The Buccaneers have seven selections in the NFL draft, but surrendered their first-round pick in the Darrelle Revis trade. The draft, to be held Thursday-Saturday at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, features seven rounds and 254 total picks, including a handful of compensatory picks. The Bucs have two choices in the fourth and sixth rounds, but do not have picks in the first and seventh rounds. For eight consecutive days, The Tampa Tribune will analyze the team's needs at each of eight positions.
Today, we look at defensive tackle.
Gerald McCoy enjoyed a breakthrough year in his third NFL season, remaining healthy and earning a Pro Bowl berth. His ability to command a double-team and still disrupt plays was instrumental in helping Tampa Bay lead the league in rushing defense. Fellow starter Roy Miller was allowed to leave as a free agent, creating a vacancy next to McCoy. Miller was seldom a factor on the pass rush, but stuffed the run effectively. The Bucs could select a defensive tackle with one of their top draft picks. If the Bucs stay in-house, Derek Landri, Gary Gibson and Corey Irvin are the leading candidates to take over at nose tackle.
On the Bucs roster Player Ht. Wt. Age NFL seasons Richard Clebert 6-1 312 27 1 Gary Gibson 6-3 312 30 7 Corey Irvin 6-2 295 27 3 Derek Landri 6-2 290 29 7 Matthew Masifilo 6-3 280 23 2 Gerald McCoy 6-4 300 25 4
Remaining NFL free agents Player Ht. Wt. Age NFL seasons Sedrick Ellis 6-1 307 27 6 Casey Hampton 6-1 325 35 13 Richard Seymour 6-6 317 33 13
Dream pick Star Lotulelei, Utah The most athletic interior defensive lineman in the draft has the burst to be a factor in the pass rush, a rare quality for a 320-pound tackle. He also is adept at stuffing the run, often knifing into the backfield to blow up plays before they develop. A heart condition may prompt some NFL teams to devalue him, but Lotulelei has too much talent to last long Thursday evening.
Hidden gem John Jenkins, Georgia Jenkins was effective as a pass rusher at the Senior Bowl and has already established himself as a 346-pound run-stuffer who is difficult to move. Playing against quality competition in the SEC, Jenkins projects as a solid nose tackle at the pro level. He's a natural in a 3-4 scheme, but could also thrive in Tampa, filling the role Roy Miller filled adroitly in 2012.
Bucs history The third overall pick in 2010, McCoy was undermined by biceps injuries in each of his first two seasons, displaying only flashes of the disruptive play that marked his career at Oklahoma. Brian Price, chosen in the second round behind McCoy, was a bust and Tampa Bay shipped him to Chicago last summer for a seventh-round pick. Anthony McFarland, a first-round choice in 1999, started 84 games for the Bucs but had some injury issues. Warren Sapp, the newest member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was drafted in the first round in 1995 and his 77 career sacks as a Buc rank second in franchise history to fellow Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon.