When the Buccaneers signed Tom Brady as their new quarterback this offseason, there were plenty of questions raised about the offensive line that he now has in front of him. And a lot of those questions were asked with uncertainty and trepidation.
But if you really look at Tampa Bay’s offensive line as it is—after the selection of Tristan Wirfs in the first round of the NFL Draft in April—it’s easy to see why the front office and coaching staff have faith in their group. Donovan Smith, while unspectacular, is capable and coming off of one of his better seasons as a pro. Ali Marpet is criminally underrated and should benefit from more spotlight in 2020. On the right side, you have a newcomer in Wirfs, who is a freak athlete with a ton of potential, and Alex Cappa, a guy who developed nicely last year at the guard position.
But it’s the man in the middle of the Bucs’ offensive line who we’re here to talk about, and that’s Ryan Jensen. Tampa Bay made a big splash back in 2018 when it signed Jensen to a four-year, $42 million deal. And after an iffy first season in Tampa, the veteran was quietly fantastic in 2019. Pro Football Focus was especially a big fan of what he did last year, grading him as one of the league’s best all-around centers:
Ryan Jensen was one of the best all-around centers last season. Here were his PFF grades / rank among all centers:— PFF TB Buccaneers (@PFF_Buccaneers) July 15, 2020
Overall Offense - 79.3 / 2nd
Pass Blocking - 85.0 / 4th
Run Blocking - 73.6 / 5th#GoBucs pic.twitter.com/2zJh3Noc1X
That should be reassuring for anyone concerned about Brady’s protection, as Jensen serves as a strong anchor for an offensive line that perhaps caught more flak than it deserved a year ago. Plus, the 29-year-old has been working with Brady throughout the last couple of months as some players have held private workouts at a local high school. If that’s any indication, it seems as if the quarterback/center combo for the Bucs will be a strong one in 2020.
If you still want to question Tampa Bay’s o-line, that’s fine, but those questions shouldn’t surround the man in the middle of it, at least.