State of the Bucs: Defensive Line

As the Bucs hit the bye week, we take a deeper look at each position through 5 games this season.

The Buccaneers have their bye week this week, so we thought this would be an ideal time to fully evaluate the Bucs current roster after 5 games. We will discuss each player at each position at length and provide you positives and negatives with their play through 5 games this season.

Defensive Linemen:

Gerald McCoy

Positives: McCoy is one of the most talented players on the Bucs roster. It's pretty simple.

Negatives: This is a tough one. While McCoy is very good, he is not elite in the same way elite players on other teams are. He hypes himself up as elite, but has never taken over a football game like elite players do. He's not in the class of Aaron Donald or JJ Watt or Warren Sapp. Again, he's very good, but just not in that category. I also believe that as long as he's the leader and mouthpiece of the defense, the rest of the defense will reflect his soft, nice persona, which is the exact opposite team defense should be played. There is zero to fear with the Bucs defense.

Future: McCoy just signed a $100 million long-term contract. 

Jacquies Smith

Positives: Smith is probably the best pass rusher on the team. He currently has 4 sacks on the season.

Negatives: With having 4 sacks on the season, 3 of those sacks came in one game. Consistency is probably the biggest issue with Smith. Like McCoy, Smith is good, but nowhere near the best pass rushers in the NFL if you look beyond the stats.

Future: Smith is still young and has a bright future ahead of him. He needs to continue to get bigger and faster. Consistency with his pass rush will be key moving forward.

William Gholston

Positives: The continued development of Gholston has been great to witness. Gholston's massive size and frame make him an excellent fit at left defensive end.

Negatives: Gholston is not a very ngood pass rusher at end or at tackle. He's still developing in this area, but his strength is more at stopping the run.

Future: This was a big year for Gholston to prove his worth, and he's done it. If he continues to develop, he will have a spot in the Bucs' defensive line rotation for years to come.

Clinton McDonald

Positives: Leadership is probably McDonald's biggest attribute to the team. He anchors at nose tackle and does his job, but more than McCoy, I believe McDonald should be the player his teammates should look towards.

Negatives: McDonald is not among the top nose tackles in football, he can get pushed around a little bit, and he offers very little in rushing the passer.

Future: McDonald seems like a fit right now for the Bucs, but it wouldn't surprise me to see the Bucs try and improve that position with more talent if the defense continues to struggle against the run.

Henry Melton

Positives: Melton adds most during pass plays. Melton's strength is his pass rushing ability and making splash plays.

Negatives: We haven't really seen Melton on the field that much this year. He's limited in his plays, which has limited him in his production as well.

Future: I'd love to see Melton involved more and kept around long-term, but he signed only a 1-year contract, so it may be 1 and done for him in Tampa.

George Johnson

Positives: We finally saw Johnson with a splash play against the Jaguars, forcing the fumble that led to the defensive score. Johnson is best against the run.

Negatives: Johnson is not much of a pass rusher, and despite his 6 sacks with the Lions last year, he needs a lot of help around him to get any type of sack numbers.

Future: The Bucs traded a 5th round pick for Johnson this year, but I doubt he sticks around for the long-term. The Bucs can do much better than him at end.

Tony McDaniel

Positives: McDaniel's strength is against the run, but he has yet to have significant playing time to see if he can make a true impact in this department.

Negatives: McDaniel offers very little in terms of a pass rush.

Future: McDaniel signed a 1-year deal with the Bucs. Unless things change in the last 11 games, McDaniel will likely be elsewhere in 2016.

Howard Jones

Positives: I mean, he had 2 sacks against the Jaguars, so there must be something there!

Negatives: Jones is still developing and might only be limited to being a situational pass rusher right now.

Future: As a young player who made an impact in his first game with the Bucs, I'd say his future is pretty good right now.


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