Buccaneers Analysis: Marques Douglas

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers agreed to a deal with San Francisco defensive end Marques Douglas on Thursday. What can Douglas offer the Buccaneers in 2008 and beyond? Bucsblitz.com explores that, with in-depth analysis from SFIllustrated.com's Craig Massei, who covered Douglas for three years.

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers released both Greg Spires and Kevin Carter, the thought was the Bucs would target players to help shore up the left side of the defense.

Former Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson, signed two weeks ago, appeared to be a player that fit that bill.

And on the surface, so does new acquisition Marques Douglas of the San Francisco 49ers.

At 6-foot-2, 292 pounds, Douglas would appear to be an end more in the mold of Spires and Carter — a larger end that relies more on his size, smarts and technique to rush the passer, rather than just pure speed. The left end in most 4-3 defenses is considered a run-stopping end, and Douglas certainly has the tackle totals to back that up.

He's had at least 58 tackles each of the last five years (according to NFL.com), and had 71 tackles last year (the 49ers, who keep their own tackle statistics, list him with 100 tackles. Tackles are not an official NFL statistic, which is why there is a discrepancy).

In addition, Douglas was one of the top tacklers last year behind the line of scrimmage, ranking fourth in the NFL last year with 12.

There is talent there. The question is where he will fit in Tampa Bay.

Craig Massei of SFIllustrated.com, Scout.com's San Francisco site, told Bucsblitz.com that Douglas is the epitome of a 3-4 tackle.

"His primary purpose within the 3-4 scheme was to absorb blockers so that San Francisco linebackers could swarm to the ball and make the tackle," Massei said. "The veteran with the barrel chest looks a bit undersized and maybe even a little out of shape for the battles he faces in the defensive trenches, but then he gets on the field and plays like one of the better 3-4 defensive ends in the NFL."

The issue is immediately recognizable. The Bucs play a 4-3 defense, a one-gap scheme, while the 49ers play a 3-4 and a two-gap scheme.

So is Douglas an end or a tackle in his new defense? Douglas has played in a 3-4 practically his entire career — first with the Baltimore Ravens and then with San Francisco.

To Buccaneers general manager Bruce Allen, Douglas can be anything the Bucs want him to be.

"You can put on a game tape and you can see him play nose, defensive tackle and defensive end in the same game," Allen said. "He has the ability to play all of those positions. That versatility is something that (defensive coordinator) Monte Kiffin likes to use in his defense to create mismatches. I think he'll fit in."

The transition may not be as difficult as one might think. According to Massei, the 49ers used a 4-3 front occasionally and Douglas found himself inside and outside.

"Douglas can play both tackle and end in a 4-3 system and did so many times over the past three seasons with the 49ers as the team flip-flopped its front-end alignment," Massei said. "He's a natural at both positions, playing surprisingly well inside at tackle despite his size limitations."

Douglas is just a shade bigger than current under tackle Jovan Haye (6-foot-2, 285 pounds), but it's unlikely the Bucs signed Douglas to replace Haye. Considering the Bucs tendered a $2 million contract offer to Haye, they consider him their under tackle of the future. No, Douglas, I believe, has been signed to add depth inside, but also to compete with Wilkerson and probably Greg White for the left defensive end position.

Massei doesn't seem to believe that Douglas will have much trouble making the transition and sees Douglas as a good fit in Tampa Bay.

"He is a complete player," Massei said. "He also is a classy individual who is a strong presence in the locker room and has supreme confidence in his ability, carrying a slight chip on his shoulder that he doesn't get the recognition he deserves around the league."

Those are the kinds of players the Buccaneers like.

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Douglas is considered a player that gets by on his smarts and effort and struggled with making sideline-to-sideline plays and can be overpowered on running plays. However, scouts like his ability to wear down offensive linemen with his size and quickness. Plus, he is above average on stunts and gap penetration.

Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.

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