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Draft Special: Joe Thomas Offensive Tackle Wisconsin

Meet: Joe Thomas an Offensive Tackle from the University of Wisconsin. The Bucs and Joe Thomas have already had their preliminary meetings and neither are talking about it (naturally). It's no secret that our Bucs Offensive Line or Lack there of has been pretty much suspect over the past, well, decade. I mean there was that one year where we won the Super Bowl, but eh back to Mr. Thomas:

In terms of size, the man is a jack hammer, weighing in at 311 lbs and standing 6'6. In 2005, he received consensus First Team All-Big Ten honors. He also tore his Left ACL that season. He came back in 2006 to claim the Outland Trophy as the Nation's Top Offensive Lineman. Joe Thomas is one versatile mother, as a Freshman he lined up at Tight-End, Offensive Lineman, and Defensive End. From his Sophomore season on, Thomas has played Left Tackle.

Footballs Future provides:

"Thomas is the prototypical left tackle prospect. He has a long, lean frame with the room to add more weight as he gets bigger. He combines that size with excellent athleticism and agility. Thomas is a great pass protector with his mobility and his long arms, and easily adjusts to moves by the defender. In the running game, once he locks on to a defender, he's not getting away. With his experience in the Big 10, he's a player that will be ready to play from Day 1."

The real issue with Joe Thomas for me is, where does he fit with the Bucs? Free Agent Left Tackle Luke Petitgout was not brought in here to compete with a Rookie, he will be the Bucs Opening Day Left Tackle and as hard as he's worked this off-season, I'm definitely not gonna argue with that. Plus he's here for three years. Now Joe Thomas may be able to slot in at Left Guard with his versatility and athleticism, but then why have Dan Buenning and Anthony Thomas on the Roster? Maybe he could split time with John Wade at Center, but I think that's pushing it and there's no way he's taking Davin Joseph or Jeremy Trueblood's positions. So where does the guy fit? Also if you're gonna Draft a player with the 4th Pick in the NFL Draft, you don't Draft someone that may sit the bench. Here's some constructive criticism from my boy, John Morgan, from

Field Gulls (SB Nation's Seahawks Blog):

"Joe Thomas OT: I won't endlessly rehash how little I think of Thomas, but just for fun I decided to look at the tackles from the last three drafts who have succeeded in the NFL, and if they shared any features; I then looked at the biggest bust for the same factors. I'll limit it to players picked in the first two rounds. That gives us 16 players, a relatively small sample over a relatively small period of time, so forgive me if this is less than scientific, but here's what I found.

The best tackle from the 2006 draft, at least after one year, is Marcus McNeill. The two things that stand out about McNeill are his size (6-7 5/8, 336 lbs) and, oddly, his vertical: 31 inches. His 135.01 as measured by my Thrust stat would be far and away the best recorded by any offensive lineman in this year's draft. McNeill did poorly in agility drills, but was fairly effective in protecting the quarterback in 2006, allowing only five sacks and not recording a single hold. That the stellar and balanced Chargers offense rarely put Philip Rivers into dangerous situations might have something to do with that. I'd be surprised if McNeill's pass protection doesn't regress over the next few years.

2005's biggest stud was Jammal Brown. Brown's three sacks allowed was crucial to New Orleans' offensive success. Brown performed an excellent 4.67 in the shuttle, proving that he can effectively seal off the edge. Where Brown still lacks is in his run blocking, and his so-so 126.78 Thrust ranking matches that weakness."

"Now, a couple busts. Robert Gallery continues to disappoint after being touted as the Joe Thomas of his draft. Gallery had the size (6-7, 323) and agility (4.38 shuttle) that seems to indicate a sure thing. Yet he allowed 10.5 sacks last year, anchoring a historically bad line. His downfall may be his arm length. Gallery has short arms, 31", three inches shorter than Brown or McNeill. That's a significant impediment that forces him to fully extend his arms, leaving him in a compromised position against longer armed defenders who can play closer to their chests.

Alex Barron's arms are 37 ¾ inches, no problem there. His Thrust: An awesome 142.35. He also recorded an excellent 4.56 in the shuttle. His one weakness was a glaring one, though, a paltry 19 reps on the bench. Still, it's tough to understand why Barron has played so poorly.

The findings are more than a little muddy. The only two conclusions that seem somewhat clear is that an elite tackle must have no glaring weaknesses (like Galleries' arms or Barron's upper body strength) and that three years of experience is far too soon to tell. Thomas has short arms (32.5") and poor lateral agility. He lacks elite size or upper body strength. I have yet to figure a conclusive way to prove this, but I think Thomas is destined to be a bust."

The Bucs could certainly do a lot worse than Drafting OT Joe Thomas, who will be fishing rather than be in the New York Draft Studios this upcoming Saturday. I just feel when push comes to shove, another young guy for the line is something this team could gloss over this early in the Draft.

Joe Thomas' career history brought to you by: Footballs Future, ESPN.com, and Field Gulls.