The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have two new starting guards in 2022, and one of those could be former Central Michigan standout Luke Goedeke.
The Buccaneers drafted Goedeke with the second of two second-round selections in the 2022 NFL Draft on Friday night after trading up three spots to number 57 to secure the pick. Goedeke started at right tackle for Chippewas as a junior in 2021 but is expected to kick inside on the NFL level. As Vice President of Player Personnel John Spytek explained, the Buccaneers see their newest lineman as a potential starter and a perfect culture fit at team headquarters.
"He's a really smart kid who loves football," said Spytek. "He fits what we've been talking about as a Buccaneer: 'I'm that man.' Small-town Wisconsin kid, kind of self-made, went over to Central and played right tackle. I think we see him as a guard. He'll be in that competition at left guard with a chance to start, depending upon how he does this year. He's a great kid, really smart, humble, really tough."
The Buccaneers lost starting right guard Alex Cappa to free agency and starting left guard Ali Marpet to retirement early in the 2022 offseason. A trade for former Patriot lineman Shaq Mason appears to be the answer at right guard but the Buccaneers now have several options on the left side. Fifth-year man Aaron Stinnie, who had a strong run as an injury replacement for Cappa in the 2020 postseason, is a leading candidate for that job and the Buccaneers could also turn to Nick Leverett or versatile 2021 third-round pick Robert Hainsey.
Goedeke joins that competition while also offering some positional flexibility if needed. The Buccaneers are currently set on the edges with long-time left tackle stalwart Donovan Smith and young Pro Bowl right tackle Tristan Wirfs.
"I don't know if we see him as a starting tackle right now, but I don't think we have to see him as a tackle right now with our two guys," said Spytek of Goedeke. "If we got in a pinch I think he could go out there and do it for us, but I would expect him to get in there at left guard and compete and give those other guys a real run for their money."
Goeteke missed Central Michigan's 2020 season due to injury but also started 14 games at right tackle as a redshirt freshman in 2019. Last season, he was awarded first-team all-conference honors in the MAC.
"He's strong and aggressive," said Spytek. "He's got some power to him. He's a good athlete. And I would lump competitiveness in with that, just rugged toughness. We love that, too. He's kind of all of those things.
"He's pretty solid at both run and pass blocking, with room to improve at both. These kids now, they grow up throwing the ball a lot more than they ever did, so they're probably a little more well-versed to playing in the passing game than they were 20 years ago when I was coming up."
The Buccaneers previously traded up during Day Two of the draft to land a coveted offensive guard in both 2015 (Marpet) and 2018 (Cappa). With relatively small moves up the draft order like this one, it's never easy to determine if a trade was necessary to land the player in question. But the Minnesota Vikings did subsequently make their own deal minutes later to move up to pick number 59 and draft LSU guard Ed Ingram. For the Buccaneers, the cost was minimal – they sent a sixth-round pick (number 180) – to the Bills to make the move, making use of an extra selection they had gained in Thursday night's trade down with Jacksonville. That price was well worth it for the Buccaneers to make sure they could select a player who was featured rather prominently on their draft board at that time.
"You get to a point where he's kind of standing there by himself and somebody offers to do the three-spot move for a six," said Spytek. "Then a couple picks later, Minnesota trades in and takes a guard. Maybe they were always going to take Ed Ingram or they were forced to take Ed Ingram."
The end result was the addition of a player the Buccaneers had grown quite fond of over several interviews.
"We talked to him at the Combine and it was awesome," said Spytek. "He came in there was just a really great kid, really enjoyed it. It was a fast 18 minutes. Then we did a Zoom with him over the past month with Joe and Goody. He's just a great kid, great sense of humor and he fits right in with our guys. He's the kind of guy who loves playing football.