Pro Football Focus believes left tackle to be the Buccaneers biggest need after the draft.
The Buccaneers addressed many needs during the NFL Draft, especially on the offensive side of the football. When you are able to fill a need at tight end with a player you didn’t even expect to have available to you, it was a good draft. Between adding O.J. Howard and Chris Godwin, the Bucs offensive firepower has the potential to be off the charts. Add the defensive players and the draft has been widely considered a success.
But, no team can address every single need in the draft. It simply isn’t possible. First of all, there are only seven rounds. A team only has a set amount of times to pick, and can only get so many more picks via trade. It’s not as if the picks are unlimited. Picks leave the board at unexpected times. Priorities change based on how the draft is playing out. There is no way to fill every need in one draft.
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Recently, Pro Football Focus looked at this exact issue. Specifically, they looked at each team in the league and gave an opinion as to their biggest remaining need after the draft.
In their article about the NFC teams, they believe that the Bucs biggest remaining need is at left tackle:
"Donovan Smith continued to struggle as he showed very little improvement from 2015 to 2016, grading at 37.1 and 42.0, respectively. While he flashed more potential as a run-blocker, Smith was still very inconsistent game to game and allowed more total pressures in his second season. With Jameis Winston looking to cash in on a year-three leap with more weapons in addition to WR Mike Evans, he’ll need solid protection from his offensive line and especially his left tackle. If Smith is unable to make dramatic improvements, Winston and the Buccaneers could very well miss the playoffs once again."
There are mixed opinions, even on this website, as to the validity of their grading system. To me, there is value in it, especially when talking about offensive linemen since they don’t have a lot of statistics we can draw from. They aren’t a substitute from the eye test, but they provide a reference point.
The offensive line had a down year in 2016, and Smith’s play was concerning. As I wrote about the other day, he along with Ali Marpet need to have big seasons in 2017 for the offense to continue its progression. Without solid play on the offensive line, an offense cannot function. Frankly, it’s hard to trust that entire side of the line, considering the fact that J.R. Sweezy hasn’t played a down for the Bucs yet.
Maybe the offensive line as a whole should have been named the biggest remaining need. What do you say?