PewterReport.com analyzes the top players in the 2019 NFL Draft with its position previews. Matt Matera previews the guard and center position with a comprehensive look at what the Bucs have and what they need under center, a detailed list of this year’s top guards and centers, and Scott Reynolds 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 Guard And Center
The Bucs have two-thirds of these starting positions in the interior past of their offensive line locked down with Ali Marpet at left guard and Ryan Jensen at center. Marpet is considered to be one of the best guards in the NFL, who became a team captain last season after three years of being a starter. After going from right guard to center in his first two years, it looks like Marpet will stay put at left guard. He was moved out of necessity, not because he didn’t have a spot on the line.
Jensen came to the Bucs last year, signing as a free agent after four years with the Baltimore Ravens. He may have had a couple of questionable personal foul penalties – four of them – but Jensen plays with a fiery passion that brings up the intensity of the entire offensive line. Despite the likes of Jensen and Marpet, the rest of the Bucs offensive line struggled, which led to them being 29th in the NFL in total rushing yards.
Starting at right guard last season was Caleb Benenoch, and he struggled so mightily that general manager Jason Licht already came out and said that Benenoch would be best suited at right tackle, which he will be moved to. Right guard was the weakest position where Benenoch constantly let defensive tackles run through him regardless of if it was a pass or a run. This position needs an upgrade in 2019.
In the reserve role last year were the versatile Mike Liedtke and Evan Smith, along with rookie Alex Cappa. Smith played in seven games, alternating with Benenoch at right guard before ending the season on injured reserve with a hip injury.
Cappa was expected to develop into an every game starter at guard, but the progress went slower than desired because he came from a small school in Humboldt State. He played in some games to take reps for Benenoch, but didn’t do enough to sustain a starting role. The plan is for Cappa to compete for the starting right guard job this season with newcomer Earl Watford, who played for Bruce Arians in Arizona, with the belief that he will develop further with new coaching around him. Cappa, who played left tackle in college, will also get a look at right tackle, too.
What The Bucs Need At Center And Guard
They need a guard that can come in right away and start. The Bucs could very much use a guard that is an absolute mauler, someone who isn’t afraid to get their nose dirty and attack. The offensive line has been pushed back for too long, so they need a guard that is physical upfront at the line of scrimmage who can dominate at run blocking and hold is own at pass blocking. Bruce Arians is going to play to his teams strengths, but that means they need to fix things first, which starts with the run game.
Take note of Chris Lindstrom from Boston College. He is a player that fits right into the Bucs scheme for what they are looking for. He’s a physical, in your face player that has a great base and enough upper body strength to move the defender in front of him. At 6’4″ and 308 pounds, he takes up plenty of space. Same goes for Wisconsin guards Michael Deiter and Beau Benzschawel. Wisconsin has pretty much become a breeding ground for offensive linemen. Both of these players have characteristics that make them thrive in the running game, it’s what they were built on in Madison. Deiter is 6’5″ and 309 pounds, while Benzschawel is 6’6″ and 309. Each are technically sound that would fit on the Bucs along with Lindstrom if it came to it.
This year’s PewterReport.com’s 2019 Draft Previews + Bucs’ Best Bets and Draft Videocast are presented by Edmonson Electric & Security – the official smart home and security company of PewterReport.com.
Watch Pewter Reporters Scott Reynolds, Mark Cook, Taylor Jenkins and Matt Matera, as well as other special guests, live on-air via PewterReport.com from the team’s headquarters at One Buccaneer Place beginning on Day 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft at 7:00 p.m. ET.
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