While my partner in crime Darkwing has been clamoring for the Bucs to lock up restricted free agent Donald Penn to a long term deal, one that he has been openly seeking the last few weeks (a giant long term deal) there is a situation that caused a lot of controversy this week at the NFL Scouting Combine that could work out in the favor of many teams who are seeking help at the coveted position of left tackle.
Left Tackle Andre Smith, who not only two weeks ago was pretty much the consensus number one pick for the Lions if they didn’t choose a QB had a rough week at the NFL Combine. He apparently was not well versed in any of his interviews, nor well dressed for that matter. To complicate matters, he dissapeared Saturday afternoon to go home to Alabama and train for his pro day. The dissapearance might not have been a big issue had he just alerted the media and the people in charge of the Combine, because he wasn’t intending to work out with the offensive lineman anyway. He essentially flew to Indy to get his official measurements, do interviews (ones that went poorly) and fly home.
Darren Rovell of CNBC, a favorite of mine, speculates that his blunders this weekend may cost him in excess of 24 million dollars. This could work out well for a team such as the Bucs who may not want to spend the money to lock up their current LT. Penn this year was the lowest paid starting LT in the league. While this certainly worked in our benefit this season, his progression, at the second highest paid position in the league, could have the Bucs on the hook for a hefty pay increase for a guy who has looked solid, but doesn’t seem to have a huge ceiling.
Smith on the other hand has an enormous ceiling, even with his issues this weekend. Scouts Inc. of ESPN still grades Smith out at a 95, making him the 9th rated player on their board, and as I mentioned earlier, he spent much of the season in the top 5 as well as numero uno. At 6’5″ and 345 lbs, Smith would complete the youngest and possibly most dominant lines in the league for the Bucs. With recent 1st round selection Davin Joseph making his first Pro Bowl, 2nd round selection Aaron Sears not far behind, last years 2nd round pick Jeremy Zuttah just clamoring for a permanent spot on the line and last years FA and highest paid center in the league Jeff Faine, the Bucs already have a young imposing line. If a player such as Smith were to fall into their laps after the first 15, it would have to be a situation in which we consider. Penn also has the potential to play the RT position where Jeremy Trueblood sometimes struggled this year.
While picking another offensive lineman in the top 2 rounds would certainly piss off the majority of our fans in the Bay Area, especially with an aging defense and a lack of overall playmaking ability on offense, I would certainly see the logic in taking a guy who has top 5 talent and not having to pay him Top 5 money because of a bad weekend.