Quality depth is almost as important as quality starting play in the NFL. If you don’t have guys who can step up when the main guys go down, it’s nearly impossible to win games.
Much less a lot of games.
Tampa Bay showed it was serious about improving its depth on the offensive line with the selection of Robert Hainsey in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Hainsey practiced at center during last weekend’s rookie mini-camps, but played multiple positions along the offensive line while he was at Notre Dame.
And that’s exactly what is expected of him in Tampa Bay.
“His position flexibility is amazing,” Arians told reporters on Saturday. “He’s going to play five spots. Center is a totally different bird. You learn the whole offense when you learn center – snapping the ball, especially when you’ve got Vita [Vea] and guys like that on you. That’s a little different challenge, so we’ll train him there. We know he can play tackle, we know he can play guard.”
The offensive line depth was one of the areas the Bucs had to improve during the 2021 offseason. Aaron Stinnie is back for another run, but Joe Haeg signed with the Steelers, A.Q. Shipley had to retire, and Ted Larsen was largely ineffective against the Washington Football Team. Harold Goodwin and Joe Gilbert don’t have that one guy who can play all the interior positions -let alone all five positions- but Hainsey fixes that.
“I don’t think there is a position he can’t play,” Arians said. “Whatever happens – barring injuries – he should be fine at a bunch of spots.”