Upgrading The Offensive LineMay 3rd, 2014
Whenever a new coach and a new general manager comes in, what they think of players isn’t a secret very long. Players the new leadership isn’t fond of are nearly always traded, cut or benched.
So let there be no doubt how Bucs coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht felt about the offensive line. Only one full-time starter* from last year returns, right tackle Demar Dotson.
Gone is Donald Penn. Gone is Davin Joseph. Traded was Jeremy Zuttah.
Holes to plug remain, notes Woody Cummings of the Tampa Tribune notes.
The Bucs spent the offseason overhauling this unit but still have some work to do, particularly at the guard spots. The team worked undrafted second-year pro Patrick Omameh at right guard during a recent minicamp, but is expected to seek an upgrade early in the draft. The Bucs hope two-time Pro Bowler Carl Nicks can bounce back from consecutive injury-riddled seasons and start at left guard, but they might look for some insurance, if not a long-term replacement. The rest of the line seems set with Anthony Collins at left tackle, Evan Dietrich-Smith at center and Demar Dotson at right tackle, but this draft contains some quality tackles who might be too good to pass on. The team has versatility and depth in Jamon Meredith and Oneil Cousins, but that depth would improve markedly if one of the projected starters was replaced by a high draft pick.
Licht has stated his desire to make draft-day trades to cobble together extra draft picks. Perhaps, if Licht trades back far enough, would he grab guard Xavier Su’a-Filo from UCLA, or perhaps with an extra pick, select guard David Yankey from Stanford?
Though others chuckle at the thought, Joe still is of the mind that Licht could pick a tackle at No. 7 and do some juggling on the offensive line.
* — Jamon Meredith was not a full-time starter and Carl Nicks, sadly, has never been a full-time starter with the Bucs due to ongoing foot issues.