Thoughts on the Bucs Early Depth Chart

Mason Foster is the early starter at MLB.
Mason Foster is the early starter at MLB. /
Mason Foster is the early starter at MLB.
Mason Foster is the early starter at MLB. /

While I mentioned earlier that a team’s first depth chart means nothing, it does at least give you an idea of what the coaching staff is thinking, even if that may not be the final decision. It’s early, players are getting plugged in at new spots, they’re playing with packages and trying to find the best fits, a lot will change before the Bucs finalize their roster for the regular season opener against Detroit.

What you can tell from the Bucs first depth chart is who is likely to start this week when the Bucs take on Kansas City in their preseason opener. Here are a few observations from the Bucs first depth chart.

Michael Bennett Probably Won’t be the Starter by Week One

I like Bennett, and by all accounts he has torn up camp thus far, but unless Da’Quan Bowers is unhealthy at the start of the season I just can’t see Bennett holding him off. Bowers is the player of the future, the Bucs know it and they’re going to want to give him every opportunity to get on the field and start rounding into shape. But let me say this, if Michael Bennett does start the season over Bowers, it will be because he has earned that spot and he may be poised for a big year. Personally, I think he’s just having a good start to camp and will end up providing good depth at end, eventually I see Bowers winning this battle, but for now Michael Bennett is the starter.

Earnest Graham is NOT a Fullback

If you look at the statistics you’ll actually see the Bucs are a much better team when they don’t use a fullback at all, I think they realize this and you won’t see too many sets featuring a fullback this season. But I think its high time the Bucs went out and actually got a real fullback, or else just turned it over to Erik Lorig full-time. I’m second to no one in my admiration of Earnest Graham. He’s a blue-collar, high-motor, anything-for-the-team kind of player. What he is not though, is a fullback. Graham gives the Bucs a little flexibility as a receiver and rusher from the fullback spot, but isn’t an elite blocker. I’d like to see the Bucs plug in a better blocking fullback if possible, but I’m not sure there’s one on the roster right now if Lorig doesn’t turn into one.

Mason in the Middle

I do expect Mason Foster to end up in the middle of the Bucs defense for the long haul, I am a little surprised to see him listed that high on the first depth chart though. Oftentimes a coach will put a rookie below a veteran just to give the perception of competition and sometimes to help a light a bit more of a fire in the young guy. Clearly the Bucs have been high on Mason in the middle since they drafted him though. In many ways, if the Bucs knew all along who there MLB was going to be, it’s smart to give him all the first-team work he can get. There’s very little pretense in Tampa. Raheem Morris clearly has no time for games.

Jeremy Trueblood Back on Top

The last surprising point is that Jeremy Trueblood is currently listed ahead of James Lee at tackle. Trueblood has held down the job for a few years now but was replaced by Lee last season because of injuries and inconsistent play. The Bucs seem to be high on James Lee, but this appears to be a true competition, which will only serve to improve the Bucs long-term. It will be interesting to see who ends up the week one starter, I’m partial to Lee, but a lot remains to be determined.