Calijah Kancey & The Bucs

April 16th, 2023

This one has a couple of layers to it.

First, the Bucs could use a terrorist in the pass rush, and University of Pittsburgh defensive tackle Calijah Kancey is that kind of guy. The ACC Defensive Player of the Year is a jolt of lighting in the Aaron Donald mold, freakishly quick and Donald-sized (6-1, 281 pounds in February).

One could argue that selecting Kancey in Round 1 of the draft this year, especially at No. 19 overall, is a senseless move for Tampa Bay. Why? Because the team just signed young veteran Greg Gaines to play alongside Vita Vea in the defensive trenches, and versatile defensive lineman Logan Hall was drafted last year as the first overall pick in Round 2.

But Joe would counter by saying inside hell-raisers on the defensive line can be total game-wreckers, and considering the Bucs’ edge rush is highly suspect, maybe Kancey is a prime fit.

Former Jets personnel executive and defensive coach Pat Kirwan co-led an on-air mock draft Thursday and was in charge of the Bucs’ pick at No. 19 overall. Kirwan had the Bucs trading down with Minnesota to the No. 23 overall pick, with Tampa Bay also getting the Vikings’ second-round pick in 2024.

Then at No. 23 Kirwan had the Bucs selecting Kancey, “the penetrating tough guy,” Kirwan called him.

This scanario has little chance of playing out, Joe believes, partly because Kancey is unlikely to last that long in the draft and because the Bucs are desparate for an offensive line upgrade. But Joe could see the Bucs wanting to pounce on Kancey, who is one of the biggest wild cards in the draft.

Kancey is undersized but the same size as Donald — and with similar freak athleticism. Kancey ran the fastest 40-yard dash for a defensive tackle since 2003 at the Combine. His film makes any football fan sit on the edge of his chair.

(Fun fact: the Bucs very likely would have drafted Donald had the Greg Schiano regime gotten one more season following the 2013 campaign. Schiano’s special teams coach, Dave Wannstedt, was Donald’s college head coach and had sold Donald hard to Schiano. Instead, the Bucs launched a new regime with Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht, who made Mike Evans his first-ever draft pick in 2014.)

31 Responses to “Calijah Kancey & The Bucs”

  1. MadMax Says:

    He would be a solid pick for the D in a trade back….he’s slippery with his undersized but strong body.

  2. Tim Says:

    It would’ve been great to get Donald, but Evans’s had worked out pretty well for us too lol

  3. Jesse james Says:

    We run a 3-4 def, need big d-lineman to take on blocks to let the LBs do their job. Slippery d-lineman are better off in a 4-3. Trading down makes sense (even potentially multiple times depending on how the draft pans out, and the 2nd and 3rd rounds are littered w potential starters). Perfect example of finding the best players for the system run vs coaching schemes for who we have, and force the players to fit the system the coach wants

  4. Bojim Says:

    Lovie did one thing right.

  5. Brandon Says:

    Jesse James….

    Donald and JJ Watt both enjoyed some of their best seasons as DEs in the 3-4.

  6. Stanglassman Says:

    Any good coach could figure out how to get a player like Calijah Kancey on the field. Doesn’t matter 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. DL early and often as far as I’m concerned. If the top Tackles go as early as we expect why reach for one that could be there at 50. Trading back for more picks in this draft is something that I could see happening. Getting those picks this year is my preference. I loved getting that first pick in the 2nd round last year.

  7. ShakeandBaker Says:

    Stan, why exactly did you love moving back and getting the first pick of the second round. That pick appears to be a bust and this very article is suggesting drafting essentially his replacement. SMH!

  8. Defense Rules Says:

    For the foreseeable future, Bucs are running a 3-4 defense. We must have beef in the center to make that work. Smaller guys on the periphery make good sense, but we tried the smaller Logan Hall inside last year and it didn’t work (he got eaten up inside).

    I agree with Stanglassman that ‘any good coach could figure out how to get a player like Calijah Kancey on the field. Doesn’t matter 4-3 or 3-4 scheme’. But that requires getting him into the right positions & into the right situations.

    I’ve got high hopes for Gaines in this defense, but Vea is never gonna give us 75-85% defensive snaps. We need a 3rd (and preferably 4th) space eater who can play the run extremely well AND put some pressure on the interior. But we don’t need to spend our 1st Rnd draft pick on that DT to accomplish that. Let’s stick with using that top pick on OT or DE/OLB. I could even see grabbing a Defensive Back with that pick, but not another small DT. Kancey MIGHT be the 2nd coming of Aaron Donald, but the Bucs can’t afford taking the chance that he isn’t right now.

  9. Goatfarmer Says:

    Trenches = great. Yes.

  10. Dooley Says:

    The defensive scheme is based around 3-4 personnel, but we’re in a modified 4-2-5 with a few different situational personnel tweaks depending on the situation most of the time. Our defense lightens up the front, and takes the extra hand out of the dirt in place of having a 3rd CB on the field.

    That said, I like Kancey because he can pass rush from the interior DL, but isn’t as great a two gap player with his size and some of weaknesses coming as a run defender. I’d invite you to go look up Keeanu Benton who’d be a younger replacement for Hicks and a great compliment rotating with Logan Hall and the rest of our IDL. Benton’s motor is ridiculous, would probably have to be polished up in terms of pairing his technique to be a true 2-gapper, but the displays of his size, strength, and quickness stand out on tape.

  11. J Ghotier Says:

    If we are dipping our toes in the Pittsburgh water this Draft, I’d sure love some Izzy Abanikanda as a later round RB. Izzy “The Running Stylebender” Abanikanda!

    But I love me some Sean Tucker as a north/south compliment style back to White.

  12. Fansince76 Says:

    Would be a good pick even if he produces half of what Donald has done.

  13. Bucs Guy Says:

    Agree with Dooley on Benton on day 2. Start with OT and Edge for the first two Bucs picks.
    Agee with Stanglassman in that we need to load up on picks this year — especially for day 2. There are a lot of 8-10 year starters available at ILB, TE, RB, S and CB in rounds 2-4.

  14. MadMax Says:

    ^ I was watching vids on Keeanu Benton yesterday…thats another one we could use.

  15. Buc4evr Says:

    Too small to be a DT in a 3-4 defense. Stick to the plan, draft a big LT at #19.

  16. teacherman777 Says:

    We have 5 guards at the moment.

    Hainsey, Goedeke, Stinnie, Leverette, and the new guy we just signed.

    We will not be drafting a guard this year.

    I just hope we invest in a badass RT. (Better value at #19 than the 4th best LT)

    I say we draft a guy who has played RT his whole career.

    Wirfs will move to LT.

    And he will be the best LT in the NFL this year

  17. Beej Says:

    How much difference IS there between a DT and a DE in a 3-4? Hicks is a DT, yet he was on the field with Vita most of the time. Today aside, we seem to get few sacks out of the DE position

  18. Rand Says:

    Not necessarily, there will ne a run on edge rushers and DT’s so if he is the best coveted DT available by #19, I think the Bucs could easily pull the lever for Kancey.

  19. SB~LV Says:

    Type of move whether it is this exact scenario I don’t care, adding picks is the foundation for good teams.

  20. ChiBuc Says:

    If Kirwan’s mock draft played out, you gotta jump at Kancey at 23 and a 2nd rd pick in 2024!

    I’m hoping all other roads lead to DE/OLB. Tbh, I’d like to see Devin on the edge where the lil deer can run around blockers to his target. The less he has to think, the better…it’s also his best route to $20mill

  21. garro Says:

    Nice but Bowles needs to look like he knws what he is doing so we get another project LB if its up to him… no way Licht wants another wide body. since he just signed one.

  22. ChiBuc Says:

    While this may appear like a make or break yr for Licht in the draft, this has to be one with very little pressure to pick the right position. There are so many needs that it’s like the first throw in a dart game of cricket. Who could boo a LT, OLB, QB, S, RB (I might boo that unless trading way down for capital), or Kancey with the 1st pick? BAP or bust.

  23. Geno711 Says:


    From what I see the best right tackle is the beast from Ohio State. Dawand Jones. Is he worth a 19 overall pick? Most draft experts don’t seem to think so.

    The gurus seem to grade all of:
    Paris Johnson Jr.
    Broderick Jones
    Peter Skoronski

    All clear left tackles. All three played in a pro style offense. Seem to be a much better choice than a pure right tackle at 19. Then you don’t have to move Wirfs.

    The next two guys that Joe talks about a lot are:
    Darnell Williams (left tackle with great great size and athleticism). To me the big question mark for all NFL teams is his transition to a pro style offense. Maybe no problem but you are still guessing a little because he never did that at TN.


    Anton Harrison. A guy from Oklahoma that seems pretty athletic and got better in each year he played. His size is very average, but his speed for an OL seems pretty elite. It seems is the least impressed with him.

    I would at least consider Wright and Harrison with Dawand Jones or any other right tackle.

  24. Goatfarmer Says:

    Licht is giving Bloweszo everything Bloweszo wants.

  25. Marine Buc Says:

    I am fine with Licht moving down from pick #19 – unless their is a top OT available.

    However – moving back from #19 to #24 is only worth a mid 3rd round or early 4th round draft pick – not a 2nd round pick…

  26. TonySoprano Says:

    Bucs seem to favor length on the line, I don’t think they’ll go for Kancey. If we do edge/DE in round one and Nolan Smith and LVN are off the board, I see Keion White or Felix Anudike-Uzomah being likely candidates. I think these two are being sleep on. White has the size/speed metrics similar to JJ Watt. FAU’s movement skills remind me a lot of Micah Parsons.

    And then in round 2, I see them targeting OT Blake Freeland. Excellent size and agility, and would fit in really well with the new OC’s wide zone scheme.

  27. larrd Says:

    Goedeke should be able to handle right tackle, or he was a bad pick in the second round last year. Give him a chance and draft pass rushers first two rounds.

  28. Cobraboy Says:

    I just hope his ugly is more than his big.

  29. Rod Munch Says:

    If you draft a guy like this, you need to just formally move to a 4-3, and put Hall and JTS at their natural 4-3 end position.

  30. Brazen Zebra Says:

    Every team needs at least one terrorist, one hell-raiser, one Suh. Many years ago, when the late, great John Madden was still coaching, a sports reporter asked him, “Some people criticize the Raiders for playin dirty. How do you respond to that?” Madden said something like, “Yeh. Yeh, that’s right. We play dirty. So what! So what ya gonna do about it?” That was back when the Raiders were winning trophies. Chucky brought a little bit of that nasty Raiders mentality to the Bucs, and so did Suh. If Licht can bring in some that nasty, semi-dirty attitude to the defensive trenches, why that’s a huge plus.

  31. SlyPirate Says:

    Calijah Kancey = WATCH HIS TAPE
    Dude is tough to block. He never squares up. Tough to get your hands on. He’s also stout against the run. I saw him stand up more than one double team. Put him next to Vea and he’d be a problem.

    I like this guy. That said, I like Nolan Smith at OLB a little more.