Welcome to the very first edition of my weekly “Bucs Briefing” column where we’ll tackle a plethora of Bucs and draft-related topics every Wednesday morning.

During draft season, this column is going to look heavily at prospects the Bucs could or should be interested in throughout the first three rounds of the draft. The goal is that by the time the draft rolls around, most of the players Tampa Bay could target with its three top 100 selections will have been profiled in depth right here.

Today let’s kick things off with a prospect I know Bucs fans are extremely interested in, Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas.

Round 1, Pick 14

Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia Bulldogs

Height: 6-5

Weight: 320

Class: Junior

D.O.B.: 1/22/99

Statistical Profile: From his true freshman season until the end of his junior year, Thomas started every game that he played in for the Bulldogs, 26 at left tackle the past two seasons and 15 at right tackle in his debut campaign in 2017. Thomas was All-SEC and All-American his sophomore and junior seasons, while making the freshman All-American team in 2017.

Where He Wins: When I’m scouting offensive tackles, I’m really only interested in contests against the best level of competition. The NFL is simply loaded with pass rushers who threaten offensive tackles unlike anything you see in college football, so finding tape against quality opponents is a must for measuring offensive line play.

That’s easy to do with Thomas, as the SEC and his schedule were loaded with some of the better edge defenders in college football. Over the year Thomas faced Notre Dame’s Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem, South Carolina’s D.J. Wonnum, Florida’s Jonathan Greenard and Jabari Zuniga, Auburn’s Marlon Davidson, Tennessee’s Darrell Taylor and LSU’s K’Lavon Chaisson. That isn’t even mentioning the match-ups he had last year with Jachai Polite, Josh Allen, Anfernee Jennings, Charles Omenihu and others.

Through these battles, we learned more about who Thomas is as a pass protector than probably any other offensive tackle in the draft except for maybe Alabama’s Jedrick Wills. Thomas is a powerful, hulking tackle who ends pass rushers when he lands his mitts on them. Once he has control, very rarely do you see an opponent work off of his block.

His inside hand is strong against counters, and when he’s able to play at half-man with good footwork, it’s hard to cross his face to the quarterback. Thomas’ strike placement tends to be pretty wide, but on inside moves that works to his advantage because he crushes the edge rusher’s inside shoulder with a vice-like grip.

For a guy that plays pretty upright, Thomas can still help a team’s run game considerably. He’s quick out of his stance and fairly nimble despite his lack of flexibility, creating good initial pop off the snap. The junior is deadly on double teams, staying shoulder to shoulder with his fellow guard or tight end to generate push up front. Georgia runs a lot of inside zone and uses plenty of combo blocks, both of which were areas Thomas impressed on tape.

Thomas also plays with the mentality and smarts that will translate quickly to the NFL. He’s physical, edgy and looks to finish when he can. His eyes and awareness against twists and late blitzers are already at a pro level, as some of his stunt work at Georgia is teach tape for passing off twisting rushers between a guard and a tackle.

Where He May Struggle: Probably the least athletic of the consensus top tackles in the class, Thomas’ struggles in pass protection come where you’d expect them to: against speed. When Thomas faced an edge rusher who threatened him on his edge with speed, his lack of set point range (ability to gain ground in pass sets to cut off cornering threats) was exposed, his footwork fell apart too often and he opened himself up to speed-to-power moves where defenders could finally beat him back inside.

One of Thomas’ biggest issues is that he will abandon footwork and cross his feet to chase speed up the arc, which will open him up to long arms and hump moves in the NFL. He simply doesn’t have the feet to recover inside if he over-sets, but sometimes he’s forced to do so because it’s the only way for him to cut off speed rushes.

Thomas can improve in this area with more work on establishing half-man out of his stance a bit quicker, but he will probably always have limitations due to his lack of flexibility and athleticism. Of course, Jake Fromm’s 10-12 yard deep drops didn’t always make life easy on Thomas’ pass sets either.

Thomas will also occasionally get walked back and crowd his quarterback a little bit, a result of playing too high and allowing defenders to get into his chest. This concern is more easily remedied, as Thomas can protect his frame better by landing more strikes between his opponent’s shoulders rather than on them.

In the run game the biggest concerns with Thomas are his limitations in space and his struggles on solo blocks against more athletic defenders. His weight can get out over his toes at times and cause him to fall or be pulled off blocks by defenders that can work to his edge, but his grip strength does allow him to stay latched just enough more often than not.

The best way to summarize Thomas’ game is that he won most of the time in college, but it didn’t always look pretty and there is reason to believe his process and natural limitations could eventually expose some weaknesses against more dominant competition in the NFL.

Bucs Fit: Thomas hails from a collegiate offense that ran almost a polar opposite approach to Bruce Arians’ scheme in Tampa Bay. Where the Bucs want to win through the air with a complementary ground game, the Bulldogs looked to grind down almost every opponent in the run game, while featuring a simple and efficient passing attack.

This was a great fit for Thomas, whose strengths in the run game and quick passing game were magnified, and some of his limitations weren’t as exposed due to Georgia rarely facing ears-pinned-back edge rushers. Now that does not mean that Thomas couldn’t be effective in the Bucs offense, just that it would be an adjustment.

The NFL has a tendency to play tackles that look and move like Thomas on the right side, even though I believe both left and right are equally difficult to play in the NFL. If anything, there are more great edge rushers that face right tackles than left. Perhaps NFL teams simply feel more comfortable scheming help to the right side of their offense, or allowing their quarterback a clearer sight-line to impending doom.

Whatever the reason, Thomas would obviously start on the right side in Tampa Bay, which he has experience doing as a freshman at Georgia. The fit isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough, especially considering that Thomas could also help Tampa Bay’s run game as a clear improvement over the 34-year old Demar Dotson in that area.

I would be concerned about Thomas as a rookie on an island against top pass rushers in a typical Arians’ drop-back offense, so it would be crucial to scheme him help in certain situations and match-ups. That said, he’s a good player who is mentally and physically ready for NFL snaps, which is more than you can say for most rookie tackles. This is a pick that could definitely help the Bucs, even if the impact isn’t as dominant or game-changing as Tampa Bay selecting a player like Alabama right tackle Jedrick Wills or South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw at 14.

1
2
3
4
Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
Subscribe
Notify of
42 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Alldaway 2.0

Finney would be an upgrade and the Bucs should be all over him. It also gives the Bucs options in the future regarding if they want to save cap space by releasing Jensen. But from what I have heard and read from the Bucs coaches they liked what they saw from Jensen so he will be back for another year.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
FLBoy84

Being that practically every team in the league is constantly on the lookout for quality OL’men, can imagine he’ll have a robust market. Assume he’d choose a team that has a clearer opening at C or G, but would love to see him as a Buc if Jon’s take is correct. Being that Finney’s a former Wildcat, assume Reynolds would too. PFF wasn’t too kind, for what that’s worth.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
TCB2W!

PFF wasn’t too kind to who? Jenson was on PFF’s top 100 players of 2020. 98. C RYAN JENSEN, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS But for an iffy stretch in the middle of the season, Ryan Jensen could have ended the season as the best-graded center in football, because either side of that, he was excellent manning the middle of the Bucs’ offensive line. Jensen ended the year having been beaten for just one sack and 15 total pressures, despite being asked to pass protect on 751 snaps of high-octane Bruce Arians passing offense. Jensen was also solid in the run game… Read more »

FLBoy84

Was referring to Finney… Wasn’t surprised Cappa was the lowest ranked regular, but was surprised (though I shouldn’t have been) that they had our 34 yr old RT Demar Dotson ranked higher than our Wonder Bread Top-5 paid $14.5M 26 yr old LT. To be fair, he only made $12.5M last year, so…

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
SammyRebel

All players we won’t get

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
BigSombrero

Nice bio on the players. Andrew Thomas might be available when the Bucs pick. Tristan Wirfs, Mekhi Becton, and Josh Jones too. They’ll likely also be available after the Bucs pick. No point arguing about it with everyone on here. We shall see on April 23rd. As far as bringing in a veteran RB like Devonta Freeman, I’m sure the price will be right, but will he be any better than keeping Barber? At least Barber isn’t always injured. I fully expect the Bucs to add a RB early in the draft. The shelf life is short for most of… Read more »

Bucsfan1983

Umm yes. When healthy, Freeman is a 2x Pro Bowl. Has Barber ever been to one? No.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
BigSombrero

Thank you for making my exact point for me. Freeman’s best years, like most NFL RBs was during his first few years. It’s almost always downhill from there due to injury, just like he is experiencing. Average career for a RB is under 4 seasons.

I’m not making a point to keep Barber over a broken injury prone veteran like Freeman. I’m saying fresh legs from the draft.

Why don’t you folks want a 3 down stud at running back that won’t break the bank?

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
The Wall

Who do you suggest?

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
BigSombrero

Jon Taylor is my favorite RB. He is extremely productive (7000+ scrimmage yards in 3 years), has better hands than credited for, has lots of yards after contact, gets skinny in the hole, has great balance and vision, and has sweet feet.

If you’re a USF fan, you probably watched Taylor absolutely abuse the Bulls.

Production over potential.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnANB1Mp_6Q

I also like Darren Sproles 2.0, I mean Clyde Edwards-Helaire, in the 3rd round if available.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
BigSombrero

Im not as big on Swift. He is tackled by the first guy every time. He does not shed tackles. Just watch his film.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoD2ZDJ_Gos

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Bucsfan1983

I didn’t say that I wanted Freeman. You were trying to compare Barber to him.

And all take J.K. Dobbins in round 2, all day.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Bucsfan1983

* I’ll

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
IDGABuc

Check out Zach Moss. I think that’s the spelling. Shifty as hell and like trying to stop a bowling ball. Plus he pinballs off if you DO hold up to his tackle! I mean, hit. Deceptively good hands for such a dense guy too. He projects most favorably, from some stuff I’ve read, if paired with a fast home run hitter.. Sound like anyone to you? If they gave Rojo a decent run blocking OL with some TE’s that can block, along with running towards Godwin if necessary, he would be one anyway. Moss is not fast but he sure… Read more »

FLBoy84

Great write-up Jon, look forward to learning about more prospects in the upcoming installments.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
FLBoy84

LOL, that comment definitely deserved a thumbs down. Too funny…

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Rob

For what it’s worth….I’ve accidentally hit a thumbs down before while scrolling thru on my phone. Nothing malicious about it….just an accident.

I wouldn’t worry or get upset over an occasional thumbs down….just saying

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
FLBoy84

Far, far from worried or upset about it. Genuinely found it funny. Have accidentally done both thumbs up and thumb down myself. Kind of why I added “LOL” and “too funny” to the post. Just thumbs up’d you too, and not by accident. lol

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
BucRy

I really like Andrew Thomas, as of right now, he would be my first pick if it were up to me.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
BigSombrero

Here is Arians on why he doesn’t like to draft offensive linemen early:

https://www.espn.com/blog/arizona-cardinals/post/_/id/20279/bruce-arians-on-college-ol-theyre-just-not-fundamentally-ready

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
BucRy

Yeah I’ve read something similar before about that, which is why I said if it were up to me. I’m not expecting it to happen but it’s just wishful thinking on my part.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
BigSombrero

If it were up to you, you would pick a player knowing he won’t help next season? I don’t get that.

+1
0
Rating: +1. From 1 vote.
Please wait...
BucRy

That’s not always true, we never know who is going to actually help until we actually see them play. Some rookie linemen do come in a contribute right away. Jawaan Taylor of Jacksonville, Tytus Howard from the Texans, Dalton Risner just to name a few. Dominant? No, but they did contribute and help improve their offensive line.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
BucRy

Who are you wishing we go for in the 1st? I know you are wanting a running back in the 2nd like me but want to know who you think we should go with in the first.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
BigSombrero

Defensive end or defensive tackle. Those guys are good in their first year.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
BucRy

I do like Kinlaw, not sure what DE/pass rusher would be available to us at 14 that we should get though. They still aren’t guaranteed to be great their first year though. Still wouldn’t mind going offensive linemen in the first.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
IDGABuc

I Love Epsenesa! Everyone is talking about how he was one of, if not the best EDGE guy the last 3-5 games after starting real slow, but what most don’t say is he had a TON of pressures throughout the year and eventually their defensive front started to click and help him. He was unblockable. Also may have had to learn how to generate more than pressure through double teams in the beginning but that’s just a guess.. Also he is big like JPP, hell bigger, and can slide inside on occasion. He was also.talked about as a top 5… Read more »

BucRy

Don’t worry my friend, highly doubt we will lose barrett. He even said it himself that he would take a discount to stay with us.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
nitey

Hey Jon, how about adding a profile on a player already on the Bucs? Maybe someone that is due to breakout or someone like Mike Edwards with a view back to what he was in college and what the coaches expect to see in his second year and why it may or may not happen.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Spitfire

That’s a totally different article they will do later on in the preseason. They did it last year.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Captain Sly

Hey Jon, We have Andrew Thomas on the roster already his name is Donovan Smith. I’ll pass on another slow footed LT sorry.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Captain Sly

Also I love the inside information you are bringing but I disagree about the selections you have made. For Example in the 3rd you have us taking another WR. The Bucs need WR like I need a hole in my head. This is the draft where you better get mean and nasty up front: Kinlaw or Wirfs would be a start in right direction. I like your thinking in the 2nd with us taking a play Making Safety but not the kid you chose. These big receivers in our division Julio, Ridley & Michael Thomas will eat all day. Good… Read more »

awwdembucs

Does anyone other than myself, see Cappa moving to RT? Draft a guard, or find one in FA.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
dbenn2012

I’m not sure Cappa has the foot speed or is athletic enough to move to Tackle, very good to excellent talent and physicality at guard. Sure he could fill in if needed, but not a long term option. Just an opinion, I’m sure the coaching staff is looking at all options.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
The Wall

I see Cappa as a weak link on our line. Moving him right tackle won’t make him any better- maybe worse!

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
fredster

Best available OT in 1st rd is good. Not sure he’s the best option though. Not thrilled about safety or WR in 2nd and 3rd even not knowing 100% about Evans and Perriman. Will see I guess. Just seems like bigger needs for sure.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
scubog

You simply don’t draft for need, especially at # 14. I sure wouldn’t want the 4th graded OT while passing on a higher graded player at another position. If that happens, you trade down to a more appropriate spot.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
IDGABuc

100% agree! DON’T REACH!! I mean if anyone wants to see that after watching Licht “fall in love” with players and take them higher, often WAY higher than that player warrants, I’d question if theyve been paying attention. That said he HAS gotten some mid round steals so it’s probably the one thing with Licht I shouldn’t question.. But no, forget that! All I have to do is replay the video in my mind of the Bucs picking MJ FREAKIN’ STEWART in the 2ND FREAKIN’ RD and I’m back to questioning away! I mean, he took him before he took… Read more »

seat26

I like your picks. Thomas will likely be gone at 14. But he would be great in Pewter and Red. That WR was off my radar, but he looked plenty fast to me in the video. I wonder if we need to take one in the 3rd round though. I think we have to lock up a DL before 4th round.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
BigSombrero

Here is Arians on why he doesn’t draft offensive linemen early: Basically they aren’t ready to compete and there’s not enough padded practices to get them ready.

https://www.espn.com/blog/arizona-cardinals/post/_/id/20279/bruce-arians-on-college-ol-theyre-just-not-fundamentally-ready

LMAO. Study up on OT all you want but the Bucs won’t take one until later, if at all.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
scubog

Enjoyed your article Jon. I just don’t see the Bucs taking the 4th graded OT at #14. I’m also skeptical that there will be three OT’s off the board at that point.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Austin Williams

Love the article. I did not know about Ashtyn Davis.. Seems to be a speedy FS that makes plays in coverage, and shouldn’t be needed too heavily in run defense since that is the area we are best at in the front 7. Perfect fit honestly. I’m down with the first 2 picks

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...