“Give Me A Few Weeks And I’ll Get It”May 4th, 2014
The Bucs walking away from this week’s NFL Draft with a guy the team believes can be a stud offensive lineman is among the surest prognostications you could make.
A name Joe has seen pop up many times as a potential Buccaneer is known tough guy Joel Bitonio.
The University of Nevada tackle is often mentioned as a potential second-round pick who could play guard. His dad is a deceased MMA fighter who instilled a physical work ethic into him. Here’s an excerpt from Yahoo! Sports interview:
SDC: Tell me about your father. I know people talk about his MMA fighting a lot, but how was he as a dad?
Joel Bitonio: The first thing that comes to mind with him is hard work. That’s what he stressed to me his whole life. He wasn’t working in an office or anything like that. He was a carpet layer. He was a workingman. He also did MMA, and he taught me some MMA stuff.
But overall, he was my inspiration. He made sure I was trying to get my education and go to school. He didn’t want me to end up like him, having to work on his hands and knees. That made me want to go to school, get my education and make him proud.
He was always tough as nails. My whole life, I never saw him cry. He was an emotional guy. He told me loved me, and he hugged me, and things like that. But he was a tough-as-nails guy, and that’s the way he brought me up. I think that translated to me as a football player. I play hard, I play to the whistle.
I learned all that from my father. I got his work ethic. I used to watch him fight and think about the person it takes to be a fighter like that.
TheSidelineView.com, the stats-geek outfit where the Bucs found their new chief of analytics, sees the 6-4, 320-pound Bitonia as a second- or third-round pick. And they claim the film reveals a fight-to-the-death spirit.
One of the most tenacious linemen in the draft. Never quits on a play and will win some battles by outworking and outlasting defenders. Can play tackle or guard. Aggressive at the point of attack, but doesn’t generate as much power as you expect – even when he’s on the move. Anchors effectively against power and has high football character. Scheme and position versatility should raise his stock.
On the transition to guard, Bitonia says he just needs a few weeks to get it right, so he told TDDaily.com.
TD: What do you think about a potential transition to guard? Do you still think you’ll be able to play tackle at the pros?
JB: It’s funny, people ask me about it, and I don’t think I really have a choice! If a team drafts me and says I need to play guard, then I’m all for it. I played a bit of guard at the Senior Bowl and I’ve been training at the position without pads for a bit now. It would take some getting used to, but I’ve been a football player my whole life. Give me a few weeks and I’ll get it. I’ve played tackle for the past five years of my career, so that’s what I know right now. I would be more comfortable there to start. But seriously, just a few days at guard and I’d be ready to go. Whatever helps my team.
Yes, Joe is sure the Bucs will be snagging an offensive lineman. Gambling on left guard Carl Nicks’ health is foolish, as is hoping Jamon Meredith bounces back to his 2012 form at right guard. Depth would be nice, too, especially after the Bucs ousted versatile Jeremy Zuttah.