It’s no secret. The Buccaneers’ starting right guard position is up for grabs.
Coaches and fans were hoping that 2018 third-round pick Alex Cappa would be able to take over after a poor 2018 performance from Caleb Benenoch, but it appears that situation hasn’t developed as hoped.
It would not shock me if the Bucs make more moves to their interior offensive line. I've been told that Alex Cappa still isn't where they'd like him to be yet. Evan Smith is also still recovering from torn labrums in both hips. https://t.co/1b0eltwxsV— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) June 28, 2019
So, the question is: who will win the starting right guard position during training camp?
Make no mistake, there is a lot of competition. Earl Watford, a former fourth-round pick from Arizona is one of the leading contenders, but you also can’t count out players such as Evan Smith (if healthy), Josh LeRibeus, Cole Boozer, or undrafted free agent Zack Bailey - along with a couple of others.
Bruce Arians even said during Thursday’s press conference that he is intrigued to see how the battle shapes up throughout camp.
Asked about Bucs' right guard job, Arians doesn't name any names. "That's going to be a really fun battle to watch. We've got capable guys and I like where all of them are at. We should have solid depth."— Greg Auman (@gregauman) July 25, 2019
Let’s take a quick look at some of the candidates:
G Alex Cappa: He was a 2018 third-round pick out of Humboldt State, a DII school that recently shut down it’s football program. Jason Licht was hoping to strike gold like he did with DIII and current NFL standout Ali Marpet, but Cappa’s potential path to stardom hasn’t been the same.
It’s hard to for a rookie that played DII football to make a big impact in their first year, but per Jenna Laine, he still hasn’t been able to get where the coaching staff wants/needs him to be.
Cappa has always been thought as a project, but he has a great opportunity that he needs to take advantage of during camp.
G Earl Watford: As mentioned earlier, Arians drafted Watford when he was with the Cards in 2013. He was inactive his entire rookie year, but continued to ascend the depth chart and started 19 games during the 2016-2017 seasons before signing with the Browns in 2018.
He possesses the physical tools, attitude, and knowledge of Arians’ offense, which makes him one of the top candidates for the job. If he has a good training camp then it wouldn’t be a surprise if he starts against the 49ers in Week One.
C/G Evan Smith: Has been with the Bucs since 2014 and has started 28 games over the past five seasons. He swapped in and out with Benenoch last season, but wasn’t effective enough to take over the starting job. Will he be able to regain traction after his recent hip injury?
C/G Josh LeRibeus: A wildcard that could potentially contend for the starting spot or at least become a valuable backup if he can stay healthy. Started three games at guard for the Saints before suffering a season-ending injury in 2018 and started 11 games for the Redskins in 2015.
G/C/T Zack Bailey: An undrafted, dark horse candidate from the University of South Carolina, Bailey could make some noise with a strong camp.
The 6-foot-5, 299-pound guard broke his leg during his final season at USCe, but has the physical tools to excel if he can get stronger and improve his balance.
G Cole Boozer: Another UDFA, Boozer will enter his second season attempting to make the final 53-man roster. A strong camp will provide plenty of opportunity for him to make the roster or practice squad, at worst.
Be sure to check back in tomorrow for live updates as we will be onsite for the first veteran-involved practice of 2019!