The Tampa Bay Buccaneers did a really good job filling their major needs this offseason. They got DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin at safety, spent a first-round pick at tight end in O.J. Howard, re-signed a few safeties, added J.J. Wilcox and second-round pick Justin Evans at the position, drafted a strongside linebacker, added a kicker for competition and got a few big defensive linemen.
The only somewhat pressing needs without clear reinforcement this offseason would be edge rusher, and offensive linemen—and we can have some long discussions on the extent to which those positions are truly needs.
Pro Football Focus, though, thinks the Bucs’ biggest remaining need is obvious: left tackle.
Donovan Smith continued to struggle as he showed very little improvement from 2015 to 2016, grading at 37.1 and 42.0, respectively. While he flashed more potential as a run-blocker, Smith was still very inconsistent game to game and allowed more total pressures in his second season.
I know a lot of fans who would agree. Unfortunately for them, the Bucs simply do not. They think Donovan Smith played pretty solidly last season, though obviously not perfectly, and he’s on the right track to become a quality left tackle.
And, honestly, I would agree. While he can have some slow feet at times, Smith clearly improved on last season and seemed to improve throughout the year as well. Sure, he has a few bad games, but I think his overall performance was pretty good. He reminds me of Donald Penn in a few ways, including the perpetual complaints that he’s not good enough. Penn hasn't missed an NFL start since 2007.
Still, it’s possible that this will look silly at the end of this season, after Donovan Smith allows Winston to get sacked every five snaps. Or just once, and then Winston gets hurt. That’ll look even worse. If that happens, the Bucs will frantically try to find a new left tackle next season—for now, though, they’re happy with Donovan Smith. And I don’t think that satisfication is entirely misplaced.