The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going through a bit of a youth movement. With established stars either retiring or beginning to fade away, the Bucs have infused their roster with young talent over the last twelve months. Now it will be their turn to take the reins .
One of these young players is the Buccaneers top pick from the 2022 NFL draft. Defensive lineman Logan Hall was drafted with the 33rd overall pick out of the University of Houston. He was the first draft pick of the defensive mastermind Todd Bowles era following Bruce Arians retirement.
Investing in the defensive line, specifically the pass rush sent a clear message. If the Buccaneers were going to continue to be a force in the league then it would be on the backs of the defense, not Tom Brady. We saw this prove to be true last season.
The sharp decline of Brady combined with some of the worst offensive play calling in recent memory left the Bucs with one of the worst offenses in the NFL. However, the team still managed to squeak into the playoffs in large part due to the defense. The same will be true this season if the Buccaneers are to win their third straight division crown.
Despite a good year from the defense with ample opportunities for the rookie with a banged up defensive line, Hall was not a large factor. His 2.5 sacks showed promise, but it wasn’t enough for him to crack the starting lineup. However, I would expect that to change for him in 2023.
Just Scratching The Surface
Hall was always going to be a long term play. He tested incredibly well at the NFL combine, showing the type of athleticism that would make any team want to be on him. His 9.81 relative athletic score (RAS) ranked 27th out of all defensive tackles since 1987 according to Kent Lee Platte.
At 6‘6 he has rare size for his position. He also showed elite speed and quickness for his position. The only question mark that existed with his physical profile was his light weight.
As a defensive linemen, 283 lbs is light. This allowed him to get pushed around a bit last season. However, according to the coaching staff Hall is up about 10 – 15 lbs and is pushing to be 300 lbs by the time the season starts.
This increased size and strength should give him a pathway to more consistent playing time in 2023. Being able to hold up against the run, on top of what he could be as a pass rusher makes him an exciting young player to watch this year.
Projecting Pass Rush
In a rotational role, Hall recorded 2.5 sacks last season. This is nothing spectacular and shouldn’t necessarily be celebrated. However, when compared to who he is replacing then this is an excellent starting point.
William Gholston has spent ten seasons with the Buccaneers to this point. In that time he recorded more than 3.0 sacks only once in his career and only made it to 3.0 sacks in three other seasons. For Hall to come in as a developmental prospect and be on par with Gholston’s level of sack production leads me to believe that he will be an upgrade over Gholston sooner rather than later.
It’s also worth noting that a low number of sacks as a rookie is very common. Last year’s first overall pick, Trevon Walker, only recorded 3.5 sacks as a rookie. The New York Jets selected Florida State star pass rusher Jermaine Johnson with the 26th overall pick last year and he had 2.5 sacks just like Hall did.
This is not to say that a player will progress at the same rate as his peers, but just to keep perspective of what young pass rushers typically achieve in their first season. All of these players will look to make a jump in year two and all indications are that Hall is on that path.
What To Expect In Year Two
Even if the Buccaneers bring in a veteran like William Gholston or perhaps someone new like Chris Wormley, I still expect this to be Hall’s starting job to lose. His development is critical for the Bucs defense to remain one of the most dominant units in the NFL. Right now, he appears to be trending in the right direction.
His upside as a pass rusher certainly looks to be an upgrade over what they have had there in the past. And if his increased size and strength will translate to the field in the way we all expect it to, then he will be the well rounded high upside player they were hoping to get with the 33rd overall pick.