Buccaneers starter has a lot to prove in make or break season

This year has a lot riding on it for a young defender on the Buccaneers.
Detroit Lions v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Detroit Lions v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have built their team identity around getting the most out of their young players. Jason Licht and his team in the front office keep a constant stream of young talent coming to Tampa via the draft and undrafted free agents, and this has played a huge role in ensuring the Bucs remain competitive regardless of their cap space.

However, there does come a time where the team has to be real about what it has. In a game where resources are always tight, smart general managers have to make decisions about when to move on from players before their cost starts to outweigh their value on the field.

One such player that is surely starting to get that evaluation is outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka.

Buccaneers need to determine what they have in Joe Tryon-Shoyinka

JTS came to the Bucs by way of the sweetest pick in football: the untraded 32nd overall pick. The Buccaneers, who had just won the Super Bowl, could basically do no wrong with this pick. The team was stacked. Key starters were coming back on both sides of the ball. Tampa had few needs in the short term, so some early investments on guys that could pan out down the road made sense.

Tryon-Shoyinka had the look of a guy that could become a stud after a few years of experience in a depth role. The athleticism and build screamed Todd Bowles, especially when these complimented what the Bucs already had at pass rush with Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul.

However, after three years of watching, it feels like most of us are still waiting for JTS to take those next steps.

Tryon-Shoyinka is athletic and brings the right amount of versatility to a front that asks a ton of its players, but the results have been largely underwhelming. That is why YaYa Diaby took his spot towards the end of last season.

Now, before fans get ahead of themselves, JTS was not a bad pick for the Bucs. An EDGE3 that can give you between four and six sacks a year that also stays healthy is great value from pick #32. But that hasn't been the role that the former Washington pass rusher has played for the past two years.

The Bucs have used Tryon-Shoyinka as a starter for the majority of the past two seasons and even for a surprising chunk as a rookie. If that is going to continue, the Bucs are going to need to see a lot more in 2024 to keep from making a change, and even that may not be enough.

JTS is heading into a critical contract year with only one other contender currently on the roster. That is probably going to change soon. Between free agency and the draft, the Bucs could add at least two more guys to that room with the ever-increasing likelihood that one guy could come from a prime draft selection. That would immediately add to the growing pressure on Tryon-Shoyinka and could lead to him starting the year as the third guy depending on who is taken.

Again, none of this is bad for the Buccaneers, and it certainly isn't bad for JTS if he is willing to serve in that rotational role for the future, but if things are to continue as they have been for most of the past two years, the Bucs will have to see a lot more out of Tryon-Shoyinka when the pressure is at its highest.

More Tampa Bay Buccaneers news and rumors