A Real Fix Available At O-Line U

March 6th, 2019


Now comes the hard part.

The Bucs wrapped up their left tackle position for at least a few years by coming to terms with Donovan Smith, who starts fresh with a new coaching staff as Jameis Winston’s blind-side protector.

Jason Licht and his crew looked around at potential replacements for Smith and decided to stick with a known quantity, a player who takes great pride in not missing a snap.

Now it’s time to get things right.

Bruce Arians has made no bones about the need for upgrades on this offensive line. He’s seen the 2018 tape and found it underwhelming, so it’s safe to say right guard and right tackle are positions of priority in the offseason.

If it’s all about Winston, doesn’t it make sense to focus on the peasants toiling in front of the king?

Early judgment for Alex Cappa, explains Ira Kaufman

After watching Caleb Benenoch struggle at right guard all season, the Bucs have decided he is better suited for right tackle. More than a few Buc fans believe Benenoch is better suited for another team. If third-round pick Alex Cappa had shown anything on the practice field as a rookie, he would have displaced Benenoch at some point during Tampa Bay’s 1-7 swoon.

He did not.

Right guard remains a gaping hole and the top replacements in free agency are underwhelming … mere stop-gaps. Rodger Saffold will be 31 when training camp begins, Ramon Foster is 33 and Mike Iupati, who turns 32 in May, have history with Arians.

They are not long-term answers for a long-term problem.

And while the draft isn’t overflowing with intriguing guard prospects, two tower above the rest. Oklahoma’s Cody Ford looks like a stud, but he is likely to be off the board within the first 20 picks and he’s not elite enough for the Bucs to take at No.5. He’s skilled and nasty, but let’s be honest — he’s not the second coming of Quenton Nelson.

Boston College guard Chris Lindstrom

Ford won’t be around in the second round, but Chris Lindstrom could be — and he can help immediately as a plug-and-play lineman. Lindstrom made 49 consecutive starts at Boston College, predominantly at right guard, and he comes from a school that has sent blockers like Damien Woody, Dan Koppen, Tom Nalen and Chris Snee to the NFL ranks.

“Boston College is O-Line U and we take great pride in that,” says Lindstrom, whose 4.9 time in the 40 ranked second among all offensive linemen at last week’s combine. “There is a standard that those guys before us put forth and we are trying really hard to uphold that after seeing all the success those guys had both in college and in the NFL.”

Lindstrom would be a welcome addition between Ryan Jensen and Demar Dotson, an athletic 6-foot-3, 303-pound mauler who can also serve as Tampa Bay’s long snapper.

“I’m just really passionate about football,” he says. “I really love it. I try to be accountable to my teammates.”

The Bucs have invested considerable resources the past few years on bolstering the left side of the line and at center. Smith, Jensen and Ali Marpet are well compensated, so they don’t need more cash. They need more help. For three seasons, this group up front has been manhandled in the ground game, ranking 29th, 27th and 24th in rushing yards.

The Bucs missed out on Nelson in the 2018 draft through no fault of their own as he was plucked by the Colts one spot before Licht would have pounced on him.

Like Ford, Lindstrom doesn’t rise to the level of a Nelson, but he would represent outstanding value in the second round.

“I was able to watch him (Nelson) a lot as a junior,” Lindstrom says. “One, we played Notre Dame. But there’s so many cross-over games because were in the ACC and it lined up they played a lot of teams before us. So, I was fortunate to watch him five or six games in college and see what a great player he was and the demeanor he played with.

“And obviously he had such a successful season this year. He’s the standard for guard play, especially in college, and he had a great year in the pros. He’s definitely someone you would love to shape your
game off of.”

Ira Kaufman began covering the NFL as a New York Giants beat writer in 1979. He arrived on the Buccaneers beat in 1985, and the corporate leash finally was removed from his neck when he joined JoeBucsFan.com in July 2016. The award-winning Ira Kaufman Podcast fires twice per week, and Ira’s columns appear thrice weekly, except when Ira is on special assignment. Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter also is a popular guest on various national radio and on local TV. He’s also co-host of TAMPA TWO at The Identity Tampa Bay, which returns to its regular format in March.

31 Responses to “A Real Fix Available At O-Line U”

  1. WinnipegBucsFan Says:

    If this dude slides into the second round. We have to pounce on him. Without solidifying this oline we will never be able to establish the run. Which is needed to be a consistent team. Especially in the red zone

  2. Rod Munch Says:

    Cappa was Licht and gang getting too cute with their picks and trying to be the smartest guys in the room. His combine workout profiled him as an UDFA, and outside of being “mean” (grrrrr, he’s mean, and doesn’t read comic books, grrrrrr) he really didn’t show anything. But since the Bucs hit on Marpet, who had a borderline historic combine, they thought they’d pull another rabbit out of their hat and prove to everyone how smart they are… by taking a guy they could have got easily in the 6th in the 3rd.

    Anyways you don’t throw him away yet, but the lack of measurables should be really concerning, and it’s why the Bucs taking him 4 rounds ahead of where he should have gone was surprising. I’d love to be shown-up, to look like an idiot and for Cappa to come out become the next Marpet, but that isn’t happening.

  3. DBS Says:

    Jason Licht and second round do not mix. You know he will blow it anyway.

  4. What the buc Says:

    If one of the top offensive linemen falls to the late 1st, we should try to trade to get back in the 1st round. Having 5 years of control over a top lineman at a low cap number will be important moving forward considering what we have invested in the line. Djax to New England and our 2nd to move up to 32 sounds possible. New England needs a speed receiver and 10 million is a good price compared to what some free agents are expected to get.

  5. Bruce Blahak Says:

    Lindstrom’s father is a former Buccaneer player too. Doubt he gets past the Patriots 1st round selection though…

  6. Lord Cornelius Says:

    I approve.

    If you want to stop f*cking around with this O-line, you draft a pure OG or interior lineman in R2 or R3. Not some “maybe he can play OT or OG or WR” guy.

    Chris Lindstrom
    Elgton Jenkins
    Garret Bradberry

    One of those 3 in R2 is fine. If not there should be options of PURE OG types in round 3.

    Also I don’t agree at all about assuming anything about Cappa or what our other O-line players looked like in the practices none of us could see.

    I could give more examples – but one easy one:

    This was a coaching staff that continually started Martin over Barber, despite all of us seeing that Barber was the better back in games. I bet he was the better back in practice too. But stubborn idiots do stubborn idiodic things.

  7. Kyle Says:

    we might as well not show up for the 2nd round..

  8. bucsfaninchina Says:

    Lots of quality O line talent. Considering how well his lead-up to the draft has gone, I would be shocked if he makes it to 2

  9. Dapostman Says:

    Licht has got to draft better. Seems he reaches a lot for certain players.
    I don’t think Rojo is a complete bust but there is no way he was the best player available last year at #38.

    Round 1: Best Player Available (any position)

    Round 2: Best Player Available (any position)

    Round 3: Best Player Available (need position)

    Round 4: Best Player Available (need position)

    Round 5-7: Upside players

  10. StoutGospel Says:

    Yup…Bradbury and Lindstrom were pretty well known by all draft evaluators as quality O linemen. Still doesn’t mean they will be there when Bucs pick in round 2 at the right value proposition.

    Finding good fits under the radar, now that’s another story.

    Go Bucs!

  11. BigMacAttack Says:

    There’s 31 draft boards in the NFL, then there’s Jason Licht’s peg board that sat out in the rain.

  12. DB55 Says:

    Ira you’re right licht missed out on Nelson but could have drafted Hernandez at RG instead he drafted a part-time DT who may or may not be able to play in the heat. He’s outstanding in cold weather though. And even as avg as he played his rookie season he still outplayed McIceCream.

    I’m just glad you’re not still trying to promote Dotson as a serviceable RT.

  13. BringBucsBack Says:

    “The Bucs missed out on Nelson in the 2018 draft through no fault of their own…”

    Nope, #3 just had to ignore his coaches play-call to throw the most accurate deep ball of his life to win an absolutely pointless game against the Saints! We can’t even loose right?!

  14. BringBucsBack Says:


    BigMac, at that point Licht proceeds with rock, paper, scissors.

  15. AwShbucs Says:


    C’mon bro, don’t just sit here and pretend like the 2nd half of Veas rookie year didn’t happen. Even Sapp came around and openly admits that Vea got better in every single game as the season went on. And he was taking full time starter reps for the last 5 games.

    And Will Hernandez while being a good prospect didn’t exactly have the same kind of rookie year that Q Nelson did. Nelson was an All Pro as a rookie while Hernandez was serviceable.

  16. What the buc Says:

    Agreed. Hernandez was garbage last year. Vea was a stud at the end of the season. The guy was injured the first half of the season. I don’t buy that his talk with Licht put him over the top.

  17. 813bucboi Says:

    Not some “maybe he can play OT or OG or WR” guy.


    that was funny as hell!!!!….the reason why its so funny is because its the truth….lol…


  18. Lord Cornelius Says:

    “Nelson was an All Pro as a rookie while Hernandez was serviceable.”

    And Hernandez went in R2 2nd pick. Would have been a huge reach at 12 with the DTs on the board / Derwin James

  19. rrsrq Says:

    I’m on the Elgton Jenkins train. If we trade back in the 1st round, then trade back up with our 2nd pick.

  20. stpetebucsfan Says:

    Lord C

    “But stubborn idiots do stubborn idiodic things.”

    I’m not a huge Koetter basher but this was a classic flaw he had. Lots of football coaches have it. Chucky for one with his love of old retreads. Football coaches are among the most conservative in the world. I think BA breaks that mold.

    How many times do we see a player emerge who has been riding the pine only to ask…did they not see this in practice?

    Think of Earnest Graham. He sat or simply served as a blocking back before desperation forced the coaches to let him run the ball in his fourth season. He ran for just under 900 yards.

    We do not know what Liedtke and others are truly capable of yet.

  21. Pancake block Says:

    Boston college, home of the human penalty flag Jeremy trueblood

  22. Defense Rules Says:

    @Ira … “peasants toiling in front of the king?” Really Ira. All hail King Jameis? Really?

    Would love to draft a Guard like Lindstrom, but not in the 2nd Rnd. We NEED to go defense with those first 2 Rnds since this draft is so stacked with defense. Preference is still to get MLB Devin White with our #5 pick then the best DT or DE with our #38 pick. And would prefer to get a Tackle in the draft rather than a Guard (we still need someone to backup Donovan Smith). Seems like there’s plenty of elderly Guards available in FA for fairly low $$$.

  23. Rod Munch Says:

    Who cares about Vita or Nelson, the right pick was James. Vita might be a pro-bowler in a year or two, but he might be just another run stuffing 3-4 NT as well, it’s hard to say. For Nelson, I don’t care how good you are, I’m not trading a top 10 pick and probably a 2nd and 3rd, to move up a spot to pick a guard – so those still whinning about Nelson are dopes – he wasn’t an option. James meanwhile is an all-pro already at the Bucs biggest need position – and everything fell into place, an All-Pro rookie and two 2nd rounders… and Licht blew it.

    Well Licht didn’t blow it yet since again Vita might end up being really good, and if Davis is good as well then it’s not a bad combo.

    Time will tell…

  24. Trucker_Buc Says:

    Take a guard with a premium pick? Pass…

  25. Destinjohnny Says:

    How does Jason have a job?

  26. What the buc Says:

    Rod Munch, safety is literally the least important position on offense or defense. Maybe strong side linebacker in a 3-4. Its nice to have a top safety but it’s not changing any team. If I’m wrong, make a case for a position that’s less important.

  27. Jameis Almighty! Says:

    Fireeeeee Licht!

  28. DB55 Says:


    If will herenandez had no legs and bounced around the field he’d still be better than Caleb Benenoch.

    And like I said Vea is outstanding in cold weather so yes the second half of the season was good, second half is part time if you ask me, the Baltimore game being his pinnacle where it was just cold and wet kinda like in Washington. Holla at me in September when it’s 110 on the field and humid af.

    Here’s the comparison, Da’Ron Payne with the Redskins via Alabama picked immediately after Vea played all 16 games 35 solo tackles (more than twice as many as McIceCream) 5 sacks, 3 PDs and 1 FF. And he can play in the heat is all I’m saying.

    Licht had 3 picks in the 2nd round, could he not have used 1 to move up in the second just 4 spots? No? Well at least we got MJ Stewart out of the deal. Ijs

  29. Rod Munch Says:

    What the buc – If Vita becomes an all-pro, he will make Licht look like a smart guy, and yes, an all-pro defensive lineman is more important than an all-pro safety. But an all-pro safety is more important than an all-pro guard, and it all comes down to how easy can you replace someone. Who hurt the Bucs more, Benenoch or Chris Conte? They’re both awful players, but one literally cost the Bucs a game, and a national TV game when they were 2-0. Benenoch, even with as bad as he was, didn’t single handedly lose games for the Bucs. That’s what a safety can do, they can lose you games, and it’s why they’re more important than guards.

    Now with that said a tackle can lose you games by getting your QB killed. A center can lose you games with a bad snap.

    Anywho there’s a reason that Nelson was just the 2nd real guard to be taken in the top 10 since the year 2000, and it’s because guards just aren’t as important as other positions. That’s no knock on Nelson, I get that’s he’s really really good, but a game changer guard isn’t a thing – but a game changing safety is.

  30. Rod Munch Says:

    DB55 – Rookie defensive lineman rarely do anything, but what you hope to see is improvement as the year goes along – and we did see that with Vita. I wasn’t a fan of the Vita pick and I don’t think he clearly didn’t have the “amazing” second half of the season that his fans think he had, but he did improve. I don’t buy the weather thing at this point – he was hurt and a rookie, so again it’s hard to judge him – but yeah, August in Tampa isn’t the same as August in the Pacific. I do worry that he just ends up being what he is, a run stuffing 3-4 NT, and if that’s all he is then they clearly took the wrong guy. I also don’t really get those who say he’s gonna be a sack monster because he ran a good 40 time – for his size. Vita averaged 3.5 sacks a year in college, and with more games in the pro’s that means he’s probably good for 5 sacks a year, in a good year. We shall see on Vita, but what hurts is that we know what San Diego got, and it should have been who the Bucs took.

    Again, I’d love to be proven wrong, I’d love for Vita to be a double digit sack guy, but I have no idea why anyone would think he is going to become that – there’s literally nothing that says Vita is that guy.

  31. EvolvingBucsfan Says:

    Lets not forget that this past regime was playing musical chairs with Marpet only to leave a hole from where ever they moved him from. So to determine that Cappa was a bust from what Wharhop and Koetter saw and decided to do by not playing him much doesn’t really say alot. From what little time i saw him play he wasn’t as bad as Benenoch. That last regime didn’t know how to coach up talent in any position IMO, some could say receiver but those guys did alot of reps after practice and in the off season too… besides Mesean.