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
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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 – 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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