We’re going through the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ roster position by position, to see whether they improved compared to last year. Today:
2015 roster: Gerald McCoy, Clinton McDonald, Akeem Spence, Henry Melton, Tony McDaniel, Derrick Lott
2016 roster: Gerald McCoy, Clinton McDonald, Akeem Spence, Travis Britz, Davonte Lambert, A.J. Francis
Going into 2015, the defensive tackle position looked like a massive strength for the Bucs. They had an All-Pro in Gerald McCoy, a very good and disruptive nose tackle in Clinton McDonald, added a former Pro Bowler in Henry Melton, and were waiting for Akeem Spence to come back from injury.
Unfortunately, the regular season was a massive disappointment. McCoy struggled with various injuries throughout the year. He managed to put up an impressive 8.5 sacks, but wasn’t the consistently disruptive player we were used to seeing. McDonald ended up on injured reserve after just six games, while Melton was a shell of his former Pro Bowl self. Mid-season pickup McDaniel wasn’t all that useful either, but at least Spence was pretty impressive for the eight games he could play.
This year, the Bucs are banking on improved health to get good production out of their defensive tackle group. With only three experienced players, all of them missing games with injury last year, the Bucs will likely have to rely on some defensive ends who can add some pass rush inside, like William Gholston and Robert Ayers.
This group definitely looks worse than it did last year, but it should be fairly easy to actually get better production out of them. All they need is some health. I feel like that’s a pretty consistent refrain through all these position breakdowns, honestly.