“Elite” Offensive Linemen

August 10th, 2021

Major props.

We all know how good the Bucs’ offensive line became last year.

The best in franchise history in Joe’s eyes.

So it’s cool that a football writer who specifically writes about offensive and defensive line give the Bucs major props. That would be Brandon Thorn.

Recently, Thorn decided to list his top-20 linemen. Again, this includes defensive and offensive linemen. Thorn has a category of his Nos. 2-19 players as “elite.” Three Bucs are in the group.

(Thorn has his No. 1 player in a group called “Unique.” That was Aaron Donald.)

Ali Marpet ranked No. 10 overall and second as a left guard behind only Quenton Nelson.

Marpet has been playing at an elite level for the last several seasons and does it with tremendous play strength to anchor on command with the technique to consistently create movement and leverage in the run game in any run concept. He’s also started 10 or more games at all three interior spots over the course of his career and has missed just three games in as many seasons. Marpet has yet to earn a Pro Bowl or All-Pro selection, but on film is clearly among the best in the NFL at his position with several more seasons of his prime left to go.

Thorn next has Jensen ranked overall at No. 14, but lists Jensen as his top center.

Some will scoff at this ranking but the simple fact is that Jensen is the most imposing presence at the pivot in the NFL with the alertness in pass-protection to own the ‘A’ gaps, the top-shelf play strength to generate movement in the Bucs downhill run scheme, plus the athletic ability to be an asset on the move as a run-blocker. “Presence” can be an ambiguous term, but when studying center play across the NFL, it becomes apparent that Jensen stands above his peers in that area, bleeding across all areas of the Bucs offense in subtle and obvious ways.

And at No. 18, Thorn has Bucs right tackle Tristan Wirfs. Thorn lists Wirfs as his overall No. 3 right tackle behind Ryan Ramczyk and Lane Johnson.

This is as high as any second year player can be for me and it is warranted after the spectacular year Wirfs had as a rookie in 2020 where he faced a slew of outstanding rushers and more than held his own against them all. With rare play strength and anchoring ability to go along with elite athletic ability, Wirfs is able to set vertical, get to his spot, and absorb power against anyone. He can also mix up his sets and hands to stay unpredictable. Having Tom Brady at quarterback certainly helped him in terms of finding his landmarks and not having to protect for an inordinate amount of time, but he spent plenty of time isolated against top competition and was borderline dominant through all 20 starts.

How crazy is it that the Bucs have three offensive linemen in someone’s top-20 list of trench warriors? Pretty friggin’ cool if you ask Joe.

So many areas came together at the right time last year. Man, if the Bucs can just take another step from that jumping-off point for this season, this Bucs team could wreck a lot of NFL squads.

10 Responses to ““Elite” Offensive Linemen”

  1. Steven007 Says:

    This guy is pretty good. That’s about the most accurate description I’ve heard of those guys.

  2. Tkras red Bozo lips Says:

    Every o-line position is solid except for LT

  3. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    It is just hard for this old old time Bucs Fan to grasp just how good a team we now have.
    We could only dream of a team like this, back in the day.

  4. Bird Says:

    Marpet may Go down as best guard in buc history when its all said and done

    And just think khalil davis won back to back reps against marpet just a few days ago.
    I know its practice but depth is starting to show on oline And dline
    Great time to be a buc!

  5. PassingThru Says:

    Marpet is an absolute stud, and Wirfs has already climbed the charts to either elite or near elite in his first season. Jensen’s great when he doesn’t let his emotions get the best of him and I’d really like to see him clean up those snaps.

    I remember prior to signing Brady, some of the talking heads were opining that Tampa Bay wasn’t a suitable destination in part because the offensive line was viewed as poor. What a difference a year makes.

  6. Steven007 Says:

    Bird, I think Davis is a real wild card on the defensive line this year. I’m guessing he’s going to get a lot of snaps. Different kind of lineman from the rest of the guys. A bit smaller and more penetrating. Kind of Sapp like with his body type and quickness. Not comparing the two of course.

  7. SlyPirate Says:

    Winston held the ball, takes hits/sacks. Oline looks pedestrian.

    TB12 reads the defense and gets the ball out fast. Oline looks great.

    Brees had the fastest decision making to release in the game. It will be interesting to see how the Saints oline ranks if Winston is the starter.

  8. Ron says Says:

    Most of our offensive line has been in place the addition of Wirf was huge, but the real difference is Brady is now orchestrating the game and the schemes and bringing a consistency to the line. It is like a fine orchestral and now we have a great conductor in Brady this is why it is running so well. If Winston was behind them, this recognition would not be so pronounced. I am happy that this team is starting to see how good of individual players we have now that we are working as a team. This influence is seen both on the offense and the defense as the players are getting to play and go against the best in the game in Brady.

  9. PSL Bob Says:

    It’s long been said that the game is won or lost in the trenches. Not sure how many of the top 20 were on the o-line, but if half were offensive players, it would mean that 30% of the best offensive linemen in the league are on the Bucs. That’s pretty spectacular. But then what about defense. No Suh. No Vea, No Shaq, No JPP. Hummm, that’s a little suspicious.

  10. mark2001 Says:

    Slypirate… very interesting observation. I can hear it now…guys, what is the problem? Just change from count from three to four seconds and the ball is out, to count to 10, and hope Jameis still isn’t waiting to throw the ball.