Donovan Smith’s Solid Game

November 19th, 2015
High praise from Bucs OC.

High praise from Bucs OC.

Joe doesn’t know of a Bucs fan who, when the name “Ali Marpet” is mentioned, doesn’t break out into an ear-to-ear grin.

For good reason. If Marpet continues on his current path, in a year or two he very well could be one of the top guards in the NFL. Pretty damned good for a Division-III guy.

However, if one is to mention the name “Donovan Smith” to Bucs fans, one gets a variety of responses. For some fans, Smith isn’t cutting it and Joe notices some even lobby for Demar Dotson to replace him.

This just in folks: A guy is not drafted very high in the second round to sit on the bench unless he is completely and totally overwhelmed on the NFL level. And Smith is hardly overwhelmed.

Despite the protests and howls from the inventors of the game of football, the Pro Football Focus crowd, Smith is not Anthony Collins (who the same stat geeks got their pocket protectors all sweated up over last year as a steal of a signing by Lovie Smith). In fact, far from it.

The best thing an offensive lineman can do is not have his name called by an announcer. Smith’s was called three times last Sunday, all for penalties. But regarding preventing that piece of human debris Greg Hardy getting to America’s Quarterback, Bucs signal-caller Jameis Winston, you never heard Smith’s name called. That’s because Smith was stonewalling the right defensive end for the Cowboys.

The best game of the rookie’s short career? You could argue that, but Smith won’t go that far.

“I’m always hard on myself so it’s hard to say, but it could be,” Smith said yesterday. “I just go out there and play. I feel like I am coming along well. Just getting in a grove, a rhythm, getting a good feel for the game, the speed of the game and everything. Just trying to stay with it.”

“There is always room for improvement, but you definitely see improvements each week on something, whether it’s a hand placement, a hat placement, your foot technique and stuff like that. I think I’m getting better each week.”

Smith is just one part of a tremendous story for the Bucs. The offensive line last year was arguably the worst lot on the Bucs. This year? The offensive line is the best unit on the Bucs, one could argue.

The difference? Four new starters.

As Bucs offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said of Smith and Marpet yesterday, “We hit the jackpot.”

16 Responses to “Donovan Smith’s Solid Game”

  1. MadMax Says:

    Smith is making progress. Im not sure if he’ll be the best option at LT going for years, but even if we were to draft or sign someone else, he’ll be there as a Guard. He did good against Hardy.

  2. Defense Rules Says:

    We definitely “hit the jackpot” last year. Drafted a franchise QB. Drafted 2 starting OLinemen. Drafted a starting MLB. And another rookie (Jude Adjei-Barimah) … undrafted out of Bowling Green … is presently our starting CB. Oh ya, and we drafted a WR (Kenny Bell) who has all the tools to one day be great in my opinion. That’s a pretty good haul for one year.

    Lovie’s starting 5 rookies right now, and it could have been 6 if Kenny Bell hadn’t gotten hurt. We’ve also got 2 other rookies (Dye and Humphries) getting quite a bit of playing time.

    L&L also grabbed up 4 FAs last year (Cherilus, Hawley, Conte and Moore) who are also starting. Add in snatching up several players off other teams’ practice squads this year (like QB Ryan Griffin) who hold a lot of promise and all I can say is ‘That’s a pretty decent job for one year’s work’.

    Certain fans can badmouth Lovie all they want for being too stoic or being too conservative, but look at the risks he took in drafting each one of these rookies. And the risk he’s taking in starting so many rookies. Chances like having a rookie LT protecting your rookie QB’s blind side against the best DEs in the NFL week after week (awesome job Donovan). Consider the quality job that Lovie’s assistant coaches have to do to get all these rookies prepared to start week after week.

    It’s all about improving steadily, one game at a time. And about building team chemistry. And our Bucs … under Lovie’s leadership folks … are doing that right now. A very, very young team with a very bright future.

  3. Patrick in VA Says:

    I think we’ve seen the merit in having solid offensive linemen on the team. I wouldn’t be opposed to spending a second or third round pick on an o lineman every year to keep our depth strong, possibly get some trade value and ensure we don’t have a drop off as guys get older or leave on free agency

  4. BucTrooper Says:

    I’ve often said that Marpet is the pick that will make or break Licht’s career. Either he’s a genius for taking him or he’s a dunce for taking him. There’s no middle ground on that pick.

  5. HFXBUC Says:

    If you watch the draft LT, QB’s and DL dominates the to 10 picks and the 1st line in general. They are critical positions and for us to get our QB and LT set for years to come is significant. This team is on the come and right now we’re competitive week in and week out…that’s the team from a team that won 2 games last year. That is significant progress in one year.

  6. No_bucs_given Says:

    Still think Donovan gets beat with speed way too often, and resorts to trying to push the end past the qb, but it’s bad technique when a lineman needs to stay between the defender and qb. He also looks like he finishes the play a little earlier than the rest of the line in passing downs.

  7. Bobby Says:

    @BucTrooper….no, Winston is the pick that will make or break Licht’s career. If Mariotta were to go on and become the next Tom Brady and Winston bust then that is a career defining move. I feel like he made the correct decision there. A lot of teams liked Marpet. It wasn’t like he was an unknown or didn’t do well at the combine. If we hadn’t taken him someone else would have, and quickly. Licht obviously has a great eye for talent, something we haven’t had at GM for a long time.

  8. LargoBuc Says:

    If Stanley or Tusneil drops to us in April, theres no way we pass them up. Thats the only scenario I could see Smith moving to rt. Some good prospects also include Ndimche (sorry for the butcher) at dt plus there are two very talented corners coming out of FSU and UF. At least on of those guys should be there when we pick. I think Bosa will be gone no later than third.

  9. OneLove Says:

    I think it’s safe to say this kid is EXCEEDING expectations! Way to prove the doubters wrong!!

  10. Idontwannahearitanymore Says:

    “I’ve often said that Marpet is the pick that will make or break Licht’s career. Either he’s a genius for taking him or he’s a dunce for taking him. There’s no middle ground on that pick.” Baloney!

    There is plenty of middle ground, although I feel that his ceiling is pretty high. And the pick is NOT going to “break Licht’s career” – his performance isn’t not based on a single draft choice past the Number One overall and the whole organization is behind that pick.

  11. StPeteBucsFan Says:


    As always an excellent post. May I nitpick one sentence? LOL

    That’s a pretty good haul for one year.

    I do not disagree just would say that’s a real gift for understatement! 🙂

    If all the rookies continue to perform as they’ve begun it would have to be considered the best draft in Buccanneer history and a draft that we’ll probably not see again in our lifetimes. I give credit to L&L for sure but as with any endeavor we got some luck as well.

    The draft that brought us DB55 and Sapp to form the corps of the SB defense was the best draft…but if the current crop continue to improve and they start winning this draft is a success of historic proportions.

    First whenever you get a franchise QB in the draft it’s a home run…even if we failed at all the rest. Now add an LT…another critical hard to fill positin…RG…and of course MLB the QB of the defense…add in all the others who have played well as rookies and this group really stands out.

  12. 813bucboi Says:

    @largobuc…I agree…by the time we pick bosa will be gone and I really don’t see any other dominate de to risk a first round pick on…licht will have a tough choice between drafting a lt or db first round…I would lean towards Stanley or tunsil if available and draft de or corner in the second..a first round guy that might slip to the second could be cb Mackenzie Alexander from Clemson…kid is a good lock down corner that can play both zone and man…I would actually rather dip into the FA pool for a de, someone like Michael Bennett or bruce irving from the seahawks…GO BUCS!!!

  13. 813bucboi Says:

    d.smith has played outstanding this year…I still think he would be better suited for lg replacing mankins but he has done a great job this year…GO BUCS!!!

  14. Fsuking Says:

    Completely disagree with the notion that Lichts career will be defined by the Jameis pick. Who else would we have picked? Nobody had a choice. Now trading up to steal Ali Marpet from Bill “Butthole” Belicheck, now that’s GMing at its finest!

  15. Fsuking Says:

    And while Donovan Smith has greatly exceeded my expectations, I still think his ceiling is avg starting LT and he limits our options in the run game by being super slow. Thats fine though, as long as we get Dalvin Cook in 2 years. He’s gonna be the best running back in NFL history, Mark it!

  16. godzilla13 Says:

    If you look at all the OT taken in this years draft, they all have struggled in their rookie season. Many have not even seen significant playing time. Of the 10 OT drafted in the first three rounds only three are starters. Brandon Scherff, Ereck Flowers and Donovan Smith. Jamon Brown ended up playing Guard and just had a season ending injury. Donovan Smith got the best of Greg Hardy most of the game, which is impressive for a rookie, however he still has those times when he just looks lethargic. Hardy stuffed Martin a couple of times behind the line of scrimmage and at one point became so frustrated with Smith and he bull rushed him jamming his hands into his facemask. The fact Jason Licht picked one of only three OT to end up starting, and playing very well, it is safe to say he “nailed it” with Smith. To bad we drafted two WR this year only to have one not make the team and the other on IR all year. You can’t hit a home run with every pick.