The NFL Owners Meeting in Orlando, Florida had a busy media day on Tuesday, and for Bucs fans, that started with their head coach Dirk Koetter holding court for the local Tampa Bay media at the coaches breakfast.

There aren’t many opportunities for the media and, in turn the fans, to hear from their team’s head coach. During the offseason, minus a few press conferences that only happen due to extensions of franchise players, you really don’t hear from head coaches until these meeting availabilities.

Because of this, the sit-downs with each team’s head coach goes on for about an hour, and media members from all different outlets take advantage of every minute of that opportunity, including PewterReport.com

Bucs C Ali Marpet – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs C Ali Marpet – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The big news out of the vast topics of questions was when Koetter told the media that not only will offensive lineman Ali Marpet be moving back to guard with the addition of free agent signing Ryan Jensen, but that he’ll be moving to left guard, not right guard — or at least that’s the plan right now.

“Ali (Marpet) is going to play left guard,” Koetter said. “We are going to play Ali next to Donovan Smith… There is not a technical reason. Ali is like Evan Smith that he can play any of the three inside spots. So it will really come down to who we want at the other spot. And right now, as we are sitting at this table today, J.R. played right guard last year, so that is how we would leave it. But that could still change based on the factors we have already talked about.”

Marpet started his career at right guard for his first two NFL seasons, and he played that position at a very high level. In 2017, the Bucs moved Marpet to center in their quest to get “the best five players on the field” along the offensive line. There was a learning curve for Marpet at center, but he performed well, though not as stout as he did at guard, his more natural position.

Marpet moving to left guard instead of right guard is likely due to the fact that the Bucs still hope to get a starter out of J.R. Sweezy, who was played exclusively right guard as a starter throughout his NFL career. Sweezy was signed by the Buccaneers in 2016, but was unable to play his entire first season as a Buccaneer because of back surgery. He returned in 2017, but for a variety of reasons, likely involving both health and lack of playing time for over a calendar year, Sweezy was not his bulldozing self from his days as a Seahawk.

Sweezy has not been medically cleared yet coming off his leg injury from 2018, but, for now, they’re not giving up on him.

2016 fifth round pick Caleb Benenoch – Photo by Cliff Welch/PR

The Bucs spent a fifth-round pick on Caleb Benenoch but he’s no lock to be retained. – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

As for a possible solution if Sweezy can’t get back to form, Koetter said Caleb Benenoch will likely be the wild card for the offensive line in 2018.

“The wild card in that is Caleb Benenoch,” Koetter said. “We have invested a couple years in Caleb right now, and Caleb has played a lot of positions on the offensive line. He has basically played every position but center at one time or another and also the flexibility of bringing Even Smith back we have some options.”

They believe Benencoch is a player who can step in at guard or tackle, and that includes in a starting role.

“The one thing we feel like from watching Caleb’s tape is, if it would ever be possible to put Caleb in a spot and leave him there, it would probably help him. Because Caleb is one of those guys that has been moved around so much he can never get used to playing – one week he is playing left guard and the next he is the right tackle – I think there is an art to that. We have high hopes for Caleb and again, we still have the draft.”

It sounds like though the Bucs aren’t out of the market in improving their offensive line before the 2018 season, if they had to go into the year with the guys they have right now, they believe they could get it done.

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About the Author: Trevor Sikkema

Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: trevor@pewterreport.com
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Buc 1976
3 years ago

I hope the Bucs stop moving Marpet around. He is a very good player but they need to let him stay at one position.

tomcin
Reply to  Buc 1976
3 years ago

Koetter seems to have a problem with keeping players at there natural position.

tog
tog
Reply to  Buc 1976
3 years ago

Why would you move Marpet out of position to keep SWEEZY in position? Just like moving him to center, seem the Bucs have no clue that continuity is important on the OL and you want to put your best players in their best positions.

FLBoy84
3 years ago

If there’s isn’t a G taken in the draft, at least we have some options already on the roster to fill RG. Believe the relationship and chemistry that Marpet and Smith have built off the field might be the impetus for Marpet’s move to LG. Still believe we need to grab an OT at some point to compete with Wester for the right to replace Dotson in a year or two. And recall Sweezy’s contract was re-written to include injury clauses. Trevor, being that Sweezy seems to still be recovering from his leg injury, do you know if he ,… Read more »

FLBoy84
3 years ago

Read an interesting article by Ross Tucker re: OL positional ranking based on difficulty of assignment. Found it intriguing that he felt RG was more challenging based on more one-on-ones with premiere interior pass-rushers, while LG had more help from the C. He also mentioned a key part of the LG duties was protecting the inside gap of the LT, an area of weakness for Smith, which could also be part of the reason for Marpet’s move as well. Granted this is just one man’s opinion, but a solid read nonetheless for those interested: https://www.si.com/more-sports/2008/04/04/oline-rankings

dotASC
Reply to  FLBoy84
3 years ago

this feels like the coaches are taking the opportunity to give Smith some help inside so he can hopefully Blossom to his full potential by focusing on his Edge technique.

best case scenario, the left side gels with Synergy between Marpet and Smith.

Worse case, Marpet adjusts worse than he did at center and drags Smith down with him.

personally, I see the former as being much more likely

FLBoy84
Reply to  dotASC
3 years ago

Think if anything Smith might drag Marpet down from constantly having to save him inside. :) Hoping though that they both excel and earn long-term extensions.

macabee
3 years ago

I thought this was amusing as Trevor once tweeted. Former Packer/Bears now Dolphins’ four-time pro bowl OG Josh Sitton compares playing left and right guard to ‘trying to wipe your a$$ with your opposite hand’. Never tried that but got the point! lol. I think he is saying they are totally different positions and there’a degree of difficulty when going from one to the other. I have no idea if this is pre-draft talk or they have decided and it’s in concrete. Marpet is talented so I suppose it could work. Change and versatility can be a good thing but… Read more »

FLBoy84
Reply to  macabee
3 years ago

Marpet was a 3-yr starter at LT at Hobart, so thinking he’s probably comfortable using either hand. ;)

scubog
Reply to  FLBoy84
3 years ago

Using either hand doing what FlBoy?

Rut
Rut
3 years ago

Small school or not, I doubt any talented players come into the league happy to play 3 positions in 3 years, especially after being pro bowl caliber in the first one and then not playing it again. For fuck sake they need to get their shit together. I want so bad to trust this coaching staff but time and time again their decisions make everyone go, “wait what? Why?”

Dman
3 years ago

Don’t like this. Marpet was dominant on Right side. Put him in the position to be that guy again. Solidify the line from center to right tackle. Left side is weak – D. Smith is in a make or break year – my opinion – same with Sweezy. Moving guys around sounds great on paper, not so much in battle. Build the left side with guys that have excelled on that side of the line, stop trying to rob Peter to pay Paul. If they do this, bad move.

tomcin
3 years ago

Couldn’t agree more Dman. Also this could be a make it or break it year for Winson.

Mike.Seven
3 years ago

I feel bad for Marpet he comes to play hard does a good job and must deal with coaching with small minds.

surferdudes
3 years ago

Draft Nelson, cut Sweezy, problem solved for at least the next 5 years.

Freeman Strickland
Reply to  surferdudes
3 years ago

Yes! If Nelson is there at 7. If you trade up, there is nothing to fill the other gaps with. If Nelson is not there, trade down, take Wynn or Hernandez and fill one more spot with the extra pick – RB, CB, or S.

EastEndBoy
Reply to  surferdudes
3 years ago

Agree – stop messing around – Benenoch is fine doing what he’s doing but he’s not an answer to our OL problem, neither is oft-injured Sweezy – just, get Nelson done, and then fix the D Smith mistake maybe next year and our OL starts to look like a strength, leading to more from Winston to all those shiny weapons….

plopes808
3 years ago

I’m gonna assume moving Ali to LG is about giving D Smith more help. He’s our best bet as putting Sweezy at LG would mean the whole left side of the OL is weak. If he’s there, grab Nelson and hopefully address LT next year. I’m not convinced D Smith is the answer.

Maybe we’ll all be pleasantly surprised and having Ali next to him will help Smith reach another level.

owlykat
3 years ago

Stop the stupidity. Koetter, hire a proven first rate OL Coach as good as your present DL Coach, and let him advise you how to put together a top five OL and where to fit your present Offensive Linemen. First of all you don’t have a first pick LT, the most important position to protect your QB. You have a second round player there who is a Powerful Run Blocker but a poor pass blocker, which is why he gets beat often and he has to hold and keeps getting penalties for it. He is ideal to play LG next… Read more »