Now that we've all had a week or so to step back and reflect on what has been widely deemed a successful draft, it's time to get to know each of our draft picks. We knew going into the 2010 draft that defensive tackle was a glaring need, perhaps bigger than all of our other needs combined. We were reasonably confident that at the third overall pick we would nab a playmaking tackle and be well on our way to re-shaping our defensive line. The pick came and went, said defensive tackle was scooped up and Buc Nation was happy.
Then came the 35th pick. There were some gasps and looks of confusion when the Bucs went tackle, but then we all came around. Why stop rebuilding the defensive line with just one pick? With the selection of Brian Price in the second round, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers revealed their concern for the defensive line. And rightfully so. And now that we have Price on the roster, lets take a look at how he may fit in with our team.
Brian Price is a 21 year old defensive tackle that played his college ball out west at UCLA. He is a former 1st team All-American and a Pac 10 Defensive Player of the Year. He left school a year early after a successful 2009 season and as we all know, was an early second round pick.
Price's primary asset is his ability to get off the ball quickly. He possess ideal explosion at the snap and shows the ability to disrupt blocking schemes merely by coming off the ball quickly. This should help him in the Tampa 2 defense the Bucs run as speed is the primary asset for all positions. We don't expect a 300+ pound mauler, but someone who can be a disruptive force. That doesn't always equate into sacks, but if he is able to occupy or disrupt from the middle, the impact will be felt down the entire line.
Another asset of Price is his motor. Now, I don't know of any other way to measure this other than media perception, but Price has consistently been lauded for his high motor. This again is a necessity for the T2 and when coupled with Price's disruptive skillset, will prove to be an even more valuable asset.
The question becomes, where does he fit into the line? He seems to be close to physical maturity, which is both good and bad. He will have to learn to use his lower body as the knock on him has been if he doesn't get into the backfield or get a quick jump, he tends to be bodied out of a play. You can have the best motor in the world (see Hovan, Chris), but if you get pushed around and away from the play, it does no good. His issues will come at being manhandled and at anchoring the line. He isn't a space-eater, a guy who can just sit on the line and not be moved. If he isn't off the ball at the snap and moving towards the backfield, there may be issues.
Price seems to have good play recognition and has been praised as a very sure tackler. Once he hits the ball carrier, he's going down. With all the missed tackles we saw in 2009, this would be a welcome change.
My biggest concern for Price is the way he gets stood up at the line at times, hiw somewhat weak lower body, and a need for a few other moves. Granted, the kid is 21 years old and will have time to learn these things, but a quick first step, while important, is only part of the puzzle at the NFL level. If Price can add a few moves to his repertoireand shore up his lower body strength, he will be able to play anywhere on the line. This is what excites me the most, his versatility. While we know he and McCoy will likely line up next to each other, Price has the ability to slide over in either direction if the situation demands it. By drafting two defensive tackles, not only can we rotate guys to stay fresh, but it gives us some flexibility in how we use them.
The Bucs selection of Price is an important one for the team. Without a defensive line, the entire defense collapses (again, see the 2009 season for a reference). While Price does have his shortcomings, who doesn't, he has the ability, the skillset, and hopefully the desire to take his game to the next level. He should be helped out by playing next to McCoy, assuming McCoy turns into the player we all assume he will be. Price should be able to draw a double team with his quick step and knack for the game. If he gets singled up, I think we all will like the results.
He's a good fit for any defense and should feel at home in the Tampa Two. He's not the biggest guy, which would hurt him in other schemes, but if he can compliment what he does have with a vast array of moves, then he will be an ideal fit for our defense. With what we saw in college, there wasn't much not to like. Transition to the NFL is always a tough move for any player, but Price seems to have the things you can't teach, quick burst, smarts etc. If he can round himself out as a player, then we'll all feel like we won the Showcase Showdown
(Alright, I apologize for the lame jokes, cut me some slack).