This article is being posted with Roy Cummings approval.
From Roy’s Facebook page.
For what it’s worth gang, this was going to run in tomorrow’s Tampa Tribune. Alas, today’s Tribune was the last that will be published. I would say one last story on the Bucs from me, but I refuse to believe this will be the last I write about the Bucs, the Lightning or the Rays.
By Roy Cummings
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TAMPA – The Buccaneers chose not to add a defensive tackle during the NFL Draft this past weekend, opting instead to stand pat on what some believe to be an area of need.
But was defensive tackle really that big of a need, or did the Bucs already add a tackle capable of taking down the passer when they signed defensive end Robert Ayers during free agency?
Ayers is one of the players scouts often compare Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa to because Bosa, like Ayers, is considered a power rusher capable of working either inside at tackle or on the edge.
Indeed, 2.5 of the 9.5 sacks that Ayers recorded during what constituted a breakout season with the Giants last year came on plays in which he was working inside at tackle.
And now, with the addition of end Noah Spence, whom the Bucs selected with the first of two second-round picks (39th overall) the Bucs have the option of working Ayers inside on passing downs.
Ayers even hinted at the prospect shortly after signing with the Bucs when he lauded the Giants staff for getting the most out of him last year by finding suitable matchups for him inside and out.
“I think that’s something that (the Bucs) saw that I do extremely well,’’ Ayers said of moving inside. “I referenced to it earlier, but that was something I wasn’t allowed to do early in my career.
“If you go back to my time at (the University of) Tennessee, whether it be the Senior Bowl or in college that was something that I did. But when I first got to the (NFL) I wasn’t always given that opportunity.
“But I credit (Giants) coach (Tom) Coughlin and (Giants defensive line) coach Robert Nunn and ‘Spags’ (Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo) because they knew that was what I did.
“And I definitely think I’m in a situation here where they’re going to try to utilize me the way coach Nunn and coach Spags did. I think they’re going to put me in position to be successful.’’
The Bucs had Ayers working mostly at right defensive end during their first voluntary minicamp under new coach Dirk Koetter last week but his versatility is something the Bucs are eager to take advantage of.
“We’ve followed Robert throughout his career and have … done a lot of research,’’ general manager Jason Licht said. “He brings a lot of versatility to our defense and with what we plan on doing he was the right kind of guy and right kind of fit for us.’’
Licht hinted at the prospect of adding a defensive tackle prior to the draft when he pointed out that the strength up the middle was one reason Broncos ends Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware were so impactful during Super Bowl 50.
A fit like Ayers, though, wasn’t readily available to the Bucs during the draft. Between the 11th overall pick, which they used on cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and the 39th, which they used on Spence, five defensive tackles came off the board.
Three more were selected before the Bucs traded back into the second round to take Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo, whom Licht said was one of the team’s targets from the very start of the process.
“It was a pretty deep group and they fell pretty quickly,’’ Licht said of the defensive tackles. “There was a big run on them, particularly on the first day.
“And you prepare for that too. That was a scenario that we came up with. And we thought there were times when there might be an opportunity (to get a tackle) but the opportunity we took, we were happier with.”
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