Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jason Pierre-Paul. Vinny Curry. Noah Spence. William Gholston.
For once, it actually feels good to type out the names of the Tampa Bay defensive ends. This is by far the best group that Tampa has assembled in nearly ten years, arguably more. Which speaks to both how strong this current group can be and how dreadful past groups have been.
Pierre-Paul and Curry join the Bucs as Super Bowl champions, both playing key roles for their former teams. Pierre-Paul returns home to his collegiate playing field at Raymond James, and still appears to be near the top of his game.
He led the NFL in snaps played last season and was one of the top run stuffers at the defensive end position. His sack counts may not go through the roof, but he should manage to break the elusive “curse of 10” that has haunted the Bucs since Rice.
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Vinny Curry is one of the better all around defensive ends in the league and has been an underrated player for years. With the Eagles, he routinely got after the quarterback and registered a ton of hurries, which some will tell you indicate consistency more than sacks. He overcame early struggles in his career versus the run and finished last season as Pro Football Focus’s third best end in run defense.
The wildcard of this group is Noah Spence, who is entering his third season after two injury-plagued campaigns to start his career.
Spence has all the talent and technique to be a quality player and he earned rave reviews from teammates and coaches last season before suffering another shoulder injury similar to the one that ended his rookie year. Now twenty pounds heavier with a massive chip on his shoulder, Spence is in position to finally breakout.