Some of you have expressed a desire for us to bypass our review of more obvious top-5 picks and focus more on guys the Bucs could be targeting later in the draft. Ask and ye shall receive. I will continue to review players that would be logical fits for the Bucs at #3 or in the top-10 should the Bucs trade down, but I am also going to mix in some potential 2nd/3rd rounders that might be available when the Bucs pick then that are worthy of consideration and community discussion.
As we all know, the Tampa 2 relies on the presence of an explosive, tazmanian-devilish, pocket collapsing 3-technique to make the defense click. Warren Sapp was the manchild prototype for the position in a defense that wreaked havoc over several years. As Niko noted in his combine recent piece, many have tried to fill Sapp's large shoes and many have failed rather significantly. DTs Ryan Sims and Chris Hovan improved following the abandonment of the 2-gap system after the first New Orleans game, but neither are pocket-collapsing speed rushers that can really make the Tampa 2 go.
So, having already looked at DTs Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, who else might be out there that would be a good fit for the Buccaneer defense? As the possibility has risen this week that the Rams could deal for Philadelphia QB Donovan McNabb with their 2nd round pick, that could put both "impact" DTs in a position to go off the board 1-2. Thus, DT could become a near-necessity with the 35th pick.
I'll start today with a guy who appears to be a borderline 1st/2nd round pick and could be sitting there for the Bucs to snap up with the 35th pick - UCLA DT Brian Price. Price is an explosive defensive tackle capable of getting to the quarterback regularly in one-gap defensive systems. At 6'2, 300 pounds, Price has adequate size to play a 3-technique DT, but probably doesn't have much room to add more weight to his frame. He could work on re-distributing some of his weight to increase his muscle mass and make him closer to a complete pass-rushing, run-stopping force....as he tends to get pushed around a bit if he doesn't get a crease to squeeze through.
Price's career stats are reflectiveof a player steadily developing, both physically and in his understanding of the game:
Take a peek at MockingTheDraft's Scouting Report on Price here.
Before reading further, check out some of Price's video highlights...and lowlights... here.
-Good first step at the snap, which gives him a crease to ride an offensive lineman's shoulder up the pocket
-Has the speed to cut down the line to stop ballcarriers and the instincts to read where the play is going and make the stop or force the play away from the designed lane
-Shows good form tackling technique for a big man
-Keeps his eyes up the field while taking on blockers, as evident by the number of plays he makes in the backfield within the tackles
-Inconsistent with maintainting low leverage and gets stood up frequently
-Tends to lose his balance quickly when somebody makes an evasive move on him, as is evident in the video
-Doesn't have long arms to shuck blockers and fight off blocks
-Accordingly, struggles to get off blocks against bigger linemen and neutralized by double teams
-Will miss assignments and find his way out of his gap, leading to a big gain
Price would be best suited as a 3-technique in a defensive system with a premium on speed like our Tampa 2, but generally speaking should be no less than serviceable as an undertackle in any type of one-gap defensive system. At 6'2, 300 pounds, it's highly unlikely he can expand upon his frame any further. However, he might be able to redistribute some of his weight to a bit more upper body muscle and increase the strength of his lower body. It's pretty obvious by the frequency that he gets held at the point of attack that he needs to work on getting stronger in certain areas of his body to get a better push against strong offensive linemen that happen to prevent him from getting lose on any given play.
I have little doubt that Price, even against talented offensive linemen, could be a pain in the backside from the 3-technique due to his burst and acceleration off the line. There's alot the Bucs could do with him. His lateral quickness is comparable to a 3-4 DE with above-average speed and would be a huge benefit in his ability to line up in the 3-gap and come down the line and stunt through the vacated A-gap. He can play either tackle position on at least a limited basis, giving the Bucs the ability to poke pressure at an opposing offensive line, looking for a weak link. If he could get a little bit better with his hands (which is McCoy's forte in my opinion) and compliment his speed with a shuck move, he could really make opposing guards look statuesque, demanding help from the center or tackle and creating one-on-one opportunities for the defensive end or a lane for a blitz through the middle. That's what speed can do for you.
All in all, what do you think of what you've seen so far from Price?