Stop me if this sounds familiar: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have good starters, but issues with depth at a position. What a surprise, right? At least at offensive tackle, almost every NFL team has depth issues. Good tackles are tough to find. So tough that the Bucs are starting two players who entered the league as undrafted free agents..wait, that doesn't sound logical. It's been a long time since they entered the league, though, and both Donald Penn and Demar Dotson have developed into solid starters.
There are some concerns here. Donald Penn looked like he was starting a decline last season, and seemed to play worse than he had in 2010 and 2011. Penn has always had weight issues, even for a position where "be fat" is basically the job description, but he is supposedly in "the best shape of his career". That phrase is overused and generally means nothing, but the last time that phrase was used in connection with Penn was 2010 -- and he followed that up by producing a strong, Pro Bowl season. Penn should be a fine starter for a few more seasons and barring an unexpected collapse should at least be solid this season.
Demar Dotson is another story. Physically, Dotson is incredible. He's a former basketball player who had never played offensive tackle before getting to the NFL four years ago, but the Bucs have since taught him how to be an adequate starter. He's a decent pass blocker but lacks power in the run game and at 6'9" can struggle to win the leverage battle. The Bucs could have upgraded on him, but declined to do so. They hope he can develop further, as he's still a raw player with little experience. He has the athletic talent to be an outstanding starter, but he is at minimum an adequate player who won't be a liability.
While the starters are solid but not great, the backups are abysmal at this point. The Buccaneers are hoping that Dotson and Penn can get through another season without injury, because there's no way they will be (or should be) comfortable with Jamon Meredith starting at tackle. He was adequate at guard until last season, but I wouldn't trust him at tackle at all. The Bucs tried to trade him this offseason, but no one bit -- so that tells you something about him, too.
Beyond Meredith, the Bucs have nothing to speak of. And the issues with injuries could be worse, too. The backup left tackle is Demar Dotson, and while Dotson has looked decent at right tackle, he looked awful at left tackle when he was asked to play there on a few occasions in the past, including in the preseason.
Beyond that, you get to undrafted rookies and second-year players. Mike Remmers, Brice Schwab, Nick Speller, Jason Weaver, Jace Daniels? None of those names tell me anything, and I wouldn't expect any of them to do anything. One of them will likely make the roster as a backup, though. The frontrunner for now is Jace Daniels, who reportedly looked good as a tryout in rookie minicamp. If the Bucs suffer an injury at this position, though, they will have some massive issues.
Projected roster: Donald Penn, Demar Dotson, Jamon Meredith, Jace Daniels
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