Sep 29, 2012; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies offensive linesman Jake Matthews (75) in action against the Arkansas Razorbacks in the second quarter at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Draft Needs: Offensive Lineman


Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This is the second instalment looking at what positions the Bucs should target in the 2014 draft. In case you missed the first entry, check it out here

 

Perhaps the biggest transformation on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster has been on the offensive line as Jason Licht has made a number of moves to help improve the Bucs up front.

Anthony Collins, Evan Dietrich-Smith and Oniel Cousins have been brought in, while Davin Joseph and Donald Penn were cut. Jeremy Zuttah was traded to the Baltimore Ravens.

I wrote earlier this week that the Bucs are relatively inexperienced on the offensive line and that will only become more obvious if/when the Bucs draft an offensive lineman.

However, the Bucs do still need an impactful player on the offensive line and that can easily be addressed in this year’s draft.

Currently, this is how I view the Bucs starting offensive line: Anthony Collins (LT), Carl Nicks (LG), Evan Dietrich-Smith (C), Jamon Meredith (RG) and Demar Dotson (RT). With how the roster sits right now, the only position that could see a switch would be at right guard, with Cousins replacing Meredith.

The left side of the line is completed, (assuming Nicks is healthy) while the signing of Dietrich-Smith means center is settled.

However, the right side of the line could have a different look if the Bucs did call the name of a tackle or guard.

Meredith and Dotson have played well over the last two seasons, but an upgrade over either isn’t out of the question. Both players have significant value to the Bucs though as they are versatile and can play more than one position if needed.

While either Meredith or Dotson, or maybe even both, could be relegated to the bench before the season begins, the need for more depth up front is still required as Jace Daniels, Patrick Omameh, and Jason Foster are the only other options available on the offensive line.

The Bucs could arguably use an upgrade at either guard or tackle and the draft could provide them with multiple options.

Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

If the Bucs decide to use their seventh overall pick on a tackle, Greg Robinson of Auburn might be available, but seems unlikely, as he is the consensus best lineman in the draft. Jake Matthews (Texas A&M) could be of high consideration, as could Taylor Lewan of Michigan, but his off-field antics likely mean Licht and Lovie Smith pass on him.

Looking into the second round, which is where I think the Bucs are most likely to pick a lineman, Cyrus Kouandjio (Alabama) and Morgan Moses (Virginia) are the most complete players at tackle. However, the five aforementioned players primarily played left tackle in college, so with Anthony Collins already signed to play that position, they would have to switch to the right side.

If the Bucs opted to draft a guard, there are no options in the first round that would make the seventh overall pick on that player worthwhile. The second round presents better options, such as Xavier Su’a-Filo (UCLA), Joel Bitonio (Nevada) and Gabe Jackson (Mississipi State). David Yankey (Stanford), who has often been selected 38th overall by the Bucs in mock drafts, is also a realistic option.

The Bucs need to draft an offensive lineman in the draft. You could argue they need to draft two. If the Bucs decide to draft a second lineman, expect it to come in the later rounds, and for it to possibly be a player who has value at more than one position.

Primarily, Licht needs to find a player who can push for a starting spot as a rookie, or at the very least, be a reliable backup until called upon for starting duty.

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  • Tiddy28

    This was my mistake and has been fixed. It was meant to say Cousins maybe for Meredith. Apologies. But Cousins will make the roster more than likely. He at least has some decent NFL experience, something the other backups have very little of. I do however think Dotson is a bit overrated, although there doesn’t appear to be any immediate threat to unseat him at RT.

    • skullphucker

      I just found it curious because this is the second time you’ve mentioned Cousins replacing Dotson. While Dotson may not be an all-pro, he usually gets high marks for his pass-blocking. Cousins, on the other hand, sounds like a liability if you read the comments about his play during his very brief stint as a starter. It sounds like, if Cousins is starting for us, our O-line is in big trouble or Warhop has coached the guy to a new level. I don’t see him making the roster if, as expected, the Bucs draft an OG.

  • Jayson Kaplan

    Five guys that each have six years in the NFL is considered “relatively inexperienced?” Interesting.

    • Tiddy28

      Relatively speaking they are in terms of game experience since there is an opportunity to play 96 games. They haven’t played in even two thirds of those games, and have started just a touch over a quarter of the potential games they could play in. (Collins and Cousins) EDS has only started 25 of 61 career games. They have experience but as players who have been in the league for a number of years, they don’t have frequent playing time. Even Meredith and Dotson have only started seeing playing time the last two seasons but before that they were far from regulars.

  • Tom Weissmann

    Not exactly sure why you say Dotson is overrated. He’s done above and beyond what they ask of him, especially for his very low contract. PFF actually graded him in the top ten for an overall grade for all right tackles so I doubt he’s being replaced. Meredith I could see but not by Cousins. I’d prefer any of the top three guards because at least two should be there at 38 in the second. Other than right guard and if Nicks is healthy, the line is actually looking really good.

    • Tiddy28

      I think he’s played well yes, and he’s for sure an adequate, decent starter. I just don’t see him as a high level, top RT though. Also, since the Bucs are heading back to a run first offense, Dotson struggles more in the running game than passing game which is a small concern. However, there are a number of other positions that would need addressing before they looked at Dotson. And like you said with his contract, they can’t complain. I think whoever they draft at guard will replace Meredith but as the roster stands right now (pre draft), Cousins would be the only person who would have any shot.

      • Tom Weissmann

        Yeah for sure Meredith needs replacing even after playing decent in 2012 when Nicks was out. I’m just saying that tackle is near the bottom of needs. The three positions I wanna see addressed in the first three rounds in this order: receiver, linebacker, guard. Tight end is a close fourth but that could be addressed if a guard isn’t available in that’s to the Bucs’ liking.

        • Tiddy28

          And I agree entirely. I like that you see linebacker as a position of need. I haven’t seen all that many people feel that way but I strongly feel it is. There are some good options out there, although Casillas does an adequate job but I think could be upgraded. I don’t feel the TE though. If the Bucs hadn’t signed Myers I would be all for it, but drafting a TE would be a waste, unless they move Wright to receiver.

          • Tom Weissmann

            Like Dominik, I had hoped that Foster would’ve developed into a better (not that he’s not good) Mike but coverage is a major concern in his game. I’ve always wanted them to shift him to the Sam and draft a new inside guy but yes, Casillas needs to be upgraded. The thing is, I don’t view Wright as a tight end. Why? Tight ends, especially in a run first offense are supposed to be able to block which he clearly isn’t good at, this the signing of Myers. Unless he packs on 30-40 pounds, he’ll never be a real tight end. I think when Jackson leaves, with possibly Evans getting drafted, Wright would take over at two while Evans moves to one. I still don’t have faith in anyone past Myers. Stocker is always hurt and is usually a non factor when he’s in there, Crabtree is not good in the air game, and Byham isn’t starter quality or backup quality for that matter. Wright isn’t a tight end in my eyes but rather a slower receiver. I’d say he should work on his speed, route running and he could become a good receiver and those are easier to do than packing on weight and blocking.