As we’ve discussed many times throughout the offseason, the Buccaneers appear to be ready to shift Ali Marpet to center.
No, it wasn’t a bunch of “fluff” or “speculation” stirred up by media or blogs. There were always legs to the Ali Marpet to center rumors and now there has been confirmation, thanks to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. During the owner’s meetings in Phoenix, the topic was brought up to Jason Licht and Dirk Koetter and they are ready to begin the experiment this month. Koetter told Stroud of the Times;
"“Tremendous run blocker. Communicator. Good in the screen game. But again, I’m not saying he’s going to end up being our center. I’m saying, I mean, Ali played every snap at right guard last season, one of only two offensive linemen to play every snap, and Ali has had two solid, solid seasons for his first two years as a guard. But the flexibility of getting your best five out there. If our best five includes Ali at center and let’s just say “let’s get a little bit bigger with Sweezy and Pamphile at guard’…but you never know.More from Bucs NewsDevin White posts cryptic message to Lavonte David on TwitterUpdated Buccaneers depth chart after signing two players from rookie minicampTodd Bowles sends clear message about Baker Mayfield’s role with BucsThe Athletic is wrong about Bucs one ‘must-watch’ game in 2023Todd Bowles admits he only looks at three things on Bucs scheduleIf something happens, Pamphile might have to move, Sweezy might have to flip over to left guard. We feel good with either Joe or Evan playing center. We’ve won games with both those guys playing center for us. But when we were watching our cutups, we went through games last year where all of a sudden we were beat up and we had some strange combinations at guard and center.”"
No, Marpet to center in week one of the NFL season is not etched in stone, however they are putting the wheels in motion to prepare for that. When Marpet was drafted in 2015, Licht was on record as saying Marpet translated to an NFL center and they always had the intention to try him there.
Given the current state of their offensive line – one they are much happier with than most people want to believe – Marpet moving to center now is the right move. Kevin Pamphile proved he deserved a starting job last season and the return of J.R. Sweezy can create an even more talented line with Marpet anchoring the middle.
The experiment will begin when the Bucs start offseason workouts later this month and this will, of course, remain a fluid situation. That being said, we’ll have a good idea of what Koetter and Licht think about Marpet before training camp begins.