Pictures of the Buccaneers' offensive linemen.
As of now, the Buccaneers look as if they will head into the 2017 season with an offensive line group very similar to the one they had a year ago. The one subtraction of note is that of Gosder Cherilus, who has chosen to retire after becoming an unrestricted free agent two weeks ago. That appears to be balanced by an addition of sorts – J.R. Sweezy has recently been cleared to return to football action after missing all of last year.
The Buccaneers anticipated Sweezy stepping in for a retired Logan Mankins at left guard when they signed him away from the Seahawks last March. However, a back ailment derailed those plans and kept Sweezy on the shelf for all of 2016. If he is back to being the player the Bucs coveted in free agency a year ago, he could create a very interesting competition for the starting five up front.
Photos from G Ali Marpet's 2016 campaign.
Kevin Pamphile, a converted tackle, nailed down that left guard spot instead and had a promising season. After re-signing center Joe Hawley, the Buccaneers have their starting five from 2016 intact, as well as primary reserves Evan Smith and Leonard Wester. Other than Wester, an undrafted rookie a year ago who was promising enough to keep on the 53-man roster all year, everybody in that group has significant NFL experience as a starter.
If the Bucs keep their starting lineup the same, Pamphile and Hawley would be joined by right guard Ali Marpet and tackles Donovan Smith and Demar Dotson. There are a myriad of lineup options, however, particularly if it includes a healthy Sweezy. Marpet, Pamphile and Smith are all capable of playing center, and all three have started at guard for the Buccaneers. Pamphile might even be able to swing back out to tackle if needed. Team management has made it clear that it will put the best five players on the field, which leaves open the possibility for some position switches.
That picture doesn't even include Caleb Benenoch, a fifth-round pick from a year ago who is considered capable of playing either guard or tackle and could battle for a starting job at some point. The Bucs also like young centers Josh Allen and Ben Gottschalk and have added another interior linemen since the end of the season in former Falcon James Stone. Young players Jarvis Harrison and Michael Liedtke round out the current O-Line group.
The Buccaneers have a decent amount of depth along the offensive front, both in terms of sheer numbers and experienced starters. The O-Line did not perform as well in 2016 as it had the year before, but the team still appears to be sold on its young blockers. The Bucs may not need to make too many additions to this group before the start of training camp, and that's probably a good thing in a year in which the draft crop of linemen is considered thin.
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