Pro Football Focus came out with its ranking of the top 32 offensive tackles in the NFL heading into the 2021 season. Second-year Bucs right tackle Tristan Wirfs ranked sixth on the list after his sensational rookie season. But veteran left tackle Donovan Smith was nowhere to be found.
The PFF list accounts for both left and right tackles. But it’s interesting that Smith failed to make the cut coming off a Super Bowl season. Smith graded out with a 72.1 overall grade from PFF. He had a 69.6 pass blocking grade and a 74 run blocking grade in 2020. Smith was flagged for 11 penalties and surrendered six sacks.
Bucs LT Donovan Smith – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Not only did Smith not make the PFF list, but rookie Penei Sewell, Detroit’s first-round pick, made the list over him at No. 31. What’s interesting is that Smith is the highest-paid offensive lineman in Tampa Bay yet was snubbed. His average salary is $15.5 million. Smith just agreed to a two-year, $31.8-million contract extension through 2023. The deal comes with two voidable years (2024-25).
“Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers desperately needed 13th overall pick Tristan Wirfs to step in as the starting right tackle and provide strong play right away. They got that and then some. He closed out his rookie regular season as the second-highest-graded right tackle in the NFL (82.2). His 81.0 pass-blocking grade is also the second-best mark in the PFF era (since 2006) by a rookie right tackle — behind only Marshal Yanda in 2007. Wirfs held his own against several top-notch pass-rushers, including Cameron Jordan and Joey Bosa, and is bound to continue to find success moving forward.”
Wirfs surrendered just one sack in 2020 and was only penalized three times during his rookie year.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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