Setting the tone up front is something a lot of championship teams have in common. When playoff football comes around and the colder weather, the physical teams come out, and they are usually the successful ones.
During the past couple of years, no team was better at “setting the tone” than the Buccaneers, they have been one of the best run defensive teams in recent NFL history. With Ndamukong Suh leaving, there are some shoes to fill, but the Bucs have brought in a lot of talent.
As the anchor of the defense, Vita Vea is one of the most important players on the team. He plays nose tackle and sets the tone up front. When he was drafted in 2018 it caused somewhat of an uproar that he was chosen over players like Derwin James or Jaire Alexander. After a couple of years, it was clear that Vita Vea was the right pick, and he has added an extra level of physicality to this defense. Vea doesn’t rack up many sacks throughout the course of a season, but his presence extends past the defensive line, and it showed in 2020 when he was injured for most of the regular season. The defense definitely wasnt the same without him. After receiving a contract extension, Vita Vea still hasn’t hit his peak and will only be better.
Stat line predictions: 6 sacks, 35 tackles, 45 pressures
William Gholston is undoubtedly the unsung hero of this defensive line. He’s heading into his tenth year as a Buccaneer and is coming off his best. Last year, he had 5 sacks, which was a career high. Looking at Gholstons stats, on paper he may seem like a mediocre backup, but when he’s on the field he is a difference maker. With Suh not re-signing, Gholston is set to have another career year.
Stat line predictions: 6 sack, 22 tackles, 45 pressures
The newest of the group, Logan Hall, looks to make a difference immediately in his rookie year. He is a seemingly perfect fit who will most likely see significant playing time in his first year. Just like Joe Tryon-Shoyinka in his rookie year, there is little pressure to succeed. I don’t expect Hall to have a great year, but I do expect flashes.
Stat line predictions: 4 sacks, 20 tackles, 24 pressures
How could you forget about the Akiem Hicks signing? The one time pro bowler is past his prime and is coming off an injury riddled season. Last season, Hicks only played 161 pass rushing downs and registered 15 pressures, very similar numbers to William Gholston. Hicks definitely won’t be an every down type of player, but he will be a crucial part of the rotation.
Stat line prediction: 4 sacks, 20 pressures
The interior of the Buccaneers’ defensive line has been a group that has terrorized opposing defenses for the past couple of years. With additions like Hall and Hicks, this group and deeper and better than ever.
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