Three Defensive Line Prospects the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Could Draft

SANTA CLARA, CA - JANUARY 07: Quinnen Williams #92 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts against the Clemson Tigers in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Levi's Stadium on January 7, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

There is no secret about it. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need help on the defensive line. With the fifth overall pick in the 2019 draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the opportunity to bolster their defense. Here are three names that the Buccaneers could target.

Pre-Free Agency Situation

First, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have confirmed that Gerald McCoy will return to Tampa and continue to be a starting defensive tackle. Second, there is no talk about trading or cutting Jason Pierre-Paul. Rightfully so, as he should return this year to be the team’s starting defensive end. Most recently, the Buccaneers have cut ties to 2018 free agent signing Vinny Curry. This leaves only Carl Nassib, a promising young defensive end, left over from the last year’s starting group.

Behind those four players, there is little depth or any player that can be a threat to opposing offenses. William Gholston and Beau Allen have not lived up to their contracts. Noah Spence has only been seen in missing persons pictures on milk cartons in Publix. Lastly, Mitch Unrein, who missed all of last year, is one concussion away from having to retire.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need a future starter and more depth on the defensive line. Here are some names to watch if they decide to fill that position in the first round.

A Top Five Interior Lineman: Quinnen Williams

Alabama’s Quinnen Williams is a top five talent. Coming into the 2018 season, he was expected to be Alabama’s top defensive star. He delivered by finishing the season with eight sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss, on top of 45 solo tackles. He dominated throughout the season. Subsequently, Williams decided it was time to enter the draft.

As we all know, one of the best ways to help your draft stock is a good showing at the NFL Combine. Again, he delivered. Splashing onto the scene, the 303-pound lineman ran a 4.84 unofficial 40-yard dash. To put that in perspective, that is the fastest a 300-plus pounder has ran since 2012. He also did well in the broad jump and vertical. Watching him run through the bag drill, I saw a defensive lineman who kept his arms in, his body planted, his foot in the ground and cut inside quickly. He also cut quickly in the agility drills with purpose and power. He will be a great player. If he falls to five, it would be hard for the Buccaneers to pass.

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A Top Five Edge Rusher: Josh Allen

Another player who burst onto the scene last year was Josh Allen of Kentucky. Allen had a good junior year where he racked up 10.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks. He looked even better in 2018, tallying 21.5 tackles for loss, 17 sacks and 56 solo tackles. He continued to climb up teams’ draft boards throughout his senior season.

This past weekend, he solidified his standing with an impressive showing. Allen posted a 4.63 unofficial time in the 40 and bench pressed the second most of all defensive linemen. His strong times in the three cone drill (7.15 seconds) and 20 yard shuffle (4.23 seconds) were equally impressive. Just like Williams, it may be hard to pass up Allen at the fifth spot in the draft.

A Lineman to Target if the Buccaneers Trade Back: Brian Burns

This one is for you Florida State fans! If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade back to the middle of the first round, Brian Burns should be in consideration. During the 2018 season, Burns had 10 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss. While at FSU, his stats improved each year (except sacks during the 2017 season) and his techniques got smoother.

Enter the combine. Battling weight concerns, the first thing I noticed about Burns when he showed up was that he had gained weight and still looked fit. In contrast, at 6-foot 5-inches, he measured in at 249 pounds. He also ran a blazing 4.53 seconds in the 40-yard dash and had a good vertical and broad jump. His three cone drill was quick. His movements are smooth and he plants his feet well when changing direction. As a result, Florida State fans and Buccaneer fans would be happy to have Burns if Tampa Bay decides to trade back.

This draft will be interesting. The Buccaneers are in the middle of changing schemes and creating a new identity. The three players above can help make that change. This is one of my favorite times of the year! Go Bucs!


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