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Ranking Bucs' needs: No. 1 defensive end

2/5/2014

TAMPA, Fla. -- We conclude our look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' five biggest offseason needs with defensive end at No. 1.

This defense is at least pretty good everywhere else, but there’s a dire need for a pass-rusher on the edge. No one can argue that the Bucs made a huge mistake last year by letting defensive end Michael Bennett walk away as a free agent. The thinking was that Da'Quan Bowers was ready for a breakout season. But Bowers couldn’t even grab a starting job when it was handed to him.

The new coaching staff has said it still has high hopes for Bowers. But the reality is that if this team gets anything out of Bowers going forward, it will be a bonus. The Bucs can’t afford to sit back and expect Bowers to emerge.

A defensive end – and we’re talking one with top-notch pass-rush skills – needs to be targeted in free agency or the draft. Adrian Clayborn is solid at one defensive end spot and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is a force in the middle. Add a strong pass-rusher and this defensive line could be excellent.

William Gholston showed some promise as a rookie last season and he can be a nice rotational player. But the Bucs need to get someone in the draft or free agency who will be much more than a rotational player.