If there is one unit that the Bucs missed on going into the 2017 season it has to be the offensive line as it has been below average throughout the 2017 season so far. When looking back we really shouldn’t be surprised that this is what has taken place. The Bucs had questions marks at each position along the offensive line and hopes were put on individuals who were changing positions, back from injury, or trying to take the next step in play level. Whether it’s Donovan Smith or Kevin Pamphile, both needed to take that next step towards consistency in 2017, but it has just been flashes this year. JR Sweezy, who coming off a back injury, just hasn’t been able to live up to expectations and has been on the ground too often this season. The two bright spots has been Ali Marpet at center and Demar Dotson at right tackle who both are now out for the rest of the season due to injury. The unit just has been a disappointment especially in the run blocking department which makes things worse because that is suppose to be the unit’s strength.
With the season pretty much done as the team is out of the playoff race, we can start looking towards next year and what needs to be done to make this team get back to winning. The Bucs offense has the skill guys in place, only thing missing is a solid offensive line. The good news for the Bucs is that O-lines can be rebuilt during one off-season, just look at the Vikings O-line. When looking at the Bucs O-line, I would keep D.Smith, Marpet, Benenoch, Dotson, and the rest would be let go or brought back on a cheap deal. A new O-line coach as well will likely be brought in, which could fix some of the issues going forward. When looking at the 2018 free agent class for O-line, there is not much there for the taking. New England’s LT Nate Solder is probably the biggest name and if he does hit the market, the Bucs would be wise to make an offer. Other names worth looking at would be G Shawn Lauvao from Washington, those two would be the ones to throw money at. However, where the Bucs really should look for O-line help is the draft.
This year’s class is better than last years and has players that can step in and contribute right away. For instance, G Quenton Nelson from Norte Dame is a top 5 player in this class and will probably be the first guard to go top ten since Jonathan Cooper. If the Bucs have a chance to take Nelson, they should seriously consider it as he is a stronger Logan Mankins in his prime. Another G that could be had later in the draft would be Billy Price from Ohio State as he is very similar to Pat Elflein who plays for the Vikings now. Price is very sound with his technique and athletic enough to get downfield to block the second level. At tackle, there are plenty of options that the Bucs should be interested in. Top ten worthy would be Mike Mcglinchey from Norte Dame, and Connor Williams from Texas and even Orlando Brown from Oklahoma, all three have size, quickness, and power to play the left tackle position. This Bucs O-line needs more talent and above else needs more toughness and speed especially along the guard position. If the Bucs could add two or three quality lineman to pair up with Marpet and Dotson, this line could be something. This unit has to be upgraded and be better in 2018 or else the offense will be held back once again.