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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Anticipating Third-Year Leap from Joe Tryon-Shoyinka

The Bucs have added depth to their outside linebacker rotation in 2023 but may get the biggest boost in their edge rush production if 2021 first-round pick Joe Tryon-Shoyinka ups his production significantly in 2023


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have used their top pick in each of the last three drafts to add players they think can help them get the quarterback on the ground. All three – outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka (32nd pick in 2021), Logan Hall (33rd pick in 2022) and Calijah Kancey (19th pick in 2023) – are expected to fill crucial roles on the front seven this season, most likely as starters.

The Buccaneers are very excited about the interior pressure they expect to get from the lightning-quick Kancey and think Hall is ready for a much bigger role in his sophomore season after adding mass and strength in his first full NFL offseason. However, given their underwhelming sack totals from the edges last year, the Bucs may need a breakout from Tryon-Shoyinka most of all.

General Manager Jason Licht is anticipating exactly that in 2023.

"Joe has had some flashes, he's had some good games, he's shown us why we took him in the first round, but he does need to take a step up," said Licht. "He needs to step it up this year and we're confident that he will."

When the defending Super Bowl LV champions made Tryon-Shoyinka the last pick of the first round two years ago, they still had veteran edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul on the team, as well as the NFL's 2019 sack leader, Shaquil Barrett. But Pierre-Paul had an injury-marred final season in Tampa in 2021 and Barrett landed on injured reserve midway through last season with an Achilles tendon tear. That put a lot more of the outside rush load on Tryon-Shoyinka's shoulders, and he would finish his second season with 4.0 sacks, the same total he had as a rookie.

According to Head Coach Todd Bowles, Tryon-Shoyinka has shown the burst that the Bucs coveted in the 2021 draft but it hasn't translated into as many sacks as anticipated. Bowles and the third-year defender have discussed exactly how to change that in 2023.

"For me, Joe has to finish at the top of the rush," said Bowles. "He beats linemen, and he either slips down or falls off the quarterback because he's launching too early and not running through the quarterback. He has to take those extra two steps. He left a lot of sacks out there last year; not that he didn't get back there, but he didn't finish the play."

The Buccaneers reloaded at the outside linebacker position in this year's draft, taking Louisville's Yaya Diaby in the third round and Eastern Michigan's Jose Ramirez in the sixth. They will also be getting Cam Gill back after his own season-ending injury suffered in the preseason last year. They have the makings of a deeper edge rotation than they have had in recent years, particularly after re-signing fifth-year player Anthony Nelson in the offseason. It would be a big boost for the Bucs' defense, however, if Tryon-Shoyinka can deliver on his athletic potential and challenge Barrett and 2022 sack leader Vita Vea for the top spot in that category in 2023.

"Finishing at the top of the rush is just as important as beating the guy initially off the line of scrimmage," said Bowles. "Me and Joe talked about this and he understands that, he's working towards that and that's what we need to see from him."

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