Originally written on BucsDraft.com News  |  Last updated 11/10/14

Continuing to build up our analysis of how the 2012 NFL Draft may line up for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, we next look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers young core on defense.  Like the young core offense, the "young core" defense is the group of players with five or fewer years of experience -- that is, the players who have not yet reached their second contract.  These are the players who will carry the team to the playoffs for the next four to six years.

The defensive group below is composed of all players with 5 or fewer years of NFL experience from the Buccaneers current roster (as of 1/30/2012).  In addition, I have added the practice squad players who have already been offered contracts for next season.

2012 Young Core Defense

DE: Crowder, Tim (5, IR); Bennett, Michael (3); Wilson, E.J. (2, IR); Te'o-Nesheim, Daniel (2); Reed, Nick (2); Johnson, George (1, IR); Clayborn, Adrian (0); Bowers, Da'Quan (0) DT: Okam, Frank (4); Miller, Roy (3); Price, Brian (2); McCoy, Gerald (2, IR) OLB: Black, Quincy (5); Hayes, Geno (4); Watson, Dekoda (2); Cutrera, Jacob (2, IR); Curran, Rennie (0) MLB: Hayward, Adam (5); Foster, Mason (0); Balogun, Mike (0) SS: Asante, Larry (1) FS: Lynch, Corey (4); Jackson, Tanard (4); Grimm, Cody (2, IR) CB: Talib, Aqib (4, IR); Mack, Elbert (4); Biggers, E.J. (3); Lewis, Myron (2); Holland, Devin (0, IR); Gaitor, Anthony (0); Black, Ahmad (0)
Unlike the young core offense, this group does have some fifth year players: two at linebacker and one at defensive end.  The Buccaneers have selected a linebacker each of the past two drafts (Watson, Foster) and selected two defensive ends in the 2011 draft (Clayborn, Bowers).  Foster, Clayborn, and Bowers earned a significant amount of playing time last season while Watson earned two starts and was a standout on special teams.  It would be surprising for the Buccaneers to take another defensive end in 2012.  A third straight year with a linebacker selection?  Not surprising at all.
In the interior the Buccaneers have plenty of youth.  For now, this unit appears to be well stocked.
I think the most focus of the 2012 draft will be put on the defensive backfield.  The Buccaneers have spent two draft picks each of the past two years on defensive backs (Lewis, Grimm, Black, and Gaitor), with Biggers added in the 2009 draft.  Yet, at times last season the defensive back play was less than stellar.  With Talib, Mack, Lynch, and Jackson reaching the crossover point out of the young core, I expect the Buccaneers to continue to spend draft picks in the defensive backfield.
According to the two-deep at Rutgers, new Tampa Bay Head Coach Greg Schiano played a 4-3 style of defense.  This matches the current Buccaneers roster and player assignment scheme, so I do not expect any targeted positions due to changes in scheme on the defensive side of the ball.
The final anlysis for the defense is a selection on the front line seems highly unlikely given the past two drafts.  A linebacker or two and defensive backs would seem to be where more talent is needed.


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