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The Bucs Are Building This Team Up Front

Building the front four
Building the front four

With four first- and second-round draft picks in the last two years, you can safely say that this team is building its defense and its team around the defensive line. If they all work out, Adrian Clayborn, Gerald McCoy, Brian Price and Da'Quan Bowers have a chance to be the best front four in professional football, and that doesn't even include Roy Miller who shouldn't be overlooked. The Buccaneers want to stop the run and rush the passer with their defensive line, and they now have the talent to do so. But the rest of the defense has been neglected to an extent. Aqib Talib was drafted in the first round in 2008, but he's the only first-round draft pick the Bucs have spent on a defensive back or linebacker since Derrick Brooks was drafted in 1995. 

Interestingly enough, this doesn't seem to fit Raheem Morris' philosophy as we've seen it on the field. Morris has been a conservative coach on defense, who has built his schemes and plays with coverage as the basis. While he's blitzed, he's rarely blitzed in ways that compromise coverage. In fact, by the end of the year the Bucs were rushing 3 players almost exclusively on passing downs, leaving 8 players in coverage, eliminating any chance of getting to the quarterback. 

There's a chance that the schemes of the past two seasons have been inspired by the lack of a pass rush. It's possible that Morris realized he couldn't get to the quarterback anyway, so he decided to focus on coverage. But Morris is a defensive backs coach, and he realizes that coverage is important. Perhaps it's much simpler: perhaps Morris and Jimmy Lake think they can coach up mid- and late-round defensive backs. And there seems to be some truth to that looking at the past couple of years: Tanard Jackson(4th round), Cody Grimm(7th round) and E.J. Biggers (7th round) have been standouts. If 2010 third-rounder Myron Lewis and 2011 fifth-rounder Ahmad Black develop well, the Bucs may not need to spend high draft picks or bring in free agents to have a good defensive backs group.