With the 2019 NFL Draft in the books, it is time to evaluate the Buccaneers. The defensive line was vastly improved last year with the acquisition of defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. Beyond that, investing a first round pick on a defensive lineman seemed to be the right thing to do in 2018. Vita Vea, who started off his NFL career injured, showed promise at the end of the season.
Now, before the 2019 campaign, what does Tampa Bay’s defensive line look like?
Jason Pierre-Paul’s car accident will most likely cause him to miss at least a majority of the season. Losing the best player on defense is a tough pill to swallow for any team, without a doubt. In the Buccaneers’ case, it might be even worse. Arians and the front office did not address the defensive line in the draft before the fourth round. This will come back to haunt them now with Pierre-Paul likely out for the majority if not the entire season. The coaches would most certainly have looked for help in that department early in the draft if the accident had happened just a few weeks earlier.
The Gerald McCoy situation does not make things any better for Tampa Bay at all. Arians has openly stated that the Bucs’ 2010 first round selection is no longer the player he once was and that the team is looking to move on from him. Not a good move by the head coach, as this causes potential trade partners to stay away from a trade. Furthermore, it left McCoy disgruntled and possibly no longer willing to play for Arians and the Bucs.
With Pierre-Paul out, Tampa Bay could most definitely use Gerald McCoy now. However, it might be too late to keep him after what Arians said. If the Buccaneers do end up keeping him, chances are he will not be very motivated.
At defensive tackle, Vita Vea is expected to start. Last year’s first round choice played better and better as the season came to a close. Nonetheless, he needs to take a major step forward in his second season in order for the defensive line to be somewhat successful.
Carl Nassib, the former Cleveland Brown acquired by the Bucs last year, will start at defensive end. As of now, the second defensive end position is still up for grabs. Noah Spence and William Gholston should be the most likely choices for the position.
All in all, this seems to be a less than mediocre defensive line for NFL standards. Hopefully Bowles can make some magic work. Otherwise this could be, yet again, a long season for the Bucs and their fans.