The Tampa Bay Buccaneers depth in the pass-rush department has been a slept-on team need that did not get the most attention from the front office. Given what we saw in the preseason debut, perhaps the Buccaneers were justified in their approach of not worrying about it.
One of the biggest mysteries surrounding the Bucs roster was how the pass-rush depth would look behind Shaq Barrett and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka. Heck, what Tryon-Shoyinka will look like as a starter is a mystery in itself. Luckily, we already know that Barrett is an all-world talent when it comes to the getting to the quarterback.
Beyond that though, things are a little murky. Anthony Nelson is a solid depth piece, and Cam Gill has been around since 2020 and hasn’t made that much of an impact. Elsewhere, there’s Elijah Ponder, who the Buccaneers brought in as an undrafted free agent last year and spent the season on the practice squad, seventh-round rookie Andre Anthony, and two undrafted rookies in Jordan Young and JoJo Ozougwo. We don’t even know if these four will end up making the final roster.
While this has been an area of concern for some Buccaneers fans, especially when there’s some veteran options in free agency, some of those concerns may have been cooled off a bit after the preseason opener.
Gill and Nelson both had themselves a sack and two tackles for losses, with Gill totaling four tackles to Nelson’s deuce. They were flying around the ball, and created constant pressure. Rotational down-lineman Pat O’Connor also added a sack. Granted, it was a preseason game, going up against primarily roster bubble guys. However, this shouldn’t be looked at a factor to downplay the performances.
The thing is, if it’s the hope of the Buccaneers that Nelson and Gill are to contribute against regular starters on Sundays, then they are supposed to dominate in the preseason. Anything less would have been seen as a letdown.
Head Coach Todd Bowles said that he is still waiting on an injury update for Gill, but also praised Nelson stating that he’s a smart player that he’s never seen fall for a bootleg. He also added that the team expects to depend on Nelson this season due to the fact that “he doesn’t mess up often at all.”
At the end of the day, this was just a tase of honey before we get the whole beehive. While it’s entirely possible the pass-rush depth is still addressed in the near future, fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the staff for that matter, have to like what they’ve seen from the standpoint of what they currently have in-house for pass rush depth.