The Tampa Bay Buccaneers added a lot of players this offseason: Brent Grimes, Robert Ayers, J.R. Sweezy, re-signed Doug Martin, drafted Roberto Aguayo, Vernon Hargreaves and Noah Spence, and signed a whole lot of depth across the board. But which player will be the most important addition to this Bucs team? ESPN's Mike DiRocco thinks that player is Noah Spence.
Spence supplied teams with his clean drug test results throughout the pre-draft process and because of that, and some work of their own, the Bucs believe his drug problem at Ohio State is behind him. If that really is the case, then Spence could be a defensive rookie of the year candidate. Many analysts believe Spence was the best pure pass-rusher in the draft. The Bucs will turn him loose in a division loaded with star quarterbacks. He could threaten double-digit sacks as a rookie.
That's a hefty burden for a player who isn't particularly likely to make a big difference as a rookie -- pass rushers usually take a year or two to really get going, sadly. But it may well be true if we look back in, say, six years. If Spence stays clean off the field, he could very well turn into the best pass-rusher in this draft. And those guys are really valuable.
Spence is also crucial for the Bucs' roster, as they simply lack pure edge rushers. Robert Ayers is more of an inside rusher, though he plays on the outside in base defense, William Gholston continues to stall as a pass-rusher, and Jacquies Smith and Howard Jones aren't exactly household names, even if they do have some potential. Spence may take a while to really get going, but he will get a lot of early opportunities and could become crucial, if only because he really doesn't have a lot of competition.
Of course, if we're looking at a wider picture and not just players, the team's biggest addition was probably Mike Smith. The Bucs think that Lovie Smith's defense struggled because he just wasn't coaching his players very well. If so, changing Smiths could make a massive difference.