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2018 NFL Mock Draft: Upgrading the Bucs offensive line

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Looking forward to next year’s draft before the season’s even started.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame vs Syracuse Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 NFL draft is quite a ways away, but that won’t stop folks from speculating. Every draft seasons starts the day after the previous draft wraps up, after all. Arguably even before that.

So in the latest 2018 NFL Mock Draft to appear on the internet, Luke Easterling has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers picking 20th (right outside a playoff spot) and drafting Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey.

Right tackle Demar Dotson (32 years old) has dealt with injury issues, and Donovan Smith (24) has been somewhat of a mixed back on the left side. McGlinchey is a huge, nasty blocker who could play either side, allowing the Bucs to move him and Smith (who has made all 32 starts since entering the league) around to find the best combination to keep Jameis Winston protected and able to take advantage of his vast array of weapons.

The Bucs are really optimistic about Donovan Smith, and think he can be a star—but that will require some extra development. What happens if he doesn’t take that next step this year? Will they give him another season?

Drafting a tackle wouldn’t necessarily mean replacing Donovan Smith immediately, but it is at least a warning sign for him. If the Bucs pick around number 20 they’re unlikely to find a top-notch left tackle, though, and replacing Demar Dotson is likely to be more pressing given his age and declining play.

Using a first-round pick to get a long-term solution at right tackle who could potentially move to the left side in the future would be a decent investment. Though I’d like to see some pass-rushing help, too.