Prospecting the Draft: Prospect #1 - DT Ndamukong Suh

That's the look of a freakishly strong, intense, motivated beast of a defender. Is there any hope of him donning a Buccaneer jersey in 2010?


Intro: Alright, let's get this thing started....time to look at the guy that is perenially considered to be the best overall player in the draft and one of the best defensive draft prospects in the past two decades - DT Ndamukong Suh.  It might take a miracle to step into a position - and make no mistake, the Bucs would have to make a move up to the #1 spot to claim him - but as so many have seen and probably know...he's one of those rare players who might be worth it. 

At 6'4, 305 pounds, he's an "acceptable" size to play in a one-gap system as an interior defensive lineman....or whatever the pundits would normally project.  He's a versatile player that virtually every team has a use for and he's the kind of flexible player that could survive a defensive transition/overhaul. 

Check out his video highlights here.

You can read MockingTheDraft's report on Suh here.

Here are his career stats:

Stats Overview Tackles Misc Interceptions
YEAR TOT SOLO AST SACK STF STFY FF BK INT YDS AVG LNG TD PD
2005 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0
2006 19 12 7 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.0 0 0 0
2007 34 20 14 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0
2008 76 39 37 7 0 0 0 0 2 79 39.5 49 2 0
2009 82 47 35 12 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.0 0 0 0

Analysis: He's big, he's incredibly strong, he has the motor of an every-down player, and he's deceptively fast.  What.....the heck....... is there not to like?  I mean...it's a waste of my time to talk about what he's good at.  You watched the video.  He does it all. Briefly....

His hands are terrific and he already has good technique for the position.  As it seems that he can best collapse the pocket through his brute strength alone, he's incredibly adept at getting his big hands and arms inside those of his blocker and drive him/them straight back like he's hitting the sled on the practice field.  If you'll notice in the video, when he's driving his blocker back towards the ballcarrier, he keeps his eyes up the field, aware of what's going on with the play.  As the ballcarrier cuts outside, he swims his blocker out of the way and makes the play.  Just a smart heady player. 

Quicks?  Check.  In the video, Suh recognizes the WR screen and chases the receiver down from behind (!!!!).  That's pretty incredible.  A quick defensive tackle is such a weapon to have to counter RB and WR screens and slow-developing running plays.  Isn't that right, Warren Sapp?  Speaking of Sapp, I wouldn't say Suh has as explosive a first step as Sapp did, but he's got enough of one to get on the outside shoulder of an interior lineman and work around him.  It's also a bonus to be able to drop your nose tackle into coverage in zone blitzes (in most zone blitzes, it's the lighter, quicker 7-technique that drops into coverage).  Also, in '08, the cat picked off two short passes and rumbled for a pair of long TDs.

Put the long arms, tremendous upper body strength, good first step, great lower body drive, and a non-stop menality in the Buccaneer defense and you've got a volcano waiting to erupt. As opposed to two-gap schemes and other systems that require a defensive tackle to eat space and take on multiple blockers, the Tampa 2 and it's single-gap responsibility would give Suh the ability to get consistently pressure through the 3-gap and would regularly command double teams......which still might not be enough to slow him down every time.  Double teams would clear space for speedy WLB Geno Hayes to reign terror in the backfield. 

So the question to pose to Buc fans is simple...is it worth giving up our proverbial pound of flesh to go get him?  I am assuming that Detroit would take him with the 2nd pick, so what would it take to get up to the first spot?  Rumors swirl among some media outlets that the Rams may be interested in trying to land either Jimmy Clausen or Sam Bradford with the first overall pick.  I just don't see it.  Picking either of those guys with the first overall is pure lunacy for several reasons.  Will a financially struggling franchise like St. Louis commit the kind of cash it would take to sign a franchise QB with the 1st pick?  $70 mil-ish to Matt Stafford set a big standard last year and St. Louis could expect something similar with a #1 QB pick.  It makes more sense for them to trade down (if a partner is available), accumulate pick(s), and still get their guy at a lower draft slot. 

The Bucs have the most draft trading chips to play around with, so a move to get him might not be out of the realm of possibility.  With a relatively low payroll compared to other franchises, it's not being unreasonable to ask the Buccaneer front office to spend #1 money on a defensive player that could be a game-changer for years to come.  Now....is it unreasonable to ask the FO to GET up to the #1 spot?  Despite the trading chips, both the asking price and the competition to get there could be high.

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