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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs' Defensive Depth Chart Has New-Look Front

A trio of recent top draft picks could hold the key to Tampa Bay's defensive efforts in 2023, and there are additional battles still being waged at slot corner and placekicker


The last three NFL Drafts conducted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have started with a new weapon for the defensive front. Those efforts are clearly reflected on the team's first depth chart for the 2023 season.

The Buccaneers, fresh off a victory in Super Bowl LV, took Washington edge rusher Joe Tryon-Shoyinka with the 32nd-overall pick in the 2021 draft. A year later, the Bucs made a small trade down before tabbing Houston defensive lineman Logan Hall with the first selection of Day Two, number 33 overall. This past May, Tampa Bay spent the 19th pick in the first round on Pitt interior disrupter Calijah Kancey.

According to the depth chart the Bucs included in their release for the first preseason game against Pittsburgh on Friday, all three are expected to fill starting roles. That's the biggest area of change for the Bucs on defense in 2023, as the re-signings of Lavonte David and Jamel Dean kept most of the back end intact.

Click here to review the Bucs' first depth chart of 2023. Below are the listed defensive starters:

  • DL: Calijah Kancey
  • NT: Vita Vea
  • DL: Logan Hall
  • OLB: Joe Tryon-Shoyinka
  • ILB: Devin White
  • ILB: Lavonte David
  • OLB: Shaquil Barrett
  • CB: Jamel Dean
  • CB: Carlton Davis
  • S: Antoine Winfield Jr.
  • S: Ryan Neal

And here's a breakdown by position:

Defensive Line – Kancey is currently sidelined by a calf injury that may need about three more weeks of treatment, but he is still expected to work his way into the starting lineup for opening day. The Bucs are hoping for a big second-year bump for Hall, who has intriguing pass-rush ability and could make this one of the most dangerous interior lines in the NFL. There is a lot of depth to sort through at the position, particularly after the 11th-hour re-signing of long-time Buc Will Gholston, who is listed second behind Hall on the depth chart. Veteran Patrick O'Connor has bulked up and offers positional flexibility beyond his proven prowess on special teams.

Outside Linebacker – Barrett has been one of the most encouraging figures of the Bucs' 2023 camp as he has hit the ground running after the torn Achilles tendon he suffered midway through last season. The Bucs weren't certain if Barrett would be full-go for the start of camp, but he has been chasing quarterbacks with abandon, and without hesitation, prompting hopes that he will once again be one of the NFL's best pass-rushers. Beyond that, the Bucs are expecting Tryon-Shoyinka to finish his pass rushes better, turning more pressures into sacks. With rookies Yaya Diaby and Jose Ramirez offering diverse skill sets and the hard-working Anthony Nelson re-signing, there is the potential for a deeper edge-rush rotation than the Bucs have had in a while.

Inside Linebacker – David and White continue to form one of the NFL's best off-ball linebacking tandems in the league, and White said on Monday that he is on the same page as team leaders after some offseason discord. White is focused on rounding out his game to rank as one of the NFL's all-around best linebackers, in particular working on his coverage skills. Third-year man K.J. Britt established himself as the top reserve for David and White last year, but he'll have competition for that role from impressive rookie SirVocea Dennis. Ulysees Gilbert and J.J. Russell both saw action last year on special teams and could round out the depth chart.

Cornerback – The Bucs have locked Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean into lucrative contracts over the past two years and will obviously be counting on those two to fill the outside roles. The team would also like to find a niche for second-year man Zyon McCollum, a fantastic special-teamer who has been seeing a good amount of action in the last week while Davis has dealt with a shoulder injury. There is a wide-open battle for the slot corner position – essentially a starting role – and that could help determine how things go for veteran holdover Dee Delaney and rookie sixth-rounder Josh Hayes.

Safety – The Bucs are set at the two starting spots with fourth-year man Antoine Winfield Jr. and free agent pick-up Ryan Neal. Both Winfield and Neal (then with the Seahawks) earned All-Pro votes last year and the two are reportedly forging a quick chemistry. Beyond those two, the depth at safety is very unproven, as it consists of second-year player Nolan Turner and a quartet of undrafted rookies in Christian Izien, Kaevon Merriweather, Kedrick Whitehead and Avery Young. Izien has made the biggest splash early on as he competes for the starting nickel corner spot.

Specialists – Second-year man Jake Camarda, a 2022 fourth-round pick, is locked in as the punter and has Pro Bowl potential. Long-snapper Zach Triner has held that particular position for four years and has shown no decline but the team did bring in a second option in undrafted rookie Evan Deckers, a Duke product. The Bucs signed two former Colts kickers in the offseason to replace the departed Ryan Succop, and are currently listing Chase McLaughlin as the front-liner over Rodrigo Blankenship. It's likely that the top performer of the two in preseason games will win the job.

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