For the past few seasons, one of the biggest holes on the Buccaneers roster has been on the offensive line, and many Bucs fans spent this offseason wondering when the team would start to seriously address this very obvious need. Well, the Bucs have to some extent plugged this hole with Penn State offensive tackle Donovan Smith.
Standing at a whisker under 6'6" and with 338lbs on his massive frame, Smith screams "road grader", a physical mauler who should be able to contribute immediately to the Bucs' too-frequently stagnant running game. On paper, that all sounds good - but the pick is also a little bit of a head scratcher.
Despite playing left tackle at Penn State, Smith will almost certainly be lining up on the right-hand side of the line in the pros; simply put, Smith doesn't have the footwork to compete with the premier pass rushers that he would regularly face on Jameis Winston's blindside. However, the Bucs' Demar Dotson has shown that, while he is top-tier right tackle in the NFL, he consistently struggled at left tackle.
Do the Bucs hope that Dotson is able to improve on the left and put Smith on the right? Or do they try and keep Smith on that left side, where he played in college? Neither are necessarily great options, which makes me question the thinking behind the pick.
Smith also represents a change in what a Buccaneer offensive lineman looks like. The Bucs remade almost the entire OL an offseason ago, waving farewell to Donald Penn and Jeremy Zuttah as well having Carl Nicks retire, as the team put together an offensive line whose skillset was a better fit for a zone-running scheme. Donovan Smith, with his massive size and his need to improve on his footspeed, plays against type as a zone-first lineman, perhaps hinting that the team will move to a man-power blocking scheme under new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.
So, Smith could represent a shift in blocking scheme, but also presents a potential conundrum with both Smith and Dotson being suited to playing right tackle. However, there's another option - with Smith's size, he could be a candidate to be kicked inside to guard, where the Bucs have a very significant need, and where his footwork could potentially be less of an issue in a zone scheme. His potential to play inside as well as outside, as well as having the skills that would fit a man-power scheme (if that is, in fact, what the Bucs are intending to do), compensates for the potential dilemma of how to fit Smith and Dotson comfortably on the same line.