Football Outsiders has been going through each NFL team's biggest roster deficiency, and they came to the NFC South yesterday. With the Bucs having almost completely neglected to upgrade the defensive end position, it should come as no surprise that that's Aaron Schatz's choice for biggest weakness on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' roster.
Choosing Tampa Bay's biggest weakness depends on which you find to be a bigger problem: depending on highly-drafted rookies with no NFL experience, or depending on undrafted journeymen coming off surprise breakout seasons.
History certainly teaches us that high draft picks are usually the better bet in the long-term. The Bucs now have Jameis Winston at quarterback and will likely start two second-round picks on the offensive line, Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet.
The Bucs only added George Johnson to a weak and largely unproven group of defensive ends. There's some talent there in Jacquies Smith and T.J. Fatinikun, but those players have no track record of success. Like Johnson, Smith bounced around the league for a couple of years before having a miniature breakout year last season. Beyond that, the Bucs are relying on players like William Gholston and Larry English -- hardly consistent pass rushers.
little lot worrying, given that there's basically no precedent for sustained success out of players like that, as Football Outsiders point out. They could only find one player who had bounced around teams for two years before having a season of six or more sacks before 2014: Mark Word, who had eight sacks for the Browns in 2002, four sacks in 2003 and then never returned to the NFL again.
That doesn't mean Smith and Johnson can't do it. But it does mean that relying on them to fill those roles may be a little naive -- especially in a defense that cannot function without a sustained, four-man pass rush.