Look around at the hundreds of mock drafts and rumors about the Bucs, and most lead back to two positions...Defensive End and Cornerback.
While those perceived needs by many appear to be the Bucs most pressing needs, the reality is that there are much more important needs at positions on that side of the ball.
Here's our version of Perception vs. Reality:
Perception: Bucs Need an Edge Rusher
Reality: Defensive Tackle is the Much Bigger Need
I get it. When a team lacks sack numbers and a consistent pass rush, the first place to improve must be at defensive end, right? Perhaps. The Bucs did sign Robert Ayers in free agency, which means they realized the need as well. However, I'm here to explain why defensive tackle is a much more pressing need for the team right now. Let's start with the depth chart at defensive end compared to defensive tackle. Robert Ayers joins Jacquies Smith, Will Gholston, George Johnson, and Howard Jones at defensive end for the Bucs. At defensive tackle, the Bucs are left with Gerald McCoy, Clinton McDonald (coming off a pectoral injury that ended his 2015 season early), Akeem Spence, and a couple of developmental prospects. On numbers alone, the Bucs have a much bigger need at DT than DE. Another reason most fans, and ill-informed media, feel the Bucs need a defensive end is because it's a flashier position than defensive tackle. As Jason Licht said at a recent press conference, Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware were great in the Super Bowl, but the interior pressure by the Broncos was just as key. With Gerald McCoy being a good, but not elite, player, and Akeem Spence and Clinton McDonald nowhere near "impact" players, defensive tackle is the need the Bucs should be addressing in this draft before they think about defensive end. The good news for the Bucs is that defensive tackle is the deepest position in this draft.
Perception: Bucs Need a Shutdown Cornerback
Reality: Who's Playing Safety?
The game of football is so much more than statistics, yet the "experts" have said for the past 3 months that the Bucs will draft Vernon Hargreaves because they have to add a cornerback to their horrible pass defense. Those "experts" will point to the pass yards and pass touchdowns the Bucs have given up as evidence as to why their focus is on the Bucs' perceived need at corner. Anyone that truly follows the game of football knows that scheme, pass rush, and safety play all play a significant role in the pass defense along with the play of the cornerbacks. The Bucs have added Brent Grimes and Josh Robinson to go with incumbents Johnthan Banks and Alterraun Verner. Verner and Banks are both receiving fresh starts with the Bucs after the horrendous scheme and coaching they were given under former coach Lovie Smith. Depth at corner looks to be in decent shape for the upcoming season, but the names at safety are very concerning. Chris Conte and Major Wright return along with younger players like Keith Tandy, Bradley McDougald, and Kimario McFadden. The Bucs have neither a big hitter or big time ball hawk at safety. They have no name that strikes fear into opposing teams' aerial attacks. You think the Bucs' biggest need in the first round is cornerback? You think that cornerback must be Vernon Hargreaves? If they don't fix their pass rush and add talent at safety, Hargreaves will just be another name on a struggling defense.
Share your opinion with us on twitter...@TBBucsonScout
Listen to our latest podcast here: