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.