Lovie Smith and Jason Licht have wasted little time rebuilding the trenches of the offensive line. Everything starts up front and if the Bucs want to succeed, starting with a reliable o-line is the way to go.
Anthony Collins was brought in from Cincinnati on a 5 year 30 million dollar contract to replace Donald Penn at the left tackle position. The Bucs improved mightily bringing in a more younger tackle. His numbers speak for themselves as Collins brings an NFL leading 97.2 pass block efficiency to Tampa. Josh McCown should benefit from this heavily.
At the left guard position Carl Nicks and Jamon Meredith are the front runners to start. If Carl Nicks is healthy or close to it, Nicks is regarded as one of the best in the game. He was rewarded with a 5 year 47.5 million dollar deal in 2012 after he started in all of his games in New Orleans. Reliability has been an issue though and if he can stay on the field the Bucs can surely benefit from his +11.4 run block grade (+34.0 overall). The Bucs were 27th in the NFL in run blocking, and certainly need a boost from Nicks. As far as Meredith is concerned he is a reliable backup who's numbers aren't close to Nicks.
Another upgrade was made at the center position bringing in Evan Dietrich-Smith from Green Bay. Jeremy Zuttah was traded to Baltimore for a 2015 fifth round pick. This should be a clean transition for the Bucs sliding in Dietrich-Smith into center who's numbers were far better then Zuttah's in 2013. Dietrich-Smith brings a +12.1 overall grade and a +6.7 passing block grade. This is compared compared to Zuttah's -1.9 overall grade and -2.5 passing block grade. This is a great move to bring in Evan Dietrich-Smith, and on top of that they get a extra draft pick to play with for trading away Jeremy Zuttah.
Now right guard could present some problems for the Bucs. The Bucs drafted Kadeem Edwards from Tennessee State a guard who is 6'4'' 313 lbs who has great size and potential especially in the run blocking game, and anchors well in the pass game. Edwards did 26 reps in combine and ran a 5.25 forty. Competition was an issue coming from Tennessee State but he has great intangibles that Coach Warhop can work with...Oneil Cousins who's from Cleveland looks to get his career back on track reuniting with Warhop.
Right tackle Demar Dotson has been great for the Bucs. Since becoming a starter in 2012 he has been one of the few positives on the offensive line and ended up signing a 4 year contract extension. He is one of few players who survived the Bucs overhaul of the offensive line. In 2013 Dotson has had the second highest pass block rating for all right tackles in the NFL! That's great value considering he is here for three more years for around 2 million dollars... Kevin Pamphile is a project guy who the Bucs traded up to get (7th in 2014 and a 5th in 2015). He is versatile and the Bucs look to work with great raw skills.
Player to Watch: Matt Patchan OT from Boston College. Signed as an undrafted free agent. Local product from Armwood High School who later went on and blocked for Tim Tebow and won a National Championship at Florida. Transferred to Boston College due to some injuries and got an extra year blocking behind one of the most productive backs in the nation in Andre Williams. Williams ended up getting drafted in the 4th round by the New York Giants. Patchan's dad was drafted in the 3rd round by the Eagles in the 1988 draft. He did 22 reps at the combine and ran the fastest forty time out of all the offensive linemen (4.97). Could be a steal with depth an issue right now for the Buccaneers.
Stats from Pro Football Focus
Written by: Eric Kaminski Twitter: (@EricKami5)