A Lot On Ali Marpet’s Plate

June 15th, 2015
ali marpet 0615

Recently, Senior Bowl stardom rarely translates to the NFL.

When the Bucs traded up into the second round to draft Ali Marpet, the pride of Division-III Hobart College, it wasn’t just Joe that raised a Derrick Brooks-like eyebrow.

A Division-III offensive lineman, really? Division-III is glorified high school football. Marpet was used to blocking tackling dummies with a pulse and now he is expected to handle the best defensive tackles on the planet?

It is the type of pick that either will get a general manager an extension and a hefty raise or a business card from a moving company. Boom or bust.

Joe understands why Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht expects a learning curve for Marpet. He’s going from pancaking slugs a few months ago to trying to stop Gerald McCoy in practice. The jump in competition doesn’t get any higher in football.

Now if you talk to the Bucs, they are genuinely excited about Marpet’s ability and promise. Joe would think something is very wrong if they weren’t. They drafted him, right?

However, one thing the Bucs like to brag about Marpet is that he held his own in the Senior Bowl and in practices leading up to the game against top players in Division-I. When Joe hears this, he just wants to raise his hands, palms facing forward, and say, “Hit the pause button.”

Joe is a football freak and enjoys monitoring the Senior Bowl because, well, in the immortal words of Moe Howard, “It’s football, chump!” It is also played the weekend prior to the Super Bowl when there is no football.

However, Joe remembers guys who had fantastic Senior Bowls and didn’t do squat in the NFL. Then Joe decided to look up the NFL careers of recent MVPs of the Senior Bowl. Joe nearly had a bad accident in his pants.

Here are the last 11 Senior Bowl MVPs. Joe hopes you don’t toss your breakfast after reading this notorious list:

Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska; Dee Ford, DE, Auburn; E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State; Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati; Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State; Brandon Graham, DL, Michigan; Pat White, QB, West Virginia; Matt Forte, RB, Tulane; Tony Hunt, RB, Penn State; Sinorice Moss, WR, Miami; Charlie Frye, QB, Akron.

Now to be fair, Abdullah has not played a snap in the NFL yet, but judging by his girlfriend, Abdullah is a Hall of Famer. In that list, only one player out of 11 has done squat in the NFL.

Not that long ago, success in the Senior Bowl was a pretty good barometer of success in the NFL. Brooks himself was once a Senior Bowl MVP. But it’s pretty clear that in the past decade Senior Bowl success doesn’t mean a hill of beans.

This is beginning to scare Joe. First, Marpet is trying to make a massive jump that few have mastered. Second, he’s learning how to play guard on the NFL level? That, to be kind, often has bumps in the road (think Garrett Gilkey starting at center last year for the first time in his life).

Marpet is clearly a smart guy and a helluva an athlete. That helps. But let’s not be naïve, there will be a learning curve for Marpet, more so than for any standard rookie.

Joe sure hopes “America’s Quarterback,” Bucs signal-caller Jameis Winston, has a solid Lloyd’s of London insurance policy.

20 Responses to “A Lot On Ali Marpet’s Plate”

  1. Eric Says:

    Two words.

    Otis Sistrunk……

  2. Espo Says:

    Good thing Marpet wasn’t MVP

  3. Dick2111 Says:

    Thump thump. Guess it was Marpet’s turn to get thrown under the bus this morning.

    He’s a rookie for heaven’s sake, and rookies make mistakes. Lots of them.

    Newsflash – so will Winston, Lloyd’s of London insurance policy or not.

    But eventually, something good might just come out of this group of rookies. Only time will tell Joe.

  4. Joe Says:

    Otis Sistrunk

    Great blast from the past!

  5. Rrsrq Says:


    You went there, good one

  6. mike Says:

    sign mathis and bring ali along slowly!

  7. mac Says:

    Personally, I would have drafted AJ Cann in the third and Collins in the fourth… But instead our brain trust uses two draft picks on one highly suspect division 3 gamble… Sorry but that is just plain stupid…

    We could have had two stud SEC lineman but ended up with one Hobart College guy…

  8. Buccfan37 Says:

    Well if you are going to put it like that, I look for Marpet to attempt to climb a steep mountain with gravel underfoot.

  9. Tom S. Says:

    The caveat to the Senior Bowl MVP discussion is that the primary scouting work is done during the practices. The senior bowl MVP is named due to the performance in the game which is not considered as important as the days leading up to it. It’s also where, in statistics you have a really small data set (one player out of 100 in the game) and try to deduct anything from it.

    The better analogy would be to look at the players who received stock up/stock down reports and see how they did thereafter. For example, this year of the o-lineman, OT TJ Clemmings was regularly destroyed in practice despite a lot of hype coming in and fell to the 4th round, whereas G Laken Tomlinson was considered one of the winners of the sessions and was eventually drafted at the end of the 1st round by the Lions.

  10. Tom S. Says:

    @mac, I can understand the desire for AJ Cann over Marpet. Definitely a much safer pick given his college career and accolades in the SEC. But I can also see the pick for Marpet. Like Aaron Donald the year before, Marpet was the type of prospect that did everything he could (great film, combine, interviews) to overcome his one negative (level of competition). Those players have a tendency to fare well when they check all of the boxes like he did, but time will tell if the Div III jump is doable.

    As far as La’Ell Collins, there’s too much hindsight to say you’d be the one GM to jump in and not only take him with a double murder investigation hanging over his head but also take him before the 7th round. There is a reason why every single team in the league avoided him on draft day. And while it’s fair to ask why a team didn’t use a throw-away pick in the 7th and try to convince him to sign (we now know he would’ve) taking him much earlier would’ve been crazy. I think most GM’s would’ve pulled the trigger on him at this point though.

  11. mac Says:

    @ Tom

    True about Collins… But honestly I was yelling on draft day for Licht to take a chance on Collins from rounds 4-7…

    What bothers me most about the Marpet pick is having to spend two draft picks on a kid coming from Hobart College…

    I’m sorry but this is really dumb…

    I hope it works out and Ali shuts me up… Go Bucs…

  12. BucFan20 Says:

    And out of that list it was the same old thing. QB and RB. Linemen don’t get it . Alot like the Super Bowl. That does not mean he will not get the job done. I guess Winston is the only thing that does not scare you now.

  13. OB Says:

    All of this is well and good, but we have Marpet and he either works or doesn’t, plus it may take time to find out because he is next to a suspect center and a who knows tackle.

  14. Buccfan37 Says:

    I looked up Hobart College to find their team nickname. It is the Statesmen. Sounds like some brainiacs with political aspirations. They finished 14-1 last season losing big to Wesly College in the playoffs, who then got blown out by Mount Union. Who? If Marpet makes it, likely high odds will have to be overcome.

  15. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    OMG…that list makes zero sense, Joe. Marpet wasn’t an MVP. How is it even fair????

    How about this? Make a list of offensive linemen who have played in the senior bowl and gone on to the nfl. THAT would be a little better.

    But the truth is, because the pick blindsided people, everyone is down on it. Didn’t blindside me. I WANTED Marpet. True, 2nd round was a little early, but honestly, I don’t care if a team reaches for good players. The whole reaching thing is dumb.

    The idea is to get the best players. If everyone thinks Tom Brady is not a 1st round pick and a team takes him in round 1, people would call it a reach. But the guy will be a hall of famer and has more than proven himself.

    In truth, a “reach” can’t really be defined until a player’s ultimate fate is determined. A player either works out or he doesn’t. Ryan Leaf?

    Ali Marpet is going to be great. The Bucs made the right pick on that one.

  16. Bucsfanman Says:

    Bonzai, thanks for the optimism. We’re all giddy for Jameis (who also has done nothing in the NFL) but down on Marpet, why? He has as good of a chance of success as Jameis. In fact, Jameis’ success is directly related to….oh, that’s right, the offensive line. Lets hope that all our guys pan out, they’re ours now.

  17. Capt.Tim Says:

    If be a lot more worried- if we didn’t have Logan Mankins.
    Between on field tutoring, and Weekend BBQs-
    The Kid will come along Fast.
    And Man, does he have major potential- the sky is the limit

  18. Brandon Says:

    I think you’re getting Senior Bowl MVP and players that stood out in practice at Mobile a little confused. Christian Ponder struggled all week with his weak arm and shoddy accuracy and then got lucky on some passes in the game to Leonard Hankerson and won MVP. Colin Kaepernick was clearly the better player all week and has clearly been the better NFL QB. The same is true of Marpet. He played well ALL WEEK… not just during the game, which most scouts don’t even stick around to watch because it’s worthless.

  19. Cover deuce Says:

    There you got making mountains out of molehills again. The intel on Marpet was he really held his own during PRACTICES and specifically 1-on-1’s, you know, the place scouts are really looking for progress. Not sure what a discussion of former Senior Bowl MVPs adds to anything.

  20. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    There have been a number of Division III QB’s who have made the jump to the NFL.

    I think the reason is that a relatively freakish QB…6-3 or taller are common enough that even Div III gets their share.

    But the really freakish OL…6-5+ and 300+ are much rarer in the lower levels of college ball like Div III and NAIA. 6-5 300 lbers are a dime a dozen in the major Div I conferences.

    Marpet seems to be the true Div III freak… Size well outside of the normal for that level combined with a rare degree of athleticism for a guy that big and especially a guy playing DIII ball. I’m optmistic.