2013 NFL Draft: First round defensive line prospects for the Buccaneers


With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers trying to trade up, who could they want on the defensive line?

The Buccaneers have some needs along the defensive line. Their starters are good enough at the moment, with former first-round picks Gerald McCoy and Adrian Clayborn and former second-round pick Da'Quan Bowers headlining the group. At nose tackle the Bucs have journeymen Gary Gibson and Derek Landri, but those players are good enough to man a low-value position.

The issue the team has is depth. They have no quality backups for the defensive end or three-technique defensive tackle positions. Their only backup of note is Daniel Te'o-Nesheim who notched four sacks last year, but he's not exactly a great player.

Meanwhile, the Buccaneers want to move up into first-round and while they're supposedly targeting Tyler Eifert and D.J. Hayden, they may look at a defensive lineman as well. So who could they try to grab?

DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina

This may be the best fit for the Buccaneers. Williams has a fairly stocky build at 6'2", 313 lbs and has the athletic ability to be a disruptive player. With 13.5 tackles for loss and 6 sacks last year while playing for North Carolina he has pretty good production for a defensive tackle who played a lot at nose tackle. That would likely be his role if the Bucs go after him.

Williams is very stout against the run and uses his hands well to keep blockers off of him, but is a bit inconsistent as a pass-rusher. He flashes the ability to blow past offensive linemen, but at other times he seems to get stuck on them.

One big question mark is his age: Williams will turn 25 this season, so he likely has fewer years left in the NFL and may be closer to his athletic limit than most rookies. He'd still provide an upgrade at nose tackle for the Buccaneers and some pass-rush ability from the three-technique position on passing downs.

DE Datone Jones, UCLA

Jones is nominally a defensive end, but I wouldn't stick him at defensive end in the Buccaneers' system. He played all over the line for UCLA's three-man front, both at nose tackle and defensive end. He was best as a pass-rusher inside, and would probably translate best as a three-technique on passing downs.

However, he may be intriguing for the Buccaneers as a nose tackle. The Bucs play a somewhat unique 4-3 scheme where they tilt their nose tackle into the gap between the center and the guard. This allows them to put a more athletic and smaller defensive lineman at that position, as the alignment helps the player take on double teams. Still, anchoring against the run might be an issue for Jones.

I'm willing to overlook that for Jones' phenomenal talent, though. There are times when he looks like J.J. Watt or Justin Smith, and that's the kind of talent the Bucs could certainly use.

DE Tank Carradine, Florida State

Carradine's an intriguing player, in part because no one seems to have a clue where he'll land. Some see him as one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL. Others, well, don't. He has injury concerns which caused him to miss the end of last season, but he has since worked out for NFL teams and looked fine.

If he drops, the Bucs could target him as Carradine is arguably the best 4-3 defensive end in the draft. He's powerful and physical and a better player than his teammate Bjoern Werner. His best attribute is his ability to convert a speed rush to power. He's not a true speed rusher who can bend the edge, which is why he could be available, but he would still be a very intriguing prospect for the Bucs.

He may not be better than Adrian Clayborn, but with the latter coming off an ACL injury and the team's abysmal depth at defensive end they could look toward someone like Carradine.

Read more:

Bucs reportedly target D.J. Hayden and Tyler Eifert

Mock drafts see Hayden sliding, Eifert sticking

Draft Phantom's NFL draft primer

The St. Louis Rams want to trade down

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