The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have drafted Pittsburgh Panthers DT Calijah Kancey with the No. 19 overall pick in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Kancey’s speed and explosiveness after the snap are going to be a huge plus for his pro career. He plays with toughness and physicality, which makes up for his size disadvantage on the field at 6-foot-1 and 281 pounds. His combination of quickness and lighter frame allow him to get to the edge of blocks and make it into the backfield consistently — he led the Panthers in tackles for loss last season. His size is the major concern heading to the next level, but he has proven himself in just about every other area of the game.
Kancey was named a first-team AP All-American and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2022 after a season that saw him add up 14.5 tackles for loss with 7.5 sacks. He was a first-team All-ACC honoree in 2021 after he became a consistent starter for the Panthers.
How can Calijah Kancey impact the Buccaneers in 2023?
The Buccaneers typically run a 3-4 defense. Vita Vea is the incumbent nose tackle, and it is doubtful that Kancey would play over him in these sets. He could likely play one of the end positions but could spend his rookie year just giving the team more depth in the middle of the defensive line and help for when they do switch to a 4-3 set. Tampa is rebuilding its defense and Kancey is a great prospect on that side of the ball.