Pro Football Focus sure hates a lot of Tampa Bay Buccaneers position groups. Today in PFF-haterade: the offensive line. Apparently, the Bucs have the sixth-worst line in the entire NFL, just ahead of the Super Bowl-winning Denver Broncos. One bit of consolation: the Seattle Seahawks are ranked 32nd.
On the bright side for Tampa Bay, Ali Marpet looked like an average NFL starter as a second-round rookie, which is impressive, and Demar Dotson looked like his old self on a small sample size after missing most of the 2015 season. The Bucs’ line will still likely look worse in 2016 than it did in 2015, though, thanks to the retirement of Logan Mankins—and the fact that his replacement, J.R. Sweezy, is not close to the same player as his predecessor.
We’ve talked about the weird gap between how the league views J.R. Sweezy, with multiple teams willing to give him a big contract, and PFF: as a far too inconsistent starter who’s a liability in pass protection. The Bucs love Sweezy’s physical talent and tenacity, and think George Warhop can improve his consistency. We’ll have to wait and see whether that’s true, because the issues in pass protection certainly showed up on film.
Part of the issue is that PFF hated Donovan Smith’s rookie year, but the Bucs love his potential and what he did for a rookie. Smith should improve on last year’s outing, if only because he’ll be more experienced, and he certainly has the talent to be a very good tackle in the long run. PFF doesn’t care about any of that, though: they’re just looking at what they saw last year, which wasn’t great when compared to all NFL left tackles.
Which is also part of why PFF is once again being a bunch of haters: they aren’t evaluating potential, just past performance. They’re not projecting likely or possible developments, just looking at last year’s performance. And that’s a very limited and ultimately not very productive way of looking at NFL players.