GM Jason Licht went back to his bag Friday, as the Buccaneers selected North Dakota State offensive lineman Cody Mauch at 48th overall.
After passing a sixth round pick to the Green Bay Packers to move up two spots, Tampa continued its now-longstanding approach of investing in small-school linemen who dominated their competition.
So, why Mauch? And how might he fit into the offensive line outlook? Let’s dig a little deeper.
Why Did the Bucs Pick Cody Mauch?
This one certainly doesn’t extend several fathoms beneath the surface or anything like that. Tampa dealt with an unsettled line situation last season, and it moved on from prominent veterans like Donovan Smith and Shaq Mason earlier this year.
There will be a major reshuffling, and it does make sense to inject as much talent as possible and let them all compete to find the best starting five.
There’s valid questions to be asked if Mauch, who profiles ideally on the interior, was truly a more valuable target than comparable talent at other positions of need like offensive tackle, defensive back, or tight end. Several high-profile names remained in those areas, like Darnell Washington, Tucker Kraft, D.J. Turner, and even Tennessee receiver Jalin Hyatt.
What Kind of Prospect is Mauch?
Mauch definitely exhibits lot of positive traits. He ranked as the 45th overall player in this class for Dane Brugler of The Athletic, but the overall consensus was a little lower per the Mock Draft Database — where he checked in at 64th.
Originally a walk-on tight end, Mauch totally transformed his body to become a dominant left tackle for the perennial FCS powerhouse Bison. The lovable, red-mopped gap-tooth started a whopping 39 games in college and graded as one of the most dominant linemen in the country last year.
North Dakota State OL Cody Mauch (@CodyTud) has been elite for the Bison— The Bluebloods (@The__Bluebloods) January 4, 2023
▫️2,405 Career Snaps Played
▫️61 Career Games Played
▫️2 Career Sacks Allowed
▫️90.9 PFF Offensive Grade In 2022 (#3 FBS/#1 FCS for OL)
▫️2X FCS All-American
▫️4X FCS National Champion pic.twitter.com/xl7zqXv9e3
Mauch overwhelmed inferior opponents with great athleticism and play strength to go along with vigorous energy. It’s almost a non-negotiable requirement to be a plus finisher when the Bucs consider linemen, and Mauch fits that bill.
Bucs fans, Cody Mauch is a ‘glass-eater’ w/position flex, plus AA & fits the mold of GM Jason Licht’s affinity for small-school OL that dominated competition. Dare I say shades of Jensen coming out of CSU-Pueblo— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) April 29, 2023
My report: https://t.co/wMGJwPVQ8D
10 plays showing how he wins: pic.twitter.com/1Ox6KLRYlu
An unorthodox-looking farmboy from North Dakota may challenge a lot of preconceived notions, as Mauch grades out as an elite athlete at guard per Relative Athletic Score (RAS). Again, the Bucs value that physical ability immensely, so this really screamed “no-brainer” from the get-go.
The questions primarily come from a technique perspective. He has to clean up his footwork quite a bit in pass protection, and that plus his below-average length will really test him if the franchise wants to give him a go at tackle. He is an easy mover with loose hips and good body control so the edge isn’t out of the question but it would certainly lead to a longer developmental track as opposed to guard or center.
No matter what, this selection likely signals the transition for Tristan Wirfs from right tackle to left. Ryan Jensen will be fully recovered to return at center, and then it’s anyone’s race to fill both guard spots as well as right tackle.
Mauch may very well have the inside track at right guard, while Nick Leverett, Robert Hainsey, and Aaron Stinnie all compete for the left guard spot. Much-maligned 2022 second-rounder Luke Goedeke will get his shot at right tackle, but Matt Feiler will be there as a good veteran backstop.
That’s just a preliminary evaluation — a lot can obviously change in the next three months or so. Nevertheless, more competition is always good, and Mauch adds to that while bringing another player of the Ali Marpet / Alex Cappa archetype into a program that has been largely successful with development.