Projected Starting Lineup & Analysis: Defense

2017 Draft Review

2017 Free Agency Review


Gerald McCoy...Still a Legend. 

Gerald McCoy...Still a Legend. 

RE

Noah Spence

Confidence Rating in Spence: 4 Jaboos

Confidence Rating in Spence: 4 Jaboos

After a rocky NFL start (that’s what rookies do) Spence had a heck of a second half rookie season, notching 5.5 sacks while playing through a torn labrum. Spence looks even leaner, more cut, and has had a full offseason to rehab.

I’m starting this hype train in full effect right now: Spence is our breakout candidate and will become our first player to notch 10+ sacks since Simeon Rice. Probably Wrong Projected Stats- 10.5 sacks


LE

Robert Ayers

Confidence Rating in Ayers: 3 Jaboos

Confidence Rating in Ayers: 3 Jaboos

Ayers has been one of Licht’s better free agent signings in the Licht era. Like Spence, Ayers played through a considerable amount of pain last year, but still looked to be in disruptive form despite being on the wrong side of 30.

At Ayers’ age, he will benefit from a respectable DE rotation that includes the underrated Willie Gholston, as well as Jacquies Smith who provides a good speed rush on obvious passing downs. Throughout his career, Ayers has rarely showed up on the stat sheet, but watch his tape, and you’ll see a guy who wrecks many a play. Probably Wrong Projected Stats- 6.5 sacks


DRT

Chris Baker

Confidence Rating in Chris Baker: 3 Jaboos

Confidence Rating in Chris Baker: 3 Jaboos

See above analysis in free agent section. I like this big man.


DLT

Gerald McCoy

Confidence Rating in Gerald McCoy: 5 Jaboos

Confidence Rating in Gerald McCoy: 5 Jaboos

Ahhhh Gerald. We don’t deserve ye. McCoy remains the heart and soul of the Bucs defense. A survivor of the Raheem Morris, Greg Schiano, and Lovie Smith regimes, McCoy has been as good a professional (in every sense of the word) as they come. Still one of the quickest off the snap in football, McCoy is coming off his 5th consecutive Pro Bowl and a 2016 All-Pro honor as well. He will benefit with the addition of Baker, and a healthy Noah Spence and Ayers. Probably Wrong Projected Stats- 7.5 sacks


Will

Lavonte David

Confidence Rating in Lavonte David: 4 Jaboos

Confidence Rating in Lavonte David: 4 Jaboos

Under Lovie Smith, Lavonte’s capabilities were used conservatively, particularly with regards to pass rushing. That changed under Smitty’s scheme, where David got back to his 2013 form, often dropping back into coverage, being used in blitz packages, and stuffing the run. David finished his 5th season with his second career All-Pro nod, and Smitty appears willing to plug him all over the field. Expecting another big year from him.


Mike

Kwon Alexander

Confidence Rating in Kwon: 4 Stars

Confidence Rating in Kwon: 4 Stars

In his first two years in the league, r/Buccaneers has been a lot more on the Kwon hype train than I’ve been. I’ve often talked about how he struggled with play recognition and diagnosis, often being just a step behind. As he enters his third year, I’m ready to get on this hype train and conduct it, because the leap from year one to year two was so drastic I think he will finally have the season that puts him in the conversation with the great ILBs of the league.

Kwon brings back memories of Shelton Quarles, a guy who could drop back and cover the middle of the field while also coming up to deliver a crushing, demoralizing hit when needed. And don’t just look at the 6.0 career sacks for Kwon—watch some of the QB hits he delivers, and you’ll see a guy who QBs will start to fear. Here’s a bold prediction for you: Kwon won’t win DPOY, but I think he’ll be in the conversation at some point this year.


SAM

Davonte Bond

Confidence Rating in Bond: 1 Jaboo

Confidence Rating in Bond: 1 Jaboo

This is probably one of the starters I’m least sure about, in terms of if he’ll actually be the starter, and how ready he’ll be. Bond was our 6th round pick in the 2016 draft, but spent the season on IR. Judging from Bond’s college tape, he’s a solid tackler, and given the lesser importance of Sam in Smitty’s scheme, he’ll likely be used as a two-down linebacker and in limited packages.

Keep an eye out for Kendell Beckwith, who may push for the starting role. Beckwith is already having an impressive camp and fared well in both preseason games thus far. 


CB1

Brent Grimes

Confidence Rating in Grimes: 4 Jaboos

Confidence Rating in Grimes: 4 Jaboos

Apparently, Grimes was considering retirement this year to go play pro basketball. We’re glad he didn’t. Grimes was the saving grace of our secondary last year, and a great free agent pickup after he was cut by the Dolphins. He’ll be 34 this season, and with our razor thin depth at CB, we’ll need his 2016 production to carry into this year.

Still a good player, but at his age, and with him set to become a UFA after this season, it may only last for so much longer.


CB2

Vernon Hargreaves III

Confidence Rating in VHIII: 3 Jaboos

Confidence Rating in VHIII: 3 Jaboos

VH3’s rookie season was not so great. But you know what the epitome of “not fun” is? Being thrust into a division that includes the last two MVP winners and a future HOFer in Drew Brees. That’s like asking an AP Anatomy student to conduct open heart surgery after he scores a 5 on the AP exam.

Rookies aren’t supposed to be good out of the gate, and what’s important is I saw just enough promise from him that I think he’ll progress in year two. We need more aggression out of him and a willingness to attack the ball. I think we’ll get what we ask for.


SS

J.J. Wilcox

Confidence Rating in Wilcox: 2 Jaboos

Confidence Rating in Wilcox: 2 Jaboos

See analysis in free agency review section


FS

Keith Tandy

Confidence Rating in Tandy: 3 Jaboos

Confidence Rating in Tandy: 3 Jaboos

Another position where I’m not sure how we pick our starter here. Could be Ryan Smith, could be Chris Conte (plz no), could even be rookie Justin Evans. I think Tandy will start the season. While he’s best used as a rotational player, Tandy made just enough clutch plays last year that he deserves a look as a starter to begin the season. Maybe he’s ready for primetime.