Rod Marinelli has a new prospect to mold. A big one.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' sixth round pick is Alabama defensive tackle Anthony Bryant, a massive "clogger" for the middle of the defense. Marinelli, the Bucs' wizard of a defensive line coach, will now work to get the most out of Bryant, a different type of tackle than the others on the team's roster.
The 6-3, 340-pound Bryant is capable of taking on double teams in the middle and holding the point. He is very strong but also shows the quickness to penetrate. Buccaneer scouts were wowed by his 31-inch calves, which provide Bryant with extra power. He could develop into a very valuable weapon against the run.
Bryant is the third defensive player chosen by Tampa Bay in this year's draft, following Nebraska linebacker Barrett Ruud in the second round and S Donte Nicholson in the fifth. He could compete immediately for playing time, as the Bucs lost starting nose tackle Chartric Darby to free agency in March. Defensive tackle Anthony McFarland is expected to return from a 2004 shoulder injury to start at under tackle, but Bryant could be in the mix at nose along with Ellis Wyms, Damian Gregory, Chris Hovan and Jon Bradley.
Bryant played 48 games in four seasons at Alabama, starting 16. he contributed 115 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 19 quarterback pressures. Though he started only one game last fall, he opened all 13 in 2003 and turned in a career-best 44 tackles. As a sophomore, Bryant played in 13 games with two starts and made 32 tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
As a prep in Newbern, Alabama, Bryant was a first-team USA Today All-American pick on the Sunshine High football team. He also excelled on the basketball court, averaging 19 points and 12 rebounds a game. As a junior, Bryant threw the shot put 55 feet and three inches to win the 1A state title.
The Buccaneers have four remaining picks, all in the fourth round.