Since arriving at Hobart College as an undersized offensive lineman (weighed 210-pounds his junior year of high school) Ali Marpet has experienced one of the most incredible transformations from Division III project to NFL prospect.
His rise was due in large part to his unique athletic ability. After elevating his game at the Senior Bowl in January, Marpet ran the fastest 40-yard dash time – 4.98 – among O-lineman entering the 2015 draft and ultimately secured his place in the second round.
But Marpet, who’s still viewed by some experts as a long-term project, knows that success at the highest level will depend on more than athleticism alone.
“Athletically, I’m pretty solid,” Marpet said after practice Wednesday. “Where I fall behind is my technique. I need to clean that up. At this level, athleticism only gets you so far… Sometimes I’m leaking out on my sets, which means I’m not setting inside out, which means they can beat me inside, which is a no-go for an offensive linemen. My hands, sometimes I like to bring them out too far. You want to keep them in tight.
“Things like that, again, if I can slow the game down a little bit and anticipate a little more that will help me a lot. You really have to become a technician and that’s something that I’m working on.”
And it’s something he’s working on in the most difficult of circumstances.
Similar to their approach with Jameis Winston, the Buccaneers have somewhat thrown Marpet into the fire during training camp, often lining the 22-year old guard across from Gerald McCoy in an effort to speed up his development.
The approach has ultimately taught him to be observant of the defensive line which, in turn, has made him aware of protection schemes and blocking assignments early on in camp.
“At guard everything happens so much quicker, and going against Gerald is unbelievable,” Marpet said. “He whopped me pretty good today in the team period, so it definitely is a difference. But I’m learning every day and getting better at guard.
“When I’m in my stance things are going a million miles a minute. It’s just so fast and you really have to be able to anticipate everything. That’s something you really didn’t have to do in college; you just kind of went out and played. At this level you have to be able to anticipate the defense.”
Although Marpet is listed as a backup on the first released depth chart, he could still win the starting job from Garrett Gilkey before the season opener. Until then, the objective over the next four weeks will be to get more accustomed playing against outside NFL competition, starting this Saturday in Minnesota.
“I just need to be able to slow the game down,” Marpet said about his first game. “Right now it’s moving really fast for me. I think that as I get more reps it will slow down.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Yes this is one of the unknows for this season.
I hope he doesn’t get discouraged because he will get some beatings for awhile. Go Bucs!
This is one of the guys that is rookies. I think he may progress much faster then other rookies. Lining up against gerald McCoy is a plus and will be ready for the challenge. go bucs
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