After one of the worst defensive seasons in Tampa Bay history, general manager Jason Licht gave the Bucs’ defense a major overhaul this offseason. Licht brought in multiple free agents with production and Super Bowl experience to help bolster the unit.
These players as well as the incumbents will relied upon heavily to help the Bucs make the playoffs in 2018 and the majority of Tampa Bay’s success will rest on the defensive shoulders of the team.
William Gholston - Another no-sack year and you can bet Gholston is gone from the Bay with his price tag after 2018.
Beau Allen - One of those Super Bowl-experienced players, Allen will be looked up to for leadership and production.
Gerald McCoy - With all the new talent around him, McCoy needs to have a huge year.
Vita Vea - Selected with the no. 12 pick just like Warren Sapp, Vea must anchor Tampa Bay’s defensive line for years - starting in 2018.
Jason Pierre-Paul - He is expected to turn around the league’s worst pass rush and is making a ton of money, which only brightens the spotlight.
Vinny Curry - Even though he averages less than four sacks a season, that should double this year - which won’t be easy to do.
Noah Spence - It’s going to be tough proving that you can come back from a season-ending injury and continue to develop as an effective player.
Kwon Alexander - Alexander will be expected to step up his game with the major influx of talent in front of him.
Lavonte David - With the increasing talent around him, David will need to make more impact plays rather than consistent plays.
Kendell Beckwith - Beckwith will be counted on when he returns from injury to help the Bucs’ run defense - which is quite the task in its own right.
Vernon Hargreaves III - Poor play over the first two seasons led the Bucs to draft two cornerbacks in the second round, which clearly explains the pressure that Hargreaves III is under.
Ryan Smith - See above - Smith will be fighting off talented rookies all season long in order to retain his spot.
M.J. Stewart - Stewart’s versatility should get him on the field sooner rather than later and it will be a disappointment if he isn’t out there early on.
Carlton Davis - The excitement around what he can do at his size is enough pressure for Davis to perform well.
Brent Grimes - A bad 2018 would nearly doom Grimes’ hopes to continue playing into 2019 if that’s what he wants to ultimately do.
Justin Evans - Expectations are high for the second-year player and he will have to hold down the back end of the defense.
Chris Conte - Conte is becoming more and more expendable each year and his play in 2018 will determine the rest of his career with the Bucs, but he will still be needed opposite Evans.
Keith Tandy - With his career on the downside, Tandy needs a good season to keep his future playing hopes alive.
Josh Robinson - After playing in just one game in 2017, Robinson has to prove that he belongs on the roster for this season.
Bryan Anger - It’ll be hard convince a potentially new regime to keep a punter at $3.4 million unless he just plays off the charts, so that’s what Anger must do this year.
Chandler Catanzaro - Just take a look at Tampa Bay’s recent placekicking history - that’s all the pressure you need.