TAMPA — When you play the Tampa 2 defensive scheme that the Buccaneers are planning to play under new coach Lovie Smith, the most important player on your roster after the quarterback is the three technique.
That’s the position that Warren Sapp used to play and that two-time Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy now plays, which means the Bucs do not have a pressing need to fill that spot in this year’s draft.
Nevertheless, former Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Polian believes the Bucs will seize an opportunity, should it present itself, to draft the best pass-rushing three technique in the 2014 talent pool.
Polian said during a segment of ESPN’s “NFL Insiders” show today that Smith won’t pass on the chance to grab Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald with the seventh overall pick.
Polian said the Bucs game plan, should they land the 6-foot-1, 285-pound Donald, would be to move Gerald McCoy to nose tackle, thereby improving a pass rush that ranked 23rd in the league last year with 35 sacks.
As strange as the move may seem, particularly because it ignores the Bucs more glaring need for wide receiver help, it would not be the first time the Bucs have drafted a designated three technique with one already on the roster.
The Bucs did the same in 1999, when they spent their first-round pick on LSU defensive tackle Anthony “Booger’’ McFarland, who was immediately moved to nose tackle and teamed with Sapp.
The Bucs also made a similar move during the 2010 draft, when they selected McCoy with their first pick and then spent a second-round pick on UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price.
And it’s not just the Bucs have made such moves in recent years. The Lions drafted Ndamukong Suh as an interior pass rusher in 2010 then added three technique Nick Fairley as an interior pass rusher a year later.