Koetter: Ali Marpet Will Start OTAs At Center

March 29th, 2017

On the move

Major change for the Buccaneers’ offensive line is coming — for now.

Speaking to Joe at the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix this morning, Dirk Koetter talked about the shakeup of his O-line.

The hard news from Koetter was that Ali Marpet will be the Day 1 starting center when spring practices begin next month. Guard J.R. Sweezy, who didn’t practice all last year after back surgery and pocketing nearly $10 million of Team Glazer loot, will play right guard. Kevin Pamphile will kick off the spring at left guard but will get work at right tackle, too, as Sweezy also works at left guard.

Koetter called the move of Marpet “experimentation.” It’s all about getting the best five offensive linemen on the field, Koetter said, and he’s committed to that completely.

“The wild card is J.R. Sweezy,” Koetter said. He added that Sweezy had another thorough physical a couple of weeks ago and looks great.

Joe asked Koetter why he believes Marpet has what it takes at center.

“Tremendous run blocker, communicator, good in the screen game,” Koetter said of Marpet.

“I’m not saying he’s going to end up being our center. Ali played every snap at right guard last year, one of two linemen we had to play every snap of the season. And Ali’s had two, solid, solid seasons for his first two years as a guard. We’re just [about] having the flexibility of getting your best five out there. I mean, if our best five includes Ali at center, and let’s just get a little bit bigger with Sweezy and Pamphile at guard. But you never know, if something happens, Pamphile might have to move. Sweezy might have to flip over to left. We feel good with either Joe [Hawley] of Evan [Smith] playing center as well. We’ve won games with both those guys playing center for us.

Koetter emphasized again it’s all about “experimentation” leading to the best combination and getting players cross-trained.

Considering there is no contact allowed until training camp, Koetter and his staff won’t have to much to evaluate, other than health and movement.

Joe’s leery of moving Marpet, but there’s a long way to go. One thing is clear to Joe at this point. Don’t expect the Bucs to draft an offensive lineman.


56 Responses to “Koetter: Ali Marpet Will Start OTAs At Center”

  1. Eric Denman Says:

    Well, Im not shocked. We knew the plan all along when he was drafted was to play Center. Sweezy (if healthy) will be the starting RG.

  2. Mort Says:

    There absolutely is something to watch. The snaps, particularly in shotgun formations. This is new territory for Ali, and the physical part of it is the least of my concerns. He will be an all-pro center if he can get the exchange down. He is athletic enough to pull and do all those things just fine.

  3. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Way back when I added Ali Marpet to my wishlist, it was because I wanted him at Center. He does have experience there.

    I’m also leery at moving him at this point, Joe. Then again, it worked for Zuttah.

    I think this is the right move for now. See how everyone does and finalize things later. Sweezy will be the deciding factor, because I believe Marpet will do just as well at Center as he did at guard.

    What’s this say for Hawley though?

  4. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Mort Says
    “This is new territory for Ali…”

    Actually, it isn’t. He played some Center in college and did very well at it. It;s been a while though.

  5. tdtb2015 Says:

    Love it!!!!!!!

    This team is not about fear!

    Experimenting and having your guys able to do multiple positions will give Winston a better chance to dominate which = WINS.

    Now is the time to experiment. IMO Ali will be a dominant center for us. Hopefully it comes to fruition this year.

    Go Bucs!!!

  6. Bucfever40 Says:

    Ditto! ED

  7. Mike Johnson Says:

    All eyes are on Easy Money Sweezy. I just don’t think his back is going to hold up. But we shall see.

  8. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Sounds good and doesn’t bother or worry me.

    Worst case is it doesn’t work out and he moves back to RG. It’s not like he’ll forget how to play RG because he tried playing C lol. I’ve never heard of anything like that ever in the NFL.

    I’m just pumped because 3 of our starting O-lineman will be entering their 3rd / 4th years. Those guys are young as h3ll. Sweezy is the biggest question mark right now but we have tons of flexibility with Hawley/Smith/Benecoch/Goddshalk behind them

  9. bucNation Says:

    i think marpet will probably perform well and solidify our center spot im concerned with sweezy here’s a possibility i just thought of that hasn’t been discussed what about marpet at center sweezy at left guard evan smith right guard and pamphile at right tackler with dotson being our extra linemen i think dotson on last year of his contact anyway so i think they’re ready to find his replacement

  10. FuNkYxMuNkEy Says:

    An easy fix to our line this year would be to sign Mangold to play center (2 years hopefully), put Sweezy at LG, and keep Marpet at RG. Sweezy is better at run blocking hence moving him to LG. Market is clearly the better pass blocker so he should stay at RG. Pamphille can start at RT and see how he does during the spring and summer. Drafting a versatile lineman will help as well.

  11. Joeypoppems Says:

    If it works out and Sweezy can stay healthy then that just leaves RT

  12. JB Says:

    Ali never played center in college. He started at LT.

    Never the less, Jameis has wanted him at center for a while so why not try it in OTAs.

  13. 1nebuv Says:

    THIS TEAM IS GOING TO BE VERY SPECIAL . IF WE CAN GET 2 OR 3 PLAYERS FROM THE DRAFT TO EITHER START OR CONTRIBUTE THIS YEAR AND AND 1 OF THEM BE SPECIAL. THE NFL IS IN BIG TROUBLE . Jaboo will feast this year 4500 + /40tds/13int… 65%comp. 12-4 play green bay in nfl championship . (Based off of what I said earlier )

  14. Joe Says:

    Never the less, Jameis has wanted him at center for a while

    That’s the first Joe has heard of this. And Joe speaks with Glazer, Licht and Koetter… and Jameis too in the locker room.

  15. Lord Cornelius Says:

    “. Sweezy is better at run blocking hence moving him to LG. Market is clearly the better pass blocker so he should stay at RG. ”

    Is the LG more known for run-blocking? I thought the LT was the most important position when it came to pass-blocking so I assumed the LG position would have more emphasis on that than RG. Also Sweezy has always played RG not LG

  16. Tampa Tony Says:

    Offensive line might hold this team back if Jameis progresses like we expect and hope and Desean Jackson plays like he has the last 2-3 seasons. With drive killing tackles like Smith leading the league in penalties and relying on a injured bust of a free agent to contribute this smells like disaster

  17. 813bucboi Says:

    thank you dirk!!!!….I would like to see pamphile at RT but maybe c.beneoch has shown he can handle RT….we still must get a olineman for depth….but this is great news…..GO BUCS!!!!

  18. DPewter Says:

    Let the buc wall construction commence.

  19. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    This move makes Jason Gump even more brain dead when he passed on Laremy Tunsil last year, the bucs OL, is average at best, there is a turnstile at LT, that regressed last year, the bucs have no one at guard and no one at RT, jameis will be on his arse all year and not be able to get the ball to Djax, Brate and evans….at least we got a small corner and K last year, DRAFT OL that can start now

  20. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    JB Says
    “Ali never played center in college. He started at LT.”

    Yes, he was officially the LT. However, he also played some center at times. Hence, the reason why he was actually projected to be a center in the NFL by NFL.com.

  21. Cobraboy Says:

    Called it months ago.

  22. Dewey Selmon Says:

    Smith, Sweezy. Marpet, Pamphile, Dotson? Is this right Joe?

  23. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    He also played tackle, guard, and center in the Senior Bowl

  24. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Well it looks like we’ll finally end that 2yr debate.

    Moving On ..

    (Option #1) Possible Depth Chart
    • LT – Donovan Smith | Leonard Wester
    • LG – Caleb Benenoch | Ben Gottschalk
    • C – Ali Marpet | Joe Hawley
    • RG – J.R. Sweezy | Evan Smith
    • RT – Kevin Pamphile | Demar Dotson


    • G/T – Forrest Lamp

    • Evan Smith ($4,500,000 savings)

    (Option #2) Possible Depth Chart
    • LT – Donovan Smith | Leonard Wester
    • LG – Forrest Lamp | Ben Gottschalk
    • C – Ali Marpet | Joe Hawley
    • RG – J.R. Sweezy | Caleb Benenoch
    • RT – Kevin Pamphile | Demar Dotson

    Worst case scenario sign (FA) Austin Pasztor – to compete for a G/T spot.

  25. JJBucFan Says:

    He and Jameis can work those snaps in Jameis’ living room and no one gots to know, LOL

  26. LUVMYBUCS Says:


    March 9th, 2016 at 6:19 pm←
    No way Marpet goes to center.
    Sweezy will compete at LG. Not sure Pamphile is set there at all.
    The NFL now uses many 6 OL sets.
    My Seahawk friends say he’s a mauler. Last season the OL got much better when Hawley, another mauler, was put in.
    I like “nasty” on an OL.

    A little sarcasm my brotha?

  27. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Note: If we do draft G/T Forrest Lamp

    • LT – Donovan Smith | Leonard Wester
    • LG – *Forrest Lamp | Ben Gottschalk
    • C – Ali Marpet | Joe Hawley
    • RG – J.R. Sweezy | Caleb Benenoch
    • RT – Kevin Pamphile | Demar Dotson

    Everything pans out with Lamp (LG), Marpet (C) and Pamphile at (RT).
    We could head into the 2018 draft – pick ALL WORLD G Quenton Nelson.
    An potentially have one of the best “IF” not the best – young interior offensive lines in football.

    • LT – Donovan Smith | Leonard Wester
    • LG – *Forrest Lamp | Ben Gottschalk
    • C – Ali Marpet | Joe Hawley
    • RG – *Quenton Nelson | J.R. Sweezy
    • RT – Kevin Pamphile | Caleb Benenoch

  28. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Lord Cornelius Says:
    March 29th, 2017 at 12:08 pm
    Sounds good and doesn’t bother or worry me.

    Worst case is it doesn’t work out and he moves back to RG. It’s not like he’ll forget how to play RG because he tried playing C lol. I’ve never heard of anything like that ever in the NFL.

    Lord Cornelius Says:
    March 29th, 2017 at 12:08 pm
    Sounds good and doesn’t bother or worry me.

    Worst case is it doesn’t work out and he moves back to RG. It’s not like he’ll forget how to play RG because he tried playing C lol. I’ve never heard of anything like that ever in the NFL.

    But no he’s a delicate little flower –lol

  29. BigHogHaynes Says:

    Building the wall, that’s what I been calling for!!!! LT ? // LG D. SMITH. // C A. MARPET // RG J. R. SWEEZY // RT K. PAMPHILE. Let get busy and find that LT OR MAYBE MOVE PAMPHILE to left tackle anyway that wall will be built this year!!

  30. Defense Rules Says:

    @Joe … “Joe’s leery of moving Marpet, but there’s a long way to go. One thing is clear to Joe at this point. Don’t expect the Bucs to draft an offensive lineman.”

    You’re not the only one who’s leery Joe. I have no doubts that Ali can play center, and play it very well. I just happen to think that moving him … a future All-Pro … from RG and plugging in JR Sweezy is going to be a step down. Sweezy hasn’t played in a year for one thing. For another, he’s not known for his pass blocking. Neither is Dotson in my opinion. So the left side of the OLine had problems pass-blocking last year and we’re keeping it the same. How does moving Marpet to Center and inserting Sweezy in his RG slot improve the right side of the OLine in terms of protecting Jameis? Unlike you apparently, I DO expect the Bucs to draft an offensive lineman, preferably a Center. A nasty Center. And I expect them to draft one in the first 3 rnds. Not at all impressed with what’s being proposed for an OLine to take us to the playoffs. Bucs can do better. Much better.

  31. Dlavid Says:

    Don’t like this . Two years at guard and playing lights out , leave him there and get a center ! Son of a gun ! What about continuity ?

  32. Capt.Tim Says:

    Its a bad idea. The line gets better with continuity.
    Plus Marpet looks primed to make his first probowl this year.

    Better to leave Smith and Marpet where they are.
    See if Sweezy can hold up at LG. If so, Pamphile goes to RT.
    If not, Pamphile stays at LG, And the highly thought of Caleb Benenoch goes to Right Tackle.
    Then, Josh Allen and Ben Gottschalk, both 25- fight it out for Center.
    Loser, Hawley, Evans, and Webster are backups.

    Or, We Draft a center.
    Either way- I sure like Marpet better at Guard. His excellent Blocking skills are better utilized at guard.

  33. 1Gr8Buc Says:

    And to think I was blasted for playing too much Madden when I brought this up. Guess coach Koetter needs to lay off the video games huh? Haha I love this move.

  34. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    Someone pointed out recently that they’re have pro bowl centers that played guard first. Initially I was like h3ll no but after giving it some thought. If Mongo was on his way to becoming a pro bowl G then he just as well can be on his way to becoming a pro bowl C. They want Sweezy at his natural RG spot. Make it happen Coach K. Phamp performed well last season. Gotta keep that man on the field of play not the sideline.

  35. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    Mongo was the fastest O linemen in his class. That is a huge quality for a Center people.

  36. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    Lol @ JB just making sh1t up!

  37. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    Wow a lot of fake news on here today. Bonzai is also just making sh1t up. He never played a down at center for Hobart. He was projected as a future center because of his size. Jesus man, google is your friend.

  38. Pickgrin Says:

    I assumed this might happen – glad to see the Bucs brain trust is willing to experiment to see about upping the talent level of the 5 OL starters. Was not super happy when I saw they re-signed Hawley – assuming that meant he was being handed the starting job or fighting for it with Evan Smith – neither of whom should be ideally starting…

  39. gotbbucs Says:

    Guard to center, and vica versa is not a hard switch. He just has to learned to use his off hand not snapping the ball to control guys faster. I loved playing center as opposed to guard. Your man across the ball from you is closer and makes it easier to jump them in pass pro before they can start a move on you.
    He’ll be fine.

  40. Lord Cornelius Says:

    One thing I noticed that no one has said – We had Marpet taking reps at C as soon as we drafted him. Not to be the full time C but to learn the position. It’s not like he’s starting from scratch.

    This was a planned move for a while so it’s not that disconcerting. If he doesn’t dominate at C he’ll move back; but the upside of this all working out is that we’ve upgraded two positions (C & RG).

    I don’t know what they think of Benecoch but if they like Pamphile at RT then maybe he’s the LG.

    I’d think we keep Pamphile at G though and only move him if Dotson sucks a5s in camp

  41. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Actually realizing it’d just be an upgrade at C assuming that Sweezy can even play at Marpet’s level lol. Still – I like it

  42. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    1#. KEVIN MAWAE – RG/C
    • Height: 6 ft 4
    • Weight: 298 lb

    Drafted: 1994/ Round: 2 / Pick: 36

    Mawae played RG for two seasons – and did an amazing job. I remember folks saying if the kid stayed at the position he could become a future ALL-Pro yadda yadda. But instead the kid moved to Center – and after a few seasons- was considered by many to be one of the best Centers to have EVERY played the game.

    Career highlights and awards
    • 8× Pro Bowl (1999–2004, 2008, 2009)
    • 7× First-team All-Pro (1999–2002, 2004, 2007, 2008)
    • Second-team All-Pro (1998)
    • NFL 2000s All-Decade Team
    • First-team All-SEC (1991)
    • Second-team All-SEC (1993)

  43. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    #2. Andre Gurode RG/C
    • Height: 6 ft 4
    • Weight: 320 lb

    At RG/T/C for – Colorado
    • Consensus All-American (2001)
    • 2× First-team All-Big 12 (2000, 2001)

    Drafted: 2002 / Round: 2 / Pick: 37
    • Gurode was listed as the No. 2 Offensive Guard available in the 2002 NFL Draft.

    (2002 – 2005)
    Played 44 Games at Right Guard
    *Was considered by Many to be one of the better guard in the League

    (2006 – 2010)
    Played 78 Games at Center
    • 5× Pro Bowl (2006–2010)
    • Second-team All-Pro (2009

  44. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    #3. Max Unger – RG/C
    • Height: 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
    • Weight: 305 lb (138 kg)

    At (RG) for – Oregon St
    • First-team All-American (2008)
    • 2× First-team All-Pac-10 (2007, 2008)

    NFL Draft: 2009 / Round: 2 / Pick: 49
    • Unger was listed as the No. 1 Offensive Guard available in the 2009 NFL Draft.

    A second-round draft pick out of Oregon in 2009, Unger started and logged every snap in all 16 games as a rookie for the Seahawks, mostly playing at RIGHT GUARD before finishing the season at CENTER.

    Unger opened 2010 as the Seahawks’ starting RIGHT GUARD, but he suffered a toe injury that landed him on injured reserve.

    Unger assumed the Seahawks’ starting Center duties in 2011 and started 15 games, missing one game with a foot injury.

    • 2× Pro Bowl (2012, 2013)
    • First-team All-Pro (2012)
    • Super Bowl champion (XLVIII

  45. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Honorable Mention (Hall of Famers that made the switch)
    • Dermontti Dawson (RG/C)
    • Mark Stepnoski (RG/C)

    Jeff Hartings, etc, etc, etc,

    A have several more examples of RG prospects (drafted in the 2nd or 3rd) that became ALL-Pro Centers – but this should do.

  46. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    This is a short list of 2nd round picks that made the successful switch.

    There’s plenty of Lower Round/UDFA – that made the switch.
    That went on to have tons of ALL-Pro/Pro-Bowl appearences.

    So No Biggie

  47. Lord Corn Says:

    Love it luv

  48. Kevinthepainterimagine Says:

    I like it!

  49. Buccaneers Says:

    The only thing that worries me is how good Marpet and D Smith click when they both get off the line. Wouldnt want to lose that. Really think the move factors a lot on how a new RG would work in tamdem with Smith…..moreso then how Marpet converts to C. Just dont see Marpet struggling no matter what the coaches want from him.

  50. DislocatedBucsFan Says:

    Ali deserves a fat payday very soon. The next few off seasons will be very interesting. I believe he will be just fine at center. I am anticipating a few blown snaps as a result.

  51. Owlykat Says:

    I have been pushing Marpet for Center every year he has been here. He proved he could excel there when he played Center in the Senior Bowl. Champion NFL Teams are built strong up the middle so the QB can step up to avoid the rush and get his pass away. It also allows the Offense to power through short yardage situations on the goal line or short yardage on third downs. Pamphile was good stopping pass rushers last year but was not a powerful LG. However he can handle RT and will shore up the pass blocking there to protect Jameis.

  52. BringBucsBack Says:

    Joe, I hope your “clear point” becomes completely muddy during the draft as they need more & better linemen. They have to upgrade the RT position, minimally. Let’s not forget that this is the unit that requires the most time to “gel” of any other on the team.

  53. The Buc Realist Says:


    I disagree!!! While they did not play good enough, The Tackle position really got isolated with a lack of the running game so that they were in too many known passing downs!!! throw in the injuries to the RB and TE positions meant that the Tackles did not get any help in pass protection from those positions!!! I give them another year before I would declare that they could not do it and need to be replaced!!!!

    GO Bucs!!!!!!!!!!

  54. Dave Says:

    That tells me Swayze is healthy and ready to roll. If that is the case, having him, marpet and pamphile out there in the middle of the o line could end up being damn good.

  55. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    D@$! good indeed Dave.. Them holes gone be huge for Dalvin next season.

  56. Trubucfan22 Says:

    Marpet can be an excellent blocker from any position on the o line. The only real concern is if he can be an excellent snapper. Even guys who play center their entire lives mess up the snap from time to time. And it is a natural motion for them. Marpet has limited experience being a center and would take a ton of work on his part to get to the point where snapping the ball is second nature.

    Maybe he already has been working at it and is already polished. Idk, but it is what i worry the most about in the switch. I would be a lot more comfortable with him moving to RT than to center. Lol.