Harsh Reality for Bucs Rookie Linemen

A national pundit offers his take on how he views linemen Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet.

We’ve seen and read debates about weak positions across all NFL teams. For the Bucs, and perhaps every team coming off a 2-14 season, it’s easy to say the team has many holes. However, what is the consistent concern for many is the offensive line.

The Buccaneers have been trying to build a line since last offseason under the new regime. From free agent busts to rookies that didn’t “wow” anyone, Tampa Bay’s coaching staff is entering the 2015 season with hopes that last season’s performance does not repeat itself.

But not many are sold on how the offensive line may look like and Sirius XM NFL’s Ross Tucker is one who expresses his concerns for the unit.

“Honestly, I don’t think very much of them,” Tucker said Tuesday morning on the Opening Drive. “It looks like they may start two rookies at two important positions at left tackle Donovan Smith and right guard Ali Marpet.

“Marpet is coming out of D-III and look, I’m rooting for the guy, but that’s a big jump to go from D-III to starting at right guard [in the NFL] going up against defensive tackles that sometimes have a two-way go. And then, Donovan Smith has the physical ability to be the left tackle in the NFL. But he really was inconsistent and struggled last year for Penn State. It makes me nervous, really nervous.”

This doesn’t sound good for rookie quarterback Jameis Winston who may hit the ground several times if Tucker’s concerns become reality. It’s a legitimate concern that he shares but there could be one thing that could help the offensive line’s growth and that’s Winston himself.

There were rumblings last year that part of the offensive line woes came from bad calls at the line from the quarterback, specifically Josh McCown. One of Winston’s traits coming out of Florida State was the ability of proper pre-snap reads and line calls. How that translates to the NFL remains to be seen.

The Bucs, as a team, will have several bumps this season. Their success will undoubtedly depend on if the line has improved from last year’s debacle.

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