It’s the time of training camp previews around the NFL, and Conor Orr just wrote about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He talked about Jameis Winston and Dirk Koetter, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and a few other things, but what stood out to me was his take on the offensive line’s surprising depth. I don’t know what he sees in Brandon Myers, though.
Tampa Bay is oddly deep at random spots on their roster, even if the starters aren't exceptional. For example, Brandon Myers could end up being a third tight end on this roster. Across the offensive line, Gosder Cherilus and Evan Smith won't crack the starting lineup unless something happens to Joe Hawley and Demar Dotson. This team will be fascinating to watch come cut day and could provide some other clubs with emergency starters while giving their very young core some solid competition during camp (Cherilus would only cost the Bucs $500,000 in dead money and Smith could be let go without penalty).
It’s an observation we’ve made repeatedly this offseason. While you can doubt the quality of the team’s starting lineup along the offensive lineup, you can’t really doubt their depth. Aside from veteran starters Cherilus and Smith as backups, the team also has promising third-year swing lineman Kevin Pamphile, who looked good at left guard in limited time last year, and fifth-round pick Caleb Benenoch. That depth is a testament to Jason Licht’s commitment to building the offensive line in multiple ways, in contrast with Mark Dominik’s approach that eschewed the draft.
That depth has been in place for exactly one year now, but it did pay off last year. When Logan Mankins went down, the line didn’t miss a beat. When Ali Marpet went down, Evan Smith stepped in and was adequate. Offensive line injuries happen every season for nearly every team, and you must prepare for them. If the injury bug strikes there, the Bucs should be fine this year.
Of course, they may not be as fine if injuries hit elsewhere.