When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded back up into the second round in this past draft to select Division III guard Ali Marpet, skeptics immediately began criticizing the pick. From calling it a reach to dubbing it a bust before a game was played, Marpet was marked for failure.
That obviously has not affected the Bucs approach on how to play Marpet into the NFL. In practices, he faces All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy often. It was largely written and talked about in camp how Marpet has pushed around McCoy on several occasions. Sometimes even placing him on the ground.
Two games into the season -- despite looking like the rookie he is at times -- the product from Hobart College has shown he can hang with the pros.
“This past week they had a worldly veteran that he was going against. I’m talking about Ali.,” Smith said. “Ali has put together two pretty solid games.”
Indeed he has. Holes are opening in the run game and Jameis Winston has time to throw. Marpet has even looked better than his veteran line mates, more often than not.
The excitement over Marpet has to be tapered with cautious optimism. That’s understandable. Still, the young man is playing like a seasoned vet, and that deserves praise.