Buccaneers Silver Lining: Defensive Rookies


As discussed with the offensive rookies, this Buccaneers team has some rookies on defense that are going to be building blocks moving forward. These players should give Buccaneers fans hope for the following seasons.

Defensive Line Calijah Kancey

The first round pick, Kancey, came into this season with high expectations. First round players are supposed to make impacts right away and make the leap to the NFL almost seamlessly. Kancey is showing just that.

Since coming back in week six Kancey has had an average pass rush grade from PFF of 69.4 and has accumulated three sacks, five hits, and 15 hurries. Add in eight tackles for loss and you start to see a player who in only eight games is making a statement. That’s why he was voted the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for November. He’ll continue to improve as this season moves on and will be a clear cut impact player moving forward.

Defensive End Yaya Diaby

Diaby, a third round selection, has been contributing at a very good level. With five sacks, one quarterback hit, and seven hurries have helped this defense keep this team in games. His pass rush has been average with a PFF grade of 55, but his tackling is superb, and his run defense is above average. He’s blown up the offensive line for seven tackles for loss and 16 combined tackles.

Ultimately, he’s been a pleasant surprises that will be a solid foundational piece for the future.

Linebacker SirVocea Dennis

Fifth rounder SirVocea Dennis has seen very little playing time. For good reason, he’s behind Lavonte David and Devin White. But with injuries Dennis found himself thrust into a big role in the previous week. Prior to Sunday’s loss to the Colts he had only seen 17 snaps the week before.

With 66 snaps, 42 in coverage and 32 in run defense, Dennis found himself with an overall PFF grade of 67.8 with a big boost from his 78.1 grade in coverage. Dennis racked up five tackles and a pass deflection during that time making his real debut, though in a loss, a decent one. Where he stands to improve is in tackling as he did mis two during that game.

He could be a strong addition to this team. We just need to see more before we start to really understand how well he truly plays.

Final Thought

The future of the defensive line looks good and Dennis may prove to be a key contributor at the linebacker position as well.

Some may note that I have conveniently left out Christian Izien. No, I didn’t forget him. He has been showing why he’s an undrafted free agent. Allowing 80.5% completion percentage and an NFL quarterback rating of 104.1 he needs to show some serious improvements. I understand he flashed earlier but he hasn’t put it together since.

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