Todd Bowles: “Less And Less Premium Defensive Linemen Coming Out In The Draft”

April 8th, 2023

Bucs defensive lineman Logan Hall.

Spending huge money on cornerbacks is new territory for the Bucs after Jamel Dean scored about $13 million per season last month on the heels of Carlton Davis bagging nearly $15 million annually a year ago.

During a 1-on-1 chat at the NFL annual meeting, Joe asked Todd Bowles about what looks like a change in Bucs philosophy.

Under general manager Jason Licht, the Bucs have been more about investing in the trenches, and Bowles openly says he’s a stop-the-run-first guy. So Joe asked Bowles to explain the investment in Dean rather than using scarce funds under the salary cap to invest on the front line of his defense.

“You gotta have somebody up front to spend that money up front,” Bowles said.

“You know, you spend money on good players. [Jamel] Dean had a very good year. It came after Carlton [Davis] got paid, I understand that. It’s a passing league now, so corners are a premium and you’re finding less and less premium defensive linemen coming out in the draft and free-agency-wise; they’re keeping all the good [free agents]. You can’t pass up good players, regardless of position.

“Dean showed us that he was worth that money to spend on and he had a heck of a year, so we spent it on him. And he’s still young. He’s tall, he’s long, he’s getting better every year. We expect him to take the next step to keep going forward. So it wasn’t a matter of spending on the front or the back end. It’s just about spending on players that showed in good faith that they’re going to be good players for you in the future.”

Licht answered the same question from Joe and acknowledged a “pendulum swing” to spending more on defensive backs.

Joe was most interested in hearing Bowles talk about an escalating lack of top-shelf defensive linemen. Could that tip the Bucs’ hand in the draft? Is that why Tampa Bay made DT/DE Logan Hall their first pick in the draft last season?

And it’s also interesting in the context of 2022 Bucs defensive linemen Will Gholston and Akiem Hicks still being on the street in free agency.

34 Responses to “Todd Bowles: “Less And Less Premium Defensive Linemen Coming Out In The Draft””

  1. Jack Clark Says:

    Send one more man blitzing than they have to block and let the defensive backs earn their paychecks is the cure for any ineffective pass rush

  2. Defense Rules Says:

    Jack Clark … What you just proposed is quite the opposite of what the NFL by-and-large has seen in recent years. There’s a fascinating article in ‘Sharp Football Analysis’ titled ‘The Rise Of The Anti-Aggressive NFL Defense’ which dealt with the results through 2021 season. Here’s an excerpt …

    ‘Offenses have gotten the ball out quicker and shorter passes have increased. The average depth of target has dropped over the past three seasons from 8.18 in 2019 to 7.79 in 2020 to 7.75 in 2021, per TruMedia. The rate of passes thrown at or behind the line of scrimmage has risen each year since at least 2013 and in 2021, 71.4% of passes were thrown within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage’.

    ‘With so many passes getting thrown to that area, the defensive adjustment has been to flood more defenders into throwing lanes. That has come at the expense of blitzing aggressively’.

    ‘Last season (2021), defenses blitzed just 25.3% of the time, the lowest rate over a full season since at least 2013, per TruMedia. The biggest jump came on early downs. In 2020, defenses blitzed on 27.1% of first and second down dropbacks. In 2021, that dropped to 23.7%.’

    Kinda sounds like offenses have adjusted to the more-blitzing trends, and forced defenses to back off & attempt to do a better job defending shorter passes. Maybe that’s why the Bucs’ defense invested in both Davis & Dean, as well as having Winfield & Neal back there. That’s a pretty formidable Secondary, if they can all stay healthy.

  3. Robbie Says:

    “Dean showed us that he was worth that money to spend on and he had a heck of a year”

    But yet he still benched him in the biggest game of the year

  4. Ds Says:

    The edge guys are getting smaller in college hard to evaluate a 240lb 3-4 OLB

  5. Larrd Says:

    Supply and demand isn’t really Todd’s thing, I guess.

  6. Beej Says:

    which makes the Eagle’s freakishly good defense all the more incredible–they had BOTH: incredible pass rush, incredible secondary (of course they lost most of that in free-agency)

  7. BringBucsBack Says:

    Good work as always, DR. For at least several years, offenses have been developing plays to get the ball out of QB’s hands, as quickly as possible.

    Your article causes me to ponder:

    1) If a defense can’t get to the QB with only down linemen, the rate of successful blitzing may continue to decrease.
    2) The SB participants always have a strong D-line. Do these items, if immutable make D-linemen even more valuable than back-end players?

  8. Jack Clark Says:

    Defense Rules

    Simple mathematics supports my statement and our secondary has been getting torched all year due to our defensive backs not knowing who to cover because of Todd Bowels poor coaching

  9. JeffreyLane77 Says:

    Just because this team can’t seem to draft a DE worthy a high pick doesn’t mean there aren’t any good d-line players available in the draft.

  10. Goatfarmer Says:


    Sounded like Leftwurst in that interview.

    Back to Licht’s genius. Give him credit. He’s giving the failing Bowels who,was gifted the job, everything Bowles wants.

    No excuses for another losing season. None.

    After a 6-11, Jason and the Glazers can stare at him and say” We asked what you needed for a winner. We gave you everything you asked for. You just led your 5th losing season in a row. There will not be a sixth.”

  11. ScottyMack Says:

    Defense Rules laid out a whole bunch of stats to “prove” the point that passes are getting out quicker, resulting in a whole one foot less per pass.

    Sorry, but I’m not seeing that one foot difference in per pass yardage as a mind blowing statistic that proves a dramatic evolution in the game which justifies not investing in a pass rush.

  12. ScottyMack Says:

    If anything, the trend of fewer blitzes means that having a great D-Line that can rush the passer is more important than ever.

  13. Jeremy Says:

    Jack clark if we blitz with all the time with db’s all the time we will get picked apart with the gap in coverage he leaves

  14. Goatfarmer Says:

    Scotty – posters who need 11,890 words that include a truckload of copy/pasted stats, who also run and hide from facts and results, instead bloviating to excuse their hero from past ineptitude because of “circumstances beyond his control” – it’s why they write that many words for free here instead of doing it for a living somewhere. Although if they’re trying out for JBF, it’s unlikely to fly. Their posts usually exceed JBF’s articles by 3x or even 4x.

  15. Steven007 Says:

    Clark, “simple mathematics”, I.e., the kind you can understand, is maybe the truest thing you’ve ever said in this blog. Again, with few exceptions, the only reason you make that statement is because of the egregious error in the championship game. I know it and you know it. Criticize the coach for his overall job, for his inability to run interference with the offense, or for any number of other things. I don’t disagree. But defensively, these have been the best coached defensive teams we’ve had since Kiffin. Not saying there isn’t room for improvement, we are eons away from Mike Smith. With plenty to criticize, you inexplicably keep going back to the same tired trough that no longer has anything in it.

  16. Goatfarmer Says:

    007 – yes, best coached defenses since Monte. But the competition is cripples and this guy — a guy who good OC’s seem to have figured out. And now he’s the HC, not just the DC, so he’s accountable for the whole sockaroonie.

    If he doesn’t improve, which will require change, he will be unemployed nine months from now.

    For the sake of all Bucs fans, I hope he does the former.

  17. Steven007 Says:

    Goat, he is the coach of the team this year and I will be rooting for him and the team. But I have absolutely zero qualms with replacing him if we have the sub per year that most seem to think we will have. And I hope it is done expeditiously in that case.

    I am intrigued by the new OC. Obviously we have nothing to really gauge him by. Obviously we have the quarterback situation. I am excited by the unknown going into this year. I don’t have the cynical interest, stamina or the general constitution to be as ceaselessly negative as some of you. Life is too short.

  18. Statguy Says:

    Need to blitz White more that’s the wild card that made us effective when they played best

  19. Goatfarmer Says:

    007 – we agree. You make great points in your posts btw.

  20. garro Says:

    “And it’s also interesting in the context of 2022 Bucs defensive linemen Will Gholston and Akiem Hicks still being on the street in free agency.”

    This mistifies me. We talk about drafting an unproven premium DT and yet we are letting two proven ones sit in free agency? Makes no sense to me.

    Maybe they have recieved offers and are waiting till closser to camp to sign. So they can skip those pesky OTAs. Saddly that is becoming more and more comonn for veteran players.

  21. #99 the Big fella Says:

    Steven007,I agree with everything you said. I also want Bowles replaced if he can’t get the job done.. no excuses this year , He has the coaching staff that he beef with some of theses negative Nancys is we can’t get through a single article without the same crap about Bowles. Even when the bucs do something good they still find a reason to bitch and complain..I swear some of these guys need anger management therapy..

  22. Ranger Walker Says:

    Definitely agree the best coached D since Monte but I honestly think not having a DC in place as well is a mistake, it’s hard to oversee everything when you’re still trying to do your old job on the side
    Generally both end up suffering as a result.

    I thought last year maybe it was because he was namee coach so late but since it looks like he’s still not hiring one then I think he’s shooting himself in the foot again before the season even starts. I wish Jason would just tell him to hire one

  23. Voice of Truth Says:

    Bowles blows and it doesn’t matter what he thinks. By late October we will all be arguing over who the next HC Is going to be

  24. All_da_way Says:

    What is missing from the conversation is that DL on rookie contracts are cheaper to help build a roster with Same with the OL.

    I expect the Bucs to draft one defensive and one offensive trench players within the first three picks of the draft.

    Hicks and Gholston can be re-signed as well which solves a lot of issue overall.

  25. Duane Says:

    All-Da-Way: Your comment is right on, as usual the vast majority of JBF commenters here in these threads spout nothing but nonsense … the kind that real Bucs fans would never think let alone post. They’re just anti-Bucs trolls. Glad to see there are still at least a few like you who aren’t.

  26. Oxycondoms Says:

    Last 2 playoff games defense got torched. And the dline hasnt gotten any better since

  27. Beej Says:

    What was our blitz % in the super bowl year? It struck me that we were getting to the qb a lot more with the standard package than now

  28. Allbuccedup Says:

    Confused they signed Dean because its a passing league now so why does Bowles want to be a running team maybe hes confused.

  29. Duane Says:

    This is the problem with Bowles. He talks and acts like he plays 3D chess when it is clear that he has problems he doesnt know how to address. He gets zero credit for pretending to think outside of the box. His MO is that he is the master of bringing pressure, and he lies to us by saying that the secondary generates it. Also a good point that this genius wants to take one of the better passing offenses in the league and make it a running one. Shouldnt we expect our coach to work with the talent we have? I am also eager to see how Bowles plan to stop the run as well with all his secondary talent.

  30. Bucsfan13 Says:

    @DR. That’s great insight about today’s offenses. Fans beg for the deep ball, but the truth is that defenses have adjusted and offenses have move to more of a quick game. Our “no risk it no biscuit” offense is terribly antiquated and got exposed when we didn’t have the talent on the field. We did modernize the offense by using motion when Brady joined us, but we didn’t more PA even though the numbers showed we were effective with it. I still don’t understand the thinking of Leftwich.

  31. Geno711 Says:

    Great read @DR. Appreciate the addition to what our eyes have been telling us.

    I tend to get caught in looking at the math/statitistics of things pretty often and not relying on my eyes but your stats from the Sharp article seems to support my eyes as well.

    To @Bucfan13. Joe sold us bloggers from the beginning that no risk it no biscuit was about throwing long. Well, it never was, if you read BA’s book.

    BA knew offenses. Do defenses adjust to things, Yes. But BA’s offense did not seem antiquated in my view. It seemed pretty darn exceptional.

    Defensive backs in the NFL get torched. Even the very best do. We were in the middle of pack in most defensive pass stats. So not sure what stats you are talking about.

  32. steele Says:

    I don’t understand where Bowles can pronounce “you’re finding less and less premium defensive linemen coming out in the draft and free-agency-wise”. Really? Can he see into the future? So defensive linemen will no longer exist, in Bowles’ mind, from now on?

  33. Joe Says:

    I don’t understand where Bowles can pronounce “you’re finding less and less premium defensive linemen coming out in the draft and free-agency-wise”. Really? Can he see into the future?

    Yes. The Bucs have data on this and what they project future drafts to be. Bucs (and most other teams) already have reports written up for guys coming out next year. That helps determine who they draft this spring. For example, “Don’t reach for a (insert-position) this year when next year the draft should be loaded with (repeat position).”

    Bowles isn’t the only person Joe has heard this from about defensive linemen.

  34. Goatfarmer Says:

    Better bring Gholston back. He is who he is and that’s good. You know what you’ve got. You never know with a college kid.

    Bring Gholston back.