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  • This is a very interesting read and I think it'd result in a phenomenal defense if Morris can pull this off. Being able to show a 4-3, 3-4 or 3-3-5 and play all three well would give opposing offenses headaches.

    From the PewterReport:
    Bucs Now Open To Drafting Players From 3-4 Defenses

    The Buccaneers were in full force scouting college players at the East-West Shrine Game practices in Orlando, Fla. on Tuesday with general manager Mark Dominik, director of college scouting Dennis Hickey, head coach Raheem Morris and Morris’ assistant Jay Kaiser in attendance. With Morris serving as Tampa Bay’s defensive coordinator, the Tampa 2 defense made popular by long-time defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin is long gone, replaced by a hybrid scheme that features a lot of three down linemen and multiple fronts.

    “It’s Tampa 2.5,” Morris said. “Now if you draft [linebacker] Derrick Brooks and [strong safety John] Lynch again, we’ll play Cover 2 every snap.”

    During the 2010 campaign in which the Bucs went 10-6 fueled by quarterback Josh Freeman and the offense, which had to carry the slack for a defense that was decimated by injuries, Morris played a good deal of 3-3-5 and 3-4 defensive schemes to help make up from the lack of pass rush from Tampa Bay’s front four. The Bucs generated only 26 sacks with just 15 coming from the defensive line.

    Tampa Bay, which ranked 17th in total yards (332.7 yards per game) last year, also struggled mightily to stop the run, finishing 28th in the NFL, allowing an average of 131.7 yards per game.

    “If we can’t stop the run? Okay, then we’ll stop the [heck] out of the pass,” Morris said.

    And that’s what happened last year, as the secondary was the strength of the Bucs defense, finishing ranked seventh in the league by surrendering an average of only 201 yards per game. That’s amazing considering that starting free safety Tanard Jackson was suspended indefinitely by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after the second game of the season, and the Bucs lost his replacement, Cody Grimm, and top cornerback Aqib Talib to season-ending injuries.

    Now it’s time for Tampa Bay to shore up its front seven, and with the 3-3-5 and 3-4 formations continuing to be part of Morris’ regular defensive alignments, the team will be looking at hybrid 3-4 pass-rushing outside linebackers like Texas A&M’s Von Miller (6-3, 250), UCLA’s Akeem Ayers (6-4, 255) and Georgia’s Justin Houston (6-3, 258) as first-round draft options for the Buccaneers.



    All three players proved to be skilled pass rushers in college. Houston had 11 sacks, one forced fumble, one interception, 18.5 tackles for a loss, and 67 tackles. Ayers had a career-high 68 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, four sacks, four pass breakups, two forced fumbles, and two interceptions this season.

    Miller led college football in sacks in 2009 with 17. He also added 21.5 tackles for a loss, four forced fumbles, and 47 tackles. This year Miller battled through injuries but played in every game and produced 10.5 sacks with 68 tackles, three forced fumbles, and 17.5 tackles for a loss.

    In the past the Bucs ruled those kinds of players out, but now with Morris’ defense those players are now viable candidates to be drafted by Tampa Bay. Pewter Report asked Morris if his defense has opened up other types of players for general manager Mark Dominik to select from.

    “No doubt,” Morris said. “No question. We talk about that all the time. We talked about it last year going into the draft. Don’t close the door on all the hybrid players that you get in the draft like we did before.

    “I’ve figured some stuff out. Go take Dekoda Watson. I don’t care if he isn’t keyed yet or has been sharp enough to play linebacker. He played some significant snaps for us based on [pass-rushing] situations where he was given a chance to go be successful. That’s how I kind of look at things. It may be a little bit different. It may be a little bit out of the box, but you have to be a little bit.”

    Morris is the self-proclaimed greatest thief in the NFL. While studying 3-4 teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, and New England Patriots, Morris was influenced to add some of their blitzes and formations to the Buccaneers defense. Sam (strongside) linebacker Quincy Black stayed on the field when the Bucs used their 3-4 and 3-3-5 scheme in passing situations. Black primarily served as an edge rusher in those packages. With Black entering free agency it wouldn’t be surprising to see Tampa Bay target a player like Ayers, Miller, or Houston to be their new "Redskin" hybrid linebacker and pass rusher.

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    • The only problem I can see with drafting players who have the versatility to play in multiple fronts is that we end up with a bunch of mediocre players who can't specialise in anything.

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      • I think the opposite is true Caddy. If we got someone like Von or Houston, they'd be very specialized as pass rushers.

        I'd rather us go for someone like them if we're confident they're going to be successful at rushing the passer rather than reaching on a DE that'll be mediocre but play more ala Jamaal Anderson or Derrick Harvey.

        I still want Robert Quinn more than anyone else in this draft though. If he falls past the top 10, I think we have to seize the opportunity and make the move to go get him. We've done it in the past with Freeman and Benn, I have faith in Dom and Rah that they could get it done again.

        Sig by BoneKrusher

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        • Originally posted by DJC View Post
          I think the opposite is true Caddy. If we got someone like Von or Houston, they'd be very specialized as pass rushers.

          I'd rather us go for someone like them if we're confident they're going to be successful at rushing the passer rather than reaching on a DE that'll be mediocre but play more ala Jamaal Anderson or Derrick Harvey.

          I still want Robert Quinn more than anyone else in this draft though. If he falls past the top 10, I think we have to seize the opportunity and make the move to go get him. We've done it in the past with Freeman and Benn, I have faith in Dom and Rah that they could get it done again.
          I guess I phrased it kind of wrong. I meant we'd end up with guys who might be good at one thing, but completely useless at another.

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          • Like I said before a LaVar Arrington like player. He played in a 4-3. Could drop and rush. I wouldn't mind it. I think we all are a little confused by this cause last year when they drafted McCoy and Price we were all thinking Tampa 2 is coming back! It's just going to be different. The one thing I liked about our old Tampa 2 is they said we don't change for anybody. They have to change for us. So every guy out there knew where and what they had to do. And went something went wrong you would see them turn and talk to the guy who blew it. We worked as a unit. 11 guys. Rush 4 drop 7. Get to the QB. But I guess Morris is right in that Brooks ain't walking on the field so we have to change with the times.

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            • I think it would be awful for us to try and make a transition and play more 3-4 and 3-3-5. McCoy is a perfect fit in the tampa 2 4-3 as an under tackle. Moving him around to a 5 technique would be a waste. Not saying he couldn't do it, but it would be useless to his talents in rushing the passer.

              I don't mind Morris' use of the 3-3-5 on occasional passing downs, but don't draft players who fit the 3-4 just because of a scheme that they run maybe 15% of the time. Justin Houston seems like he would only be a 3-4 rush linebacker.

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              • mini mock that makes sense (update weekly:)

                1st: Ryan Kerrigan DE Purdue: Aldon Smith hype is starting to blow up and I think he'll end up as a top 12 pick. Kerrigan doesn't get enough credit and is the most underrated guy in the draft in my opinion. Great pick.

                2nd: Ros I Dowling FS Virginia: I think Dowling is the next cb to covert to FS for us and be even more successful than T-Jack. He reminds me a lot of T-Jack skill set wise as he is a ball hawk in the secondary, but is a better open field tackler and can be that big hitter as well.

                3rd: (trade up with Denver to the 2nd pick in the 3rd: 3rd and 4th round pick Comp pick and 7th): Martez Wilson MLB Illinois: Ruud is going to be gone and we need a big physical thumper in the run game. Read an article on Pewter that McKenzie could play WLB, SLB, or MLB so I think if Wilson is there, we take him. As of now, many have him projected in the 3rd/4th round range but I think he'll be higher, this is just a projection for now.

                4th: Greg Romeus DE Pittsburgh: Why not take a chance on a talented pass rusher who's stock is falling due to an injury?

                5th: via denver: Justin Boren G Ohio State: I read some reports on him right now and he is a 5th/6th round prospect. I think he can be a mauler and provide depth to our o-line.

                6th: Darell Scott RB Maryland: I think he is an underrated prospect who can spell Blount in the future, or even if Caddy leaves this season.

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                • Well, I don't want to list rounds at this point, as round value will change a lot before the draft, but I thought I would list players at each position who I personally think are interesting prospects and guys that I wouldn't mind Tampa picking up if they're available.

                  QB (Developmental/UDFA obviously)
                  Taylor Potts
                  Josh Portis
                  Mitch Mustain

                  RB
                  Alex Green
                  Vai Taua
                  Da'Rel Scott
                  Jacquizz Rodgers

                  WR
                  Cecil Shorts
                  Niles Paul
                  Jeremy Kerley
                  Aldrick Robinson
                  Greg Salas

                  TE
                  Virgil Green
                  Shuylar Oordt
                  Konrad Reuland

                  OL
                  Tyron Smith
                  Demarcus Love
                  Derek Newton
                  Kevin Hughes

                  Rodney Hudson
                  Stephen Schilling
                  Marcus Cannon
                  Alex Linnenkohl
                  Ryan Bartholomew

                  DE
                  Aldon Smith
                  Allen Bailey
                  Jeremy Beal
                  Rick Elmore
                  Mario Addison

                  DT
                  Stephen Paea
                  Drake Nevis
                  Karl Klug

                  OLB
                  Akeem Ayers
                  Bruce Carter
                  Dontay Moch
                  Mason Foster
                  Eric Gordon

                  ILB
                  Quan Sturdivant
                  Martez Wilson
                  Casey Mathews
                  Alex Wujciak

                  CB
                  Ras-I Dowling
                  Brandon Burton
                  Johnny Patrick

                  S
                  Ahmad Black
                  Jeron Johnson
                  Tyler Sash
                  Shiloh Keo
                  Zac Etheridge


                  Now I know this is a big list, but it's a way that I like to break things down to the prospects that offer value to me, or I feel fit our needs in some way. Also tried to mix it up with where in the draft they might fall.

                  Honestly not sure what draft picks we have, but this is how I would like to see things happen, assuming 1 pick a round.
                  1: Demarcus Love
                  2: Martez Wilson
                  3: Ahmad Black
                  4: Karl Klug
                  5: Eric Gordon
                  6: Mario Addison
                  7: Alex Green

                  Or something like that, still a long ways to go to figure out a real opinion on guys.

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                  • Originally posted by bucfan12 View Post
                    I think it would be awful for us to try and make a transition and play more 3-4 and 3-3-5. McCoy is a perfect fit in the tampa 2 4-3 as an under tackle. Moving him around to a 5 technique would be a waste. Not saying he couldn't do it, but it would be useless to his talents in rushing the passer.

                    I don't mind Morris' use of the 3-3-5 on occasional passing downs, but don't draft players who fit the 3-4 just because of a scheme that they run maybe 15% of the time. Justin Houston seems like he would only be a 3-4 rush linebacker.

                    After thinking about it more... Us mixing in 3-4 looks doesn't sound as bad to me. Only if it's to change things up a little, give a different look type thing. And if Morris wants to change to a 3-4 team full time that would hurt a little. But as you say that McCoy would be awful I think not. If we ran a 3-4 one gap system like Wade or Dom Capers, McCoy would still be able to rush the passer. Could see him as a better Cullen Jenkins. The pick that would be wasted would be Price cause he looks to me to be a pure 4-3 UT/NT. I think we could pull it off and it would take us getting two 3-4 backers in this draft. Moving Black to a ILB and letting Ruud go. But I think all Morris is trying to do is get bigger with his LB's and ask them to do a little more with the pass rush. I don't think Morris likes the 6 foot 225 LB we used to only go for.

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                    • BigBuc, we're not, nor will we ever switch to the 3-4 as a base defense as long as Morris is in charge of the unit. He's simply saying he's willing to mix it up a bit to confuse opposing offenses, so we probably won't be drafting players who are strictly limited to the Tampa 2 scheme.

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                      • Originally posted by Legacy View Post
                        BigBuc, we're not, nor will we ever switch to the 3-4 as a base defense as long as Morris is in charge of the unit. He's simply saying he's willing to mix it up a bit to confuse opposing offenses, so we probably won't be drafting players who are strictly limited to the Tampa 2 scheme.
                        I know were not going to switch full time. I like the 4-3 Tampa 2.

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                        • Guys that I reportedly heard stood out today:

                          Cameron Jordan: He was apparently unblockable today and a better pass rusher than many thought.

                          Ryan Kerrigan: He owned Nate Solder and weighed in at 255 lbs, making himself versatile to play 3-4 olb or RDE or LDE in a 4-3. Really showed a bunch of pass rush moves and quick off the ball. Picked up right where he left off.

                          Mark Herzalich (spelling)?: He reportedly came in the weigh in chiseled at 6'4 250 lbs and looked good in practices. I think he could be a steal if he shows he's recovered from cancer back in 2009.

                          Greg Jones: I think he could be a solid fit in our defense as a WLB to replace Hayes. I think Raheem wants more more quick and physical LBs and Jones would fit as our WLB.


                          I was disappointed Ros I Dowling pulled out, but he might not have been a 100% from his injury. I think his stock might fall to a mid 3rd-early 4th. But his talent is undeniable and I think he'd be a stud at FS in the NFL.

                          All of you who wanted Noel Devine, 5'7 160 lbs won't cut it at the next level.

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                          • I want to take Clayborn off the list. Dropping out cause he's happy with what he did this year? Dude you got to the QB 3 times!

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                            • Originally posted by bigbuc View Post
                              I want to take Clayborn off the list. Dropping out cause he's happy with what he did this year? Dude you got to the QB 3 times!
                              Agreed. His character is a HUGE concern.

                              Cameron Jordan I think could be the next Justin Tuck. Can rush the QB from any position on the line and be a nightmare on the LDE. In Scott Right's mock, he has Jordan falling to 24, I think if he's there at 20, we take him or Kerrigan. However, I think after this week, these 2 might not be there.

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                              • Clayborn's last game (Insight.com Bowl vs. Missouri)

                                Full game here: LINK

                                Tell me what you guys think about Clayborn.

                                "I don't do Pro Days, we send our scouts to those. I would rather spend my time watching film. The eye in the sky never lies. Functional Strength and athletic ability are the first things we look for in a college prospect." - Mark Dominik, Buccaneers GM

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