We're previewing every position group in the NFL ahead of training camp. Did the Tampa Bay Buccaneers get better at defensive tackle this year?
2014 roster: Gerald McCoy, Clinton McDonald, Akeem Spence, George Uko, Da'Quan Bowers, Matthew Masifilo
2015 roster: Gerald McCoy, Clinton McDonald, Henry Melton, Akeem Spence, Quayshawne Buckley, Caushaud Lyons
Lovie Smith loves disruptive defensive tackles, and that was as true last year as it is this year. One of the first players he signed in free agency in 2014 was Clinton McDonald, who turned in a very productive season as a nose tackle with five sacks and consistent disruption alongside Gerald McCoy. But the Bucs had little depth last year, which was obvious when Da'Quan Bowers and William Gholston got significant playing time as injuries started to affect the team toward the end of the season.
This year, then, the Buccaneers decided to add a little depth. Or rather, a lot of depth, in the form of Henry Melton. One player may not sound like a lot of depth, but he is when he's one of the better three-techniques in the NFL. Along with the ever-dominant Gerald McCoy, McDonald and even Akeem Spence, the Bucs now have one of the deepest and best groups of defensive tackles in the NFL -- a group that looks even better if we count George Johnson and William Gholston as players who can move inside productively.
The Buccaneers had a pretty good group of defensive tackles last year. This season, they have a great one. McCoy is arguably the best defensive tackle in the NFL, while Melton is outstanding at his niche as a pass-rusher, and McDonald is a perfect fit as a nose tackle in this scheme. Even Spence showed flashes of disruptive ability last year, as did defensive end William Gholston. All in all, this is arguably the best group of defensive tackles in the NFL.