Cody Ford’s Career
Despite growing up in Louisiana, Ford committed to the Oklahoma Sooners coming out of high school. The 4-star prospect was considered one of the top 25 guards in the country and had originally committed to TCU.
Ford redshirted his freshman year in 2015 and only started three games in 2016 before a broken fibula cost him the rest of the season. He appeared in 12 games in 2017, starting four at left guard. When Orlando Brown left for the NFL after the 2017 season, Ford dropped 15 pounds and moved to right tackle, where he started 14 games - earning a second-team All-Big 12 selection and a third-team AP All-American honor.
Ford has the size at 6-foot-4 and 338-pounds to play just about anywhere on the offensive line. Playing multiple positions in college should help as well, but he really showcased his skills at right tackle in 2018.
It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to think a team would turn him into an effective tackle, but due to his lack of experience at the position, he may be better suited at guard. Regardless, he should find success anywhere on the offensive line.
He has the scarce combination of size and athleticism, which means he has tons of upside to fawn over. Stop me if you’ve heard that one before, but there is plenty of potential there.
A mauler off the line, Ford can also get down the field quickly, while simultaneously showing enough lateral quickness, power, and flexibility to mirror the better athletes on the defensive line.
His length will come in handy in pass protection and he knows how to use every bit of it. He excels in space and knows exactly how to use his superior athleticism to his advantage.
He’s also very good with his hands and if he is able to grab a hold of his assignment, it’s usually a win for Ford.
And the best part of all is the fact that Ford has shown a very high football IQ despite limited playing time. He is very good at processing what is coming at him once the ball is snapped.
Ford’s versatility gives him an added edge over his competition, but at the same time, it could result in teams viewing him more as a puzzle than a defined thought.
Which leads us into the next section....
As much as it is a pro, Ford’s versatility is also a con. We’ve all seen how NFL teams can misuse a player, but that’s not against Ford. Still, it could present a problem down the road.
He showed tremendous upside playing tackle in 2018, but was also helped by one of the best offensive lines in the country. He was a spot-starter before then and never really found a home on the offensive line before last year.
If a team wants to play him at tackle then he’ll need to work on his pass sets and his feet. He tends to lose track of where his feet are when he is overwhelmed. He will also struggle with some of the quicker pass rushers in the NFL, which may leave him better suited for the interior.
He also tends to play a bit high, which will cost him leverage at the next level, but he has the strength to counteract those situations.
Both his feet and his pad level causes him issues with body control at times, too.
And of course, the broken fibula he suffered back in 2016 is a big red flag. Fortunately for Cody, that’s about the only red flag that is there.
All of these traits can be corrected at the next level with proper coaching, so it’s not like Cody is a major risk at all.
Why The Buccaneers Need Him
Ha. Did you watch the Bucs’ offensive line last season?
Even though the team has one of the most expensive offensive lines in the league, there is still a lot left to be desired from the underachieving unit.
The Bucs have a major hole at right guard, despite Jason Licht’s recent comments about Alex Cappa fighting for the starting spot. Caleb Benenoch will be moved to tackle after proving in 2018 that he is not capable of playing on the interior. They will also have a decision to make once starting right tackle Demar Dotson becomes a free agent after the 2019 season.
Ford would provide the perfect plug-and-play option for Tampa Bay as a rookie. He could come in and fight for the starting guard position, while being groomed as Dotson’s replacement if the staff thinks he will translate better to tackle in the long run.
And of course, if the Bucs view him strictly at tackle, then he could come in and compete with Dotson for the starting job.
The sky is the limit for both Ford’s NFL potential and the Buccaneers’ potential use of the talented player.
Will It Happen
Oh, it could definitely happen. Just not at fifth overall.
Jameis Winston has already talked about how he wants to play at 250-pounds this season and it’s not because he likes to eat ho-hos and ding-dongs. He knows that he is going to take some hits Bruce Arian’s system. When you combine that with how many hits he took last year with the same offensive line, it’s clear as to why it may be a long season for Winston.
Therefore, it’s integral to have as many pieces in place to protect him. Ford would not only improve the line, but he would much-needed depth for one of the most oft-injured positions in the game.
He’d also provide yet another young piece to go along with Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet, and Ryan Jensen. The Bucs could have an elite starting four on the offensive intact for the next few seasons, something that is rarely seen in Tampa Bay.
If the Bucs can’t get their guy at five, then there is no reason to think they couldn’t trade back and nab Ford, which would still be a win-win situation.
Obviously, availability is the biggest key to all of this, but if Ford is available at the right spot, it wouldn’t be a surprise if you hear the Bucs call his name.