The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got a ‘free’ new player this offseason: veteran right guard J.R. Sweezy, who missed last season with a back injury after signing a five-year, $35.5 million deal with the Bucs.
Sweezy will start at right guard this season, barring injury, which adds a little security to an offensive line that has been critiqued a lot—perhaps a bit too much. If we ask Pro Football Focus, though, they don’t think the Bucs got all that great a deal with Sweezy.
Bucs HC Koetter said G J.R. Sweezy has looked "awesome" at OTAs.— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 29, 2017
Despite missing all of 2016, he will likely start at RG for Tampa in 2017. pic.twitter.com/HLBGVp1Nfr
Pro Football Focus doesn’t like a Bucs player: what else is new. Okay, fine, they graded Sweezy when he was with the Seattle Seahawks so I guess we can’t chalk this up to some irrational Bucs hatred (which we shouldn’t be doing anyway, even if it’s seductive).
Of course, PFF’s grades are not perfect, both in the individual judgments (someone’s watching the tape, so there’s human errors there), and in the way they approach grading. But it’s still an indication, and it’s not a great indication.
And honestly, it’s just what you saw on tape with Sweezy back in 2015. He had flashes of dominance and he finished that season pretty strongly, but he wasn’t at a level where you could say he was a really reliable, consistent player. Which is understandable: he played defensive tackle in college, so he was still developing as a player, even in his fourth year in the NFL.
Add to all that Sweezy’s back injury which might (might!) be an issue at some point, and the question is to what extent the Bucs can be secure with him as the Bucs’ right guard—even if that’s definitely what they appear to be.
Thankfully, the team does have last year’s fifth-round pick Caleb Benenoch to step in if things do go south. There’s also veterans Joe Hawley and Evan Smith, though they’re less than ideal options at right guard. The Bucs have depth, is what I’m saying.
So, hey, more reasons to be skeptical of this offensive line, a group that is pretty crucial to the Bucs’ offensive success.