July 28, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Adrian Clayborn (94) defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (93) and defensive tackle Roy Miller (90) line up on the line of scrimmage during training camp at One Buc Place. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
When Brian Price was traded, the immediate reaction for many Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans was "wait, what". The secondary reaction was "at least we have Amobi Okoye". Well, here's some disturbing news for some of you: Amobi Okoye won't replace Brian Price. That's not because Okoye isn't a good player, because he is, but because he isn't a nose tackle. Brian Price was slated to be the starting nose tackle for the Bucs, and the team will now have to find a replacement for that position. Okoye won't be that guy.
Instead, Roy Miller, Frank Okam and Gary Gibson are about to fight for that spot. The nose tackle in a 4-3, one-gap defense needs to be able to routinely handle double teams, and preferably cause some disruption while he's at it. The most important role for a nose tackle in that sense is to be a run-stuffer - and that's not Okoye, who is more of a penetrative defensive tackle at his best as a 3-technique, lining up on the outside shoulder of the offensive guard. Meanwhile, Miller, Okam and Gibson are much better suited for the role of nose tackle, while they aren't all that good as a 3-technique defensive tackle. Of course, the fact that Roy Miller is now the starter in training camp may send some chills down the spine of Bucs fans.
Sitll, those chills may be premature, however. Roy Miller has been inconsistent at best as a Buccaneer, but he has shown flashes of quality play. He was one of the very few players who actually played well down the stretch last season, as he looked like a disruptive force in the run game. No, that's no joke: Roy Miller looked like a quality player at that point. Of course, there were many occasions in the three preceding years where he looked like a ragdoll against double teams. But at least there's some competition for his spot, and he won't be handed the starting job outright.
As for Okoye, what will be his role? To back up Gerald McCoy and to pass-rush on third down. I would expect the pass-rush package to consistent of both McCoy and Okoye at three-technique on opposite ends of the line, something the Bucs didn't do the past three seasons, but something that used to be the standard package for the Bucs when they still had Monte Kiffin as a defensive coordinator.
Losing Brian Price has hurt not just the depth at defensive tackle, but the starting quality: Roy Miller in the starting lineup is not pretty. But for now, the Bucs at least have some competition at that spot.