PewterReport.com continues its daily feature previewing the upcoming NFL Draft with position-by-position analysis. PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook analyzes what the Bucs have currently on their roster at each position and Trevor Sikkema provides a comprehensive overall ranking of the top players at that position going into the draft. Scott Reynolds makes his projections for Tampa Bay with PewterReport.com’s Bucs’ Best Bets – one early round pick, and one from the later rounds.
WHAT THE BUCS HAVE AT GUARD AND CENTER
One of the Bucs deepest positions are the guards and centers, with several combinations they can choose from as they head into the 2017 season.
Last year’s starters at guard, Kevin Pamphile and Ali Marpet return, as does a bonus player in J.R. Sweezy who is reported to be healthy after missing all of 2016 with a back injury. Sweezy was signed as a free agent in March of 2016, but never saw the field as a Buccaneer due to his injury. But his hopeful full-health return gives Tampa Bay a ton of options that they plan to explore this offseason.
One of those options is moving Marpet to center, then having Pamphile and Sweezy play along side him. The Bucs like the idea of getting bigger and stronger in the middle, and Marpet would allow them to do just that. Evan Smith, who can also play guard is still in the mix, and last year’s starter at center, Joe Hawley, was re-signed in free agency.
Josh Allen, Ben Gottschalk, Caleb Benenoch, Jarvis Harrison and James Stone are also currently on the roster and will provide depth and insurance at both positions, as the Bucs like to have their guards and centers cross trained.
The battle to find the three best starting interior lineman this training camp should be one of the most competitive and interesting for the fans the media to watch when camp opens in late July.
WHAT THE BUCS NEED AT GUARD AND CENTER
It is hard to fathom the Buccaneers even entertaining the idea of drafting a guard or a center in next week’s NFL Draft, but not 100 percent out of the question. Just very unlikely. Most likely the team signs a few undrafted free agents in hopes of finding a diamond in the rough, but with the two positions the deepest of any group on the team, it appears some quality football players will be cut following the team’s final preseason game. Some that could have even started for this team in past seasons. That is a nice luxury to have.
Click the next page to see the Top 10 projected interior offensive linemen in this class.
Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org