As the 2016 NFL draft inches forward, the Buccaneers have been linked to two elite d-lineman. Could this be the year the Bucs finally provide elite talent to the defensive trenches?
The Buccaneers have lined up their pre-draft visits with an extensive list of prospects. Most of these prospects are on the defensive side of the ball, which is expected because the selections in the previous years were focused mainly on offense. It is no secret the Buccaneers are looking in the draft for impact players across the d-line. Staff and fans alike have been craving an edge rusher to remind them of the glory days with Simeon Rice and this might finally be their year. What if, the Bucs decided to use their first two selections to finally bring in some truly elite prospects?
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Mike Smith has come and finally given Bucs fans a sense of hope for a new defensive system. Smith has been known to say that they will be running both a 3-4 and 4-3 scheme this year, which is great to hear that the Bucs may have a roster on defense capable of doing both. Dirk Koetter made sure to bring in another veteran coach presence in Jay Hayes once Smith was hired. Hayes is a very well-known and respected defensive line coach, who made the trenches of Cincinnati feared. It is now on Jason Licht to be able to give these new defensive coaches the proper tools to work with.
Across the defensive line there are no elite playmakers besides the anchor, Gerald McCoy. McCoy has some young talented players with him, like Will Gholston and Jacquies Smith, who are both only tapping their potential so far. It is the hope that once Hayes is able to have full season with these young players, he will be able to bring out their full potential. Licht took it upon himself to go out and sign another veteran presence in Robert Ayers Jr., who we all hope can continue his success in Tampa. Although Licht should not stop there. If you look at any elite teams, the defensive lines are full of playmakers, both young and old.
The Bucs have the ninth overall selection in this year’s draft, so why not target a big presence like Robert Nkemdiche? Some experts often say, “Teams shouldn’t take a player with off the field issues that high.” Although there was not many off the field issues, there was ONE issue in particular. Nkemdiche is known to have a “different” type of personality, but this instance he was at blame for something he said he no part of, so why not believe him? To go along with this, think of all the best known pass rushers in the history of the NFL. A majority of these greats were known to have a “different” personality. Nkemdiche fits this mold quite well. This prospect has elite tangibles, moving like a running back at around 300 pounds of pure athleticism. Nkemdiche doesn’t have the best tape, but when he turns on his switch, he is an absolute offensive nightmare. Imagine what would happen if Hayes was able to tap into the full potential of Nkemdiche. The talk of this 2016 draft is that it is the deepest interior defensive lineman draft in a years, and Nkemdiche is the most elite player in that group. Any player that is compared even slightly to J.J. Watt should interest Licht.
If the Bucs are able to select Nkemdiche with the ninth overall pick, Licht should continue to build Smith’s defense from the front to the back. Nkemdiche is known to be an elite interior lineman, now the focus should be focused to the edge presence.
Carl Nassib out of Penn State would be a great selection with the 39th overall pick. Nassib did not have the presence nor tangibles to make any scouts believe he could make into the first round, even with the lack of edge rushers. Nassib will more than likely be available at this pick, which should make the Bucs very happy.
Nassib is known to be a one year wonder who is too raw, but if you look at the progression of this player you have to admire him. He was not offered a scholarship from Penn State, but walked on to the university like so many greats have. After years of body sculpting and hard work, he burst onto the national scene totaling 15.5 sacks his senior year. Nassib won the Big 10 defensive player of the year award, and also was able to bring home the Ted Hendricks and Rotary Lombardi. These awards for the nation’s top lineman or linebacker and also the nation’s top defensive end.
Nkemdiche and Nassib both have questions based upon their tape. Experts believe that Nkemdiche doesn’t finish, which is also killing his draft stock. Nassib is thought to be too raw and weak to make dominant impact quickly in the NFL. Although in the reality of draft, no team knows who will be able to be a great and safe player in the NFL. Just imagine what Hayes could do with two players who still have not tapped into their full potential. Lineup these two along side McCoy, Gholston, Smith and we may have one of the most feared and disruptive NFL defensive trench.
When looking at the depth chart of the Bucs, most of the questions come at the defensive line, so why not answer them early? The linebackers and corners of the Bucs are both proven groups of players who have just been declined by the scheme that they were playing in. If Chris Conte and Bradley McDougald can grow in Smith’s defense, the only obvious needs would be in the trenches. In a draft with a deep and outstanding group of defensive linemen, why not grab two of the best?