As has reported all offseason, the Bucs will give starting guard Ali Marpet some looks at center during the offseason program and mini-camp. 

On Wednesday, at the NFL owners meeting, Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter confirmed to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times that Marpet could take over that role in 2017. Koetter talked about the attributes that make the staff think Marpet could strengthen the offensive line with a potential move to the middle.

“Tremendous run blocker. Communicator. Good in the screen game,” Koetter said. “But again, I’m not saying he’s going to end up being our center. I’m saying, I mean, Ali played every snap at right guard last season, one of only two offensive linemen to play every snap, and Ali has had two solid, solid seasons for his first two years as a guard. But the flexibility of getting your best five out there. If our best five includes Ali at center and let’s just say “let’s get a little bit bigger with Sweezy and Pamphile at guard’…but you never know.

“If something happens, Pamphile might have to move, Sweezy might have to flip over to left guard. We feel good with either Joe or Evan playing center. We’ve won games with both those guys playing center for us. But when we were watching our cutups, we went through games last year where all of a sudden we were beat up and we had some strange combinations at guard and center.”

The Bucs will take a look at a number of combinations in order to find the best five to put on the field. 

“Anything we experiment with now, through the off-season and through the preseason, that’s just that,” Koetter said. “That’s experimentation to find the best five and give guys experience at spots because in the real 16 game season, you’ve only got seven of them (active).”

Bucs G J.R. Sweezy – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The “X” factor in Marpet’s possible move to center essentially hinges on a healthy J.R. Sweezy, a free agent acquisition in 2016 who missed the entire season with a back injury.

“So we have some flexibility with what we’ve done in our moves and the wildcard is J.R. Sweezy,” Koetter said. “Now, you know, we signed J.R. a year ago. It’s not his fault at all because he had no control over what happened to him. He had to have back surgery. We’re excited about him coming back. He was back a couple weeks ago. He went through a thorough physical. He looks great. But we’re going to get the best five on the field, so J.R., when he first comes back, he’s gong to work at right guard and he’ll also be playing some left guard. Right guard was his position in Seattle.”

Share On Socials

About the Author: Mark Cook

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
4 years ago

I have no doubt that he’d be excellent there. He’s got the mobility to pull from the center spot and be great at it, which really only a few centers in the league have. He’s strong enough as a pass blocker that he could take on interior linemen one one one, which is also pretty rare for the position. He gets so low in the running game, so he’ll always be able to get push on man/power plays. Really, there’s nothing you’d want from a center I don’t think he’d be well above average at. The idea of Sweezy at… Read more »

4 years ago

After being chastised by Dr.D for even suggesting Marpet may one day move to center; when it actually happens perhaps Dr.D will pay up with that Diet Coke with lots of ice in the souvenir cup he still owes me.

4 years ago

Dr. D, and some others Scubog. Certain Hawley fans on this site who’ve also ridiculed a lot of us for even making the suggestion. I like the idea of Marpet, and Winston growing together for years to come. Hawley, Smith, just aren’t long term answers, and drafting one now no matter how good would take time to learn the system, and the NFL game. Some posters may have more crow to eat when we draft a running back, and move on from Martin.

4 years ago

Marpet is a mauler, a technician, and has some wheels. If his best spot is at center, then great. So maybe Hawley moves to left guard?

Reply to  BucWild02
4 years ago

No way Hawley plays guard. He doesn’t have the strength or the push. He can barely hold his own against strong interior defenders as a center, where he most often has help.

4 years ago

Hawley at center=no run game.

This is good news.

4 years ago

All of this depends on Sweezy health and performance. I like the idea of Marpet at Center. I suspect regardless of what happens, Hawley is a Buc for one more season. This definitely enforces the thoughts just like college, you have a major and a minor ; so the majority of players have to be able to play more than one position at OBP. Go Bucs!

Reply to  Horse
4 years ago

Horse you are the first person I thought of when i saw the title of the article. I knew you would be pleased.

4 years ago

Once again, PR is all over it. You guys definitely are the source of this team. I personally love the move as it would enable him and Jameis to grow together. Now I didn’t think he would be too for it as the pay decrease is pretty significant. He is one of my favorite player son this team. He has quick feet and he finishes plays as a mauler. This is good news.