DT Chris Hovan first entered the league as a first-round draft pick of the Vikings in 2000
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers addressed a key depth concern on their roster on Thursday, signing defensive tackle Chris Hovan, a five-year starter for the Minnesota Vikings and an all-pro selection in 2002.
A first-round draft pick by the Vikings in 2000, Hovan played in 77 of a possible 80 games over the last five seasons, starting 70 of them. He became an unrestricted free agent on March 2 and is the second such free agent to sign with the Buccaneers this month, following former Jets starting tight end Anthony Becht on March 15.
The 6-2, 298-pound Hovan could fit well into Monte Kiffin's defensive scheme. Though not among the league's biggest defensive tackles, he is a hustling, high-motor player with good field instincts. In his five seasons in Minnesota, Hovan amassed 243 tackles, 17 sacks, 19 tackles for loss, 10 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries.
The Buccaneers were certainly in the market for help at Hovan's position. With the recent free agency departure of Chartric Darby, the 2004 starter at nose tackle, the Bucs' roster was left with just seven defensive tackles, including only one, Anthony McFarland, who has started a game in Tampa Bay. Ellis Wyms is the Bucs' next most experienced tackle, but he is valuable in an end-tackle swingman role and played in only six games last year due to injury. Reserves Damian Gregory and Jon Bradley also played in six games each last year, while Delbert Cowsette, Bryan Save and Keith Wright have yet to suit up as Buccaneers.
Hovan moved quickly into a starting role as a rookie in 2000, opening 13 games and leading the Minnesota defensive linemen with 54 tackles. In 2001, Hovan paced the Viking defense with a career-high six sacks, adding 55 tackles and two forced fumbles. His third season produced similar numbers (73 tackles, 5.5 sacks, four passes defensed) and a first-team all-pro nod from Sports Illustrated. The Associated Press named Hovan a second-team all-pro.
In 2003, Hovan started all 16 games for the third straight season and produced 38 tackles, two sacks and four passes defensed. He lost playing time to Kevin Williams and Spencer Johnson in 2004, however, playing in 13 games and starting nine before being named inactive for Minnesota's two playoff contests. Hovan did contribute 23 tackles, 1.5 sacks, one pass defensed and one fumble recovery last season.
As a collegian, Hovan was the first Boston College player to earn All-Big East honors three times, and he was an All-America choice by the American Football Coaches Association as a senior. Starting every game over his final three seasons with the Eagles, he recorded 20.5 sacks and 43 tackles for loss in his career. Hovan hails from Rocky River, Ohio.