Some Day 2 Options for the DL

Notre Dame DT Jerry Tillery

Assuming Quinnen Williams doesn’t fall to 5, and assuming the McCoy exodus rumors are true, Tampa will likely be looking to add a defensive lineman on Day 2 of the draft. Defensive line happens to be the strength of this draft class, so it could match up perfectly for the Bucs. With the impending switch over to Todd Bowles base 3-4 defense, and Jason Licht’s comments describing the prototype for the position being “6’5″, 300 pounds, with 35″ arms”, here are a few Day 2 options who match that description.

  • Jerry Simmons, Mississipi State (6’4″, 301 lbs, 34.5″ arms)
  • Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame (6’6″, 295 lbs, 34.25″ arms)
  • Dexter Lawrence, Clemson (6’4″, 342 lbs, 34.75″ arms)
  • Rennel Wren, Arizona State (6’5″, 318 lbs, 34″ arms)
  • Armon Watts, Arkansas (6’5″, 300 lbs, 33.5″ arms)

Jeffrey Simmons is certainly the most heralded talent of the group. A likely top 10 pick based purely on his ability on the field, Simmons has off the field concerns as well as an ACL tear with meniscus damage that occurred just in February while training for workouts. When healthy though, Simmons showed flashes of being a physically dominant player at the line of scrimmage who can wreak havoc against both the run and the pass. You might see a team take him in the late first, but don’t be surprised if the Bucs make a move up to secure him if he comes close to pick 39.

Jerry Tillery is a former offensive lineman who looks exactly as Licht described with his tremendous length, hulk like power, and freakish athleticism. Tillery is somewhat raw, and more than a tad inconsistent, but he could posses the best potential of anyone on this list, and is probably the most natural 3-4 DE in this draft. Like with Simmons, he might not make it to 39, but if he does, I don’t see a scenario where the Bucs would pass on him.

Dexter Lawrence is certainly the biggest man on this list, weighing in at north of 340 lbs. Some have compared him to last years first rounder Vita Vea, but Lawrence is probably better suited to play as a 3-4 DE due to his superior length. While combining Vea and Lawrence would be unique in the NFL, there is certainly quite a bit to like about the potential combo. They would present a nearly 700lbs wall for opposing running backs, and both guys offer much more pass rush than players of their size traditionally do. Like with Tillery and Simmons, the Bucs would need some luck for him to fall to 39.

Rennel Wren is much more of a project than the 3 guys listed here above him. But he’s a guy who possesses every bit of their potential. Wren pops out on tape with imposing size and impressive get off, and it’s clear that he was a focus of opposing offensive lines. But while Wren could wreak havoc just on his tools alone, he didn’t have the skills to break through double teams and often was taken out of the game. He could benefit from not being the focal point, as well as some NFL quality coaching, but he has big time upside and will be there at 39 and would represent tremendous value if he were to fall to round 3.

Armon Watts is another player who flashes big time upside, but is still a work in progress. Watts was essentially a reserve until his senior season when something just clicked for him and he led his team in sacks with 7. Watts is a large man with excellent quickness who excels at breaking through the LOS and pressuring the QB. He needs some refinement in his recognition, but he has the traits to be a disrupter at the next level and looks like a great fit for an 3-4 defense looking to add a playmaker versus the pass at defensive end. He would be a great value pick in round 3 and would see the field immediately.

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