Developing “The Core”

April 6th, 2015
Joe talked to Andy Reid, Steve Keim, Jason Licht and others about building an offensive line.

Joe talked to Andy Reid, Steve Keim, Jason Licht and others about building an offensive line.

Developing a sound offensive line is getting harder and harder.

Gimmick college offenses haven’t prepared players. Better athletes are playing defensive line. Teams dump offensive coordinators every couple of years. And leaguewide impatience has taken its toll on a position that demands time on many fronts.

Joe chatted with various NFL minds 1-on-1 about this subject during the NFL owners meetings. Andy Reid was most enlightening as he and Joe strolled the lush grounds of the Arizona Biltmore resort.

Reid said he consistently preaches to his personnel staff that they don’t have to draft Pro Bowl offensive linemen.

“If it takes two years, that’s not a big deal. You have to find the right guy for your offense.” Reid said.

“It’s one position, it might be the greatest position, where you can develop players. So you can find guys out there, and you see it every year, you’ll see offensive lines with a couple of great ones and they incorporate guys who when they were first drafted you went, ”ehhhhh.” Oh, all of a sudden they’re playing at a very high level. That’s just through development.”

Bucs general manager Jason Licht echoed what many said: college film is no longer as valuable.

“It’s a little bit tougher because of the spread game in college where they have big splits and, you know, they’re getting the ball out quick and offensive linemen are not actually protecting as long as they did in traditional offenses,” Licht said. “So you don’t really get as great of a gauge as you used to with a lot of teams. But at the core, you’re still looking for an athletic guy that’s strong and tough and smart.”

Reid acknowledged that less practice time, courtesy of the new NFL labor agreement, has changed the landscape a bit. “It’s a learned position. So if you’re taking reps away from these kids at any level, you’re hurting. It’s going to take their development a little bit longer,” Reid said.

Reigning general manager of the year, the Cardinals’ Steve Keim, thinks the O-line challenge is mostly about quality bodies, and blending strengths and weaknesses.

“I think offensive line in general has always been a supply and demand issue,” said Keim, who played guard in the NFL. “I don’t think it’s specific to college offenses or much else. It takes a lot for a guy to be athletic, nimble on his feet and a big man at the same time, and to be able to play with power. You know, because you have to have the combination of size, power, feet.

“That’s the issue. You’re sitting here and you’re evaluating talent. Some guys are athletic but they’re more finesse players. Some guys are not so talented, but they’re power players. To find the combination of having it all, is pretty rare to find. You have to kind of and pick and choose what you’re looking for in a player and what kind of skillset they have, and can have.”

Keim went on to explain that the NFL increased emphasis on the passing game, and increased athleticism of defensive linemen, is pushing teams toward looking more for pass blockers, especially to protect expensive quarterback investments.

The Cardinals were last in the league in average yards per carry last season (3.3 yards), one reason Arizona just paid big Bucs for left guard Mike Iupati. They needed more balance on their line, Keim said.

Of course, the Bucs have more O-line holes than most. Don’t even get Joe started about depth at the position.

Lovie Smith expects improvement from second-year men Kevin Pamphile and Kadeem Edwards. Joe will maintain hope that one of them can become decent. Using the Andy Reid mentality, maybe Patrick Omameh, 25, is a guy who can make a leap after making his first 16 NFL starts last year.

The Bucs have a lot of maybes, which include the three returning veterans on the line. It’s why Joe would be just fine if the Bucs drafted Jameis Winston and proceeded to select four O-linemen after that. There will be no winning until the Bucs square away that line.

21 Responses to “Developing “The Core””

  1. "The kevin" Says:

    Maybe omameh will develop more this season.

  2. robert 9 Says:

    i do believe our rookies from last year will get better.

    but that still does not fix the LT issue, BBQ master on his last year who may or may not have an interest in playing at a high level, and our bowler for a center.

    Of our two veteran OL players, the C has an attitude problem and Mankins has already checked out. hardly guys you want grooming rookies.

    I’m not optimistic. The only good that could come of it is if we draft JW and he gets the brunt of the NFL with Glennon coming in once he is out.

  3. drdneast Says:

    Robert 9, your the only person with a bad attitude about the Bucs.
    You are nothing but an anti-Buc troll.

  4. Patrick in VA Says:

    There’s a part of me that agrees with Joe that an OL dominant draft would be a good idea. There’s also a part that thinks that the Bucs should capitalize on the heaviness of the DL presence in this draft and try to find that edge rusher that has eluded us for years. There is a lot to be said about the impact that having an OC will have, so I’m not entirely convinced that we know what we have in house as is. Maybe a mixed bag approach on draft weekend where instead of saying best player available, we say best lineman available when we pick. Whether it’s OL or DL. After taking the QB first of course.

  5. robert 9 Says:

    @ dryeast

    maybe I am the only fan who is unhappy that still posts. most have given up leaving mostly lovie nut huggers, glennon bashers and JW homers to rule the site casting hatred on anyone who is not happy.

    yall can circle jerk all you want. still a fan;just an unhappy one.

  6. Patrick in VA Says:

    @drdneast – Apart from robert’s “inputs”, the overall level of commenting that is coming up on these pages has declined significantly. It has devolved from being a heavy concentration of people with quasi-informed, or at least thought out, opinions on football and the team who went back and forth about topics by reading a post, considering its merits, and formulating a response to the bullhorn blaring of one way monologues and character attacks that exist on here now. I’ll be a consumer of Joe’s material for the foreseeable future but I’ve certainly lost my taste for the banter in the comments sections

  7. mac Says:

    It’s really not rocket science… You have to dedicate resources… Look at the Cowboys… They use their first round picks on offensive line and they have the best in the NFL… They passed on the A-hole Manziel last year and took Martin (starting guard) instead…

    Now look at the Bucs… How many lineman drafted before round 4? None since 2007…

    Then we decide to dump Zuttah, Penn, Larson and replace them with worse players…

    Then we sign Anthony Collins and pay him a king’s ransom to a back up quality…

    What do you expect?


  8. Patrick in VA Says:

    @mac – I’m not sure that it’s quite that simple. The article quoted Reid as saying that you don’t have to draft someone super high so much as you need to find the right guy for your system. Last year, you could tell that there was a definite theme to what they were going for with the O linemen they were bringing in but our system was thrown in the trash when Tedford went down so of course they were a soup sandwich. Now we’ll have a system that we’re working toward.

  9. mac Says:

    @ Patrick

    I agree a new OC will help… I really like the Koetter hire… IMO he will be the first legitimate OC the Bucs have had since Gruden…

    However, I’m not saying you have to draft offensive lineman with top ten first round picks… Look at what Dallas has done the past four drafts…

    Notice a trend?

    All I’m saying is until you dedicate the resources toward fixing the problem you will not fix the problem…

    We need to draft and develop good lineman if we want good lineman… Its rare to find solid players on trash piles… And yes I’m aware of where Penn and Dotson came from but its still rare…

  10. mjc Says:

    Is the hope that Pamphile and Edwards develops into a good OL, the same hope that Lovie had last year that Carl Nicks was actually going to play. On a good team with a solid coach and GM Pamphile and Edwards and whoever the Bucs draft on the OL this year, would be reserves that provide depth and are given time to develop.

    For some reason our coach and GM believe hoping 2 second year players can turn around the OL is just crazy.

    Lovie still makes me wonder what he is doing. He gave away the OL to raise money to sign a bunch of FA, which for the most part were busts and after a horrible season from the OL we cut an OL who was not playing anyway and add absolutely no new players.

    I feel for whoever is under center next year (Jameis, Marcus, or Mike). At least they can feel comfort in knowing Lovie is gone next year.

  11. Bob Digital Says:

    Now I’m no expert, and maybe it’s because the other starters on the o-line were so utterly dreadful, but I don’t recall Omameh paying too terribly last year. I heard the names Cousins, Collins, and Gilkey a lot more last season (which isn’t good if you pay on the offensive line) than I remember hearing Omameh’s. Perhaps he will make the proverbial “jump” this season.

  12. Patrick in VA Says:

    @mac – you make a solid point and I agree that we need to allocate draft resources to the positions on the o line. We’re one year removed from a GM who was philosophically opposed to drafting them. I have feeling that they approached the o line the way they seem to be constructing the defense. Bring in whoever you can find who is familiar with what you want to do and have them fill the role until you can get younger talent in there to mold and take over. It just backfired when the veterans they bright in were crap

  13. Iknowmorethanlovie Says:

    Gotta have good coaches to develop players Bucs o line coach is a Lovie stooge.

  14. The Original Kevin Says:

    This was talked about all last offseason on how even with good pieces it takes a while for that line to gel. Probably the reason we haven’t seen a lot of activity is that with some continuity and an an actual OC that can help break down each play in the book what each individual mans assignments are along with the common goal….put that with another offseason and there is no way they don’t improve.

    With that said, we still need some talent added. A lot…

  15. Triple Sow Cow Says:

    @Joe – nice extended article. Any thoughts on mixing in some long form articles to the site?

  16. SteveK Says:


    Loved the Peter King reference.

    30-70 in our last 100 is not ok. 9 years without a Buccaneer collecting 10 sacks in a season is not ok.

  17. mac Says:

    Zero playoff wins since 2002 is not ok!

    The Glazers are clueless cluster flunks…

  18. Pickgrin Says:

    Good article Joe – you included quotes from very knowledgeable NFLers to support your premise.

    I agree with you that after Winston is drafted a # of the remaining picks should go towards OL. 3 Linemen should be drafted with the 5 picks between rounds 2>5. They may not be of too much help this year – but it will set the stage for future OL success – and at least one or two of them will get major playing time this year to help speed up their development.

    Shortcuts up front are hard to come by. Drafting is the only way to properly build a team or any given position. Maybe if Dom had drafted a decent Lineman or 2 in any of the 5 years he was here we would not be in such sorry shape with OLine. No maybe about it actually. Dominik failed this franchise and we are still paying the price.

  19. Lou. Says:

    While o-linemen can take time to develop, just how many rookies started in the playoffs?


    When I saw Cousins (I believe the lowest-rated starting guard in 2013) was coming here from Cleveland, I assumed it was for camp fodder. His failure was not hard to predict. It was odd to expect anything else.

    I hope Pamphile and Edwards have what it takes and at least show signs of competence this year. We should also expect at least one 2015 draft choice to start on the o-line.

  20. TallahasseeHero Says:


    As I Nole I learned the value of a good center this year….Is there any chance the Bucs make a move to get Cam Erving?.. Along with his athleticism, he can play inside or outside. That is a plus when you may need to shuffle the deck some to get your 5 best linemen out on the field during injury. Also, what about DJ is he a viable tackle option in the second round? I heard he graded out well during the combine and pro day. What do you think Bobby Hart as a late round value pick? He is only 20 years old and has a lot of room to improve.

  21. davi-b-crockin' Says:

    No doubt about it fellas….in our debacle that was last year it only emphasizes the need to help this kid with both those that immediately serve in the trenches and strong 2nd stringers to rotate the reps. Just like life in general, seems like it’s all those experience points that pay off down the stretch. Lets go trenches after Famous gets here.