Many people, myself included, expected the Bucs to use their first pick on an asset for their defensive line. Jason Licht instead stayed true to his board and picked the highest rated player available in Vernon Hargreaves. The Bucs gambled a bit here in assuming that quality defensive line help would still be available in the 2nd round. As usual, Jason Licht was right. Only two true edge players ended up being drafted in the first round, with Joey Bosa going to the Chargers and Shaq Lawson going to the Bills, something that the Bucs undoubtedly woke up smiling about today.
A slew of talented defensive linemen remain, many of which the Bucs had interest in during the pre-draft process. The list starts with Eastern Kentucky’s Noah Spence, whom many had pegged to the Bucs in the first round. Spence is among the most polished edge rushers in this draft and fits the bill for what they need like a glove. The Bucs would likely need to move up a couple spots from their current spot at pick 39, but thanks to their trade back with Chicago they have the ammunition necessary to make such a move. The interest is there from the Bucs, so this is something to monitor.
Emmanuel Ogbah is another player that the Bucs showed interest in before the draft, and like Spence, someone that the team might consider moving up for. Jon Bullard from Florida and Kevin Dodd from Clemson were both expected to go at some point in the first round, and along with Shilique Calhoun of Michigan State, round out a dynamic group of potential edge players.
The team was reportedly interested in defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins but ultimately passed. Plenty of highly graded defensive tackles remain if the team prefers to bolster its interior as opposed to the edges. Andrew Billings from Baylor headlines this group, along with both Alabama tackles Jarran Reed and A’Shawn Robinson, as well as Javon Hargrave from South Carolina State.
While trading up to secure a Spence or Ogbah is tempting, the overall depth of defensive line talent left may behoove the Bucs to stand pat and gamble once again that one of these talented linemen will continue to drop.