Bucs left tackle Donovan Smith isn’t the most popular offensive lineman on the team. Some Bucs fans see him as a serviceable, while some think far less.
One person who is a Donovan Smith fan is, well, Donovan Smith.
On Thursday, Smith stood at the podium and PewterReport.com asked the former Penn State product about comments from George Warhop – his position coach – who last year said Smith has the talent to be one of the best tackles in the NFL.
“I’m real close. Obviously, [I’m in] year four,” Smith said. “Experience is the best teacher. A lot of guys sometimes take longer than others and sometimes take shorter than others. So, I’m right there and it’s up to me to decide really. I’m right there, I’m pushing forward to be top-three, top-two, number one tackle in the league. So, you know, it’s all up to me.”
Confidence is nothing that Smith lacks, even if a segment of fans would like to see him replaced or moved to right tackle. However the organization likes Smith, and sources have told PewterReport.com the team would like to lock him up to a long-term deal, possibly before the 2018 regular season begins.
Smith graded out far from one of the best tackles in the NFL, inc fact, according to PFF, Smith was rated at No. 53 in the NFL with just a 51.9 grade.
In fairness to Smith, he had to play next to two different guards last season, and many times it was a different player every other series. Despite the inconvenience of not knowing if it would be Kevin Pamphile or Evan Smith next to him on successive drives, Smith surprisingly said it really wasn’t an issue for him.
“It wasn’t difficult at all,” Smith said. “I’ve had snaps with Evan, I’ve had snaps with Kevin so they knew how I played, I knew how they played. It was just that tap on the shoulder, ‘Hey, I’m in.’ It’s kind of just triggered you, you knew how to do things. Like you said, we worked through it all throughout practice and training camp and stuff. Preparation factor, when you prepare for it, you don’t really have to adjust to anything. There’s really no difference. So, between those two coming in there, in terms of difficulty, no.”
While Smith took the high road when asked about the platooning at left guard, he did welcome the news that Marpet would be his partner in 2018.
“That’s big. When I heard that, I texted Ali and said, ‘You could have told me that before I had to find out through the media [laughs].’ It was good. We worked together at the Senior Bowl, left tackle, left guard. It’s really just getting a feel for each other. Obviously Ali is a great player and any time you get him next to a guy, it’s going to make us better. He played at a high level at right guard and a high level at center and he’s going to play at a high level at left guard if that’s how it works out. He’s a great guy. He’s a competitor.”
Bucs general manager Jason Licht recently said he wanted to get tougher in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Smith agreed that can set the tone for the whole season.
“A football team thrives off of the offensive line,” Smith said. “Without the offensive line, defensive line, there’s really no football, it’s 7-on-7. You have to have those guys up front, big, mean, tenacious guys who are going to push each other and take lead and change of the team because, like I said, there’s four to five of us on the field at a time. It’s almost a must to have a great defensive line, offensive line to – accountability, mental toughness, discipline, all of those good things, to tie them together. So, that’s what we have from top to bottom on both sides.”