Buccaneers Take Defensive Linemen Calijah Kancey With First Round Pick

Leave it to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to shock the world and take another defensive lineman with the 19th pick in the first round. 

With the offensive line a glaring need on this team, the Bucs went defensive line instead, selecting Pittsburgh defensive tackle Calijah Kancey with their first-round pick. 

Kancey is an undersized defensive tackle (6’1″-281) with a high motor that many people compare to future Hall of Famer Aaron Donald of the Rams. Comparisons have also been made to former Viking and Hall of Famer John Randle.

Kancey recorded 14.5 sacks and had 27.5 tackles in two years as a starter at Pitt. He was also named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2022. 

Kancey is one of the quickest defensive linemen in the draft running a 4.67/40. 

PFF thinks the Buccaneers made a good pick at number 19. “He might be undersized, but Kancey is a phenomenal pass-rusher on the interior. His first step is elite, and he’s coming off a season where he led all players at the position with a 92.4 PFF pass-rushing grade. The Pittsburgh product should make an immediate impact in Tampa Bay.”

Chancey will be able to beat tackles with his quickness and beat the offensive linemen through the gaps inside. 

Kancey can also play defensive end in the Buccaneers 3-4 scheme. He could earn considerable playing time from day one as the Buccaneers opted not to re-sign Akeim Hicks and William Gholston. They also opted not to resign Rakeem Nunez-Roches, who signed with the New York Giants.

 Greg Gaines Is the new addition to the defensive line. He signed a one-year deal after playing with the Los Angeles Rams last season. So the Buccaneers will lean heavily on the trio of Vita Vea, Logan Hall, and now Calijah Chancey. 

Kancey comes to Tampa with a chip on his shoulder, as he has had to prove people wrong at every level of football on his way to the NFL. “I want to say it’s being overlooked my whole life. Not too many people believing in me. Not passing the eyeball test for many guys. But also just proving myself right and not trying to prove anyone wrong.”

Buccaneers Expect Immediate Impact From Chancey

Jason Licht talked about Chancey’s other attributes that made it easy to draft Chancey. “He’s a leader. He’s very smart. It’s like talking to a 40-year-old man. He’s really got a great head on his shoulders. He’s got a chip on his shoulder. He wants to win, and he’s the ultimate competitor. That’s going to give him a chance. I don’t want to put out, say, that we’re expecting him to have 15 sacks or anything next year, but I know he’s going to contribute.”

The Buccaneers better hope so. 

This team has taken defensive linemen/edge rushers the last three years in the draft, and we are still waiting for them to become real impact players on defense. 

Joe Tryon-Shoyinka was selected in 2021 and has been a disappointment during his time in Tampa. In 2022, the Bucs selected defensive tackle Logan Hall with the first pick in the second round at no. 33. 

I was not overly excited about the Chancey pick. I thought the Bucs would go offensive line in the first round since that is one of the most glaring needs on this team. 

The Bucs do not have a good track record when taking defensive linemen and edge rushers in the first two rounds in the Jason Licht era. The Bucs selected Noah Spence who had one good season in 2016. Then, last season the Bucs took Logan Hall, who you would have to say is a big miss so far, although that may not be fair to Hall with just one year under his belt. 

Then there is Vita Vea, who has become a Pro Bowl Caliber defensive lineman. If Kancey can come anywhere close to the level of Vita Vea, this will have been a successful pick. 

Until then, the jury is still out. 

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