2020 NFL Draft: Early potential offensive lineman for Buccaneers to watch

ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 19: Ben Bredeson #74 of the Michigan Wolverines leaves the field after a 20-10 win over the Indiana Hoosiers on November 19, 2016 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 19: Ben Bredeson #74 of the Michigan Wolverines leaves the field after a 20-10 win over the Indiana Hoosiers on November 19, 2016 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Is it too early to start thinking about the future? Here are some of the potential offensive lineman that could be Buccaneers after the 2020 NFL Draft.

January 26th, 2003 was the day the Jon Gruden lead Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl, their one and only Lombardi Trophy. However it was also the last time the team made the playoffs as the Bucs undoubtedly need help on both sides of the ball, but the trenches are always a good place to start.  Here are my top five offensive lineman to watch for in the 2020 NFL Draft as the Buccaneers will look to upgrade their interior trenches.

1.  Andrew Thomas, Tackle, Georgia

One of the most important positions of a football team is the offensive tackle because they protect the quarterback’s blind side. Current left tackle Donovan Smith, fresh off of a $13 million extension, has done a poor job at this through the first four years and two games of his NFL career.

University of Georgia’s Andrew Thomas may just be the man the Buccaneers are looking for to protect their quarterback moving into the future. Listed at 6-5 and 320 pounds, Thomas is a man amongst boys and posses a rare ability of strength and athleticism needed at the tackle position at the next level.

Thomas is a Junior for the Bulldogs, and is considered one of best offensive tackles in college football this year. The 2020 draft class is a weaker one for interior offensive lineman, expect Thomas to go quite high in this year draft should he stay healthy. If the Buccaneers find their way back into the top ten, Thomas is an obvious target for them as they seek to upgrade their offensive line.

2. Ben Bredeson, Guard, Michigan

The Bucs have their guard of the future already with Ali Marpet, but what about the other side? Through two weeks it has been another small school prospect in Alex Cappa filling the void, and playing well. Will Cappa only help to solidify his spot over the next 15 weeks or will the Buccaneers need to seek out his replacement?

If the Buccaneers look to upgrade the position, however, Michigan’s Ben Bredeson would be a solid place to look for starters. At 6’5, 320 pounds, he is not the fastest lineman in the draft class, and he has yet to play this season, but based on his college career Bredesen could help the team solidify their inner offensive line.

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Bredenson broke into the Wolverines starting lineup as a freshman and has remained a strong consistent blocker for the team throughout. His draft stock is a relative mystery at this point, but the Buccaneers may be able to nab him with a day-two pick by the time the draft rolls around next April.

3. Trey Smith, Guard/Tackle, Tennessee

When it comes to the NFL, versatility is everything as the more places you can play, the better your chances are of success. Trey Smith is no exception as he has played at both the tackle and guard spots for the Tennessee Vols over the last two seasons of his collegiate career.

After a good freshman campaign with the Vols, the returns were looking promising during his sophomore season last year until he had to stop playing in the last five games of the 2018 season because of an unfortunate blood clot in his lungs. He has picked up right where he left off a year ago, and Smith’s draft stock is only getting higher from here on out.

Smith stands 6-6, weighs 320 pounds, and uses his strength and power to overpower defenders in the run game. It is important that Smith stays healthy this season and continues to show his abilities and versatility, even if he is playing on a subpar Tennessee team this year.

If his blood clots don’t reappear, his draft stock will continue to gain steam. With the versatility to fill multiple voids along a team’s offensive line, Smith could become a hot commodity for the Buccaneers to consider as he can play both tackle and guard. Right now he is slated as a day-two pick as he is still proving he can overcome his medical hurdle long term.

4. Tristan Wirfs, Tackle, Iowa

If you’re an NFL team, one of the traits you’re looking for in a player is their drive; it’s about what makes them want to play the game of football. Tristan Wirfs is one of those players you call a gamer as he’s another versatile tackle/guard player for the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Listed at 6’5, 320 pounds Wirfs uses his strength and relentlessness to drive players to the ground in the run game. While he may be lacking a bit of pop as a run blocker, he is by far the best pass blocker in this year’s draft class.

Wirfs has outstanding footwork in the run game as he moves smoothly while getting to the next level linebackers. Wirfs is a prospect who can help his draft stock if he stays healthy and continues to grow in pass protection. As we saw with Andre Dillard and the Philadelphia Eagles last April, becoming an elite pass blocker with elite athletic traits will get you drafted in the first round.

5. Calvin Throckmorton, Tackle, Oregon

Some players have the pure ability but not the intelligence, others have the intelligence but not the ability. Calvin Throckmorton is a rare combination of both for the University of Oregon, who seemingly could put all five of their starting lineman into the draft this upcoming Spring.

Throckmorton seeks to become an orthopedic surgeon, and that goes a long way in showing just how smart the former basketball player turned offensive lineman is. His ability to play every position on the offensive line will make many teams come knocking come draft day.

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Throckmorton stands 6-5 and weighs 318 pounds as he relies on his strength to overpower you, and that’s what NFL teams look for in the trenches. Throckmorton needs to work on his footwork and getting to the next level of the defense but the future looks bright.