The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a pretty solid haul on day two of the 2015 NFL free agency, filling their two biggest holes with two solid players. Both players still have some question marks, though, and while the team hopes to slide both into starting jobs, that may be a bit too much to ask early on.
Still, you were fairly impressed by the Bucs' efforts yesterday: Donovan Smith got a B in the grades poll, while Ali Marpet was given an A. That's a solid report card for any general manager.
For his part, Danny Kelly really liked what the Buccaneers did: they protected their investment.
Tampa Bay had a somewhat similar situation to St. Louis when they picked Jameis Winston first-overall. Many asked: "Ok, but who's going to be protecting him?" Well, the Bucs answered that as well by taking Penn State's Donovan Smith in the second and Hobart's Ali Marpet in the third. Really solid haul for Tampa in my opinion.
Similarly, College Football Focus was impressed with the Bucs' efforts on day two, or at least with Donovan Smith -- given Marpet's small-school background, they couldn't really say anything about him. Here's their assessment of Smith:
What He Brings: Size. Lots and lots of size. Has the length you look for in a tackle and ability to move people though with his dimensions he should do a little more in that regard. That he earned a negative grade for his run blocking is a testament to how disinterested he looked at times. Had the fifth best pass blocking efficiency metrics for left tackles against Power-5 opposition and was able to grade positively in all bar one game. Get the feeling he has more to offer than he always showed at Penn State.
Where He Fits: There won't be much resistance to a starting spot with only Kevin Pamphile standing in his way. He's likely going to switch to the right side and be asked to be a day one starter.
Now, let's go through a few sites that actually gave real grades, as useless as those grades are immediately after the draft: no one really knows what's going to happen, so everyone's simply grading against either their own evaluations, or the draftnik community consensus.
Donovan Smith: A-
The OL prediction came to pass with the selection of late riser Donovan Smith of Penn State. Donovan Smith is a huge (6-6, 341-pound) LT with long arms. Thought of as an excellent run blocker, Smith wasn't bad in pass blocking in the Senior Bowl practices. You'd likely start him on the RT side. His length gives him the ability to "latch and dump" defenders, which he did with regularity with the Nittany Lions. I was pleasantly surprised how often he kept Orchard busy with his strong hands. He easily and consistently turned defenders to create space in the running game.
Ali Marpet: A
Ali Marpet went from virtually-unknown lineman from Hobart to overnight sensation once he took over at the Senior Bowl. Can be utilized anywhere along the interior line and is very athletic, quick, and probably best-suited to eventually become a center at the NFL level. Two extremely solid picks for the offensive line in Tampa Bay bodes well for their overall #1 pick and franchise QB.
Donovan Smith: B-
They had to get a tackle, but I think there were better options. He will likely play on the right side, which is a need.
Ali Marpet: C+
He has some ability ... but how do you truly grade his tape considering the competition? This is a risky pick.
Donovan Smith: B
That said, Donovan Smith may have to play right tackle or guard in the pros. He's huge, strong and active and crafty when blocking for a screen or getting out to the second level. But he is heavy footed, and speedy pass-rushers can knife past him.
Ali Marpet: B+
Marpet earned the accolades—he'll be a heck of a pro—but there are other small-school wonders and guards in this year's draft class. Buccaneers fans, get ready for a solid player, and brace for the arrival of the world's least likely rock star.
NFL.com - B+ (day 2 grade)
The Bucs had months to figure out what they wanted to with the top pick, and to nobody's surprise, they grabbed Winston. He should do well in a Tampa Bay uniform, but he isn't the top player in the draft, and some analysts believe he isn't the top quarterback. There are obvious off-the-field issues, but the Bucs have a new leader under center, and a pretty good one to boot. Smith was undoubtedly taken to protect Winston and should fit in right away at right tackle, even if he does need to refine his protection skills. Marpet will face a big jump in competition from the Division III level, but he might have been the biggest riser in the draft.
Donovan Smith: C+
It had to be one of the tackles, and I would've gone with Jake Fisher over Donovan McNabb, erm, Smith. I think it's a mistake to pass on Fisher. Smith is very athletic, but never developed at Penn State - and I say this as a Nittany Lion alumnus. Smith has motivation issues, so taking him atop Round 2 is awfully risky. He has the potential to be a Pro Bowler, but he could just as easily bust.
Ali Marpet: B+
The Buccaneers moved up for Ali Marpet? Why, you ask? Because the Seahawks were set to select him. Ali Marpet is definitely worth a late second-round pick; he can play every position up front, which is important for a team with multiple holes on its offensive line. Marpet is highly athletic and was coveted by one of the top-drafting teams in the NFL, so this is very promising for the Buccaneers.