Bucs’ Best Draft Fits By Position: Defensive Line


When it comes to the Bucs and their best draft fits on the defensive line, there are a variety of routes to take. Even if Jason Licht himself has said it’s not a very deep class.

While those aren’t encouraging words from the Bucs GM, it doesn’t mean there’s a lack of good draft fits on the defensive line. You never know; it all depends on who’s available and when.

But regardless, it’s draft day, so we don’t have time to waste.

Let’s dive in.

1. DL Milton Williams, Lousiana Tech
Projected Selection: Rounds 2-3

Williams would be an ideal fit for this defense. The key with defensive linemen in this defense is they have to play the run first; then you rush the passer. Williams is a solid run defender who needs to work on his pass rush. He has all the athleticism and the skillset to become a solid pass-rusher in the NFL, however, so that is nowhere near out of the question.

He would be a great defensive end for Todd Bowles and is practically a clone of William Gholston. Gholston just has longer arms. Milton’s lack of length and strength is a bit of a concern, but the aforementioned athleticism should help offset the length and he has plenty of frame left to fill out.

Overall, Milton is the Bucs’ best draft fit out of all the defensive line prospects.

2. DL Levi Onwuzurike, Washington Huskies
Projected Selection: Round 2

The former Huskie is fits this defense very well, much like Williams. He is probably a better on-field fit than Williams, however, Onwuzurike will probably be long gone by the time the Bucs pick. I’m not entirely sure if they would want to move up from No. 64 in order to draft the big man. Therefore, he takes a back seat to Williams.

But from a player standpoint, Onwuzurike -like his last name- has a lot going on. He fits what the Bucs are looking for on the defensive line and would be very disruptive playing with the likes of Vita Vea, Ndamukong Suh, William Gholston and the rest of the crew. And, he could develop into a starter one day.

Per our own Joshua Cole Allen, the Bucs have spoken with Onwuzurike, as well.

3. DL Jay Tufele, USC Trojans
Projected Selection: Rounds 2-3

Like the two fits before him, Tufele is another guy who line up in the B gap for Bowles. Both Gholston and Suh will be free agents in 2022, so it makes sense for the Bucs to explore all options at the position.

Tufele’s one of the best -if not the best- run defenders to play the position. It’s because he has a Tazmanian Devil-like motor and tremendous balance off the line of scrimmage. Those two traits are very deadly.

The concern is Tufele has only one year of really good tape. But that’s an issue with a lot of players this year, so the Bucs are just going have to make due with what they have.

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Imagine if Jay Tufele’s hair was combined with Vita Vea’s glorious mane. Photo Credit: reignoftroy.com

4. DL Khyiris Tonga, BYU Cougars
Projected Selection: Rounds 5-6

Tonga is a big dude. Like, 6-foot-2, 325-pounds big. And he’s strong. Like, 35 reps on bench press strong.

For comparison’s sake, Vita Vea is 6-foot-4, 347-pounds and put up 41 reps on the bench during the 2018 NFL Combine. It’s a solid gap between the two players, but there aren’t many guys who are bigger and stronger than Tonga.

In case you haven’t already guessed, Tonga would be a great addition behind Vea. Steve McClendon is back and was very good last year, but he’s also 35-years-old. The Bucs need to find a younger backup.

It would make a lot of sense for the Bucs and Tonga to pair up. And per Joshua Cole Allen, the Bucs have also spoken with Tonga in the past. So, it’s clear there’s a little bit of interest, here.


5. DL Daviyon Nixon, Iowa Hawkeyes
Projected Selection: Rounds 3-5

It seemed like Nixon was a lock to go in the first round a few weeks ago, but he has done nothing but fall down the draft board since.

Nixon is explosive and violent (in a good way, of course). The former Big 10 player of the year centers his game around a quick first step. He has enough strength to take on multiple blockers, but he’s usually ineffective if his first move is contained.

And if run defense is a primary focus on the defensive line, then Nixon should be on the lower-end of Tampa Bay’s list. Getting after the quarterback is what he’s best at.

Although, the idea of a pass-rushing defensive lineman to go next to Vita Vea would certainly be a nice change of pace.

Honorable Mentions:

– DL Bobby Brown III, Texas A&M Aggies
Projected Selection: Rounds 4-5

– DL Tommy Togiai, Ohio State Buckeyes
Projected Selection: Rounds 3-4

– DL Christian Barmore, Alabama Crimson Tide
Projected Selection: Round 1

What do you think about this list for the Bucs’ best draft fits on the defensive line? Let us know in the comments below!