While the Tampa Bay Bucs do have talent at numerous positions, they, like most teams, have certain needs headed to the upcoming NFL Draft. And they’re in an ideal position, currently with the 5th overall pick, to get an immediate impact player at one of those need positions.
And a very common question (specially for teams that are picking near the top of the draft) is: how much do you “zero-in” on helping yourself at a need position versus taking the “best available overall player,” if he’s available when it’s your turn?
The Bucs may very well be in that position, while sitting on the clock with Houston Cougar defensive tackle Ed Oliver potentially right in front of them.
On Wednesday, Tampa Bay and their new coaching staff including new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles got an opportunity to meet with Oliver at the team facility. And it will be interesting to see you over the next 3 weeks what kind of impression he has made in the draft process.
Oliver is one of the most decorated defensive interior lineman in the last decade, as a three-time All American Athletic Conference first team player and 2017 Defensive Player of the year. He’s also a consensus All-American three years in a row for the Cougars.
Of some concern last year was an ankle injury at the end of his junior season and it curtailed his stats. However, in 2017 he won the prestigious Outland Trophy with had 16 and 1/2 tackles-for-loss with 5.5 quarterback sacks and 73 overall tackles, which are huge numbers, as a defensive tackle.
And, they’re all comparisons being drawn in terms of his size position and potential with Rams All Pro Aaron Donald. And while that is a lofty expectation, there are definitely some similarities in their stature and their on-field accomplishments, including their ability to shed double teams to make plays.
Further, a bigger question becomes: what is the Buccaneers thinking as it relates to veteran Gerald McCoy? McCoy has been a no-show at the team’s voluntary workouts this week leading many to speculate that Tampa Bay is either trying to trade the former six time Pro Bowler or will demand he take a pay cut to remain for a 10th season.
Logically, Oliver would be a potential immediate less expensive impact replacement, if McCoy is gone.
Then again, an argument could be made to bolster the Tampa Bay defensive line even more by pairing Oliver with McCoy and also, last year’s number one pick and also a defensive tackle, Vita Vea.
Now, from a straight draft strategy standpoint, would Tampa Bay be willing to spend the fifth overall pick on the same position in which they just drafted a player a year ago at 12th overall?
Again, Tampa Bay is doing their diligence and this includes having former Mississippi State defensive lineman Montez Sweat in for an interview on Monday as well.
And maybe GM Jason Licht and Coach Bruce Arians are simply putting out a smokescreen intending to draft an entirely different position like linebacker, offensive tackle or safety, instead.
Still, Buccaneers fans have to be excited, that there’s a legitimate chance that an impact player of some kind is coming their way. And maybe, it will be the decorated defensive tackle from Houston.
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