Tampa Bay Buccaneers Roster Projection - Defense

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 12: Quarterback Ricky Stanzi #13 of the Kansas City Chiefs rushes against pressure from defensive end Kyle Moore #74 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half on August 12, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

Having looked at the roster on offense, we can now move on to defense. There are a lot of tough decisions to be made on defense, and a few talented players will be cut because of a numbers game. Players with the ability to make an impact could find themselves cut because the roster is simply too full. The Bucs have added depth as well as quality these past years, which will force them to make some tough decisions. 

 

Defensive Tackles (4): Gerald McCoy, Roy Miller, Brian Price, Frank Okam
Practice squad candidates: none

Gerald McCoy, Roy Miller and Brian Price are all guaranteed roster spots, so that's no surprise. The only real battle here is between Al Woods and Frank Okam for the final roster spot. Frank Okam played with the starters against the Chiefs, and looked pretty good. With his size he also adds a dimension to the team that no other player has. Al Woods looked decent in limited time last season, but the numbers will make it difficult for him to make the team. Because Woods was active for nine games last season, he is not eligible for the practice squad. 

Defensive Ends (5): Adrian Clayborn, Da'Quan Bowers, Michael Bennett, Kyle Moore, Tim Crowder
Practice squad candidates: George Johnson, Brandon Gilbeaux, E.J. Wilson

The first three names on this list are no surprise, and it's almost impossible for them not to make the roster. The fourth position is a surprise, though, as it's a pretty open race between Kyle Moore, Tim Crowder and E.J. Wilson. Tim Crowder is the solid, reliable veteran - who is still just 26 years old. The Bucs know what they have in Crowder, and that's a decent backup. Kyle Moore has reportedly had a very good training camp while also looking very good against Kansas City. He may be securing a roster spot for himself after disappointing in his first two years. 

The Bucs also have a number of younger, developmental players that could make a surprise push. E.J. Wilson saw a lot of time at defensive tackle against the Chiefs, and looked pretty good. George Johnson also looked pretty disruptive as a defensive end, while I didn't really notice Gilbeaux. Johnson and Wilson are likely to be signed to the practice squad if they don't make the roster. 

Linebackers (6): Quincy Black, Mason Foster, Geno Hayes, Adam Hayward, Tyrone McKenzie, Dekoda Watson
Practice squad candidates: Nick Reveiz, Derrell Smith, Simoni Lawrence, Brandon Heath

Black, Foster and Hayes will be the starters and will all definitely be on the roster once the season starts. Hayward, McKenzie and Watson are all pretty entrenched as the backups as well, and none of the other backups really caught my eye in Kansas City. Watson looked really good as a pass rusher, so don't be surprised if he sees the field on passing downs in some blitz packages during the regular season.

Meanwhile, both Mark Dominik and Raheem Morris have mentioned Derrell Smith a number of times as a player they like, but the numbers don't work in his favor. He could be on the practice squad, but Nick Reveiz (who has also seen time at fullback) and Simoni Lawrence (who was on the practice squad last year) are eligible as well. 

Cornerbacks (5): Ronde Barber, Aqib Talib, E.J. Biggers, Myron Lewis, Anthony Gaitor
Practice squad candidates: D.J. Johnson

The first four names should be no surprise, while Anthony Gaitor looked good against Kansas City. The fact that Raheem Morris has been raving about him all offseason sure doesn't hurt either. Gaitor seems on track to beat out third-year player Elbert Mack, who doesn't have the skills or talent necessary to be on the field for the Bucs. D.J. Johnson spent most of last season on the practice squad and got a lot of playing time against the Chiefs. He didn't look bad, but I don't see any room on the roster for him, which means he'll likely be signed to the practice squad if no one picks him up. 

Safeties (5): Sean Jones, Cody Grimm, Ahmad Black, Larry Asante, Corey Lynch
Practice squad candidates: Vince Anderson, Dominique Harris, Devin Holland

Jones and Grimm will be the starters, if Grimm finds back his speed as he's recovering from his leg injury at least. Black will be slowed by his high ankle sprain and that could keep him from contributing much this year, but it's very unlikely the Bucs cut him. Asante looked good against the Chiefs, delivering one big (and legal) hit on a Kansas City receiver, and he got on the field a little last season. Finally, Corey Lynch has the proven ability to start, which is valuable, and he is a key special teams contributor. Yes, this gives the Bucs a lot of defensive backs on the roster, but you can't have enough defensive backs in the NFL. 

P (1): Michael Koenen

You don't give a punter a six-year, $19 million contract to cut him. Especially not when he looks good in his first preseason game. 

LS (1): Andrew Economos

If Economos returns from his injury, he will be the longsnapper. If not, Christian Yount will be the longsnapper, who seemed to have little trouble against the Chiefs. 

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