Baseless Fears Of A Rookie Offensive Lineman

April 20th, 2022

History says Tom Brady would be happy with a rookie upgrade from veteran Aaron Stinnie.

A quick peek at the last 10 drafts of the Patriots while Tom Brady was there reveals Bill Belicheat drafting instant offensive line starters — with non-premium picks — and marching to the Super Bowl in a hurry.

Joe brings this up because Joe finds some Bucs fans in a state of denial about a couple of things in the trenches. First, there’s the nonsense line of Brady not wanting a rookie blocking for him, or that a rookie definitely won’t be able to hit the ground running. There is no history to back that up.

Forget about Tristan Wirfs 2020 for a moment, the Patriots drafted a third-round guard named Joe Thuney in 2016 and he became an instant starter and has yet to miss a game.

In typical Belicheats fashion, New England didn’t want to pay him big money so Thuney grabbed a fat contract from the Chiefs in the 2021 offseason.

How about 2014 fourth-round pick Bryan Stork? He jumped in as the Patriots’ rookie starting center and won a Super Bowl ring six months later.

And then came 2015, when New England made rookie starters at guard out of mid-round picks Tre’ Jackson and Shaq Mason. Now Mason is a Buccaneer and will replace Alex Cappa.

Back in 2011, the Patriots drafted tackle Nate Solder. He made 13 starts that season as the Patriots played in the Super Bowl but lost to the Giants.

As next week’s NFL Draft approaches, Joe finds this all highly relevant. Brady knows he can be successful behind talented rookie offensive linemen, and the Bucs could use an upgrade from backup and likely starter Aaron Stinnie. Yes, Stinnie is a true Super Bowl hero for his three starts in that playoff run — the first three of his four-start career.

There’s a divide at world headquarters. The Joe typing here would love to see the Bucs draft a guard in the first round.

The best chance of Tom Brady returning to Tampa for 2023 is tied to the Bucs having an offensive line and weapons he can’t refuse. Agreeing with that premise is former Bucs QB Chris Simms, the NBC Sports analyst and former Belicheats assistant coach.

“Protecting [Brady] and making sure he doesn’t get hit has got to be one of those issues to feel good about if he wants to play one more year after this,” Simms told Pro Football Talk.

Simms thinks the Bucs would be wise to go guard or defensive tackle in Round 1 of the draft.

37 Responses to “Baseless Fears Of A Rookie Offensive Lineman”

  1. Bucsfanman Says:

    I lean toward the Joe penning this article. It reflects one of the Fanman’s family mottos:
    “You can never have enough competent OL.”

  2. Brandon Says:

    Fine. Draft a guard… but it had better not be in round 1. If Licht has proven anything it is that he can find a guard anywhere and doesn’t need to waste premium picks on one of the easiest positions to find talent. Drafting a guard in round 1 is beyond stupid.

  3. KnoxvilleBuc Says:

    Either side of the trenches in round 1 is fine with me. Invest in something that controls the game. I think Brady wants to run the ball more. Let’s get a road grader in front of Lenny

  4. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Simms is probably right…….boring picks compared to the flashy WR the other Joe wants so badly….or the CB……
    Actually a CB would be a good compromise…..

    I truly believe that Licht can find a suitable 3rd or 4th round OG……..let him compete with Stinnie & Hainsey.

  5. #8 Says:

    Dear NFL, split the draft into two weekends please. Have mercy upon us. Get us to the draft faster.

  6. Letsbuccinggo Says:

    Tampabaybucfan you mean Stinnie and Johnson I believe Hainsey is a bust or permanent backup.

  7. MadMax Says:

    LG Ed Ingram in the 3rd

  8. SPARKY Says:

    Don’t forget that the Pats had probably the best offensive line coach ever then, can’t remember his name. Go defense line first round. You can sometime find OL guys later rounds. Check out the D2 college guys. Lots of them in the NFL.

  9. sasquatch Says:

    So, if people are seriously concerned that the competition between Stinnie, Hainsey, Leverett, and others won’t yield a quality starter, then you think we’re picking a guard in round 1 or 2. If we’re drafting a guard this year, it’s only to nab an instant starter… Any OL picks after round 2 this year would be throwaway picks for us because we have so many candidates for quality depth already.

  10. Runstuffer Says:

    The only issue I have with the comparison is that during that time the Patriots had Dante Scarnecki as their offensive line coach and he is one of if not the best offensive line coaches in history.

  11. StickinUp4Centers Says:

    Cole Strange. Continue drinking from the small school O-line well after the Bucs passed on Quinn Meinerz last year.

  12. sasquatch Says:

    Letsbuccinggo Says:
    April 20th, 2022 at 11:53 am

    Tampabaybucfan you mean Stinnie and Johnson I believe Hainsey is a bust or permanent backup.

    The Bucs have said the competition is between Stinnie, Hainsey, and Leverett, plus maybe some other guys like Hutcherson and Molchon. Johnson is probably a backup tackle… but maybe a guard candidate.

    What evidence do you have that Hainsey is a bust? There’s no evidence. He was training as the backup center, transition from playing tackle in college.

  13. PSL Bob Says:

    Couldn’t agree more with Simms. DL Rd 1, OG Rd 2.

  14. K2 Says:

    O-linemen don’t rotate. WR, DL, ED,CB, & S can all be added to the mix. Also, depth at all those positions is critical. A top guard would probably be a small upgrade in the first year. Assuming we hit on the pick…as advertised. Remember Tristan wasn’t the tackle that everyone thought was the best…the Bucs were very lucky to get him. We heard the Bucs had him graded very high…but they never said he was the top T on their board. Stinnie was good enough 2 years ago to play and win in a Super Bowl! I don’t see it as a pressing need.

  15. K2 Says:

    Agree Sasquatch…Hainsey is an unknown. I saw a lot of comments on the board calling Alex Cappa a wasted pick and “hot garbage”. It strange how professional coaches and staff…might have a better idea of the team’s needs. In general, I believe their knowledge, on football, is better than mine.

  16. Steven007 Says:

    As mentioned a few times up thread, I’m all for drafting a lineman, just not in the first round. Ironically all of the examples cited using the Patriots as an example, none of those were first round picks except for solder I believe, who is probably the worst of the bunch. So yes, draft a lineman. Just now with pick 27 unless he’s considered one of the elite guys. And from the mocks I’ve seen, the two elite guards, green and Johnson are projected to be gone by our pick. As usual depends on who else is there too. If there’s a huge run on quarterbacks, hopefully, better players fall to us.

  17. David Says:

    I have no problem if they draft an O lineman as long as they feel they can get a good D lineman in round 2/3. I think the line is very very good, one of the top 4 in the NFL. I believe RG was upgraded, LG downgraded, biggest problem is depth. How is Hainsey coming along?

    As far as the rookie starting, other than sitting at quarterback for a year, which is hardly done anymore, any player in the first round should step in and start, a lot of the second round as well.

  18. doolnutts Says:

    Licht seems to do great drafting OL in rounds 2-3. I think we should draft DL round 1 and then a Guard around 2-3 rounds.

  19. Biff Barker Says:

    We’ve got plenty of guards who know the system. With wide open competioion, one of them can start and perform well, too. That said, Licht wont back off if Zion Johnson is on thr board.

    So we either upgrade or trade at both Guard and WR. Too many bodies and not enough production in both positions

    For me it’s DT, Edge, CB, LB and TE.

  20. Marine Buc Says:

    @ Sasq

    I agree. If we can grab Zion Johnson with pick #27 maybe OG is the right choice.

    We don’t need anymore developmental OGs on this team… Hainsey, Johnson, Stinnie, Leverett, Molchan, Hutchinson

  21. gotbbucs Says:

    The quickest route to the QB is a short straight line. You’re G-C-G combo creates the pocket. If there’s a breakdown inside the offense doesn’t work. Newsflash, we have a 45 year old stationary QB. He needs a pocket to operate.

    The fools thinking that you just simply have a competition between three backups and one of them magically becomes a good starter have no idea what you’re talking about. Stinnie’s value is as a BACKUP. They know that, thus the backup money he is going to make this year.

    If the highest value on the board at 27 is a guard, that’s the pick. If not, then they pretty much are forced to navigate the next two rounds to find a instant starter guard.
    If the miss getting one in the draft, finding a starting caliber guard after the draft will be damn near impossible. Almost every other position besides QB on the field can be manipulated through rotations of multiple players. Offensive linemen can’t be moved like that. You can’t hide a turd in the offensive line.

  22. Coburn Says:

    I’d prefer day 2 unless we happen to have a. Guy fall into our laps. I think stinnie is a beast but no problem with competition and depth. And yes you do have to hope at some positions the cream rises to the top through competition and development. Can’t always have a superstar at every position and have to coach some guys up. Some positions that have a few younger talented guy you have to work with them

  23. Anonymous Says:

    Licht drafts tackles and moves them inside. The Bucs should be able to do that in rounds two or three. Trade down out of 27, unless a stud is still there, and gain more picks.

  24. Anonymous Says:

    I’m willing to wait and see how Stinnie and Hainsey play. There’s no one on our line except our RT who was a first round pick and we had a top line last year. Unless we think Green or Johnson will be a All Pro their second year I’d pass.
    I don’t think this draft will pan out in a way where the value in the first two rounds will be in the trenches. It’s an all in year. The value value or BPA will be found at safety, cornerback or wide receiver. No matter how bad we want this draft to be different it is what it is!

  25. GOB Says:

    I wouldn’t draft a guard in the first round. The bucs have more pressing needs in the secondary and DL. They should be able to find a plug and play LG in the later rounds. Don’t forget, Mason is a clear upgrade over cappa. It’s really not close, look at the PFF grades. I’d go look for another road grater at LG.

  26. GOB Says:

    Anonymous raises a great point. Lots of GM’s draft tackles in the later rounds, and convert them. It makes sense. Tackle is much harder to play than left guard.

  27. geno711 Says:

    I think you let the draft board dictate to some degree what you are going to do.

    In 2020 when we went after the tackle it worked. There were so many on this site suggesting that the Bucs should have traded down or waited and taken guys like Austin Jackson (Arnady) or Isiah Wilson (Sean Sullivan). Ugh. So glad we got Wirfs instead of either of those guys.

    If the offensive lineman that the Bucs value are available in the 1st round then certainly consider them. In 2019, the Bucs did not pick an offensive tackle even though so many of the fans on this site were calling for one. I think Licht felt that the 2019 class of lineman was weak. There were 9 offensive tackles taken in the 1st two rounds that year. They have well under performed their draft status. The guards from that 2019 draft class have also under performed their draft position.

  28. Rod Munch Says:

    You can start rookie guards, generally with no problems so long as they’re good players. Guards don’t need to sit and wait to play, for the most part, assuming they’re NFL ready. For example, Cappa was NOT NFL ready, he wasn’t in NFL shape and wasn’t NFL strong, it took him a year, then he was ready. But Marpet was a really good player from day 1, in part because he was NFL strong and in NFL shape.

    Rookie tackles tend to be iffy, but the Bucs have had good luck there. In the past you didn’t want to start rookie tackles, but in recent years they seem to be more pro-ready, likely because they’re doing more passing in college. You, however, can’t use Wirfs as an example – the guy was an All-Pro as a rookie, that’s not the norm for anyone.

    Rookie centers tend to be one of the more difficult transitions – while they don’t need to sit a year, they tend to need about a half season to get up to speed. Obviously if you’re moving someone, from guard for example, it can take a full season. If you’re moving them from tackle – well, that’s not normal, so I don’t know the timeline.

  29. Pewter941 Says:

    I remember thinking the Bengals were stupid for drafting Jamar Chase instead of on olineman, and he changed their offense and took them to the superbowl. Granted Burrow did take alot of hits, but our oline is way better Cincinnati’s. Even with Alex Cappa going there.

  30. MadMax Says:

    Just so everyone knows, a team will be lucky to nab Zion at 15-20…he wont be there when we pick.

  31. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    I am down with either a Guard or a Defensive Tackle, just not that Michigan Safety!
    That Michigan Safety had the benefit of the Michigan Edge Rusher Aiden Hutchinson pressuring opposing QB’s into making stupid decisions. Hutchinson may even be the number 1 or 2 overall pick in this draft.

  32. Buc4evr Says:

    DT first, CB, then a Guard. Stinnie has a chance to start and he was good in the playoffs.

  33. bob Says:

    johnson or green

  34. TheBradyBunch Says:

    Madmax I have seen no mocks where Johnson goes higher than the early 20s. He is available at 27 in about 40% of the mocks. If there is a run on 4-5 QBs I think the Bucs stand a good chance at having him available when they pick.

  35. Dman Says:

    Stinnie proved his worth in the Super Bowl run and Hainsey is there to compete. No need to draft a guard. We need defense.

  36. Eddie Marz Says:

    Always thought linemen were the smart choices. They come cheap and you can get them late. Skill players you can pick up in free agency or trades.GOBUCS!

  37. Pete Says:

    In spite of how much the game has changed, football games are still won and lost at the line of scrimmage…both sides of the ball.