Coming into the 2015 free agency period, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are set to be players again. They whiffed on Anthony Collins as there are reports that he is being shopped and if not picked up, then he will be released. A week or so before the 2014 season, the Bucs made a trade for Logan Mankins because they did not have any depth at guard when Carl Nicks and the Bucs parted ways, the same Carl Nicks that played only seven games in 2012 and two games in 2013. That means the fifth-round draft pick of guard Kadeem Edwards nor the FA pick up of Oniel Cousins were not talented enough to thwart the necessary trading for Logan Mankins.
The Bucs were lacking talent and talented depth at the offensive line. We can notice that after one season. But others have already noticed this after the 2014 NFL draft, before the season started.
Here is Pat Yasinkskas' 2014 draft review:
Riskiest Move: The Bucs began the draft without a clear-cut starter at right guard. They still don't have one. They did take guard Kadeem Edwards out of Tennessee State and Perdue's Kevin Pamphile, who projects as a tackle, in the fifth round. But it's a lot to expect a fifth-round pick to be an immediate starter. They Bucs might have to keep an eye on the free-agent market to get their starting right guard. There also are healthy concerns with left guard Carl Nicks, so Tampa Bay doesn't have a lot of depth at guard.
Walterfootball.com had a 2014 preview that noted the instability that existed in the offensive trench:
The other addition the Buccaneers made to the offensive line was Evan Dietrich-Smith, who was brought in from the Packers. Dietrich-Smith is a skilled lineman who can play all three interior positions. He'll be used at center, as he'll be flanked by Carl Nicks, and one of Patrick Omameh, Jamon Meredith or Kadeem Edwards. Nicks can be dominant if healthy, which is far from a guarantee. The right guard position, however, figures to be a liability unless Edwards, a fifth-round rookie, manages to step up.
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|2014 Offensive Line Depth After the Draft|
Talent is missing from the offensive line. That would seem apparent and would also seem like the obvious problem for the offensive line. Both Pat and Walter denoted the concern with Carl Nicks' availability as well as that gap also known as the starting right guard position.
In a recent article by Jenna Laine, I found one exchange between her and Lovie to be a bit terrifying.
JL: Moving to the other side of the ball a little bit, I know we talked about the quarterbacks in this draft class a little bit, but on your offense, you mentioned Logan Mankins when you were at the podium, but offensive line was an area of struggle for the team this year. What are your plans with that unit. Are there going to be changes with that unit made? I know Anthony Collins wasn't always healthy and then towards then end of the season, he missed a few games, and you brought Demar Dotson over at that left tackle position. You threw him into the fire with that and all a sudden, he's having to go up against Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews — that's a lot to ask.
LS: That is a lot to ask, but most guys kind of like those types of challenges. At the end of the year, we wanted to kind of see what we had and to see what a player could do with that opportunity with Demar, to move him over a little bit. But we haven't made a decision yet on which way we're gonna go as far as what tackle position. But offensive line, I've made a statement that we need to play better than what we did this past year. I feel like we will. Having an anchor like Logan Mankins leading the group, being here in the off-season should help. Evan Dietrich-Smith will tell you that, and to a man, we'll all say we're gonna play better, do a better job this year, and I feel like we will. But, it's a new year, and most of the time, with a new year comes change.
Play better is the solution for Lovie Smith. It is a great suggestion except the team has jettisoned safety Mark Barron and will soon rid itself of Anthony Collins along with middle linebacker Mason Foster. Should they play better or should we go out and acquire better talent?
I want to hear from the coaches to the front office that they messed up in addressing the offensive line last year. That they gambled on many things last year for the offensive line and it failed miserably. The new regime released Donald Penn and Davin Joseph as well as trading away C/G Jeremy Zuttah. So the excuse of the front office needing more time to know what it has and does not has very little bearing.
If the mantra for the offensive line is to simply play better, then I fear the future of the Bucs' offense, its run game and its quarterbacks... and its coaches. I do not think playing better can compensate for the lack of talent or talented depth. Sometimes improving talent can improve the notion of playing better.