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OVERVIEW Is Tampa Bay prepared to enter training camp with Anthony Davis and Kenyatta Walker as its starting offensive tackles?
Well, that all depends on what the Buccaneers do in the 2006 NFL Draft. The Bucs will have the opportunity to draft an offensive tackle with the 23rd overall pick, where Auburn’s Marcus McNeil and Miami of Florida’s Eric Winston likely will be available.
However, there’s a reasonable chance the Bucs will opt against investing their first-round pick on an offensive tackle. Tampa Bay signed the 6-foot-4, 329-pound Davis to a contract extension two weeks ago, and Walker (6-5, 302) re-signed for five years earlier in the offseason.
The Bucs believe Davis’ best playing days are ahead of him, and he’s off to a great start this offseason. Davis entered the offseason workout program in great shape, which will allow him to work more on technique as opposed to focusing soley on dropping some unwanted pounds.
Tampa Bay’s offense was severely hindered by the play of the tackle positions in passing situations last season, and the Bucs are hoping both Davis and Walker can improve in this area. That would allow the Bucs to feature less two-tight end sets and open up head coach Jon Gruden’s playbook.
Although Walker re-signed for five years, his deal is structured in a way that would allow the Bucs to part ways with him after just one or two seasons. In the meantime, the team is patiently waiting for 2005 third-round draft pick, T Chris Colmer, to regain full health after undergoing shoulder surgery at the end of the season.
The fact that Tampa Bay pushed hard to sign New England free agent T Tom Ashworth before he eventually signed with Seattle suggests Colmer (6-5, 310), who struggled in training camp and preseason last year, will not realistically push for a starting job in 2006, although the Bucs would be pleasantly surprised if he did.
Tampa Bay signed Dallas restricted free agent T Torrin Tucker to a two-year contract a few weeks ago. While he started 24 games for the Cowboys over the past three seasons, Tucker (6-6, 305) isn’t a sure bet to make Tampa Bay’s 53-man roster, especially since he’s scheduled to earn $1.2 million in 2006.
With that high of a salary, Tucker, who is capable of playing either guard or tackle, must at the very least replace Todd Steussie as Tampa Bay’s backup tackle. Ideally, the Bucs would like to see Tucker push Walker and/or Davis for a starting job.
Sam Lightbody (6-9, 325), Stefan Rodgers (6-4, 305) and Todd Williams (6-5, 325) will be hard pressed to earn roster spots and likely will serve as extra bodies in training camp.
In Pewter Report’s last mock draft — version 2.0, we had Tampa Bay taking McNeil with its first-round pick since D’Brickashaw Ferguson (Virginia) and Winston Justice (USC) likely will be gone by the time the Bucs pick.
However, several teams around the league, including the Bucs, have some real concerns about McNeil’s stenosis (narrowing) of the spine, which has prompted us to change that prediction. Bucs fans will be able to view Pewter Report’s final mock draft – version 3.0, on PewterReport.com later this week.
Should the Bucs decide to pass on McNeil and Winston, they still could invest their second-round draft pick on Daryn Colledge (Boise State), Jonathan Scott (Texas), or Jeremy Trueblood (Boston College).
Andrew Whitworth (LSU) and Zach Strief (Northwestern) could be options for the Bucs in rounds 3-4, and Brad Butler (Virginia), Travis Leffew (Louisville), and Donald Penn (Utah) are all late-round possibilities for Tampa Bay.
Current Position Grade: C
Bucs Update Publishing Schedule April 23 – Centers/Guards April 24 – Defensive Ends April 25 – Defensive Tackles April 26 – Linebackers April 27 – Cornerbacks April 27 – Safeties April 28 – Kickers/Punters
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