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Column: Drafting The Bucs 2018: DE

A shocking trade breaks this morning, as a result, the Buccaneers are in the driver’s seat as it relates to strengthening their defensive end group.

Waking up this morning, I was set to delve into the defensive tackle class for the latest edition of Drafting The Bucs. We’ll see that feature late this week, but after acquiring New York Giants pass rushing great, Jason Pierre-Paul, and with the early free-agent signing of Vinny Curry from Philly, the Bucs are adding veteran depth to a position that needed it. Scrum Sport’s own Brian Loague covered the details of the trade earlier in a fine piece that you can review for yourself.

Bucs continue defensive improvement; trade for Pierre-Paul

There are two key names to pay attention to for the defensive end class and while you can strike in later rounds, the iron won’t be as hot as it relates to the acquisition of the two top rated talents.

Having Pierre-Paul coming off the edge lessens that burden somewhat and now we have a tremendous talent looking to rack up sacks and pressure opposing Quarterbacks, something we didn’t do with as much success as division rivals and NFC and AFC powerhouses like Jacksonville and Dallas.

Let’s look at these names who may or may not be on the board when we pick at seven, and we’ll see how they fit if we turn those cards in on draft day.

Defensive End:

Bradley Chubb (DE, N.C. State, 6’4, 275 lbs.)

This may very well be the ideal pick if for some strange reason, Chubb falls to us. With the recent trade-ups from teams like the Jets and with the potential of teams like Arizona and Buffalo moving up to grab their Quarterback of the future, the Bucs are sitting pretty at seven.

Just over a week ago, Tampa fans were surely saying that there would be no way that this premiere athlete would fall to us, and now it’s very possible he might.

Key an eye on the Giants at two, if they stay pat, he might be the pick if they opt not to take Saquon Barkley, and the Colts might pull the trigger at six, but anything is possible on draft night!

Chubb racked up 73 tackles, 25 of those being tackles for loss, ten sacks, and three forced fumbles during his 2017 collegiate season. That’s incredibly impressive in a division where you aren’t playing doctors, dentists and unheralded names.

Chubb is very polished and arguably the most pro ready end coming out of this year’s collegiate class and he won’t be waiting long in the green room to hear his name called before he is fitted with a team’s new cap.

If you want to look at tape that shows how impressive Chubb is, go watch him take on in-state favorites, Florida State. He leaps off the tape when you review that film.

Without a shadow of a doubt, Chubb would be on the short list of cards to be turned in on draft right if I had to pick five names that would be locks.

Marcus Davenport (DE, UTSA, 6’4, 259 lbs.)

Whereas Chubb might be long gone by pick seven, Davenport is one of the most heavily discussed picks at his position in the same vein as Courtland Sutton is for the Wide Receiver class.

Davenport is raw, but he has a very high ceiling if trained and developed under the right scheme. He has an elite quickness and once he gets comfortable putting his hand down in the dirt and coming off the edge, he’ll give opposing quarterbacks nightmares.

Will he do so during his rookie season? That remains to be seen. UTSA is a smaller school with some prestige, but you can watch film from a number of games and he’ll leap off the page.

In 2017, he amassed 55 tackles, 17 and a half being tackles for loss. He batted down four balls, had three forced fumbles and eight and a half sacks. He has length and elite quickness and truth be told, he might very well be the steal of the draft for an NFL franchise that allows him to develop into a next level talent.

Will that team be Tampa Bay? We’ll find out on draft night. He’ll surely be snatched up before day one comes to a close. If he isn’t, that would be a shocker and certainly an opportunity to add a great young talent to your roster as day two begins.

Arden Key (DE, LSU, 6’5, 260 lbs.)

In a prior article, I referenced Orlando Brown and how teams will look at him after a poor combine showing. Multiply that by ten and you’ll have the conversations about Arden Key.

Key is without question one of the most gifted pass rushers in this year’s class and that’s by a country mile. We’ll come back to that. Injury plagued his 2017 season, but during the time he did see the field, he had 33 tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble.

In 2016, Key was a beast coming off the edge and up the middle. He had 56 tackles, 14 and a half being for loss, twelve sacks, three forced fumbles and three batted balls. Twelve sacks, that’s a pro-bowl season in the NFL and something that would easily put you in contention for a nomination as defensive rookie of the year or defensive player of the year.

Here’s where the real conversation starts. His grandest comparison is Randy Gregory of the Dallas Cowboys. Gregory was a sensational college talent and during the brief time he appeared in a Cowboys uniform, he lept off the page and got to the Quarterback, quick, fast and in a hurry. The problem is, he couldn’t stay on the field, finding himself the victim of off-field demons.

Key has had a number of controversies that have kept him off the LSU playing field and there are questions about his character. It is not our job at the Scrum Sport to ever question the character of a potential talent, and let’s just imagine this. What if he take him with a later round selection? What if Key is available later on day two or early on day three?

If he gets around the right kind of player, beats his demons and finds his passion on the football field, doesn’t that make it worth it? If he comes off the edge with veterans on the other side or even other drafted rookies, you have the makings of something great.

Key will be one of the most heavily discussed prospects on draft day, and whether or not he’s a beast or a bust is completely up to him. Watch the player, he is lights out. Will he be a fit in Tampa? That remains to be seen.

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