WHAT THE BUCS HAVE AT OFFENSIVE TACKLE
The Buccaneers feel they are stocked well at the tackle position after selecting Donovan Smith in the second round of the 2016 where he started all 16 games and played well for a rookie. On the right side, Tampa Bay will return Demar Dotson who has already been named the starter by head coach Dirk Koetter. After Dotson went down with a knee injury in the preseason, Tampa Bay signed Gosder Cherilus who is also set to be back in 2016. Third-year player Kevin Pamphile is listed as a tackle on the Bucs official roster but has the ability to play guard and center as well.
WHAT THE BUCS NEED AT OFFENSIVE TACKLE
Right now it appears the Bucs are set at the tackle position. However if one of the top players somehow slip to No. 9 it will be tough for the Buccaneers to pass on them, even with more obvious needs elsewhere. The opportunity to draft an elite tackle doesn’t come along very often and with Cherilus and Dotson both on the backside of 30, looking towards the the future isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially with keeping quarterback Jameis Winston healthy is a huge priority.
BUCS BEST BET AT OT (EARLY 1-4)
Germaine Ifedi – Texas A&M – Junior – 6-6, 324 – 5.27
With the Bucs possibly addressing defense in the first round, it leaves them options in the second round and that is where a tackle like Ifedi could come into play. While they are set currently at the position it appears, Cherilus could be playing his final season for the Bucs, and Demar Dotson is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2016 season. Ifedi has some flaws in his game, particularly with some questionable footwork at times. But the massive Texas A&M product has great length and an overpowering wingspan that engulfs defensive linemen. Spending a year learning the system and improving his technique would benefit Ifedi who could be a cornerstone tackle for the Bucs for years to come.
BUCS BEST BET AT OT (LATE 5-7)
Dominic Jackson – Alabama – Senior – 6-5, 313 – N/A
Jackson is a blue collar type player that fit perfectly in Alabama’s lunch pail grind it out type of offense. Jackson is most likely a guard at the next level but was surprisingly solid in pass protection as a tackle for the most part while at Alabama. His versatility and toughness is something that appeals to NFL teams. Scouts say Jackson has some hip tightness that limits his athleticism somewhat but plays at a good pad level and rarely gets pushed out of position. Jackson still has a lot of room for improvement and likely is a Day 3 pick.
TOP 10 OFFENSIVE TACKLES
1. Laremy Tunsil – Mississippi – Junior – 6-5, 310 – 5.23
Tunsil is the top-rated tackle prospect in this year’s draft and for good reason. A three-year starter in the SEC gives him a resume few can boast, and not only was he a starter, he was dominant at times including allowing just one sack as a true freshmen. Tunsil isn’t without a few question marks, mainly about durability. The Lake City, Fla, native was banged up frequently in his three years at Ole Miss, however none were very serious. Still question marks pop up about how he will hold up in the NFL. Tunsil still has room to improve but as far as being pro-ready, but most NFL general managers and scouts would bet the farm Tunsil is the best of this year’s talented crop of tackles.
2. Ronnie Stanley – Notre Dame – Junior – 6-6, 312 – 5.20
Following an impressive post-season circuit of showcasing his talents to NFL teams, Notre Dame’s Stanley closed the gap between he and Tunsil, one that many thought was impossible. And while he isn’t Tunsil, he will be a heck of a consolation prize for the team that misses out on the Ole Miss standout and ends up with Stanley. The Las Vegas native still has room to grow and teams will expect him to get better playing at a lower pad level while also improving his base.
3. Jack Conklin – Michigan State – Junior – 6-5, 308 – 5.00
Conklin has seen his stock improve over the last 12 months, and much like his early career as a barely recruited high school player, Conklin just keeps working hard and eventually you can’t help but take notice. Conklin is a former walk-on at Michigan State who eventually ended up starting 40 straight games for the Spartans. While he doesn’t necessarily possess the same athleticism of Stanley and Tunsil, Conklin is a smart, instinctive player who has an edge and plays with a little chip on his shoulder. He will still need to refine his game at the next level, in particular working on getting better playing in space and not lunging which affects his balance and hand placement.
4. Jason Spriggs – Indiana – Senior – 6-6, 301 – 4.94
Spriggs had an impressive career as a starter for the Hoosiers, only allowing two sacks in 431 pass attempts last season. Spriggs will need to work on aspects of his game after coming from a uptempo style offense at Indiana where he relied on quickness and angles as opposed to mauling opponents. However in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, Spriggs impressed NFL front offices with his nastiness at times and did a great job of playing a second past the whistle.
5. Taylor Decker – Ohio State – Senior – 6-7, 310 – 5.10
Decker finished with 42 consecutive starts including 28 at left tackle during his career in Columbus and was named Big Ten offensive lineman of the year last season, while also earning All-Big Ten honors and serving as a team captain. Decker could end up being a great value for a team looking for a tackle later in the first round as he has all the physical tools to succeed at the next level. Good knee bend, plays aggressive and a natural leader, Decker could step in an become a starter right out of the gate. Like all prospects his game isn’t perfect, as he can be late out of the snap at times according to scouts and occasionally allows defenders to get on top of him too soon.
6. Germaine Ifedi – Texas A&M – Junior – 6-6, 324 – 5.27
A little raw, but with a ton of athleticism, Ifedi possesses a massive wingspan that engulfs defenders. Unfortunately he sometimes relies on that too much and his feet can get tangled and occasionally loses his base. Ifedi possesses a strong upper body and has quick feet for someone of his size.
7. Le’Raven Clark – Texas Tech – Senior – 6-5, 316 – 5.16
Clark could eventually end up as a guard in the NFL but has the skill set to be a tackle with some improvement in his technique. Like many offensive linemen who play in a wide-open style offense, there are nuances in his game that will need to get better before he will see success in the NFL. Clark mostly set up in a two-point stance while in college and wasn’t asked often to be aggressive moving forward, instead inviting defenders to come to him.
8. Shon Coleman – Auburn – Junior – 6-5, 307 – N/A
Coleman is an incredible feel good story of a player who beat incredible odds to get to where he is today. Coleman was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2010 and spent two seasons beating the disease before becoming an impact starter for Auburn. Coleman is a solid pass protector and isn’t easily moveable with a good punch to keep defenders off balance. He occasionally will lock his feet and lose his balance, but overall with some added bulk and muscle, could be a solid NFL starter.
9. Gerald Hawkins – LSU – Junior – 6-6, 305 – 5.23
Hawkins has the natural athleticism to be successful in the NFL but will need some work and additional bulk to see his full potential. His pass protection is solid according to scouts but has some deficiencies in run blocking, particularly with his hands. Hawkins slides very easily and has the footwork to be a left tackle in the NFL but will need to continue to refine his game and technique.
10. Caleb Benenoch – Junior – 6-5, 311 – 4.98
Projecting as a right tackle at the next level, Benenoch is intriguing to many NFL teams. He has the length to be effective in the NFL but like so many offensive linemen coming out of college who played in a spread offense, he has areas to improve on before becoming a starter. Scouts say he possesses good initial quickness but doesn’t trust what he sees at times, hesitating and allowing pass rushers to dictate the action.
BEST OF THE REST
11. Willie Beavers – Western Michigan – Senior – 6-5, 321 – 5.28
Beavers was second team All-MAC in 2014 after starting 13 games at left tackle and earned first team honors in 2016. Scouting reports on Beavers say displays good athleticism to play the left tackle position with very good feet and agility and gets off the ball well.
12. Kyle Murphy – Stanford – Senior – 6-6, 305 – N/A
Murphy looks exactly the way you would draw up an NFL offensive lineman. A strong upper body build, trim midsection and long arms. Murphy excels at run blocking and will need to improve his footwork as a pass blocker at the next level.
13. Alex Lewis – Nebraska – Senior – 6-6, 312 – 5.22
Lewis showed flashes at this year’s East-West Shrine game, and caught the attention of the NFL personnel who were in attendance. Despite being solid player for the Cornhuskers, Lewis was involved in a few off-field instances including spending 45 days in jail for assault as a freshmen at Colorado. Lewis had mid-round talent, but some errors in judgment will make some teams question if he is for them.
14. John Theus – Georgia – Senior – 6-6, 313 – 5.22
A versatile lineman, Theus played right tackle and left tackle while starting 48 games and playing in 53 during his career for the Bulldogs. Teams love his aggressiveness and willingness to stick up for his teammates. He has been described as a “plodder” at times and doesn’t possess the ideal footwork. But could fit the bill of a backup swing player that many teams need and covet.
15. Avery Young – Auburn – Junior – 6-5, 328 – 5.39
Avery showcased his versatility at Auburn, playing both inside and out over this career which is plus in the NFL, especially as a lineman on either side of the ball. Avery has terrific size and length but can be stiff at times and doesn’t bend as well as teams would like.
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, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. 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 protected]
OL & QB are both positions you do not want to wait until you need one to get one.
Getting an OL at 9, although not a sexy pick, is a smart and pretty safe one. That would be my 2nd choice after trading down.
Hey Mark- good stuff. While I don’t always agree, you guys do really GREAT work. thank you
BPA for me. Good report Mark.
Once again this is a position where the Bucs aren’t in a desperate need to draft.
I think Dotson has three more years left in him.
The prudent thing would be to rewrite the guy a 4 year contract which would also cover this year. Bump his salary for sure this year because he is definitely underpaid for a starting RT.
Award him some guaranteed money over the next two years and if his play starts deteriorating you can always say goodbye in the third year.
Sounds good…..now just get him to sign the paper!!
While OT doesn’t look like the highest priority now as compared to D-line, I’m not opposed to taking one at some point if they are clearly the BPA at the time. I’ve never thought Dotson was anything special and he’s no sure thing to even be here in another year, Cherilus is on the downside of his career too and Panphile is perfect as a 6th man. Along with Donovan Smith, that’s the four players on the roster. The position doesn’t look so deep to me.
If a top ten ot is not available at #9 then I would go after DE,DT or CB in Rd-1. I believe Tradew down Twice and get more mid round picks is the best way to improved the bucs.Go Bucs
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