Pewter Report begins its annual draft preview listing the top players at
each position and also offers up two Bucs’ Best Bets, one in the early
rounds and one in the late rounds. See where Pewter Report ranks the
players and who they think makes the most sense for the Buccaneers. Up next are the offensive linemen.
WHAT THE BUCS HAVE ON THE OFFENSIVE LINERight tackle Demar Dotson was easily the most consistent of all of the Buccaneers linemen in 2013 and will anchor the line opposite of free agent Anthony Collins who was signed from Cincinnati. The Bucs also added a new center and guard in free agency with the signing of Evan Dietrich-Smith and Oniel Cousins. Carl Nicks, a prized free agent acquisition in 2012, has spent more time in the training room and on the operating table than actually on the field. But the team is staying positive the former Saints Pro Bowler could maybe get back on the field this season. The Bucs also re-signed one of their own, bringing Jamon Meredith back on the eve of free agency back in March. Tampa Bay has a handful of young developmental players in tackle Emmett Cleary, center Jace Daniels, and guards Patrick Omameh and Jason Foster. None have any significant playing experience.
WHAT THE BUCS NEED ON THE OFFENSIVE LINEWhen looking down the Bucs roster the one unit that stands out due to a lack of depth, maybe more than any, is the offensive line. And even if everyone stays healthy there are still question marks. While the team appears set at tackle with Collins and Dotson, the guard situation is still far from ideal with Cousins and Meredith running with the first team. Both have starting experience but neither have approached Pro Bowl level by any stretch and neither have managed to put together a full 16 game string of starts. The Bucs most certainly will be looking to add at least one offensive lineman if not two in this week’s draft.
BUCS’ BEST BET AT OL (EARLY 1-3) NORTH DAKOTA STATE OL BILLY TURNERTurner is one of the most dominant run-blockers in the class. He excels because of his tremendous strength, leg-drive and NFL coaches and talent evaluators will love the fact that he always stays aggressive and blocks through the whistle. Playing with leverage and bending also comes naturally to the 6-foot-5, 314-pound offensive lineman. Turner does have some noticeable flaws in his game and they were exposed early on in the week at the Senior Bowl, but Turner’s natural power and aggressiveness make him an ideal candidate for a potential switch to the guard position. Perhaps a coaching staff will be interested in cross-training him at both guard and tackle, making him even more value in NFL circles.
BUCS’ BEST BET AT OL (LATE 4-7) LSU G TRAI TURNERAfter observing the Bucs offense during their three-day mini-camp recently it was evident that Tampa Bay is looking for more athletic linemen who can move and Turner fits that mold. Turner also has the ability to latch on to opponents and can move them at will and also adds a bit of a nasty streak. His arm length gives him a good wingspan in pass blocking although he sometimes loses his base, relying too much on his athleticism. Raw but talented, Turner could be an excellent third day value for the Buccaneers.
TOP 10 OFFENSIVE LINEMEN1. OT Jake Matthews – Texas A&M – Senior – 6-6, 308 – 5.01Matthews is easily the most NFL-ready offensive line prospect in the NFL Draft and with his size strength and bloodlines, could be a 10-year plug-and-play tackle if he avoids injury. Matthews was inserted in the starting lineup midway through his freshmen season and never left. Dominant in the run game, and above average as a pass protector, Matthews will almost certainly hear his name called in the first five picks on Thursday night.
2. OT Greg Robinson – Auburn – Sophomore – 6-5, 332 – 4.85Some teams have Robinson rated slightly ahead of Matthews and of the two Robinson is more athletic for sure, but not quite as polished. Robinson has a rare combination of size, power and strength and also adds a bit of a nasty streak that coaches love. Robinson doesn’t just want to block you, he wants to dominate and destroy his opponent.
3. OT Taylor Lewan – Michigan – Senior – 6-7, 309 – 4.79Lewan, who has had some off the field questions crop up in the past year, appears to have all the tools to be a force at the next level. Scouts describe him as having a mean streak who was also a leader for the Wolverines over the last two seasons. Lewan keeps his head on a swivel and good vision, and has the strength and balance to be an effective pass blocker in the NFL along with showing the ability to improve each year in college, something NFL front offices find very attractive.
4. G Zach Martin – Notre Dame – Senior – 6-4, 308 – 5.13The top rated guard in the draft, Martin’s stock has been steadily rising over the last month. Scouts say Martin lacks the prototypical size of a modern NFL tackle, but has exhibited impressive technique and better-than-average strength. Martin’s versatility is attractive to NFL front offices and is expected to step in and become a starter in Week 1.
5. OT Cyrus Kouandjio – Alabama – Senior – 6-7, 322 – 5.50Perhaps the only thing keeping Kouandjio from being a sure bet to go in the first round – which he may anyway – is some concerns about his knee that required surgery during his career at Alabama. From a physical specimen standpoint there may not be anyone more impressive than Kouandjio, but scouts have questioned his tenacity at times. Even so, Kouandjio could easily sneak into the late first round, as teams will be intrigued by his overall athletic ability and sheer size.
6. OT JaWuan James – Tennessee – Senior – 6-6, 311 – 5.26James has seen his stock rise over the last month a lot of that has to do with his success against some of the best pass rushers in the SEC. The game film is generally positive showing an ability to take on speed rushers as well as bull rushers in pass protection. The one weakness most concerning is allowing his pad level to get to high which allows opponents to shed James at times in the run game.
7. G Joel Bitonio – Nevada – Senior – 6-4, 302 – 4.92A college tackle, Bitonio doesn’t have the length or ideal size to excel at tackle in the NFL according to many scouts and would be better served as a guard at the next level. Light on his feet and deceptively athletic, Bitonio may be an excellent fit for a team that runs a lot of power and pulls the backside guard.
8. OT Jack Mewhort – Ohio State – Senior – 6-6, 309 – 5.37While lacking elite athleticism Mewhort makes up for it with tenacity. Scouts say he showed surprising flexibility and core strength to absorb bull rushers at the college level and generates movement at the point of attack as a drive blocker. Mewhort loves to bury his opponent when he senses the defender losing balance.
9. G Xavier Su’a-Filo – UCLA – Junior – 6-4, 307 – 5.01According to scouts Su’a-Filo has excellent core strength and flexibility, and can anchors well against bull-rushes and also shows lateral agility and balance in pass protection. With 38 career starts and very mature, Su’a-Filo will likely be a Day 1 starter in the NFL and with solid coaching could develop into a Top 15 NFL guard very soon.
10. OT Billy Turner – North Dakota State – Senior – 6-5, 315 – 5.14Turner has the ability to latch on to opponents and can move them at will and also adds a bit of a nasty streak. His arm length gives him a good wingspan in pass blocking although he sometimes loses his base, relying too much on his athleticism. Raw but talented, Turner could be an excellent second day value.
BEST OF THE REST11. OT Morgan Moses – Virginia – Senior – 6-6, 314 – 5.27 Moses possesses ideal length and proportion throughout for an NFL offensive tackle according to scouts and has powerful hands to latch and steer against opponents of all sizes while also doing a good job sustaining effort and contact to the whistle. Moses sometimes struggles to get low and snap into smaller opponents at the second level, and can at times over-pursue as a run-blocker.
12. G Gabe Jackson – Mississippi State – Senior – 6-3, 336 – 5.42For a football player of such mammoth size Jackson is exceptionally agile and athletic. Jackson does an excellent job of not letting opponents disengage. Awareness out in space is something that could use improvement.
13. C Marcus Martin – Southern Cal – Junior – 6-3, 320Martin was an immediate starter for the Trojans and was in the starting lineup for 10 games as a true freshman. Scouts love his squatty frame and quickness off the ball and Martin has shown good footwork in getting to the second level. His height and arm length most likely means he will be a center in the NFL.
14. C Weston Richburg – Colorado State – Senior – 6-3, 298 – 5.08Richburg caught the eyes of many front offices with the ability and quickness to pull on sweeps and also get out in space on screen passes, plus the talent to redirect. Starting all 49 games in his Colorado State career, Richburg also made the line calls and demonstrates the intelligence to understand the fronts the offensive line faces.
15. OT Cameron Fleming – Stanford – Junior – 6-5, 323 – 5.28Fleming is another smart Stanford lineman who looks the part of a NFL tackle. Fleming does a good job of latching onto opponents and moves his feet well when drive blocking. Fleming’s main issue is being heavy-footed at times in pass pro, and can get beat inside or outside at times as he lack superior lateral motion.
16. G Trai Turner – LSU – Sophomore – 6-3, 310 – 4.91 Possesses good initial quickness off the snap for a big man, and shows the ability to pull as well as release to find linebackers at the second level. Scouts love his ability to latch on opponents and use his strength to drive them off the ball. Struggling with lateral movement is the main thing keeping Turner off team’s radar in the first round.
17. OT Antonio Richardson – Tennessee – Junior – 6-6, 336 – 5.21Shocking athleticism for his size according to scouts and well-proportioned with broad shoulders, long arms and tree trunks for legs. Richardson shows surprising quickness and balance off the snap in pass protection.
18. G Cyril Richardson – Baylor – Senior – 6-5, 329 – 5.31Richardson is one of the most powerful guards in the upcoming draft as evidenced by his 100 knockdown blocks in 2013. Richardson has struggled somewhat in perimeter blocking when lined up at tackle and occasionally gets beat by inside speed rushers at guard.
19. G David Yankey – Stanford – Junior – 6-6, 315 – 5.46Lacking an NFL caliber punch, Yankey’s stock has dropped a bit in the last few weeks but being a Stanford player his intelligence and ability to learn an offense is still attractive to NFL front offices. Versatility and durability as a two-year All-American and three-year starter with 40 career starts (26 left guard, 14 left tackle) is also something favoring the former Cardinal.
20. G Dakota Dozier – Furman – Senior – 6-4, 313 – 5.29Dozier is a very athletic guard who has excellent arm length and balance. Scouts say he occasionally doesn’t set his feet properly and can get off balance in pass protection but does a great job of redirecting and reaching the second level while run blocking.
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]
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