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Tip Sheet notes: Adams on the spot

Sharper providing dividends in New Orleans; O-line shuffle in Green Bay

Originally Published: September 25, 2009
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Time is running out on Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Gaines Adams, arguably the poster boy for the incredibly disappointing group of defensive linemen from the 2007 draft class.

The fourth overall selection in the 2007 NFL draft, Adams was projected as the premier pass-rusher in that class. The Bucs, and a lot of other people, felt that Adams was a high-energy guy who could come off the edge and collect double-digit sacks every year once he got his feet wet.

But it took two full seasons for Adams to crack double digits (six sacks in 2007 and 6½ last year) in career sacks. He has none in two games in 2009. As indicated to ESPN.com by defensive coordinator Jim Bates this summer, Adams "has to be" a double-digit sack guy for the rebuilt Tampa Bay defense to be successful. But make no mistake, Bucs coaches are quickly running out of patience as they wait for Adams to deliver for them.

Coach Raheem Morris didn't pull any punches this week when asked about Adams' unproductive play. Morris indicated, after meeting with the young defensive end, that the former Clemson star will remain in the lineup for now, but hinted broadly that Adams' starting job is in jeopardy.

Tampa Bay doesn't have a lot of options at end because of a lack of depth at the position. The Bucs could move Stylez White into Adams' starting role, but he is more effective as a part-time player and situational pass-rusher. There are times when Adams appears pretty unmotivated. In Year 3 of his career, and at age 26, he has yet to develop an inside counter move. As he is learning the hard way, you'd better have some diversity as a pass-rusher in the NFL, because you're not going to beat most tackles straight up the field with a speed rush.

Adams is hardly the only highly regarded defensive lineman from the class of 2007 who has struggled in the NFL. Many have been affected by injuries, inconsistencies and inadequacies. Of the 12 ends chosen in the first three rounds that year, three are out of the league and four have switched to linebacker. There were nine tackles selected in the first three rounds and two are unemployed.

Not surprisingly, that 2007 draft has yet to produce a Pro Bowl lineman.

That draft featured linemen such as Jamaal Anderson, Amobi Okoye, Turk McBride, Justin Harrell, Adam Carriker, Jarvis Moss, Anthony Spencer, Alan Branch, and Jay Alford. There are some adequate players in the group, but not much more. Given the reconfiguration of their defense over the past two years, the Bucs can't afford to have Adams flop completely. So far, though, he has.

To read the rest of Tip Sheet notes -- including the surprising impact a veteran free-agent signee is having in New Orleans and the what position the Colts might target in the 2010 draft -- you must be an ESPN Insider. Insider

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