Jul 25, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers special teams coordinator Dave Wannstedt talks with tackle Demar Dotson (69) and during training camp at One Buccaneer Place. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Have A Rising Star Who You Might Think "Is Terrible"

I admit that it’s difficult for me to judge offensive line play, especially during the course of a game. When watching a game live, my focus goes to skill players, as I am sure it is for you. You want to watch Josh Freeman’s poise in the pocket, and see Doug Martin fight for yardage.

But the “big uglies” on the offensive line only tend to get noticed if they commit a penalty or give up an easy sack. So you might have a negative perception of a player who is actually quite good. It’s not even fair to rely on Pro Bowl selections, as many fans will simply vote for big names from big schools, or linemen on successful offenses.

So that’s why you might think Demar Dotson stinks. He played on the right side of the Buccaneers’ offensive line for almost all of 2012, and didn’t do anything to stand out. He wasn’t the left tackle, Donald Penn, who was the preferred blocker for most running plays. And he’s not Carl Nicks, who has a reputation as one of the most dominant guards in the NFL today.

But according to Mark Cook of Pewter Report, Dotson has been the best player in camp so far, and seems poised to break out in 2013. Here’s a bit of what he had to say:

Donald Penn has come into camp in the best shape of his career, pleasing Schiano and offensive line coach Bob Bostad. But Penn may no longer be the only Pro Bowl-caliber tackle on the roster anymore, as from all indications we have seen at camp, Demar Dotson has asserted himself as the most physical and dominating offensive lineman on the team right now.

Dotson admits he still needs to improve his run blocking, but the former Southern Miss basketball player has been dominating in pass protection, losing few, if any, one-on-one battles we have observed since training camp began. Dotson has never had a great lower base and struggled with getting low and winning the leverage battle in the past, but those flaws appear to be a thing of the past.

Dotson has been in the league since 2009, but has truly been a project as he learns how to be an offensive tackle rather than an offensive threat in the post on the basketball court.  The former forward/center for Southern Miss hauled in 4 rebounds and scored 4 points per game in his college career, meaning it was probably a good idea to switch to football.

Pro Football Focus actually thought highly of Dotson last year, grading him out positively over the course of the season, including an impressive grade in pass blocking. His penalties held him back from having an even better overall grade, but it’s clear that there’s plenty of talent in this converted post player who now has to post up against the best defensive ends in the NFL.

So I understand if you remember one of Dotson’s penalties or sacks allowed and think something like this…

 

But watch him a bit more closely this year, and you might find he’s better than you think. And if Mark Cook is right, he could be yet another franchise player found as an undrafted rookie.

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