Tampa Bay Buccaneers Senior Writer/Editor Scott Smith has been resetting the roster for 2019 on the team’s website, and the defensive line reset is perhaps the most intriguing issue in the series up to this point.
For obvious reasons like the addition of Ndamukong Suh and departure of Gerald McCoy. But also for not so obvious ones.
Since the moment we learned Bruce Arians was going to be the new head coach of the franchise, and that he was bringing some big-time friends with him, we’ve known versatility was going to be the key to everything the Bucs did moving forward.
While a lot of the focus up front for those watching the Buccaneers has been on McCoy, it’s the presence of Vita Vea perhaps which aided in the confidence the team had in replacing a franchise cornerstone for almost the entire past decade.
In Smith’s article, he quotes Tampa Bay’s head coach as saying Vea, “...can play three positions for sure”. The quote then continues with Arians saying,
“He can play five-technique, he can play three-techniques and he can play nose. He’s a very, very talented young man and does lots of things.”
If there’s one defensive lineman in this group who has faded into the background over the past couple of seasons it’s Will Gholston who is still listed as a defensive lineman which means you can expect (as much as you can expect anything this season) to see him as a down lineman more often than not.
A task Arians believes Gholston can fill, and something defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers tells Smith is happy with thus far,
“I think he dropped weight to fit in the 4-3 where, like I told him, he needs some rocks in his pocket to help us in the 3-4. I really like the way he’s moving around.”
There was a lot of concern heading into the 2019 NFL Draft about the defensive front, and perhaps even more coming out of it after the team waited until day three to address any player who might directly influence the group.
It’s evident in the early going however, the coaching staff is living up to it’s billing as wanting versatility, teaching versatility, and the players are doing everything they can to fit the scheme and mentality with solid results thus far.
Again, from Arians,
“Each guy is showing his position flexibility, so if you can play two or three spots, that helps you make the team. So they’re all growing and Kacy is doing a great job teaching them.”
Vita Vea, Ndamukong Suh, Will Gholston and Beau Allen won’t be the only guys tasked with representing the defensive front for Todd Bowles. However, given the ability of each to play multiple spots on the line, Bowles’ early efforts to install a defense we’ll call 3-4 but know is it’s own kind of animal seem to be progressing nicely.