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What drafting Ali Marpet means for the Buccaneers

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

After adding a left tackle in Donovan Smith, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers apparently really wanted to fix their offensive line by grabbing a small-school prospect in Ali Marpet out of Hobart. His obscurity means we don't really have any footage of him to analyze, but the Buccaneers love him, and he was arguably the best athlete at the NFL Scouting Combine, while playing very well at the Senior Bowl.

Marpet is widely seen as a guard, and that's where the Buccaneers will play him as well. If he can step in and play immediately, the Bucs should have an offensive line of Donovan Smith, Logan Mankins, Evan Dietrich-Smith and Demar Dotson. That's a pretty good group, although they'll have to take their lumps while the rookies develop and they learn to function together.

It's not clear whether Marpet is really well-developed enough to start immediately, though -- playing at the D-III level means he hasn't had to go against top-level competition, which may be an issue going forward. But Marpet held his own at the Senior Bowl, which is a pretty good sign that he can adjust quickly. General manager Jason Licht indicated that that was one of the main reasons why they drafted him.

With a little bit of luck, Marpet will be able to start at right guard -- or compete with Kadeem Edwards for the right to start there, at least. He won't be handed the starting job, and neither will Donovan Smith, but Licht certainly likes him, a lot. He said that "the sky's the limit" for Marpet's upside. And if Marpet can't start, there's a chance that Edwards has developed well enough to step in instead.

The Bucs are likely going to start two rookies on the offensive line, both with some question marks. That's almost certainly going to lead to some uneven play, but that's inevitable and they're simply going to have to deal with it. But both of these players are very talented, and if they develop well, the Bucs finally have some solid, young linemen to build around.