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Column: Drafting The Bucs 2018: OT

Tampa Bay will certainly look to address a need at the tackle position when the draft rolls around in late April. Will the Bucs move on the line early, or with a later round selection?

Free Agency is upon us and we see teams coming away with savvy veterans at a fair price and we’ve already seen some laughably exorbitant contracts to fill a need when teams go into freak-out mode.

Kudos to the Buccaneers for signing their own to long term deals as well as coming away with veteran players to fill needs without breaking the bank.

It comes as no great surprise that the offensive line, while having some strengths, needs to be sorely addressed on draft night.

The guard class, which will be addressed in a later article, is loaded. Some will say the tackle position is as well, but it’s hard to predict whether or not the tackles available in the early rounds are really that much better than names which can be acquired on days two and three.

We’ll take a look at a few prospects which are going to be intriguing if not for the fact that they are ranked all over the boards by scouts. It’s the offensive line and it’s how it seems to be every year, welcome to draft season folks!

Offensive Tackle:

Mike McGlinchey (LT, Notre Dame, 6’7, 310 lbs.)

If there is one tackle in this class that seems to be considered head and shoulders above the rest, it’s this man.

McGlinchey is a surefire left tackle that held up against many of the best pass rushers that the NCAA had to offer, holding his own against names that are expected to be first and second round picks themselves.

McGlinchey is a solid run stuffer and after a season where Bucs QB Jameis Winston was sacked way too many times and always seemed to have to keep eyes in the back of his head due to fear of being attacked from the blindside, this would be a very solid upgrade.

Where things get interesting however, is where the Bucs pick. If you are sitting at pick seven, do you take the unpopular pick, grabbing a projected starter that can help your Quarterback get the pass out quickly, holding the line for a feature back, or do you address the more glamorous positions on offense and defense?

Teams in the NFL that have put valuable resources into their lines have seen great success for some time. If your running back is able to get to a hole and go for yardage, isn’t it really a solid pick?

McGlinchey certainly had that help from his perspective as he teamed up with another surefire early first rounder at Notre Dame in Guard Quenton Nelson. Despite less then stellar Quarterback play, Notre Dame really turned a lot of heads for their ability to hold the line in some very tough games. If the Bucs are gonna roll the dice on the line early at the tackle spot, McGlinchey, from my humble perspective, is the safe money.

Orlando Brown (RT, Oklahoma, 6’8, 360 lbs.)

Oh boy, that’s how this one starts off. To be perfectly frank, I’m a bit of a homer on this one because I’m a Sooners fan, but this pick allows me to speak on the son of the great “Zeus” Brown with some experience.

Let’s be frank to begin, Orlando did not have a good combine and scouts all over the place would tell you that. I looked at the results of his pro day on this very afternoon and he shaved his 40 time down from 5.81 to 5.6 in that ballpark.

Brown is a very tall athlete and he stands out like a sore thumb. What’s interesting is how his former Quarterback, and top NFL draft prospect, Baker Mayfield, spoke about him. He candidly asked scouts and a strong media presence how many sacks Brown gave up during the 2017 Sooner season and he was met by silence. I am paraphrasing that, but that was the gist of it.

Due to his immense size, it would appear that the best fit for Brown would be on the right side as he plays high at the position.

Because of his combine, Brown was initially factored in as a mid to late first round pick, but his stock dropped somewhat. The pro day will have folks reassessing that, but what a steal this potential next level talent would be for Tampa Bay at the top of the day two draft board!

This is certainly a name to go back and do your due dilligence on, his film is very impressive.

Connor Williams (OT, Texas, 6’6, 290 lbs.)

As mentioned with Brown previously, Williams is a very polarizing prospect. He is a very gifted athlete and has the size and speed to play on either side of the line. Williams lost a good deal of his 2017 season to injury, but he came play to protect the Longhorns Quarterbacks before shutting it down to ready himself for the off-season and to prepare for the draft.

Williams tape is all over the map, if you simply take in his 2016 film, you fall in love with the player. He would be a projected top ten pick if it ended there, but if you look at his 2017 tape with the injuries and with getting beat on occasion, it becomes a little more unclear as to where you would draft him.

As with Orlando Brown, consider at the top of the second or even the third round might not be out of the realm of possibility for Tampa Bay.

He realistically could play either side of the ball, but he saw many of his snaps on the left side for Texas. He could step into a starting role from day one or he could come in for meaningful snaps in a backup capacity, taking charge of the position for the 2019 campaign as the future of the Bucs.

The offensive line is never a glamorous position to draft, but if you look at teams with strong lines, such as the Cowboys, or Green Bay, or Pittsburgh, when they were at their best, they allowed the Quarterback ample time to get the ball out or the running back adequate time to hit the hole and find daylight.

Jameis Winston has a cannon for an arm and two receivers on the outside who can take the top of of any pro defense. If he is given that needed time to focus on his receivers and to find the routes without worrying about taking the hit, it’s going to go a long way in boosting his confidence and in bringing wins to a storied franchise in Tampa Bay.

I very much contemplated putting tackle as a higher need, but the fact of the matter is, other positions can be addressed early filling crucial needs. The tackle class has many names in it, some from prominent schools and some coming from unknowns. If given the chance, they might shine. Isn’t that what it’s always about, filling needs with the right kind of players?

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