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.

Strengths

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.

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.

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.

“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.

Weaknesses

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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I hail from, and currently live in New Jersey, but have been a Buccaneers fan since 1997. I have been a PewterReport subscriber/consumer almost as long. In 2015 I wanted to get closer to the game, so I started breaking down the All-22 tape and haven't missed a week since. I put all clips out via twitter @CHEAH_SAY and will also be putting together some features on PewterReport with the Eye in the Sky column.

25 COMMENTS

  1. Not thrilled about the contract, but honestly we have bigger issues to address so hopefully he can improve this year. I would have given the franchise rage and one year prove it with new coaches. Last year was contract year and he was bad imo. His run blocking is not good. He is not good against speed rushers, and his penalties although in number may not be out of line with “average” they seem to come at worst possible times to me anyways.

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  2. I agree with Fredster from the standpoint that we have other issues to address. Not sure any are bigger than protecting our QB’s blindside though. I am just glad we do not have to press and use our first round pick on another left tackle. Dream scenario for me would be to be pull off a trade with Denver for additional picks and snag Delvin White in the 12 spot. That 12 spot has been good to us in the past and I believe Devin White will be the same kind of impact player Derwin James was for San Diego last year and line backer sure looks like an area of need.

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    • yeah, it’s nice that they aren’t forced to use an early pick on a LT in a class that lacks elite LTs

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  3. I was in favor of letting him test the market, but I like what they did. let’s get back to the bigger fish to fry which is the defense.

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  4. If he would have tested the market he would have gotten 14 or 15 million from someone and we would have had absolutely nobody to play LT… He’s here for 2 years, it doesn’t mean we can’t find his replacement in that time, the Right Sode of the Line is what needs to be fixed… So let’s get this Offseason started!

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  5. The “good” in Donovan’s tape shows just thag- just…good. Not dominant. Not Franchise Left Tackle.

    The “bad” in Donovan’s tape shows a guy who doesn’t just have plays where he gets beat by his man, those happen. Donovan’s problem is after 4 years with the same coach he has constant mental lapses in his technique and fundamentals. There has to be a point where you say this is who the guy is, no matter who’s coaching.

    But we’re in the situation we’re in so they really had no choice to resign him or tag him. It’s unfortunate.

    Also, in that last video clip against Myles Garrett, that is not at all a highlight for Donovan.

    Garrett crashes HARD inside from almost a wide 9 position, getting almost completely horizontal before Smith even has hands on him. By the time Smith has a hand on him, Garrett is running into his nose tackles back and while Donovan is a big fat object in the way, his (Garrett’s) momentum and positioning was not going to allow him to cut it back and have a chance to make a tackle on this cut back run.

    If anything that last video should be a highlight for OJ standing up a linebacker one on one in the hole and turning this run from a loss into a 3 or 4 yard gain.

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    • Umm you must not know what a seal block is where the offensive linemen takes his responsibility an seals his man out of a running lane just like what Smith did there to Myles Garrett. The first person Garret makes contact with is Smith who then easily seals Garrett out of the play and not only stands his man up but he completely removes him from the play and allows Garrett no way to affect the play. Yes at first O.J. does a good job of getting in the LB’s way but O.J. did not get his hands on the Lb’s and if he had he would have been able to seal the LB out of the play and allow Barber to have a little bit more running room.

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  6. I always think the Bucs compete with themselves when dealing with player contracts. The Pats did not franchise Trent Brown as many thought would happen. It will be interesting to see for what, and with who he signs for. Chances are it will be for less then what Smith got. They are comparable players although one has a SB ring, and playoff experience.

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    • Surferdudes – Give it a rest on Trenton Brown. He was shown the door in San Fran after his first 3 years where he started all 16 games in only 1 of 3 seasons. He regularly got the QB killed. He was a scrap heap project that benefitted from playing with Brady, not the other way around. That’s why New England signed him to a 1 year prove-it deal worth $1.9m. When he signs with a team, they’ll soon find out they overpaid for a new version of Anthony Collins.

      He is not in the ballpark of Donovan Smith.

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  7. I would like to seen Smith signed to more years. Three-year $41.25 million deal with $27 million guaranteed. I would like to seen a contract 4 to 5 years with the same guaranteed money. If Smith improves he will get 18 million a year after his contract is up.

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    • I agree. I think if the contract was longer it would essentially give the Bucs insurance if Smith becomes an elite LT as they’d have him for under market value. If the guaranteed money was all up front it wouldn’t make any difference.

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  8. Trent Brown is so overrated is laughable. Just like Solder before him, he’s just another OT that benefits from rarely playing from behind, having a solid running game, having a play caller who knows how to call plays to neutralize a strong pass rush (screens, quick passes, draws), and most importantly a smart QB who doesn’t take many sacks.

    Put Brown on the Bucs last year and Smith on the Pats, and Brown would be the most hated Buc by the fans and media, and Smith would be getting a huge contract in FA.

    Sure Smith isn’t perfect and still can improve, but that can be said of a lot of 25 year old players.

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    • Two thumbs up!

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      • thank you!

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  9. If I was Jason Licht, I would have gone for a longer term contract with Donovan Smith. For all the technique errors Steven Cheah in the article and by all you fans in the comments, which are all fair assessments, as well as the “effort” issues laid at Smith’s doorstep, he’s still one of the 16 best left tackles in the league if not one of the ten best. Given the Bucs need to address right guard this year and right tackle soon, Demar Dotson isn’t getting any younger, as well as a laundry list of defensive holes that need plugging, I think locking down Smith is a wise move on Licht’s part. If anything I would have locked him up for a longer period, as I said to start with, giving me more time to address other issues.

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  10. Nice breakdowns of some of Smith’s clips. I’ve made it no secret on these boards that I think Donovan Smith is an absolute beast at Left Tackle. While he isn’t perfect, he’s the best lineman the Bucs have in my opinion. He’s durable, he’s nasty, and he typically does his job on an island against the premiere pass rusher on the opposing team. If he was the left tackle for New Orleans or New England, he would have given up zero pressures or sacks since their QB doesn’t hold the ball while waiting for plays to develop.

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    • He’s nowhere close to the worst player on the line, but he’s definitely not better than Ali Marpet!

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  11. surferdudes, Brown also has the luxury of playing in an offense whose sceme is based on paasing the ball primarily on short to intermediate routes.
    This allows Brady to get the ball out of his hands in less than 2.5 seconds. For the most part, Drew Brees is in the same type of offense.
    Koetters offense was to throw the ball more on intermediate or long passes for gash plays. 20 or more yards.
    It appears BA’s offensive s am a is modeled under the same design
    Whatever the case, there is no doubt that Smith is having to hold his blocks much longer than Brown.
    This isn’t to say Smith doesn’t need to sharpen up his game, he does. If he would just stop taking plays off and play until the whistle, most of his glaring mistakes that make him a lightning rod for criticism would end.

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    • I don’t think he takes plays off. His effort is adequate. It’s like you said, more playing through the whistle. And with a QB that typically holds the ball longer (both by design for a vertical passing game & some habit), the whole line just has to block for longer.

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  12. BTW, I love breaking down plays on film, glad to see that this might be done more often.

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    • Thank you & you can count on it!

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  13. I’ve seen four better LTs in the Alliance of American Football. The Bucs could have picked up one of them much cheaper and they are already proven players and would just have to learn our plays.

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    • Based on what?!

      Were these four great LTs going up against Cam Jordan and Myles Garrett or a guy that was flipping burgers a few weeks ago?

      Some of the stuff I read on here..smh

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    • You have to be out of your mind based by that comment owlykat. If any of the LT’s in the AAF were good players they would be in the NFL on a roster not in the AAF. The amount of time the scouting departments invest in finding talent is unreal. With that being said you can beat that the players in the AAF are not better than any in the NFL.

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  14. Steven, please watch the Redskins tape on the Bucs final play of the game where The DE blows by Smith, hacks Fitz who fumbles the ball to the ‘Skins. Game over.
    I don’t know what was going on in Smith’s mind on that play, but I don’t think it was football.

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