Right guard Alex Cappa was a third-round pick by the Buccaneers out of the Division II Humboldt State in 2018. He was thrown into game action a little bit last season but started 2019 as the Bucs' starting right guard and probably has another small-school draft pick on the offensive line to thank in part for that jump forward. Left guard Ali Marpet has served as somewhat of a mentor, whether imposed or by choice, because of the two's similarities and Marpet has nothing but great things to say about Cappa halfway through his first season in a starting role.
"Obviously, I try to help all our guys out but definitely Cap coming from a small school, you want him to have success and play at a high level," Marpet said on Bucs Total Access. "The thing is it's important to him – he wants to play at a very high level. He listens to coaching, he tries to get better every day and the sky is the limit for him."
Who Cappa is as a player, and perhaps person, is perfectly encapsulated by his last few weeks. Cappa suffered a broken arm against the New Orleans Saints in Week Five. It happened in the second quarter but instead of coming out of the game in a hostile environment against a division rival, Cappa elected to finish the game.
Three games later, he was back in action against the Seahawks in Seattle.
"It was awesome playing with Cappa back, Dotson back," Marpet said of the original starting five finally being back on the field at the same time Sunday. "Donovan and Jensen played really well. I think we have some things that we can clean up, but I think we took some steps forward as an offensive line. We were stepping on each other's feet trying to get used to each other and it's all part of the process."
That process for Cappa has been helped along by Marpet, who has seen a lot of improvement in the young player. Marpet says he doesn't exactly elect for the old-school approach of berating younger players and toughening them up as a means of helping them adjust to the NFL level. He credits that to guys like Evan Smith, Logan Mankins and Gosder Cherilus, who helped him when he came in as a young player himself. As a result, though, Cappa is getting support behind the scenes as he gets more real-time reps, which has been the biggest help, according to Marpet.
"I think there's just a general feel for the game that when you're actually playing on game day, on Sundays, you can just see the defense and anticipate and play a little bit faster," Marpet explained. "Getting those real game reps, that's huge for [Cappa], and the fact that he's got five or six games under his belt has helped him tremendously. Again, he'll only get better."
View some of the best photos from the Buccaneers' Week 9 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.