The 2022 NFL Draft is right around the corner. Naturally, there is a lot of speculation on whom the Bucs might select. One of the main points of contention with fans has been whether or not the Bucs should take a guard in the first round. Bucs Pro Bowler Ali Marpet’s sudden retirement and losing Alex Cappa in free agency created a sizeable hole on the offensive line.

Tampa Bay’s trade with New England for right guard Shaq Mason could be viewed as an upgrade over Cappa. But the hole at left guard remains. Do the Bucs have adequate talent and depth with Aaron Stinnie, Nick Leverett and Robert Hainsey? None of those players are close to Marpet’s level of greatness.

But can the Bucs get away with “good enough” at left guard with one of those three in-house solutions?

Bucs G Nick Leverett

Bucs G Nick Leverett – Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Potential first-round picks like Boston College’s Zion Johnson and Texas A&M’s Kenyon Green have garnered the most intrigue from fans wanting a premium draft pick to fill Marpet’s vacancy. Johnson is the safer pick and deemed to be more of an instant plug-and-play guard.

Green might have a higher upside due to his size and physicality. But he has a ways to go in pass protection and technique. Either player could jump to the top of the competition for the left guard spot and have a realistic shot at winning the job. Yet is it the right move?

In Stinnie’s four career starts, the offensive line hasn’t missed a beat. When Cappa was injured in the 2020 playoffs, Stinnie more than held his own. Thrust into action during a Super Bowl run, he was solid in three of the most important games of his career.

Leverett is a young, promising player who has versatility to play across the line. He has improved each year since he’s entered the league and had a solid showing in the Colts game last year.

Hainsey would’ve competed to start at center this year if Jensen were not back. He has the tools and make-up to start at guard. Plus, the Bucs already have a third-round pick invested in him.

The Bucs don’t have many holes on their roster, though depth at various positions is an issue. Most will argue that with so few holes, getting a plug-and-play starter is more important than a player who might not see the field as much.

Texas A&M G Kenyon Green

Texas A&M G Kenyon Green – Photo by: USA Today

While that is a fair point, Tampa Bay has set itself up in a position where the team can select the best player available regardless of position. That could in fact be a guard like Johnson or Green. But the Bucs shouldn’t – and won’t – pigeonhole themselves into drafting one position at No. 27.

The Bucs could be content on waiting to address the guard position on Day 2 of the draft. Players like Memphis’ Dylan Parham and Chattanooga’s Cole Strange could be available. But does it makes sense for the Bucs to add another second day lineman to the left guard competition? Especially when Tampa Bay drafted Hainsey just last year?

That’s a question the Bucs will have to answer starting on April 28. They brought in Strange for a Top 30 pre-draft visit, and met with Johnson at the NFL Scouting Combine. So the guard position is certainly on Tampa Bay’s radar.

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About the Author: J.C. Allen

J.C. Allen is one of PewterReport.com’s newest beat writers. As a New England transplant, he has closely followed Tom Brady’s entire career and first fell in love with the game during the Patriots 1996 Super Bowl run. J.C. is in his second year covering the team after spending a year with Bucs Report as a writer, producer and show host. Some of his other interests include barbecuing, being outdoors, and spending time with family and friends. His favorite Buccaneer of all time is Simeon Rice and believes he deserves a spot in Canton. Follow J.C. Allen on Twitter @JCAllenNFL.
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buccaneerNW
buccaneerNW
2 months ago

If there weren’t so many needs on D, I’d say drat a guard. Right now, TE is our biggest need on offense.

Hockey Duckie
Hockey Duckie
2 months ago

Remember when Licht thought Kevin Pamphile would be “good enough” as a starting LG?
We’re supposed to learn from history, not repeat it.
Our best defense is to have the best offense. If we’re on the field most of the game, then the other team isn’t on the field to score. And with Brady, we can keep the offense chugging, eating minutes if and only if Brady is upright.

buccaneerNW
buccaneerNW
Reply to  Hockey Duckie
2 months ago

Best defense is a great defense. You can’t possibly mount an argument based on one 5th round pick under a different coaching staff. We drafted Hainsey in the 3rd round. They wouldn’t have done that if they didn’t think he could be a starter. Also, Stinnie had a solid run in the playoffs, 2020 season. They also like Nick Leverett quite a bit. Of those three, we ought to be able to find a solid LG starter. This isn’t the bad old days of incompetent OL play and zero player development. Neglecting the defense would be stupid. We don’t need… Read more »

matador
matador
Reply to  buccaneerNW
2 months ago

We need all of those things to varying degrees but if TB12 doesn’t have time to wait for people to get open we have zero chance of going deep into the playoffs. Hi

Hockey Duckie
Hockey Duckie
Reply to  buccaneerNW
2 months ago

Stinnie played RG in place of Cappa. I recall RG Meredith looking great one season and then was flipped to play LG. Meredith couldn’t play LG at all. Flipping Stinnie to LG is an unknown quantity. Cappa was drafted in the 3rd round with Licht expecting him to be a starter as a rookie. Cappa was abysmal. Cappa was so abysmal that Benenoch looked better than him and Benenoch was terrible! Hainsey was drafted to replace Jensen at center. Hainsey did not look great at all last year at center. Which is why Jensen was re-signed, especially when Marpet retired.… Read more »

fredster
fredster
Reply to  Hockey Duckie
2 months ago

That’s a dumb analogy of a 5th rd pick. Comparing him to Stinnie who played great in several playoffs and super bowl games. Hainsey is in the competition as 3rd rd guard/center too.

Hockey Duckie
Hockey Duckie
Reply to  fredster
2 months ago

Stinnie looked more competent than Cappa at RG. We’re talking LG here.
Hainsey didn’t instill any confidence at center to where the Bucs re-signed Jensen for another 2-years.

matador
matador
Reply to  Hockey Duckie
2 months ago

Agree completely

bucballer
bucballer
2 months ago

I don’t think so. Defense is a bigger need at this point. I still think G Sadarius Hutcherson 6-3 331 will turn out to be a player. Kid got hurt last year early on. I think he can be a nasty and effective guard. We will see. As for the draft, the Bucs can almost go best player available, providing it is a position of need. Draft will be huge. Would personally like to see a nice, quick, young RB in first four picks. Nothing beats youth and speed. Exciting times indeed guys! Go Bucs!

Alldaway 2.0
Alldaway 2.0
2 months ago

Yes Bucs should draft a guard early. You can still nab some nice defensive contributors in rounds 2-5.
In fact the Bucs should draft a guard in round 1 unless they really, really like a CB, DL, or edge rusher.
I expect the Bucs to take a guard between rounds 1-3. If Licht waits to take a guard to lets say the fifth round it means he views the starters as set which I am not sure is true.

Last edited 2 months ago by Alldaway 2.0
Hockey Duckie
Hockey Duckie
Reply to  Alldaway 2.0
2 months ago

Remember how Licht was so confident going into 2018 in thinking that drafting Cappa or having Benenoch would solve the RG position? After trading down from 7th to 13th and picking up two extra 2nd round picks, we could have traded up into the bottom of the first round to grab an OL. We could have drafted James Daniels and convert him to RG, instead of drafting run-only RB Ronald Jones. With those two extra 2nd round picks in 2018, Licht drafted CB MJ Stewart over CB Carlton Davis. We got lucky with Davis b/c we traded down from pick… Read more »

michael
michael
2 months ago

When Cappa got hurt, Stinnie came in and there didn’t appear to be any drop off. We might have a good starter in Stinnie, at a low price, if we give him the chance. Use the draft capital elsewhere and hope for the best

scubog
scubog
2 months ago

I’d sure rather select a potentially great OG at #27 than a mediocre DT just because some folks think we “need” defense. BPA!

fredster
fredster
Reply to  scubog
2 months ago

What if there is a great safety or CB there? You think we need guard more? I sure don’t. Only way I’d be good with guard first round is if Brady had stayed retired and this wasn’t win now mode again. It just doesn’t make sense at all to me. That D was terrible last year and offense set all kinds of records.

Last edited 2 months ago by fredster
scubog
scubog
Reply to  fredster
2 months ago

I didn’t say we needed a guard more. Guard was just the position being discussed. Me, I want the best player we can get regardless of his position. If two or more players are equal, then and only then, would I lean toward the need.

surferdudes
surferdudes
Reply to  scubog
2 months ago

Or tight end, receiver, edge rusher, safety. Take whoever is rated highest on your board, and if it’s real close go need.

scubog
scubog
Reply to  surferdudes
2 months ago

Bingo! That’s exactly my drafting philosophy.

buccaneerNW
buccaneerNW
Reply to  scubog
2 months ago

Not “some folks”… Everyone knows we need defense… And we’re not talking about a mediocre DT. We’re not talking about drafting bad value. BPA is a myth anyway. Every team drafts for need, from a pool of needs and a pool of similarly rated players at the slot where they’re picking. Sure, if there’s a guard who is a slam dunk 10 year All-Pro sitting there (there won’t be) and all that’s left among the DL is a bunch of jags, then you take the OG… but that’s not what’s happening. The best player available is the one that can… Read more »

bucballer
bucballer
Reply to  buccaneerNW
2 months ago

not always BuccaneerNW. We saw it last year with the Trask pick. He wasn’t going to help the Bucs last year, but the Bucs wanted him to potentially take over post Brady. Now, whether that pans out is anybody’s guess. But he was rated high on their QB chart. But it was still a pick of need, just not a right away need. BPA is real. It’s the highest rated player on ur board at that particular pick. If the best LB in the country is available but u need a RB for competition and depth, do u pick the… Read more »

buccaneerNW
buccaneerNW
Reply to  bucballer
2 months ago

Picking a QB to become #2 and eventually possibly the starter does fall out of the impactful player argument… Drafting QBs has its own set of rules. Generally speaking, outside of backup QBs, you’re trying to draft the guy who has the greatest impact on your team as soon as possible. The other problem with the whole BPA theory is that grading players isn’t exactly scientific. It’s not like it’s easy to assign a number to a guy and have a perfectly ordered ranking. And when it comes down to it, if you have a player on the board at… Read more »

scubog
scubog
Reply to  buccaneerNW
2 months ago

I agree with you about drafting QB’s having their own set of rules. I sure don’t want to be in a position, as we have so many times as Bucs fans, of needing to select a QB in hopes that a rookie will be the savior. Too many highly rated QB’s fail. Goodness knows we’ve had our share. That’s why I didn’t object too much to the choice of Trask at the bottom on the 2nd round. At least we should know with a little more certainty after this season if he can take over in 2023 or if we… Read more »

scubog
scubog
Reply to  buccaneerNW
2 months ago

We’re saying the same thing NW. You would have to admit, needs can often change drastically with one little slip in OTA’s. What position isn’t a need if we don’t have a Pro Bowl caliber player manning it? Do I think we should select a WR at # 27? No, but if Evans gets hurt working out after the Draft concludes and Godwin’s injury takes longer to heal than hoped, you’re looking at Gage as our # 1. Then there would be folks chastising Jason Licht for not looking at Olave when he was sitting there. Bottom line is, virtually… Read more »

Horse
Horse
Reply to  scubog
2 months ago

Scubog, we agree on this one.

fredster
fredster
2 months ago

I just think it would be foolish to go guard early with all holes on D still. If Gronk doesn’t re sign we have nothing at TE on Offense as well. I mean Brate has stunk last couple years imo.

Theydidwhat
Theydidwhat
2 months ago

Bucs talk like they are good with guard depth. The question is, are they good if Stinnie starts and one of the guards goes down? TE, DT, S seem most important. Then LB, CB and edge depth. I would rather they draft an OT that played on the left side to compete with Wells and Johnson. Many tackles can convert to G as well if needed. Ohio States Thayer Munford has played both LG and LT. Solid guy, 4th round pick probably. It all depends how this draft unfolds, if they trade back for more picks.

twspin
twspin
2 months ago

Hell, why not? Go right ahead and shower the offense with more toys. We certainly have not been doing much on the Defensive end of the ball. We are gonna wish we had.

Spitfire
Spitfire
2 months ago

I think the absolute most important thing is our Oline. If we can’t protect Brady, we have nothing. That goes for any QB in the future as well. Having 5 solid Olinemen is the #1 priority. If that I’d Stinnie then I’m fine with that, but he better be able to hold down LG as well as he did RG. I don’t know if I could pass up Johnson if he is there at 27.

Horse
Horse
2 months ago

BPA

Horse
Horse
2 months ago

It was the Defense that caused the lost to the Rams and still will if we don’t get up grades; however, when you are drafting #27, somebody will fall to us who the Bucs believe he will start from the get go. that’s why I say BPA! the rest of the rounds can focus on needs elsewhere.

inspecto
inspecto
2 months ago

Defense wins championships, Defense needs some love!
D D D all the way in the first two rds.

Erik Jager
Erik Jager
2 months ago

Most mock drafters are too focused on the Buccaneers drafting a G. The Buccaneers could draft a G in rounds 2-4. They need a replacement for Suh more. Another TE is a bigger need.

James Taylor
James Taylor
2 months ago

The Bucs are almost in a position where they don’t have to draft for need. Keanu Neal and Mike Edwards and Antoine Winfield make safety an area to build rather than a gap. Stinnie and the others make offensive guard the same way. Gage gives you flexibility at wide receiver. If they get Gronk and Suh back in the fold then tight end and defensive tackle also will be flexible. The Bucs are in a win-this-season mode since there is no guarantee that Brady comes back. So they need to hit on the first three picks with picks that will… Read more »