After winning the super bowl, the Bucs are in a prime position to run it back in 2021. They are expected to return most of their championship team next year and will look to build depth and plan for the future in the coming draft. This means that there will be lots of options on the Bucs big board come draft day.
One position the Bucs could look to target is defensive tackle. Steve McLendon (35) and Ndamukong Suh (34) are nearing the end of their careers. Even if they both return, their level of play may decline as they round the back half of thirty. If nothing else Tampa Bay will need a long answer up front to play next to Vita Vea.
One potential target for the Bucs could be Southern California tackle Jay Tufele. After opting out of the 2020 season, Tufele doesn’t come in with as much buzz as some of the other prospects. Despite that, he might be the best defensive tackle in this class. And at 6’3 and 315 lbs he fits the mold of the big strong tackles that the Bucs have proven to like in their base 3-4 defense.
Tufele brings much of what Suh brings now and perhaps even more. He is strong at the point of attack and a very good run defender. He won’t be pushed back easily and can get off blocks to make tackles. Additionally, he is mobile enough to move down the line and help stretch out outside zone runs.
As a pass rusher Tufele lacks explosive athleticism and will probably never be a top flight penetrator. However, his strength and hand usage do allow him to get in the backfield and cause problems. So picture more of an Akiem Hicks (Chicago Bears) type of player than a Gerald McCoy.
Tufele is someone I view as a high floor and modest ceiling type of prospect. I project him as having a good career and being a long time starter. At the same time I don’t see Tufele as a multi time pro bowl player in the making due to his lack of pass rush ability.
At the 32nd pick in the first round, a rock solid well rounded defensive tackle is a great value. He could start for the Bucs super bowl defense next year over Suh or rotate in behind him as he gains NFL experience. Regardless, Tufele would be a great fit in Tampa Bay and will certainly be on the Bucs big board this April.