PewterReport.com analyzes the top players in the 2018 NFL Draft with its position previews. Trevor Sikkema previews the offensive guard and center positions with a comprehensive look at what the Bucs have and what they need, a detailed list of this year’s top interior offensive linemen and offers up the annual PewterReport.com Bucs’ Best Bets – one early round pick, and a pick from the later rounds.
What The Bucs Have At Offensive Guard/Center
The Buccaneers interior offensive line was a problem in 2017. It started off with promise. Going into training camp, Ali Marpet was moving to center to hopefully have an Alex Mack-like effect on the offensive line like what happened in Atlanta with the Falcons in 2016, J.R. Sweezy was finally back and healthy after his back surgery forced him to miss an entire year, and Kevin Pamphile was seen as a young, promising offensive lineman who could play guard or tackle well and was entering a contract year, so you’d figure they were getting his best.
Bucs RG JR Sweezy – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Those things didn’t exactly work out.
Marpet was fine at center, but he wasn’t elite and dominant like he was a guard. Sweezy had a rough time adjusting to the speed of the game and the chemistry with the rest of the line and was one of the lowest graded starting guard by Pro Football Focus because of it. Pamphile was not only a disappointment but couldn’t even be handed the starting left guard job, as he rotated with Evan Smith for most of the season. All in all, it was a bad interior offensive line performance in 2017, and that’s why something had to change.
The big change in the offensive line was the signing of center Ryan Jensen to a four-year, $42 million dollar deal in free agency. That not only created one improvement at center, but also another as a chain reaction by Marpet moving back to guard. Marpet will reportedly be moving to left guard instead of his natural right guard position to likely compensate for Sweezy playing right guard and wanting to get the most out of him, but that still leaves some room for improvement on the interior.
What The Bucs Need At Offensive Guard/Center
While the Bucs are hoping they can salvage something out of Sweezy yet, that right guard spot needs to be monitored, and if all possible, improved upon — that could come in the draft. It’s no secret that the Bucs would be interested in the top guard in the draft, Quenton Nelson, if he were to be available, but there are other rounds where guard could be picked up as insurance policy players depending on how much the team still believes in Sweezy.
With Pamphile and center Joe Hawley no longer on the team, the team will need an interior offensive line player from this draft, it’s just a matter of how much capital via picks they want to invest in it.
Click Page 2 For The Tackle Rankings