Bucs’ state of the union: Defensive ends

by Gary Shelton on June 4, 2018 · 0 comments

in general

Monday, 3 a.m.

In the beginning, there was Lee Roy Selmon.

And after that, there were a lot of guys named Ned.

Say this for the defensive ends of the Bucs. They started at the top. Selmon was a force, totalling 78.5 sacks in his nine seasons. The hard things to believe about Selmon?  One: He played at 256 pounds. Two: The team actually started him off at defensive tackle.

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Oh, a few years later, the Bucs would sign Simeon Rice, who had 69.5 sacks. But most years, the team has searched to find someone, anyone to play defensive end. Ron Holmes and Eric Curry. Booker Reese and Keith McCants. Gaines Adams and Stylez White.

And now, the Bucs are searching once again.

This time, they think they may be onto something.

Certainly, they need to be. The Bucs were last in the NFL in sacks last season with 22, which means their defenders never got close enough to a quarterback to make a phone call.

That led the team to get busy in the off-season. It snapped up Vinny Curry when the Eagles let him go. It traded for Jason Pierre-Paul. Together, those two had 11.5 sacks, but the tape is kinder. Curry was one of the Eagles' leading pass-rushers, with 47 pressures (Pro Football Focus) last season. Pierre Paul played the second-most snaps in the NFL and had an excellent season against the run.

Does that give the Bucs a chance to be better? Sure. But only a chance.

Look, there are questions about them both. Pierre-Paul was accused of disinterest a year ago. Who knows if he'll have the same fire in a new uniform. And despite the world title, the Eagles were swift to trade in Curry for Michael Bennett.

Oh, the Bucs promise to be deep with young (and often injured) Noah Spence -- who is heavier -- and William Gholston -- who is lighter -- in reserve.

They'll need all of the rush they can muster. Their schedule includes two shots at Drew Brees, two at Matt Ryan and two at Cam Newton. Also, there is Alex Smith, Eli Manning, Andy Dalton, Jimmy Garoppolo, Joe Flacco and Dan Prescott.

In other words, there are a lot of quarterbacks to put pressure on.

For the Bucs, that's where 2018 begins. If there is a real upgrade at defensive end, the Bucs' defense has a chance to be better. But if there are just journeymen passing through, they do not.

We'll see.

The defensive ends

Top Five

1. Lee Roy Selmon

2. Simeon Rice

3. Chidi Ahanotu

4. John Cannon

5. Ray Seals

Pro Bowlers

1. Lee Roy Selmon (6)

2. Simeon Rice (2)

Biggest Busts

1. Booker Reese

2. Eric Curry

3. Gaines Adams

4. Michael Johnson

5. Regan Upshaw

Underrated

1. Greg Spires

2. Chidi Ahanotu

3. Marcus Jones

4. John Cannon

5. Ray Seals

Projecting the Sacks

1. Jason Pierre-Paul.   8.0

2. Vinny Curry.            5.0

3. Noah Spence           4.0

4. William Golston.    2.0

5. Will Clark                1.5

Worst Free Agents

1. Michael Johnson

2. Marlon Jones

3. Jeff Hunter

4. Lamar King

5. Marques Douglas

Best Free Agents

1. Simeon Rice

2. Greg Spires

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