Why Is Will Gholston Still A Buc?


In 2013 Will Gholston was drafted in the 4th round, 126th overall, out of Michigan State. This mid-round pick collected 9.5 sacks and 29 tackles for a loss over his last two seasons at the collegiate level. It seemed that Gholston could have been a late round steal by former GM Mark Dominik. Unfortunately though it hasn’t panned out that way.

Over six seasons Gholston has had only 11 sacks, and just one over the last two seasons. In fact he hasn’t notched above three sacks per season since he left for the pro’s. In fact he has averaged just 1.83 sacks per season in his time in the NFL. Pro Football Focus’ grade isn’t much kinder to him either. Giving him a below average grade, and ranking him as the 112th best defensive lineman.

Gholston As A Run Stopper

The biggest strong suite of Gholston is his ability as a run stopper. Even though he has had only 34 TFLs, most came from his first few seasons in Tampa Bay. Coincidentally Tampa Bay’s run defense was ranked 15th in 2013, 19th in 2014, and 11th in 2015.

From that point on though Tampa Bay’s run defense has suffered, and so has Gholston production. Gholston is only a portion of the problem with Tampa Bay’s defense. Still he seemingly disappeared in games, and from the stat sheet as of late. He has gone from a potential mid-round steal to mid-round bust. With that said the question begs to be asked, why is Gholston still a Buc?

For the 2019 season, he is due to make $3.75 million before the start of the season. If DC Todd Bowles and Co. don’t see any potential in Gholston, they could release him and escape any cap hit for the remainder of his contract. So do the Bucs see a place for him on this roster? Maybe.

Will He Make The Roster In 2019?

If he is going to make this roster it will be due to health of the DE group. As a key cog in Jason Pierre-Paul is out with an extended period of time with a broken neck. According to ESPN’s Bucs depth chart, Gholston is the primary backup for both Ndamukong Suh and Pierre-Paul at DE. Carl Nassib, Noah Spence, and Shaquil Barrett are all list at the right and left OLB in a 3-4 base defense, but these players could shuffle around a bit during training camp and depending on what sub-packages they install this season.

Simply put, when considering stats alone Gholston most certainly shouldn’t have a roster spot in Tampa Bay this season. Yet he could carve out a role due to a key injury from Pierre-Paul. If no further additions are made to this roster, it is a real possibility that Gholston could stay a Buccaneer for another year.