The Buccaneers added their first offensive player in the 2016 NFL Draft, selecting UCLA tackle Caleb Benenoch in the fifth round, No. 148 overall.

The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Nigerian-born lineman spent his first two seasons with the Bruins primarily at right tackle, earning honorable mention All-Big 12 as a sophomore while starting all 13 games. Benenoch showed his versatility during his junior year as he moved inside to guard for four games and proved good enough to get consideration at both positions at the next level. For the second year he started all 13 games in 2015, finishing as the team-leader with 35 consecutive starts.

Known more for his athleticism – a former youth soccer player – than his size and strength, Benenoch still managed 25 reps of 225 pounds at the Combine.

While the Bucs appear to have a promising left tackle in Donovan Smith, last year’s No. 34 pick, as well as the fact that Dirk Koetter already proclaimed Demar Dotson the starter on the right side, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Tampa Bay was looking for depth along the offensive line.

Dotson, who turns 31 in October, suffered a bad knee injury last preseason that sidelined him through most of the year. And while Gosder Cherilus filled in well, he, too, is getting up there in age as he turns 32 before the season. Both veteran tackles are also in the final year of their contracts. The Bucs likely value Benenoch’s versatility and nimble feet in an offense that often features a swing tackle.

Shortly after his selection, Benenoch spoke to the Tampa Bay media over conference call and explained his unique beginning into football. When he first told his mother, also from Nigeria, that he wanted to play football she thought it meant soccer and said, ‘OK, I’ll sign you up.’ It started as a way for Benenoch to make friends but when the Division I offers started coming in, he was there to stay. Though he continued to play soccer in the offseason, explaining the quick feet and agility.

“I met with Coach Warhop (at the Combine) and he came up and worked me out, did floor work with me during the pre-draft process,” Benenoch said. “We had a good time so I’m happy I get to play for them.

“I think I could be just as good at either (guard or tackle). I played a lot of tackle in my career, so that’s where I have more experience, but they both come natural to me so I’m looking forward to going out there and playing football.”

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About the Author: Zach Shapiro

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: zshapiro12@gmail.com
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plopes808
plopes808
5 years ago

Don’t know anything about this guy, but adding depth to the OL is always a good thing.

georgehicks
georgehicks
Reply to  plopes808
5 years ago

I like this player.With the offense line now with this player from Ucla he can learn in a backup role this year. I believe that he has a lot of raw talent
hats off to the bucs offensive line staff-Go Bucs

76Buc
76Buc
5 years ago

Still need a burner WR, a SAM, and a DT. That’s 3 players, but we only have 2 picks left since we wasted a pick on a kicker.I wouldn’t even pick Lou “The Toe” Groza that high! Trade Glennon and get a pick. Otherwise, we will have to go FA for the SAM. DT and speed WR should be drafted.

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  76Buc
5 years ago

I think you’re under shooting just how much they like what they have at receiver. I think they believe Kenny Bell will take a big step this year. I was actually hoping they were going to go after the German guy, but Minnesota picked him right before us.

pinkstob
pinkstob
Reply to  76Buc
5 years ago

They did take a SAM: Devante Bond from Oklahoma.

76Buc
76Buc
Reply to  pinkstob
5 years ago

Now that the draft is over (actually before it was over) I agree with you guys. I think they were comfortably with the guys they had. The only area that concerns me is DT as we are very thin there. My thoughts are that the DT position is very deep and according to Mayock some FA DTs this year would normally go in the 5th or 6th most years, so I think they are going to add some tonight.

plopes808
plopes808
Reply to  76Buc
5 years ago

We have Bell back and they seem pretty high on Humphries and Dye so I think we may stick with what we have at WR

scubog
scubog
Reply to  76Buc
5 years ago

Apparently you think the Draft is seeking pieces to a puzzle and not acquiring more talented players to contribute on game day. Surely you recall the 40 year search for a kicker that, with the exception of Gramatica (3rd rounder) and a handful of others who were short-lived, we have trotted out a such a collection of mediocre kickers so often that we now think misses that cost us two or three games a year are commonplace. You and I both experienced “Capece is kaput” and the most replayed blooper of of all time with Neil O’Donnohue and Dave Green… Read more »

76Buc
76Buc
Reply to  scubog
5 years ago

Wow, what a trip down memory lane. Thanks for the nightmares scubog. lol. Your point is well taken.

jme0151
jme0151
5 years ago

Good pickup….versatile.

Horse
Horse
5 years ago

Good choice and I believe he will help us this year and be startable material if Damar decides to go elsewhere after this year. Go Bucs!