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Buccaneers NFL Draft Target: Center Michal Menet (Penn State)

Tampa could look to find its future center.

We continue our look into the 2021 NFL Draft class with our first potential offensive line target: Penn State center Michal Menet.

The Buccaneers enjoy a strong offensive line for now, but depth is always a critical component to maintain. Could the team be interested in an experienced starter like Menet as an early Day 3 pick?

MICHAL MENET’S COLLEGIATE CAREER

Menet played four seasons for the Nittany Lions after coming in as a 5-star recruit and No. 1 overall guard in the country, per 247Sports. Hailing from Reading, PA, Menet fielded offers from more than 30 high-caliber Division I programs, including Georgia and Ohio State, but he elected to remain in his home state.

He served as a team captain in his final two seasons, and he started 34 total games at center over three years. He earned third-team All Big-Ten in 2020, as well as an invite to the Senior Bowl. He enters the draft as a 23-year-old redshirt senior.

PRO DAY DATA AND ANALYSIS

Menet measured in at 6-foot-4 and 301 pounds at Penn State’s Pro Day on March 25. Those are fine numbers for him as a center prospect, though you’d ideally like to see him put on about 10 pounds. He carries his poundage well with an evenly distributed frame and little bad weight. As the scouting world would like to say, he’s got decent sand in his pants — a strong base.

He checked in with 26 reps on the bench, which confirms the above-average strength that he regularly displayed on film. That said, he’s not overwhelmingly strong and elite defensive linemen gave him some trouble. He wins battles more through good technique and leverage than general brute force.

A major note from the Pro Day was Menet’s inability to participate in other drills like agility testing and the 40-yard dash. The school did not disclose any particular reason for this decision, and Menet was unavailable for public interviews. Based on a quote from teammate Will Fries, an injury might be to blame.

“I definitely feel for him,” said Fries. “It’s something that we’ve been training for for months. It was the time to put it all out there. It’s unfortunate, but he’ll get his opportunity to show what he can do.”

This development is a disappointment for Menet, whose biggest questions revolved around his athleticism. He is by no means a bad athlete, as he shows good explosiveness and quick feet. The question is more, “How good of an athlete is he?”

He did have some issues with moving at the second level in open space, and he got out-maneuvered against high-end competition and lacked the required recovery athleticism to mitigate his losses. He has 31 ½” arms, too, which are on the shorter side and can make certain aspects of line play more difficult.

That said, teams love smart football players with strong intangibles and knowledge for the game, and Menet fits that description. His best quality might be his exceptional awareness and ability to diagnose plays after the snap. He rarely gets caught by surprise, and he communicates with his teammates well. He’s also nasty, and plays hard from whistle to whistle.

Both Menet’s draft position and NFL future will hinge largely on how well his athleticism translates to the NFL level. If he at least meets the thresholds that teams look for, he’ll likely carve out a long-term future in the pros in some capacity.

WHAT HE BRINGS IN 2021

Ideally, nothing.

The Bucs’ interior line is set with three high-quality starters. Even if he surpasses initial expectations, you’d like to see Menet be a stash player who benefits from a redshirt year learning the offense and bulking up in an NFL strength and conditioning program.

While the Bucs don’t currently have much invested in their interior offensive line depth, there is an established veteran in Aaron Stinnie, who played a vital role in the Super Bowl. One would think Stinnie would be the first man up if anything were to happen to Ali Marpet, Ryan Jensen or Alex Cappa.

The Bucs also have the mustachioed swingman John Molchon, who reportedly impressed in camp and spent the entire season with the team in some form or another. He’ll definitely have an opportunity to earn the backup center role as well, so pitting him and Menet in a healthy competition against each other would only help them both improve.

I’d expect a lot of healthy scratches his first year, but Menet could be the second man up if the line becomes beset with injuries.

THREE-YEAR OUTLOOK

While Menet’s short-term outlook is tepid, his role could expand significantly in the years to come.

Both Jensen and Cappa are in contract years, and the Buccaneers have other free agents as well, so there’s a chance you could see some significant shuffling along the line if the team can’t bring back either of those players.

Jensen in particular is one to watch, as he’ll be 31 in 2022 and might search for one last significant payday, which could leave him at ends with a franchise that will look to possibly keep younger players like Cappa, Chris Godwin, Carlton Davis, and O.J. Howard for the long-term.

Menet might be drafted as the heir apparent, in which case he could be the team’s starter within a couple seasons.

How effective he is will largely depend on if he’s able to max out his physical tools. He certainly seems to have the mental aptitude and demeanor to be a good starting center in the league.

STOCK REPORT

Menet is solidly a Day 3 prospect, as he could go anywhere from the late 4th to the early 6th round. There are other centers in this class that offer a more intriguing blend of athleticism and tools, like Creed Humphrey, Landon Dickerson, and Quinn Meinerz. Centers in general are typically not in hot demand, and quality players are often found in the mid to late rounds.

The scouting community is reportedly buzzing about Menet, however. Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline listed him as a riser in December, calling him “one of the best-kept secrets at the center position” and complimenting his technique and scheme versatility. ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr. also threw out some praise.

Being unable to perform athletic tests will likely prevent Menet from improving perceptions that have already been formed among the scouting community, but it’s unlikely that it will hurt him too badly either.

ON THE CLOCK...

Bucs Nation, let your voice be heard. When considering the projection, Tampa’s roster, and the potential fit, when would you call Michal Menet’s name on Draft Day?

Poll

For Michal Menet, the Buccaneers should...

This poll is closed

  • 57%
    ...draft him at current projection (Day 3)
    (95 votes)
  • 12%
    ...draft him early (late Day 2 or earlier)
    (20 votes)
  • 17%
    ...take a better player earlier in the draft
    (29 votes)
  • 6%
    ...draft this position, but later than he is projected
    (11 votes)
  • 6%
    ...don’t draft this position group at all
    (10 votes)
165 votes total Vote Now

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