Depth At Defensive Line

May 8th, 2021

Trying to find a flaw.

At face value, Joe thought this was total nonsense. But after peeling a few onion skins, it made a little sense.

Generally, the NFL columnists at Bleacher Report have been a borderline joke in recent months since that outfit purged all the decent talent from its roster while it de-emphasizes NFL coverage.

(Imagine a place trying to make money on sports, and then watering down coverage of by far the most popular sport in America to bring more coverage to a dying sport — baseball — and a fringe sport — non-basketball association. Brilliant!).

Most of these columnists get their football knowledge (ahem) from watching their favorite team, watching BSPN highlights and/or fantasy football — which ought to be called “nightmare football” with analysis like this.

In other words, it is shallow NFL knowledge. But Joe actually gives this Alex Kay credit here. He seems to be on something.

Kay decided to look at the weak spot of each NFL team. He correctly noted it’s hard to find a flaw on the Bucs roster because it is so friggin’ loaded (did Jason Licht build the first NBA trophy-chasing team in NFL history?). But Kay pointed to developmental depth on the Bucs’ defensive line as the weakest link.

… However, Tampa wasn’t able to unearth any value along the defensive line. The team has plenty of elite veterans there but few developmental prospects. Bringing in some undrafted free agents or reclamation projects could help set Tampa up for sustained success in the future.

That’s fair. Outside of Khalil Davis, who might turn out to be a nice defensive tackle, do the Bucs have any highly-regarded developmental guys? Davis was a sixth-round pick, remember. No slight in him, but there is more hope surrounding Davis than production — and so far he seems to have been a nice find.

But you know what, if someone has to nitpick about a lack of top-shelf young depth at defensive tackle, that means you have one helluva loaded team.

28 Responses to “Depth At Defensive Line”

  1. Colin in Canada Says:

    If the bucs keep 6 interior DL this year they will be mostly vets:

    That leaves one spot for the young guys like Davis, Oconnor (who plays on every special teams unit) and others. I wouldnt be shocked if Davis is either on the practice squad or is a healthy scratch on game days.

  2. DoooshLaRue Says:

    We’ll start the DL next year.
    Work the plan.

  3. Joe Says:



    Notice that Licht said before the draft he wasn’t knocked over by the defensive tackles in the draft and that’s why he re-signed all of his d-tackles?

  4. Mitch Says:

    Dont forget about Jeremiah Ledbetter. He flashed too before suffering a calf injury.

    Although I hope we see Khalil Davis take a big jump. He really flashed in pass rush. Looking to see if he developed his rush defense this year.

  5. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    At 308 lbs, Khilil ran a 4.76 in the 40 last year. Not bad for a big guy.

  6. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Yes sir Joe.
    He’s got a plan.
    Restock the DL next year.

  7. Medicated Pete Says:

    We’re completely screwed at 2nd & 3rd string QB

  8. Howard Cosell Says:

    Exactly Pete! Thats why we need to bring back Winston and let him compete with Brady.
    Wait. What?

  9. Mitch Says:

    Can we appreciate that there are fans now complaining about the bucs 2nd and 3rd string QB’s? Has this ever happened in their history?

    Honestly, something really good must have happened to be here.

    Feels good! Complain away.

  10. Rod Munch Says:

    You have Vita, assuming he can play at least 50% of the defensive snaps for only the 2nd time in his career. Then Gholston, while nothing special, is a solid DE in this defense, and should be good for another 2-3 years if they want to bring him back after this season. Obvious Suh is the big question mark, on how long he can play, but it’s not like a rookie is going to be replacing him.

    Meanwhile, if you want to think of edge rushers as d-line, and some people do, you spent your 1st rounder on a guy.

    Finally, if needed, JPP can move back down to DE, and I don’t think this is the final year for JPP. So lets say Suh leaves, if they bring back JPP at end, you hopefully have Tryon ready to go as your edge rusher. Just an idea, not saying that should be the plan, but it’s one way that you can put things off for a year if you expect JPP to come back in 2022.

  11. Joe in Michigan Says:

    I’d like to see Anthony Nelson put on about 30 pounds and join the rotation of DE’s, if he can make the team at that position. He did have a few sacks at the end of the year/playoffs, but would rather have a more explosive edge rusher as the 4th backup (Cam Gill?).

  12. SOEbuc Says:

    We’re deep at DT this year with Suh, RNR, and Davis. Why we didn’t need to go early. I don’t care what round Davis went in. Has potential and the Bucs have the best coaching staff in the league.

  13. SOEbuc Says:

    Nelson is 6’7” 271 lbs. Important back up piece. He’s going no where.

  14. windbaggery Says:

    Benning Potoa’e anyone? 😆

    Didn’t hear much about him last year, but he stuck on the practice squad. Wonder if he’s an under-the-radar developmental guy.

  15. BradyBucs Says:

    In the Era of the Salary Cap and Roster Limits, you have to pick and choose your battles. Every team would love to have developmental depth at every important position, but it’s not possible.

    In a 3-4, you have fewer Defensive Linemen than a 4-3. We already have a young stud in Vita Vea, a player that can be anchoring our D-Line for the next decade. Vea doesn’t play every down, but that mostly takes care of 1 spot on the 3-man DL. We have enough decent ‘other’ D-Linemen that we don’t really need to allocate a lot into developmental players at this time. EDGE was much more important for us in a 3-4. And we address that with our 1st Round Pick.

  16. fern Says:

    Ok ill take what we have you can’t run against this guys.

  17. DoooshLaRue Says:


    Vea’s gonna play for a decade?
    How many DL play until they’re 36?

  18. Mitch Says:

    @ DoooshLaRue Maybe just under a decade. I can think of 3 that were great nose tackles and retired at 35. Haloti Gnata, Jerry Ball, and Vince Wilfork.

    It’s not really a question about ability for Vita as much as it is availability. If he can stay healthy he can make just as much of an impact as the three above.

  19. BradyBucs Says:

    Rod Munch,

    Please tell us again how Vita Vea is only a “run stuffer.” LOL

    Can’t believe how WRONG you were on that opinion right before he came back and dominated in the playoffs and SB, which led to more sacks and QB pressures.

  20. DoooshLaRue Says:


    There’s been a few for sure but it’s rare.
    I hope he stays a Buc until he’s done though.

  21. Says:

    I’m sorry but since when is Defensive Line only DTs? I know we run a 3 4 but Tryon is a defensive lineman. Nelson is too.. then there’s Davis.
    Should we be scooping up others’ draft busts from 3 years ago?

  22. Defense Rules Says:

    BradyBucs … Todd Bowles’ hybrid 3-4 defense seems to use 3 Dlinemen, 2 OLB, 2 ILB, and 4 Secondary more than any other configuration. Like every great run-defense team IMO, it starts with the guy in the middle of those 3 DLinemen, and Vea excels at clogging the middle (and at a lot more than that obviously). But it’s how they ALL feed off each other that makes this defense special far as I’m concerned.

    Obviously having Suh plus JPP, Shaq & Gholston in there at the same time as Vea must create nightmares for OCs, but even their replacements do quite well. Nacho impressed me last year, and McLendon seems to still be able to more-than-hold-his-own at the point of attack. Nelson was OK, but he really needs a breakout 2021 (last season he got 322 def snaps, and ended with 1 sack, 7 QB hits & 2 TFLs).

    But Davis, Potoa’e, Ledbetter & O’Connor really didn’t get all that much work last season (170 def snaps ALL TOGETHER), and only O’Connor looks like he made a real contribution on S/Ts at least (his 353 S/T snaps were second only to Ryan Smith’s 360 S/T snaps on the team). None of them look like ‘the future’ to me, but I hope I’m wrong.

  23. Mike Honcho Says:

    Generally, the NFL columnists at Bleacher Report have been a borderline joke in recent months since that outfit purged all the decent talent from its roster while it de-emphasizes NFL coverage.
    Seriously, what would possess them to de-emphasize the king of American sports? BAD business decision.

  24. Hodad Says:

    When we stop paying Suh, and JPP because of their age, we use that money to sign another younger version free agent. We got JPP for a 3rd round pick remember. That’s turned out real well. We found Shaq, that’s turned out well. There’s plenty of ways besides the draft to build your team. Signing the right FA’s, and trades is another way to do it. That’s why we write on JBF, and Licht gets paid to get the job done.

  25. Leighroy Says:

    “Alex Kay… seems to be on something” – Freudian slip I’m sure 😂

    It’s kind of scary-good to think that VV is kinda still the developmental prospect. As beastly as he’s been when healthy, does anyone not think he’s reached his full potential yet? (Other than Hungry Roderick)

  26. K2 Says:

    Medicated Pete Says:

    “We’re completely screwed at 2nd & 3rd string QB”

    Apparently, neither Roger or Mahomes were interested in the backup QB at $2.5 million. So, the Bucs had to except backup QBs on the roster. How can they be so stupid to get a backup QB….to be a backup. The Bucs backup QBs are on par with most teams. Starting QBs want to start…oh and then there’s this think called the salary cap.

  27. lambchop Says:

    Rome wasn’t built in a day. Are we seriously worried about DEVELOPMENTAL players?

    LOL. If that’s the knock, the rest of the NFL is gonna get slaughtered by the Bucs this year.

    If last year the team was captained by Captain Jack Sparrow. This year’s team is going to be captained by Blackbeard. Brady is going to light up the league with his NFL MVP performance.

  28. #1bucsfan Says:

    Brady is the real MVP not Rogers. Brady went to new team. Had to learn a new playbook. Had to get use to his new teammates all while learning to get around a new city in the middle of a plandemic. Didn’t have a off-season. Brady is the real MVP