DE Gaines Adams had a strong debut in 2007, leading all NFL rookies with six sacks
In the weeks prior to the 2008 NFL Draft, Buccaneers.com will analyze each position on the team in regards to the draft, looking at depth, selection history and available players. As usual, this look at the draft, free agency and the Bucs' roster is not intended to reflect the intentions or strategies of the team's personnel decision-makers. Today we focus on the defensive end position, where Gaines Adams' impressive rookie season and Greg White's out-of-nowhere performance in 2007 will serve as a springboard to improve the defensive end position even more.
Perhaps no aspect of NFL defense is more important than generating a pass rush. Get to the opposing team's quarterback early and often, and you're well on your way to success.
In the case of the Buccaneers, that age-old football truth is a driving force behind many of their personnel moves, especially at defensive end, obviously. That position is always on the team's radar.
In 2007, the Bucs made some excellent strides in that department. First-round draft choice Gaines Adams went on to post six sacks, best among all NFL rookies. Unknown commodity Greg White, fresh out of the Arena Football League, posted eight sacks and a whopping seven forced fumbles on the season. Veteran Kevin Carter was brought in last spring and became a productive and versatile starter and a leader in the locker room.
Fronting a defense that ranked second overall in the NFL in 2007, the Bucs' defensive ends led the team to a total of 33 sacks on the season.
Even considering those upgrades, one thing remains clear – if a little pressure on the quarterback is a good thing, a lot of pressure is a great thing. That's precisely why the Bucs may continue to be aggressive in upgrading the talent at the defensive end position this offseason.
But before we take a look at what's available in free agency or the draft, here's a list of the Bucs' returning players at the position:
|**Defensive Ends Currently Under Contract**|
|**Player**||**Exp.**||**2007 Tackles-Sacks)**||**Career (Tackles-Sacks)**|
* - Spent the 2007 season on injured reserve ¹ - Douglas signed with the Buccaneers as a free agent on March 18, 2008. Douglas' 2007 stats were accrued with San Francisco. ² - Wilkerson signed with the Buccaneers as a free agent on March 1, 2008. Wilkerson's 2007 stats were accrued with Kansas City.
As mentioned above, the Bucs defensive ends paced a front line that helped the team earn a No. 2 overall defensive ranking. Here's a more in-depth look at some relevant numbers to the defensive end position:
Defensive End Position Numbers: