May 29, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Akeem Spence (97) stretches during organized team activities at One Buccaneer Place. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Pewter Plank Mailbag: Can Akeem Spence Replace Roy Miller for the Buccaneers?

It’s time for another question from the Pewter Plank mailbag, and this time I took to Facebook to ask about the Buccaneers, and got some great questions. This one comes from Bob Ripperdan:

Will Akeem Spence make up for the loss of Roy Miller?

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When Roy Miller left Tampa Bay to head to Jacksonville, many fans and national media members were concerned that the Buccaneers had given up on the “centerpiece” of a ferocious pass defense. Miller signed an affordable deal with the Jags, and the Bucs were left without a starter next to Gerald McCoy. So what happened?

Miller had fallen out of favor, because his consistency and durability waned over the course of the season. Miller was on the sidelines more often during the final month of the year, playing around one-third of the defensive plays over the final four games, while Gary Gibson and others played in his stead. He did not grade out well according to Pro Football Focus, and he failed to get any pressure on the quarterback over the course of the season. Miller was little more than a space eater for the Bucs, and didn’t warrant a multi-million dollar paycheck.

At his very worst, Spence is the same size and strength as Miller, and will offer the same space-eating capabilities. But Spence offers more than just a big frame with powerful limbs. Head coach Greg Schiano told the Tampa Tribune’s Roy Cummings that Spence has a quicker first step than he first believed, and that it will add to his pass rush capabilities. Akeem isn’t Warren Sapp, and he’s not Gerald McCoy, but serving as the nose tackle, he’ll bring a unique burst of athleticism that won’t be expected by opposing linemen.

Spence is a cheaper, younger, and hopefully more durable player than Miller, and he offers an unperfected pass rush skill set that can be refined and grown into a real weapon for the Buccaneer defense. So to answer the original question, not only will Spence make up for the loss of Miller, he’ll more than likely be a notable improvement.

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