Eye In The Sky comes to you from PewterReport.com contributor Steven Cheah, who has been breaking down the Buccaneers All-22 on Twitter since 2015. Cheah will be joining PewterReport.com with video analysis throughout the offseason, as well as weekly video feature analysis features during the regular season to closely examine an element of the previous week’s game. Here are a few things that stood out when watching the tape.
On Tuesday, the Buccaneers re-signed left tackle Donovan Smith to a three-year $41.25 million deal with $27 million guaranteed. Smith has been a polarizing player among Bucs fans over his first four seasons because he has all the tools to be an elite left tackle. He has certainly had streaks where he played some outstanding ball, but outside of those stretches, Smith has been inconsistent, which is why Bucs fans are seemingly all over the yard on their feelings about his new deal. I’m here to highlight some of the highs and lows of Smith’s career and where I think he can improve based on the tape.
— Steven Cheah (@CHEAH_SAY) December 14, 2017
On this play Smith shows great patience, something that stuck out often when he was playing his best football. At 6-foot-6, 338 pounds with 34 3/8-inch arms, he has the size and reach to be great when Smith’s technique is on point. In the play above, you can see he gets out of his stance well and waits to use his punch because he has a size advantage on the defensive end. Smith’s feet are married to his hands here and he makes the defensive end take the long way home.
— Steven Cheah (@CHEAH_SAY) December 23, 2017
Smith just shows off his sheer power here. The Falcons defensive end has a running start and Smith’s punch lands perfectly square on his chest plate and the end goes flying. This is the kind of stuff that gets you really excited when you watch Smith play.
— Steven Cheah (@CHEAH_SAY) November 15, 2017
Smith shows great awareness here initially blocking the crashing defensive end, passing him off, and then blocking the looping linebacker who is coming on a stunt. Smith’s initial punch has some pop to it knocking the end off, then the Penn State product shows great agility here being able to stand up the linebacker and re-anchor.
#Bucsfilm2017wk9 in terms of o-line, this is the play where LT Donovan Smith gets injured. He gets rocked back by DE's power rush and lands awkwardly. Also tweaks ankle at end pic.twitter.com/T8P9PZNSj4
— Steven Cheah (@CHEAH_SAY) November 8, 2017
“The best ability is availability” and despite this play where he gets nicked up, Smith has started all 64 games in his four seasons. This is a very overlooked factor with many players, but Smith has been an iron man since he entered the league.
— Steven Cheah (@CHEAH_SAY) October 25, 2017
While I do consider pass blocking to be the strength of Smith’s game, he does occasionally struggle vs. outside speed rushers. That’s often a problem for bigger left tackles, but if he wants to be elite like Washington’s Trent Williams or Dallas’ Tyron Smith, he’s got to get better vs. speed off the edge.
#Bucsfilm2017wk12 there was one play where Clayborn got the best of Smith. He always did pack a punch! This is the one time I noticed Smith overextend too early. He clearly learned from this mistake. pic.twitter.com/pILXP44EFo
— Steven Cheah (@CHEAH_SAY) November 30, 2017
While Smith does flash dominance when his technique is good, sometimes he gets a little sloppy and it leads to a few ugly reps. Here he gets a little too far over his skis, which makes him off balance. The Falcons defensive end catches him in that off balanced moment and knocks him down. Given Smith’s physical attributes, if he can clean up his technique to be more consistent, these plays will happen less and less often.
Areas of Improvement
Not only technique, but effort as LT Donovan Smith shows here. He gets a chip from the TE and still gives up the pressure. He has cost himself a lot of money as he's in a contract year. #Bucsfilm2018wk14 pic.twitter.com/xsLneF26Zp
— Steven Cheah (@CHEAH_SAY) December 12, 2018
Clearly I was wrong about costing himself so money, right? Anyway, these types of plays stand out when watching Smith. It’s hard to fully blame him for all of these as in reality, the ball should be out of the quarterback’s hands by the time he’s hit. That being said, offensive linemen are taught to play through the whistle and this is something that I’d label as an area of improvement of the Bucs big money left tackle.
— Steven Cheah (@CHEAH_SAY) January 3, 2019
Smith is an okay run blocker, but I’d really like to see him improve in this area. But there are plays like this one where he’ll absolutely obliterate guys.
Myles Garrett is arguably the premier 4-3 DE in the NFL. LT Donovan Smith more than held his own against him and I think it'd be a wise move to re-sign him to a long-term deal. He can not only pass block, but run block too, here sealing Garrett way inside. #Bucsfilm2018wk7 pic.twitter.com/iktYwzX9tS
— Steven Cheah (@CHEAH_SAY) October 24, 2018
Smith is often a stalemate blocker in the run game. If he can be more consistent with this part of his game and win like in the clip above, he’ll be well worth the investment.
What do you think about Smith’s new contract? Are you happy he’s going to be the team’s starting left tackle for the foreseeable future? Let me know in the comments section below or feel free to reach out to me on Twitter at @CHEAH_SAY