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PewterReport.com analyzes the top players in the 2020 NFL Draft with its position previews. Matt Matera previews the offensive tackle position with a comprehensive look at what the Bucs have and what they need at tackle, a detailed list of this year’s top offensive tackles, 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 Offensive Tackle

Table of Contents

Donovan Smith will resume his role as the starting left tackle, protecting Tom Brady’s blind side this year. Smith is entering his sixth year in the NFL and has two years remaining on his three-year, $41-million contract that he signed last offseason. Smith is considered an average left tackle, who was given a grade of 70.8 by Pro Football Focus, ranking in the middle of the pack around other starting tackles in the league. Smith makes a lot of plays that impress given his size and talent, but can also make a head-scratching play on the next snap. For Smith it’s about staying consistent and playing through the whistle. He will benefit from having a quicker passing quarterback with Brady under center.

Bucs OT Joe Haeg

Bucs OT Joe Haeg – Photo by: Getty Images

The Bucs signed free agent tackle Joe Haeg from the Indianapolis Colts this offseason and he will compete for starting right tackle. While it’s not out of the question that Haeg could win the starting job, he would also provide good depth as a backup and swing tackle. Haeg has previous experience as a starter with the Colts.

Tampa Bay is pretty thin right now at tackle behind Smith and Haeg. The only other tackle currently on the roster is practice squad player Brad Seaton. Last year’s starting right tackle Demar Dotson is an unrestricted free agent. It was initially thought that there was a chance the Bucs could re-sign the 34-year old veteran and compete again for the starters role, but the addition of Haeg may change that. The Bucs also have Josh Wells, Earl Watford, Mike Liedtke and Jerald Hawkins as unrestricted free agents, and one of them could be re-signed.

What The Bucs Need At Offensive Tackle

Having a starting right tackle is the number one need that the Bucs have on their roster. They need an offensive tackle that can come in and at least compete – if not play right away. The Bucs need to get younger at right tackle, and also take a player that is strong in the run game. That was an issue for the Bucs a season ago as they struggled to run anywhere near Dotson, limiting their rushing game-plan. But a new tackle would open everything up. With Smith having two seasons remaining on his deal, the Bucs could also take a player that is comfortable moving to the left side down the road.

If any of the top four to five tackles are on the board, the Bucs are most likely selecting them. Tampa Bay could use some depth behind at right tackle as well, but the team can address that by re-signing one of their aforementioned unrestricted free agents if they decide not to draft a second tackle in the later rounds and try to develop him.

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About the Author: Matt Matera

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1 year ago

When I watch Jones, I don’t see how these other tackles are rated higher than him. The guy he blocks is never a factor in the play unless it’s 10 yards down field.

Reply to  WhatTheBuc
1 year ago

HIGHLY underrated. PFF had him graded as the best run blocker of the bunch, and he only gave up something like 3 pressures last season. If we miss on the top 4, I have no qualms about taking Jones at 14. If we can get him after a slight trade back, even better…but he’s good enough to take at 14. His film and metrics 100% back it up.

1 year ago

Weird year… I know every year crazy things happen at the draft and it never goes down how anyone predicts but this year seems tougher to peg than years prior. I know these best bets and mocks don’t mean a thing but I have been looking at these best bets for some hope since PR usually nails a couple picks. For that reason I was pumped to see CEH as a best bet but it’s a lil disheartening not to see one of the top 4 OTs here. Still think I will be happy with Jones even at 14 but… Read more »

Alldaway 2.0
1 year ago

I like at least 8 tackles in this draft so I would happy with any selection by the Bucs. As long as the Bucs actually make an effort to address OT, interior Ol, and DT with this upcoming draft I would be very, very happy.

1 year ago

I’m on board with Josh Jones and I’d bet he’s off the board before our pick, or supplants any in the top 4. Teams get weird on draft day, and we should know.

If any of these guys can start on Day 1 and be average, then that’s a win for our team and its two year window. And come on, 18 pressures in like 1300 snaps? That’s gotta count for something even against little shrimpy guys.

1 year ago

If I could choose from the “Top 4” it would be Wills. The fact that he played RT and it was the Blindside means he faced the best of competition and is already well practiced at the side we need him on. If we left him there and drafted a LT next year we could have the best Tackles for years. Or if he could move to LT in 2021 since he’s used to the better rushers then that would be great too. I have a feeling we will be in position to pick Jones when it’s all said and… Read more »

1 year ago

Wills is my clear #1 and Thomas the #2.

The more tape I watch, the more comfortable I become with the idea of picking Jones ahead of Becton and Wirfs. Becton and Wirfs may have a higher ceiling but at the moment Jones is the way better Pass Blocker. Nobody knows when (Brady could retire before) and if Becton and Wirfs will reach this level

Reply to  DerLutz
1 year ago

DerLutz Same here. Wills and Thomas are my clear #1 and 2. Which is great because there’s a very good chance they could be the 2 tackles drafted last of the big 4. I think they are easily the safest of the big 4, and both have a very high chance of a long, productive, nfl career. I’d take either one

Reply to  DerLutz
1 year ago

Agree with DerLutz and Dave with Wills #1, Thomas #2. Both are SEC guys that face the toughest comp. As I’ve posted before I’m not a fan of either Wirfs or Becton. Jones at #14 feels like a reach, but may be our only option. I’d also add a second O line pick, with Ben Bartch OT, or OG’s Ben Bredeson or John Runyan as options, both out Michigan. All three of those guys should be available in RD4.

Mee Loopa
1 year ago

I’m OK with Jones, i think he’s one of the safer picks. Even at 14. He was a 4 year starter and dominated at the senior bowl practices, where our staff was at. A dream would be to trade back and still get Jones, but there are to many teams with a need for OTs picking right after us. This years draft gonna be different than the years before, because the teams had no private workouts and just a few face2face interviews. The have to rely on the game tapes, phone calls with their coaches and the few workouts they… Read more »

1 year ago

I might be in the minority here, but I just can’t envision four, let alone five, offensive tackles being taken with the first 14 picks. The fact that at least two of them are RT’s and not LT’s makes it even less likely. We’re looking for a guy who has primarily lined up on the right side. If possible, we shouldn’t be looking as closely at a rookie who would have to switch sides, especially with limited OTA’s. Jason Licht (or TB-12 if you believe that) has three options. 1.) Trade up to get your top ranked RT, 2.) Stick… Read more »

Go Bucs 72
1 year ago

You know Licht wants to draft some small school guy nobody else would take.

1 year ago

I understand the need to improve the OL and protect Brady. My concern though is this. At pick 14, assuming the top 4 OT are gone, are you serious going to take the 5th best position player at OT over maybe the the 2nd or 3rd best player at a different position? Heck the top RB in all likelihood will be available at when the Bucs select. If OT is the direction the eventually go then I’m fine with that. The thing is we’ve seen Licht over and over again pass on other top rated talents. It’s gonna be an… Read more »

Reply to  Bucko40
1 year ago

I agree Bucko! I was thinking the same thing. The Bucs have a few needs. OLine, RB, DLine, Safety. The draft is deep with quality OLinemen that can help our team. If the top 4 or 5 rated OLinemen r gone by the time u pick at #14 then why not get the #1 RB in the country at #14 since this is a need too and then go OLine in round 2? I’m good with that. Why not?

Reply to  Bucko40
1 year ago

In a draft this loaded with OT talent…sure why not? Josh Jones would be a top 10 guy in most draft classes. That’s really why these guys are being projected so high, the class is legitimately THAT stacked. I was unsure about Jones until I dug a little deeper. He’s worth the pick…and if he can be had with a slight trade back, that would be even better.

1 year ago

I find it hard to believe that the top 4 tackles are all off the board by pick 14. But if they are, stay put, because Josh Jones is just as good and probably wouldn’t make it past pick 18 by the Dolphins.

1 year ago

I’m almost certain we get 1 of the big 4. I also think Wills goes to the Giants and Wirfs falls to cleveland. Arizona signed RT Marcus Gilbert who is healthy, he’s their option at RT and that allows them the ability to address the worst IDL group in the NFL with choosing Brown (maybe even Kinlaw). That leaves Becton or Thomas possibly to the NYJ but I see the Jets going WR as they have the WORST WR group in the NFL and they signed some solid interior players in FA. They take the top WR and circle back… Read more »

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