Akeem Spence, Defensive Tackle
The Good: Akeem’s best case scenario in his first year with the Buccaneers would be to start at nose tackle and actually hold down a majority of the snaps, something Roy Miller failed to do by the end of 2012. Spence is not known as a pass rusher, but the gap awareness and foot speed are there to be a disruptor in the passing game, and a few QB hits and maybe a couple of sacks to go with a consistent presence in the run game would be ideal, and all the Buccaneers could ask of a rookie nose tackle.
The Bad: Spence is unable to do anything but occupy blockers, and lines up on first downs and leaves the field if there’s any indication there may be a pass coming. Derek Landri and Gary Gibson take the rest of the snaps, and Spence plays 20% of the defensive snaps.
The Likely: Somewhere in between. It’s unlikely that Spence is going to show a pass rush in his rookie season, but he may prove to be a more impactful nose tackle than Roy Miller in terms of his movement and gap awareness, meaning he’s more than just a magnet for blockers to keep Gerald McCoy and the linebackers running free.
William Gholston, Defensive End
The Good: The spectrum of outcomes for Gholston is as large as the Michigan State product’s athletic frame. Gholston is a massive defensive end with athleticism usually only seen in undersized pass rushers, and shows signs of being able to dominate linemen at any level. Gholston could develop into a productive pass rusher who is able to also hold up against the run, and that could happen soon because he’s physically ready to compete in the league from day one. It’s unclear how much of a role is available for Gholston, because the rest of the Buccaneers’ defensive ends are question marks, so the sky is the limit for Gholston. But on the flipside…
The Bad: …He may not even make the roster. If Gholston fails to show the effort and drive needed to prove to Greg Schiano that he’s got what it takes to improve, he will probably fail to make the Buccaneers’ opening day squad. Gholston’s cousin Vernon, who was a former first round pick of the Jets, was a huge bust and never logged a single sack in his NFL career, and William will have a short leash as a result of his cousin’s missteps and his perceived lack of effort and work ethic.
The Likely: Greg Schiano didn’t take William Gholston without meeting with him and known that he’s focused and ready to put his toes on the line and fight for a job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He may not be ready to be dominant from day one, but the former Spartan is going to contribute to the Buccaneers in 2013, and he’ll do so in the run and pass defense similar to Michael Bennett in 2012, but likely on a part-time basis.
Click the “Next” button for the Buccaneers’ final two draft choices.