2014 NFL Draft: Dee Ford visits the Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may be targeting pass-rusher Dee Ford at the top of second round.

Auburn defensive end Dee Ford will visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he told Dan Kadar of Mocking the Draft. Visits only say so much, of course, and it may be just the case that the Bucs want some more information on the pass-rusher. Then again, Ford would be a decent fit for the Bucs.

Ford would be a likely option as a pass-rusher at the top of the second round. Dan Kadar and Matthew Fairburn talked about Ford in their podcast (right at the start), and had a ton of interesting nuggets from an interview with Ford, such as the fact that he picked out three pass-rush moves to work with. They should have that story later this week, and I'll make sure to link it when it's up.

Ford had 10.5 sacks in his senior season, and he may be best as a pass-rush specialist rather than a full-time 4-3 defensive ends. That's how Dan Kadar sees him, anyway, and watching his tape I can largely see that. He's not particularly strong against the run, and seems to have some problems shedding blocks in the run game. He's much more productive and disruptive against the pass -- and the Bucs will mostly focus on that part of his game.

Of course, there are some other more worrying aspects to Ford's game as a pass rusher. His production hasn't been great over the years, and Football Outsiders' SackSEER projection model really does not like him, mostly due to the lack of production. On the other hand, SackSEER does really like his athletic explosiveness.

So where would he fit for the Bucs? Most likely as a pass-rush specialist at left defensive end, and potentially a starter down the road. Ford has played mostly defensive end and linebacker at the left side of the defensive line in college.

The Buccaneers do already have Michael Johnson, but he has played right defensive end almost exclusively. The presence of Adrian Clayborn, Da'Quan Bowers, William Gholston and a few others is nice, but Lovie Smith won't be content with that. Clayborn is a solid defensive lineman, but as Lovie Smith told the Tampa Bay Times, "Solid gets you 4-12."

Drafting another defensive lineman also fits Lovie Smith's history, as well as that of his mentor. In the six years that Tony Dungy was the head coach of the Bucs, they took ten defensive linemen in the draft, three of them in the first round. And that was with Chidi Ahanotu and Warren Sapp already on the team, and they still signed Simeon Rice in 2001 to add to that ridiculous group of pass rushers. Similarly, the Chicago Bears drafted 13 defensive linemen under Lovie Smith, five of them coming in the first or second round, and they still signed Julius Peppers in 2010.

Using a second-round pick on a defensive end fits perfectly with that philosophy, and Michael Johnson's presence is unlikely to influence that pick. The Bucs have a talented group of defensive linemen, but they lack production, and clearly the Dungy tree takes the "more is more" approach to building their pass rush. Given that, and the fact that the Bucs have filled many, many needs in free agency, Dee Ford is a real possibility for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the top of the second round.

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