After taking a run-stuffing nose tackle in Akeem Spence the Buccaneers turned around got a high upside defensive end with their second fourth-round pick in Michigan State's William Gholston. The defensive end is a very physically gifted player, measuring 6'6", 281 lbs with massive 34" arms. However, those physical gifts didn't lead to consistent production, and his NFL combine performance was disappointing as well. He sounds just like his cousin Vernon Gholston, a former first-round pick who was physically gifted but quickly busted out of the league. But he's a different player: more powerful than fast and a much better run defender.
Gholston carries the nickname "Too Tall", but he has a long way to go before he can be compared to the original Too Tall Jones. Still, Gholston does have a lot of potential. He flashes the ability to shed offensive linemen, is a physical player against the run and mostly a power rusher against the pass. He doesn't have the speed to consistently threaten the edge, but he'd fit very well at left defensive end. That would mean backing up Da'Quan Bowers, and serving in part as the replacement of Michael Bennett.
Let's see what our Michigan State blog has to say about him.
Physically, Gholston is an absolute freak. That's probably another reason people feel he hasn't lived up to the hype, because the physical tools set the bar so high. He never earned All-American status, but he's able to leave after three years and get drafted relatively high. So that's still a successful career.
For as great as his physical tools are, his skillset is probably lacking a bit. He doesn't have a ton of moves, typically relying on either his strength or speed. He was also inconsistent, disappearing at times, and there are worries about his stamina. Because he's so tall, his pad level can get high and he loses leverage.
He played in a 4-3 defense at MSU that loved to blitz and put pressure on opposing offensive lines. But the defensive line itself didn't always produce as much pressure as it should have in 2012 after losing second-round pick Jerel Worthy from the year before.
Gholston's production last year wasn't even as bad as his scouting reports would have you believe. 60 tackles, 4.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss is pretty solid production for a season but it wouldn't lead one to believe he has the ability to be a special pass rusher. And indeed, he hasn't shown that he can be -- which is why he's now a fourth-round pick.
But he does have some of the traits necessary to be a quality pass rusher. He's very strong at the point of attack, comes off the ball low and flashes the ability to drive back offensive tackles. At times he splits double teams and very occasionally he manages to bend the edge after speeding around an offensive tackle. One issue is his motor, though: he appears to take a few plays off on occasion, although he does show good hustle chasing run plays that go away from him.
Overall, Gholston will at a minimum be an upgrade in run defense over the team's current backups, and could be a consistent contributor as a pass rusher specialist as a left defensive end, or perhaps even inside as a three-technique. He should become the main backup to Da'Quan Bowers immediately and should find a small role in a rotation early, with a chance to contribute if he develops quickly. Down the line he has a chance to become a major contributor as a base defensive end and perhaps even as a pass rusher.
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