Buccaneers Draft Need: Defensive tackle

In the third of a series of articles profiling the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2008 NFL Draft needs, Matthew Postins examines what the Bucs have at a key position, who they could draft and what kind of impact that player could have. Also, look for links to stories, video and audio of players the Bucs could draft throughout the article.

Did you miss Bucsblitz.com publisher Matthew Postins' appearance on the NFL Network's "Path to the Draft" show last week? Don't worry. Click here to link to our story on the appearance, plus a link to the video clip.



Alex Smith (starter), John Gilmore, Ben Troupe, Daniel Fells.


While the position may seem set, that may not be the case. The starter, Smith, is entering the final year of his contract. Troupe's and Gilmore's production at the NFL level has been spotty and Fells has no track record whatsoever.

Should Smith be injured for any length of time, there's no guarantee that either Gilmore or Troupe can pick up the slack, though the Bucs believe Troupe is talented enough to do so. Additionally, if Smith leaves in free agency after 2008 the Bucs will be in need of a young tight end anyway.

The talent at tight end in this draft is pretty solid through the first three or four rounds, so the Buccaneers don't have to spend a first-round pick to acquire such talent. But the Top 5 tight ends could be gone by end of the second round. The position isn't a primary need, but I could see the Bucs addressing the position in the third round, where players like Notre Dame's John Carlson, Texas' Jermichael Finley and Michigan State's Kellen Davis could be available.


Here are the top five tight ends in this draft, according to Scout.com:

Fred Davis (6-foot-3, 251 pounds), USC — Talented player from a pro-style offense who some believe could be the first tight end taken in the draft. Had a solid Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine.

Martellus Bennett (6-foot-6, 250 pounds), Texas A&M — An enormous target who counts Bills tight end Kevin Everett among his mentors. Quarterbacks won't miss this guy in the end zone and he has enough speed to stretch defenses between the 20s.

Dustin Keller (6-foot-2, 251 pounds), Purdue — He doesn't have the height of some of the other tight ends in this draft. But he has the size and the productivity, based on his experience in the Boilermakers' pass-happy offense.

John Carlson (6-foot-5, 259 pounds), Notre Dame — Carlson resurrected his stock at his pro day last month in South Bend. He had his most productive years at Notre Dame the past two years.

Craig Stevens (6-foot-4, 257 pounds), California — Stevens is considered one of the best run-blocking tight ends in the nation. The team that drafts him won't be drafting a player that can help them in the passing game immediately.


Want to know more about these prospects, plus other TEs the Bucs could be interested in? Check out the links below.

Want to know how Carlson did at his pro day? Click here to get the full report.

Dustin Keller talks about his experience during the scouting process:

Did you miss Matthew Postins' second Buccaneers-only Mock Draft? Click here to read how Postins shook up the Buccaneers' draft strategy.

What players are the Buccaneers looking at during Pro Days? Find out in the latest edition of. Pro Day Rumblings by clicking here.

The Buccaneers could surprise everyone by drafting a quarterback this year. Michigan's Chad Henne could be on the radar. Click here to get Henne's perspective on his recent workout with the Bucs.

It's the most important time of the year for NFL teams that want to improve their roster for 2008. Are you getting all the analysis you need as the NFL Draft approaches? If you're not, click here to find out how you can become a Bucsblitz.com insider and become the expert at your NFL Draft party. We're the only Tampa-based media site providing daily draft and scouting coverage with a Buccaneers slant.

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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