Yardbarker Horiz

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Defensive Line Showing Teeth

After spending both their first and second round picks on defensive linemen in 2010 and 2011, the youth movement up front is starting to show improvement.  Granted, it's preseason and it can be deceiving.

Nonetheless, during the 2010 preseason, Tampa Bay recorded a total of four quarterback sacks.

So far in the 2011 preseason, with one game to go, Tampa Bay has recorded thirteen quarterback sacks.  League wide, the Buccaneers stand alone in fourth place, with only the Buffalo Bills, Houston Texans, and Philadelphia Eagles ahead of them (tied for first with 14 sacks).

And it's not a matter of a weaker preseason slate:  Last year's preseason opponents (Miami, Kansas City, Jacksonville, and Houston) won a combined six preseason games.  This year's opponents (Kansas City, New England, Miami, and Washington) have already won six preseason games with one game each remaining.

Tampa Bay defensive end George Johnson (another member of the 2010 practice squad) is currently tied for the league lead in sacks with 3.0; he is tied with three other players.  Right behind the lead group is Buccaneer linebacker Dakota Watson with 2.5 sacks.  Other Buccanneer players with 2 or more sacks are DE Tim Crowder and DE Kyle Moore.

The draft focus of the past two years appears to be taking shape.  Based on the third preseason game against Miami, the likely starting four on the defensive line will be:
RE: Adrian Clayborn, 2011 First Round Draft Pick
DT: Frank Okam, 2010 Waiver Wire pickup
DT. Gerald McCoy, 2010 First Round Draft Pick
LE: Micheal Bennett, 2009 Waiver Wire pickup

And the depth:
RE: Tim Crowder, 2009 Waiver Wire pickup
DT: Roy Miller, 2009 Third Round Pick
DT: Brian Price, 2010 Second Round Pick
LE: Da'Quan Bowers, 2011 Second Round Pick

Miller, Price, and Bowers are currently working their way back from injury and appear to be ready for the regular season.

This is a group which will probably not reach their collective prime for another season or so.  Based on results so far, this could be the squad to watch in 2011.

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