie year despite leading the NFL in combined tackles and hauling in a couple of interceptions.

But those guys are the major exceptions.

Most elite prospects out of college carry a load of risk. ProFootballTalk.com shared some fresh Bill Belicheat quotes today and while his take on college offensive linemen is old news, his words about college pass rushers made Joe take pause.

It makes perfect sense; if it’s hard to develop and effectively evaluate O-linemen in the era of spread offenses, then it’s much more challenging to gauge what you have in a college edge rusher.

Lots of Bucs fans are beating their chests over this year’s crop of defensive ends and, sure, the next Bradley Chubb might be out there. But it’s hardly a given for any of them. Maybe Nick Bosa. Maybe.

“I’d say the issue in college football is there just is not the same passing game in college football that there is in the NFL, period,” Belichick said. “So, it’s hard to evaluate the receivers, it’s hard to evaluate the quarterback, it’s hard to evaluate the offensive linemen, it’s hard to evaluate the pass rushers and it’s hard to evaluate the coverage players. You know, we’re all looking at the same film, so all the teams in the league, we all see the same games. But, the college passing game is very different from the professional passing game. When you’re looking at it, you’re looking at a lot of it’s really projecting all those positions a little bit differently. To a certain degree, it’s different in the running game, too, but probably less difference in the running game than in the passing game, in my opinion.”

Jadeveon Clowney (2014 draft class) is still looking for his first double-digit sack season, as well as a second contract that isn’t the franchise tag, though he has been a heck of a player for much of the past three seasons.

The point is the draft is a very tough business, though some teams consistently have been a lot more successful than the Bucs with pass rushers.

Beastly ex-Patriots pass rusher Trey Flowers was an early fourth-round pick in 2015. It was the pick Belicheat got from the Bucs in the Logan Mankins trade. Of course, Belicheat let Flowers walk in free agency last month and is unlikely to miss him. The Pats swapped late picks with the Eagles to acquire Michael Bennett, who the Bucs let walk out of Tampa in his prime for no good reason.

Belicheat is right. It is hard to evaluate the pass rushers out of college (Hello Noah Spence!) but it shouldn’t be as hard as the last three Bucs general managers have made it.

28 Responses to ““It’s Hard To Evaluate The Pass Rushers””

  1. SOEbuc Says:

    excited to see if Noah can stay healthy and use his speed off the edge this year.

  2. Magadude Says:

    I agree with the “instant stud” take on many. I just don’t know if Jason Licht can recognize that and draft the right guy. Has he done it yet on the D line? I think he missed on Winston, Jones, and a few others in other positions. Yeah, he got a few right (no, should not have drafted Mariota either…should have gotten a DL guy). Why is it that several years later our D line still needs so much attention? How did we get into the salary cap conundrum we have? And we’re paying $21M to a QB who isn’t there for his team? Gee, why do we have no money? So many bad decisions by the GM.

  3. Dom>Licht Says:

    Kuechly and Nelson CANT miss picks yet we passed on both….. that’s why we still suck

  4. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Exactly……crap shoot on most…..perhaps with the exception of Bosa & Allen……
    Q Williams is a sure bet……so, why not Devin White……consensus best MLB?

    Just don’t gamble on this pick….or round 2 or 3…….take as certain of a player as you can.

  5. WhatTheBuc Says:

    Flowers and Clowney are good but not special. Reminds of the Emporor’s New Clothes. Everyone talks about them like they’re great but you just don’t see it. Not a double digit sack season between them. Also Dom, we didn’t pass on Nelson, he went before we picked. That’s like saying we passed on Andrew Luck because the Colts took him

  6. Rod Munch Says:

    Part of this is why White might be the pick. Everyone is saying this kid is the second coming of someone really good, and DE and DT bust at an insanely high rate. I know if I’m running a team I’d rather take a guaranteed Hardy Nickerson over a 50/50 shot of getting Keith McCants.

    Of course this is all reliant on White being as good as people say he is. But if he is that good, if he’s a day 1 starter, a year in and year out pro-bowler with the ability of being an All-Pro, then sign me up.

  7. Bob in Valrico Says:

    We did not pass on Nelson .He was selected our draft position came up.

  8. Bob in Valrico Says:

    edit before

  9. DooshLaRue Says:

    Hey Joe….. why didn’t JW or GMC get a mention on your list?
    Don’t you refer to Gummy as a stud and JW as a pro bowler?
    Both 1st rounders and one 1st overall right?

    I’m truly lost……

  10. tnew Says:

    Didn’t pass on Nelson. Drafted earlier than our draft slot before the trade back. If he was available, that would’ve been the pick. Kuechly was passed on because the Bucs made need more important than the draft board. Mason Foster was drafted the previous draft, (right after Clayborn and Bowers) so the Bucs didn’t need Kuechly.

    Revisionist on Spence. 5.5 sacks his rookie season for a second round pick shows that Licht had the right idea. Hurts his shoulder and the Bucs in their wisdom rush him back and try to turn him into a base DE wanting him to be a run stopper. He should’ve ONLY been working on pass rush moves. This is kind of like putting a guard at center, a CB at Safety then back to CB, a RT at RG or making the most important aspect of the rookie RB be pass blocking. Yet there are a few that still back that regime.

  11. NOSBOS Says:

    Maybe who Riley Cooper I meant nick bosa. Nash that dude highly overrated.

  12. Jean Lafitte Says:

    So basically Belicheck said it’s a crapshoot at whatever position you draft coming out of college. This coming from a coach who drafts from the rear every draft. Not because he sucks at drafting but rather because he’ been one of the best

    try to trade down

    DE/OLB Montez Sweat intrigues me ,,,his speed is intoxicating … I would be anxious to see what his coverage skills were. He’s as fast as any TE or slot. Just the knowledge of his speed coming off the edge would induce a lot of false starts on a RT.

  13. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    l also find it particularly interesting that GMC wasn’t mentioned but Suh was…..as I recall in that draft Suh went 2nd & GMC 3rd……both were consensus picks (can’t lose)……
    As for Winston…..as I recall, most were either for Winston or Mariota….there was very little concern over either of them being very good picks….
    “Very good” and “can’t-miss” rare talents and players are very different entities. –Joe

  14. Christopher Schiefen Says:

    One, Keim made the picks, not Arians. Being best buds with the owner forgives all sins.
    Two, again Joe…notice how pass rushers can be had other than top 5? Notice how Belichick lets his pass rushers go but keeps his inside linebackers? Maybe he knows a *little* more about football?

  15. NOSBOS Says:

    Oh yea D’onta Hightower ain’t going no where..

  16. NOSBOS Says:

    Belichess could careless about a pass rusher. Seems like they’re waste of his time seeing is how quickly he sends them packing. Then he’ll replace them with an old guy or an Adrian Clayborn. Must be that “gap penetration” based 3/4 that makes them all expendable.

  17. Buccaneerscotty Says:

    Is there any chance we shock the world and BA. Gets to pick his own QB and trade Winston? That would also free the cap ….. just putting it out there! If Winston blow’s it this year your picking one next year anyway..

  18. Billy-43 Says:

    Passed on Nelson?
    Ummm no we didn’t.

    I really don’t think there is a way we Don’t pick White save Q being on the board or a BOAT LOAD of picks and trade down.

    Of course picking Derwin was supposedly the worst kept secret in the NFL.
    Sometimes I think Licht picked Vea simply to NOT be labeled.

  19. Defense Rules Says:

    So IF I’ve got this right Joe, “It’s Hard To Evaluate The Pass Rushers”, but you insist that Licht pick one anyways. Besides the Big-3, you’ve also mentioned a host of others (like Oliver & Sweat) … telling us to take anyone BUT Devin White. Now I’m starting to wonder if you’re backing down and recognizing the reality that the Bucs already have JPP, Nassib, Barrett, Gholston & Spence but we have NO starting-caliber MLB. Nah, I lost my head for a second. I’m better now.

    Interesting to note how a perennial playoff team like the Patriots value the LBs, CBs & Safeties more than the DLine guys. The Bucs have taken exactly the opposite approach over this past decade. Hmmm, wonder if comparing records would lead to any useful insight into which approach is better.

  20. Bucs Guy Says:

    Big 3 DL if any are available. If not, then take Oliver or trade down.
    Lots of very good LBavailable in 2nd and 3rd rounds. Wasn’t LVD a 2nd rounder?

  21. NOSBOS Says:

    It’s a no brainer Defense..

  22. Defense Rules Says:

    Bucs Guy … Yes LVD was a 2nd rounder. Kwon was a 4th rounder who many had expected to go in the 2nd round. Beckwith was a 3rd rounder.

    Now look at the 2018 draft. Bears picked Roquan Smith (#8 pick). Bills picked Tremaine Edmunds (#16 pick). Titans picked Rashaan Evans (#22 pick). Colts picked Darius Leonard (#36 pick). Titans picked Harold Landry (#41 pick). Chargers picked Uchenna Nwosu (#48 pick). So there were SIX LBs picked in the Top-50 picks (not bad). Oh ya, and THREE DEs picked in the Top-50.

    Apparently some teams do value LBs a little more(?) than the Bucs. My money’s still on Devin White as being the best in 2019, but there are 3 others who are definitely interesting IMO: Devin Bush (Michigan), Mack Wilson (Bama), and Tre Lamar (Clemson). Doubt any of them will make it past the 2nd round. And the Bucs do have a rather pronounced NEED at MLB.

  23. Lamarcus Says:

    I don’t understand. Man if you want a certain player out of the draft you go get him. Not selecting a player because u delusional think he should be drafted at deeper in the draft u crazy. There is no such thing as a reach. You get your player because you are not depending on a college kid 22 year old to change your team completely. That’s irresponsible and then your team must really suck. I see only 5 impact players in this draft and that’s it. Bosa, Devin white, Ed Oliver, Devin bush, Rock Sin. That’s it

  24. Lamarcus Says:

    I don’t care who the Bucs pick as long they don’t bust.

  25. Not there yet Says:

    The guys in charge of the vision of the defense have been horrible like the year they depended on injured jaq Smith and Noah Spence. Who didn’t realize Spence could only play obvious passing downs and was to light in the pants to take on nfl lineman. He may have very well had a much better career in a 3-4 but unfortunately licht had visions of A hybrid defense that never happened other than training Camp

  26. unbelievable Says:

    Lol he literally named every position except running back as hard to evaluate.

  27. Erik Hesson - Fine Artist - City of St Pete (formerly known as 'The Kwon Alexander of Bucs Fans) Says:

    LB wasn’t named as being difficult to evaluate…

    Devin White is the safest bet for someone who is going to be dominant at the next level.

  28. wideleftandright Says:

    Sounds like Joe is already making excuses for Jason Licht and his penchant for trading down to get more picks to squander.Always looking for a bargain.