Yardbarker Horiz

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Defensive Lineman Nobody Is Talking About

Gerald McCoy and Brian Price, the first two picks of the Buccaneers in the 2010 draft, have rightfully received a lot of attention.  Roy Miller, drafted in the third round in 2009, had a fantastic rookie year.  These three men have practically been handed the starting positions/rotation with less than a fourth of training camp completed.  It's a case of ultra-hype in full swing.

Why doesn't anyone remember the 16-game-starter defensive tackle which is still on the roster?  Do they think he's just going to watch from the sidelines this year?

Youth will be served on the defensive front.  It is clearly the direction General Manager Mark Dominik and Head Coach Raheem Morris are driving the team.  Add in Dre Moore and you have two first year and two second year players with a grand total of one start among them all.

So you can't throw away experience just yet.  And the Buccaneers obviously know it.

The rookies, along with Miller and Moore, still have much to learn about playing interior line in the NFL.  A lot of it comes through playing time -- you have to experience it to understand it, then practice through it until you can defeat it.  And each offensive line you come up against is a bit different.  That's why interior linemen generally start slow and improve significantly during the first three years of their careers.  Roy Miller was an exception last year.  Perhaps one of the rookies will also be able to adapt quickly.

But until those young players get their time in, Ryan Sims, now the old man of the defense with 9 years of experience (one of the five eldest Buccaneers going into the 2010 season), has to be the one to provide a steady force next to the raw young talent in the middle of the four man Buccaneer front.  The first half of the season is when he will need to be at his best.  By the second half of the season, if all goes well, Sims should be even more effective as the rotation with the young players expands.

For the first half of the season, however, the guy that nobody talks about will be the guy with the biggest impact on the defensive line.  And if his experience serves him well he will be a very significant part of a much improved defense in 2010.

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