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Bucs to meet with OT Joe Thomas Tuesday

Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune is reporting the Bucs are set to meet with potential First Round Draft Pick OT Joe Thomas from the University of Wisconsin.

If by chance WR Calvin Johnson, QB JaMarcus Russell (i know we have a ton already), and DT Amobi Okoye are off the table when the Bucs pick 4th, only then would I endorse the Drafting of OT Joe Thomas. As unlikely as that scenario is, I can't see the Bucs Drafting OT Joe Thomas and I hope they don't. With the 4th Pick in the NFL Draft you have to Draft a Play Maker or at least a beast of an athlete. Joe Thomas doesnt fit this criteria, couple that with the fact that Left Tackle is played by newly acquired Free-Agent OT Luke Petitgout, who has been working hard this off-season to build up a camaraderie with his fellow linemen. Thus Thomas' services are no longer needed for the next three seasons. Plus we've got enough youth on the line in OG Davin Joseph and OT Jeremy Trueblood. I'm not going to pretend to understand the good and the bad of a potential O-Lineman Draftee, but my colleague over at FieldGulls.com provided a pretty good synopsis of OT Joe Thomas' abilities:

"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."

I don't think it would be an absolute travesty should the Bucs Draft OT Joe Thomas with the 4th Pick in this upcoming NFL Draft, I just think they would be better served drafting an athlete/play-maker.