Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Bolster D-Line Rotation with Nebraska's Khalil Davis in Sixth Round

Tampa Bay's second defender in the 2020 draft is Nebraska DT Khalil Davis, a quick and athletic big man who gives the Buccaneers' talented defensive front more depth

View pictures of DT Khalil Davis, the 194th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Before the 2020 NFL Draft rolled around, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers successfully accomplished one of their top priorities, keeping together a defensive front that helped produce the NFL's best run defense as well as 44 quarterback sacks. Before that draft was over, the Buccaneers also added more talent to that front-line rotation, selecting Nebraska defensive tackle Khalil Davis with the 194th-overall selection on Saturday.

The 6-2, 308-pound Davis was the 15th pick of the sixth round and the second defender drafted by the Buccaneers in 2020 after second-round safety Antoine Winfield Jr. He was named the Cornhuskers' Defensive Lineman of the Year in both 2018 and 2019, during which he tallied 11.0 sacks and 26 tackles for loss.

Davis has experience playing inside though Nebraska used him quite a bit on the end in his 2019 senior season. The Buccaneers see his main role as a 3-4 end, which is analogous to a three-technique defensive tackle, but they do believe he can help at multiple spots.

"We like his versatility," said Buccaneers Director of Player Personnel John Spytek. "This past season at Nebraska he played a different position than where we'll play him in our defense. He's a phenomenal athlete. He stood out on tape as he was basically playing defensive end for them this year. Then what we had seen on tape was backed up at the Combine when he ran a 4.75 at 308 pounds. He's a unique defensive lineman physically – 4.75, quick and explosive. He can play a lot of spots for us."

Davis joins another former Nebraska defensive lineman, Ndamukong Suh, in the Buccaneers rotation up front. After the success of that group in 2019, the Bucs succeeded in re-signing both Suh and outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul and used the franchise tag on outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, the NFL's sack leader. Even with the return of all those players, the Buccaneers still felt it was important to add talent to their interior-line group.

"I don't think you can have enough good, competitive, quality defensive linemen on your team," said Spytek. "It's a little different than the offensive line because nobody plays 100 percent of the snaps. So you need to have guys as your backups who can come in and play at a high level. You're going to get into the game for 15-25 snaps if you're the backup and you can't afford to have a big drop-off on those snaps. He has to go in there and play at a high level as well. The more guys you have at that spot who can play in an NFL game, the better."

Davis played four seasons at Nebraska, appearing in 47 games with 11 starts. All of his starts came last fall, but he was able to earn honorable-mention all-Big Ten status as a junior without starting a single game. Overall, Davis finished with 106 tackles, 13.0 sacks, 26 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and two passes defensed. He had a career-high eight sacks last season and led all Nebraska linemen with 45 tackles.

"He'll play a lot where Suh will play," said Spytek. "He can also play nose tackle in our dime and nickel groups. He had eight sacks this year. He's a solid run player and we're going to get him stronger. The best thing he does right now is use his athleticism."

Davis joins a Buccaneers draft class that also includes Winfield, first-round offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs, third-round running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn and fifth-round wide receiver Tyler Johnson. The Bucs have two remaining picks in the seventh round, at numbers 241 and 245.

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