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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs' 2023 Offseason Outlook: Defensive Line

An overview of the Buccaneers defensive line depth chart during Phase Three of the offseason workout program

Offseason Outlook 2023_

A new NFL chapter will be written come fall. Each offseason, change is inevitable as free agent/draft acquisitions and key departures reshape each franchise. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will undergo a shuffle on the defensive line in 2023. The club opted not to re-sign Akiem Hicks, William Gholston or Rakeem Nuñez-Roches. Both Hicks and Gholston were impactful starters, and the void must be filled. 

In 2022, the Buccaneers' defense ranked ninth in total defense (324.3), 15th against the run (120.7) and ninth in pass defense (203.6). Todd Bowles' crew tallied 45.0 sacks (seventh), which is tied for fifth-most in franchise history. Following the 2022 season, the Bucs' coaching staff emphasized the need to add speed in the trenches and by default, improve sack production. By addressing the defense during the offseason with free agent pickups and a defensive-heavy draft, Tampa Bay hopes to fortify the unit. The Bucs' offseason began with the signing of Greg Gaines, an unrestricted free agent, to a one-year deal. Gaines and Bucs' stalwart nose tackle, Vita Vea, formed a dynamic tandem at the University of Washington, accumulating 9.5 sacks from 2015-17. 

Originally a fourth-round pick (no. 134 overall) in 2018, Gaines developed into a productive inside rusher and run defender for the Rams, predominately after he moved into the starting lineup in 2021. Over the previous two seasons, he contributed 91 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss and 24 quarterback hits. For the Super Bowl LVI-winning L.A. Rams in 2021, Gaines notched a career high 4.5 sacks and 13 quarterback hits in the regular season, then added 0.5 sacks, 12 tackles and two passes defensed in the playoff run. Over his first four seasons collectively, Gaines played in 55 games with 29 starts (postseason included), and posted 137 tackles, 11.0 sacks, 13 tackles for loss and 25 quarterback hits.

Next, the club re-signed Patrick O'Conner, Deadrin Senat and selected Pittsburgh's Calijah Kancey with the 19th overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft. Kancey, a three-year starter in the Panthers'4-3 base scheme, lined up everywhere from nose tackle to the edge. Following a productive 2022 campaign, Kancey became the school's first unanimous All-American since Aaron Donald and received ACC Defensive Player of the Year recognition. With elite first-step quickness, awareness and urgent athleticism, Kancey adds another dimension to the Bucs' defensive front with his twitchiness. He will vie for the starting three-technique role in Todd Bowles' front. Kancey jumped off the tape in college driving blockers backward and he will seek to earn his place as a pro. 

Senat originally signed with the Bucs shortly before the 2022 NFL Draft, then started out the season on Tampa Bay's practice squad before a Week Three promotion to the active roster. He subsequently played in 12 regular season games and the Bucs' lone playoff outing, seeing a total of 168 snaps on defense. Senat contributed 17 tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits. Tampa Bay retained the sixth-year defensive lineman, signing Senat to a one-year deal in March. The Bucs made a move to fortify their special teams units and strengthen their defensive line depth, re-signing fourth-year player Patrick O'Connor. Last season, O'Connor led all Bucs players with 344 special teams snaps despite missing the last three games of the season due to a knee injury and being on the inactive list for another game in October. O'Connor also saw occasional action as part of the defensive line rotation, posting three tackles, a tackle for loss, a half-sack and two quarterback hits.Overall, O'Connor has appeared in 44 games for Tampa Bay, including the playoffs. He has recorded 14 tackles, 1.5 sacks and four quarterback hits on defense, adding six stops on special teams. 

Vita Vea, the tone-setter up front, led the Bucs with 6.5 sacks in 2022. Despite playing a position that is often linked to eating up blocks in order to create opportunities for teammates, Vea became a menacing force in the interior. He finished the year with a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, 31 combined tackles (15 solo), seven tackles for loss and 13 quarterback hits in 13 game starts. Vea overwhelms at the point of attack and became a nuisance for offensive linemen in one-on-one isolated situations. He will strive to continue his reign of terror in 2023, manning the middle of the line. 

Logan Hall, the Bucs' 33rd overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, served as a third-down interior rusher in the Bucs' nickel packages. He received increased playing time with Akiem Hicks' injury, which yielded sacks against the Packers and Falcons. Hall will continue to develop in his second year and compete for snaps. At Houston, Hall primarily lined up as the three-technique in Doug Belk's multiple fronts, with experience playing the five-technique during his collegiate career. In his first year in the NFL, Hall tallied 2.5 sacks, 12 combined tackles (seven solo), five tackles for loss and six quarterback hits in 17 games played.

Position Group: Defensive Line


  • C.J. Brewer (UDFA)
  • Greg Gaines
  • Mike Greene (UDFA)
  • Logan Hall
  • Calijah Kancey 
  • Patrick O'Connor 
  • Willington Previlon 
  • Deadrin Senat 
  • Vita Vea
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