Pro Football Focus came out with its year-end offensive line rankings today. Logan Mankins was the team's best lineman, while Donovan Smith -- at least according to the tape-graders over at Pro Football Focus. Despite the massive improvement compared to last year both in terms of productivity and apparent on-field play, the Bucs ranked just 23rd as a whole.
It was always going to be hard for the Bucs’ starting two rookie linemen, and then losing their starting right tackle at the beginning of the year amplified the issues. All things considered, this could have been much worse, and you’d expect improvements in 2016, given the lumps they had to take this year.
I'm slightly surprised at how low the Bucs are ranked, here. in 2014, when they put up one of the most pitiful offensive line performances I have ever seen, the team was ranked 25th. Clearly, something weird is happening here. It's probably a mixture of Jameis Winston, Doug Martin and offensive design obscuring some of the offensive line's deficiencies and PFF's grading being far from perfect.
Despite this relatively low ranking, it seems unlikely the Bucs try to significantly upgrade their offensive line this offseason. Logan Mankins might retire, but the team has Kevin Pamphile waiting in the wings and Evan Smith as a swing backup who can play there in a pinch. Donovan Smith had an up-and-down rookie season but showed enough promise to get another year as a starter, while Ali Marpet definitely played well enough to start again. The team could try to find an upgrade at center (Joe Hawley), but Demar Dotson and Gosder Cherilus should be more than good enough at right tackle.
In all, the team's going to have to rely mostly on improvement from players already on the roster to get a better performance out of their offensive line next season. But they weren't quite as bad as Pro Football Focus seems to think, either.