WHAT THE BUCS HAVE AT GUARD AND CENTER Joe Hawley, a late addition to the Bucs roster last season, established himself as the Bucs starter at center, after replacing an injured Evan Smith. The Bucs also have Josh Allen and Ben Gottschalk listed as centers on their official roster. Guard wise, Ali Marpet will be joined by free agent J.R. Sweezy who comes over from Seattle to replace Logan Mankins who retired following the 2015 season. Antoine Everett will compete for a job in camp as well, and Tampa Bay has Kevin Pamphile, who while listed as a tackle, can play inside as well and the team looks at him as their main swing offensive lineman.
WHAT THE BUCS NEED AT GUARD AND CENTER
On paper the Buccaneers appear to be very solid at both positions, and while there is a chance they could end up drafting a guard or center, most likely if they do, it will come in the later rounds. The Bucs will also add some undrafted free agents to come in and compete prior to training camp kicking off in late July. But overall most are pleased with the current roster of players, and arguably the team has as good of starters and depth as they have had in years, especially if Sweezy plays as well as the organization thinks he will.
BUCS BEST BET AT G/C (EARLY 1-4)
G Joe Thuney – N.C. State – Senior – 6-5, 304 – 4.95 Thuney was one of the highest-graded offensive linemen in 2015 by Pro Football Focus and has been the Wolfpack’s left tackle for two out of the last three years. Although he doesn’t overwhelm opponents with his size or power, Thuney has surprising strength with 28 reps of 225 pounds at the Combine. Thuney was one of the most athletic linemen in Indianapolis, running a blazing fast 4.95 in the 40-yard dash with an impressive 1.70 split.
BUCS BEST BET AT G/C (LATE 5-7) Rees Odihiambo – Boise State – Senior – 6-4, 314 – 5.35
Odihiambo has as good of feet as some of the top guards in the draft but durability is a big issue for the Texas native who has missed at least four games in each season he played in. Odihiambo is raw but very athletic, and the team that ends up with him has a player with upside.
TOP 10 GUARDS AND CENTERS 1. G Cody Whitehair – Kansas State – Senior – 6-3, 301 – 5.02
In a draft where the guard position isn’t overly strong, Whitehair stands out clearly as the best prospect. With experience at guard and tackle his versatility is definitely an asset. Whitehair showed incredible durability by playing in all 51 games in his career for Kansas State. Whitehair has great bend and does a tremendous job with his hands to help ride defenders exactly in the direction he wants them to go. The only real negative in his game is his tendency to grab if he allows defenders to get on top of him with a slow break out of his stance.
2. G Joshua Garnett – Stanford – Senior – 6-4, 312 – 5.32 Garnett earned the 2015 Outland Trophy as the best interior lineman in the country who could fit at multiple positions as a pro depending on the scheme according to scouts. Dane Brugler described Garnett’s physique as a “Coke machine.” Garnett sometimes struggles at the second level because of average quickness, but if he gets there, and gets his hands on the defender, they rarely get off the block.
3. C Ryan Kelly – Alabama – Senior – 6-4, 311 – 5.03
Easily the best center prospect in the NFL Draft, Allen was the undisputed leader of the Crimson Tide offensive line the last two seasons where he did not allow a single sack. Kelly is a gritty, instinctive player, that while isn’t the most athletic player, uses his smarts and toughness to dominate defenders at times. The only knock on Kelly is durability as he has missed some games due to injury over the last two seasons.
4. C Nick Martin – Notre Dame – Senior – 6-4, 299 – 5.22
Martin is the younger brother of Dallas Cowboys All-Pro guard Zack Martin so teams know he has a strong bloodline. And the film proves Martin is very talented like his sibling, where he possesses terrific lower-body flexibility is excellent at combo blocking with his guard teammates.
5. G Christian Westerman – Arizona State – Senior – 6-3, 298 – 5.12
Another incredibly strong athlete, Westerman reportedly bench 225 pounds 41 times in college. Westerman bends well and is impressive in his lateral movement showing an ability to shadow defenders well. Due to less than ideal length Westerman may eventually be forced inside to center.
6. G Joe Dahl – Washington State – Senior – 6-4, 304 – 5.18 Dahl may not be the most imposing looking guard in the draft, but according to scouts he has strong hands to latch onto defenders. Dahl plays with very good knee bend and shows good core flexibility which works well for him when pass blocking. Dahl broke his foot back in November of last year which means teams will look closely at his medical report on his surgically repaired break.
7. G Isaac Seumulo – Oregon State – Junior – 6-4, 303 – 5.19
Seumulo, like Dahl had a medical issue with his foot last year which creates concern for some NFL teams. But if his medical is satisfactory, Seumulo could see his name called inside the Top 100 picks as scouts describe him as one of the most pro-ready guards available in this year’s draft.
8. G Connor McGovern – Missouri – Junior – 6-4, 306 – 5.11
Described as a “weight room warrior” there may not be stronger player in the NFL Draft. McGovern holds numerous weight room records at Missouri including squatting 690 pounds five times. While his strength is an asset is appears to hurt his flexibility somewhat and he can play stiff at times. His ability to also play tackle in an emergency will be an attractive quality for NFL GMs come draft weekend however.
9. G Vidal Alexander – LSU – Senior – 6-5, 326 – 5.57
Versatility is one on Alexander’s biggest strengths according to scouts. Alexander started nine games at right tackle as a true freshman in 2012 then moved inside as a sophomore and junior, where he started 25 games at left guard before moving bcd to tackle last season.
10. G Joe Thuney – N.C. State – Senior – 6-5, 304 – 4.95
Thuney was one of the highest-graded offensive linemen in 2015 by Pro Football Focus and has been the Wolfpack’s left tackle for two out of the last three years. Although he doesn’t overwhelm opponents with his size or power, Thuney has surprising strength with 28 reps of 225 pounds at the Combine. Thuney was one of the most athletic linemen in Indianapolis, running a blazing fast 4.95 in the 40-yard dash with an impressive 1.70 split.
BEST OF THE REST 11. G Graham Glasgow – Michigan – Senior – 6-6, 307 – 5.13
Glasgow has a legal issue at Michigan which is a bit of concern for some teams, but is very athletic and is excellent at identifying and blocking his assignment at the second level. Glasgow turned an impressive Shrine game week into an invite to the Senior Bowl in Mobile. If his character concerns are in the past, Glasgow could be a great Day 2 value.
12. C Max Tuerk –USC – Senior – -65, 298 – 5.12
Turek had a smiler college career to former FSU standout Cam Erving where he began as a tackle them moved to center and really excelled. however Tuerk tore an ACL back in October and while reports say he is on schedule with his rehab,
13. Sebastian Tretola – Arkansas – Senior – 6-4, 314 – 5.45
If not for some conditioning and weight issues Tretola might see his draft grade a little higher than the fifth round where he is projected to go. Tretola uses that bulk however to drive blockers and graded out well for the Razorbacks during his senior season.
14. Rees Odihiambo – Boise State – Senior – 6-4, 314 – 5.35
Odihiambo has as good of feet as some of the top guards in the draft but durability is a big issue for the Texas native who has missed at least four games in each season he played in. Odihiambo is raw but very athletic and the team that ends up with him has a player with upside.
15. Landon Turner – North Carolina – Senior – 6-4, 330 – 5.58
Turner was recognized with ACC first-team honors as a senior and led the team with pancake blocks according to coaches. Tuner isn’t the most flexible player and has stiff hips, but is a solid drive blocker that latches on to defenders and doesn’t let go.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at email@example.com
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