The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made few high-profile signings this offseason, but one of them really stands out: defensive tackle Henry Melton. Just three years ago, Melton was one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL, racking up six sacks in 14 games and making a Pro Bowl under Lovie Smith. then an injury limited him to just three games in 2013, and his 2014 was spent in Dallas -- where he still managed an impressive five sacks in very limited playing time.
The Bucs are understandably excited about finally adding another quality inside pass rusher next to Gerald McCoy on third downs, and someone who can give him a breather once in a while as well. According to Scott Reynolds of Pewter Report, Melton has been blowing people away during the offseason -- as much as he can do that given that the team hasn't practiced in pads even once so far.
One of the defensive newcomers that has been very impressive in the offseason is defensive tackle Henry Melton. The Bucs like Melton's suddenness at the line of scrimmage and his quickness and ability to redirect and pursue the quarterback. Melton, a Pro Bowler in Chicago in 2012, is a slightly smaller version of Gerald McCoy and capable of generating six or seven sacks as an interior pass rusher at nose tackle next to McCoy in nickel rush situations, or as a three-technique tackle replacing McCoy when he needs a breather.
The last time the Bucs had someone capable of consistently rushing from the interior, that guy's name was Michael Bennett. That was McCoy's first real breakout season, when he made his first Pro Bowl and consistently got after the quarterback, helped by Bennett's six sacks. Since then, he's mostly had to do it on his own -- no other Buccaneers defensive lineman since then has posted more than 6.5 sacks (Lavonte David managed 7 in 2013).
Clinton McDonald was a solid addition last year and his five sacks were pretty good, but he wasn't quite the consistent presence the Bucs would like -- in part because of injuries. It looks like a healthy McDonald and a healthy Melton can team up with McCoy this year and wreak a lot of havoc. And with a bit of luck, that can compensate at least partially for a lack of experience at defensive end.
While you think about that, enjoy these Henry Melton career highlights someone put together just a few days ago.