It wasn't that long ago when the Bucs had the worst offensive line in the league. It was an offensive line consisting of free agent bust Anthony Collins, Garrett Gilkey rolling back snaps, and Patrick Omameh starting at right tackle. The Bucs, and general manager Jason Licht, knew changes needed to be made, and changes were made.
The Bucs added veterans Logan Mankins and Joe Hawley, which investing two 2nd round picks in Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet. Once Mankins announced his retirement a few weeks back, the Bucs quickly pounced on free agent guard JR Sweezy as free agency opened up. Sweezy will be just 27 years old as the 2016 season starts. As a matter of fact, of the combination of Hawley, Sweezy, Marpet, and Smith, none will be older than 27 years old when the 2016 season starts in September.
The Bucs still need another young offensive tackle to complete their young offensive line. Right now, Demar Dotson (30) and Gosder Cherilus (31) are penciled in at right tackle. Dotson is entering a contract year, and it is plenty apparent that the Bucs have zero intention of signing him to a new contract.
Depending of if the Bucs are locked in with Donovan Smith at left tackle may lead to the decision of when the Bucs may look to bring in another offensive tackle to complete their young offensive line. If the Bucs are content with Smith at left tackle, they likely won't look to drafting an offensive tackle in the 1st round of the NFL draft, even if Ronnie Stanley is available. Jason Licht has said repeatedly that left tackles have way more value than right tackles, so drafting a player with a top 10 pick to play right tackle just doesn't jive with what Licht has said. Recent interest in right tackle Mitchell Schwartz may have given us a hint as to how high the Bucs are on Donovan Smith at left tackle.
If the Bucs are looking for a right tackle, the top of the 2nd or 3rd round would be the most likely spots for them to grab such a player. Indiana's Jason Spriggs makes a lot of sense if he slips to the top of round 2. I don't see a scenario where Jack Conklin or Taylor Decker falls, so Spriggs would be the top guy to slip if he does. Another name to be on the lookout for is Le'Raven Clark from Texas Tech. Clark has everything you want out of an offensive tackle from size, to long arms, to athleticism. Clark's film is awful, but he has a solid week at the senior bowl, where Bucs OL coach George Warhop was in attendance, and with proper coaching and development, Clark could develop into a much better NFL player than he was a collegiate player.
The Bucs biggest decision might be with the 9th pick if Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley is on the board. Stanley is a prototypical left tackle. Drafting an offensive tackle with the 9th pick would upset many Bucs fans who believe the Bucs should only be focused on defense this off-season. There is a bigger picture Bucs fans should be looking at, and that's the building of a complete team. The Bucs are a young offensive tackle away from having a complete offensive line of 5 players all under 28 years old, and all of which will play together for the next 3-5 years. The value of having that luxury might far outweigh the potential of one defensive player.
Would you like to see the Bucs draft an offensive tackle in the 1st or 2nd rounds of the NFL Draft? Tweet at us @TBBucsonScout.