Back in the May the Bucs quietly picked up waived LB Khaseem Greene (so quietly I didn’t notice at first). It would be understandable if you dismissed this as an insignificant addition, but that would be hasty. Why? Because Greene—much like the other defensive off-season additions I have roundly applauded— fits the Tampa 2 scheme Lovie Smith runs to perfection.
In college Greene starred at Rutgers– and I do mean starred. He was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year in both 2011 and 2012, playing the middle linebacker position for the Knights with great athleticism and instincts. A fourth round pick of the Bears 2013, he never quite made a name for himself in Chicago. A recent scheme change sealed his fate there. But Tampa does have need of linebacker talent, especially in the middle, and Greene will get a long look in camp at OLB and MLB and especially as a Special Teams contributor.
In watching tape of Greene (there are quite a few highlight tapes on YouTube, including this one…
…I see a player who baits QBs into bad underneath throws, times his blitzes well, moves to the ball quickly and has some real thump versus the run.
At around the same time the Bucs added Greene they also signed former Minnesota safety David Wells. Wells played both safety in corner for the Gophers, showing promise as both a solid run-supporter and an open-field cover guy. After he was signed most news reports said the Bucs had signed a safety–– which technically is true. From my perspective, however, the promise he showed as a college cornerback intrigued the Bucs enough to ink him. NFL teams are falling all over themselves to find and develop big, fast defensive backs to counter the wide-open offenses that now define the league. Wells will be looked at as both a free safety and an outside corner, and he is well worth the trouble. Here’s a look at some college highlights:
Like Greene, Wells is a guy well down the depth chart who wil be hard pressed to make the final roster. No matter. Good teams stack the bottom of their rosters with affordable, talented young guys who excel on STs and who have a legit chance to make an impact, in time. What interests me most is the way Lovie and his defensive coaches are building redundancy at important spots. At linebacker newcomer Greene actually reminds me a lot of 2015 draft pick Kwon Alexander; their similarities on film are uncanny. And at safety new addition Wells has a very similar thick physical makeup and nasty game to headhunting vets Major Wright and DJ Swearinger. This harkens back to the Dungy days when that epic defensive staff had an amazing knack for defining the ideal skill set and size for each defensive position and then adding multiple capable bodies to each spot..often in the form of undrafted and/or unheralded players. Names like Jeff Gooch and Al Singleton and Shelton Quarles come to mind.
It bodes well for this team’s future on defense, I assure you. I have grave doubts about the offense, but with the possible exception of defensive end this D is going to be force in 2015.