With Ali Marpet retiring and Alex Cappa leaving in free agency, this has prompted an impromptu need at guard. The Buccaneers traded for Pro Bowl guard Shaq Mason, but still find themselves with a hole in their offensive line. The draft is a perfect time to find a long term replacement for that last guard spot. This interior offensive line draft class is severely underrated and one of the best we’ve seen in a while.
To put it simply, I believe the NFL is too low on Zion Johnson. He is a top 10 prospect on my board and one of the best guard prospects we’ve seen in a while. Johnson dominated at the college level and will most likely be a day one impact for whoever drafts him. His initial punch is strong enough to get defenders off balance and second guessing. When engaged, he never stopped his feet and always maintained leverage throughout the rep. Many draft critics will say he is too short, as they did with Aaron Donald, but on film this helps him be the low man and take control of the defenders’ pads.
Outside of being able to make any block and having that “dog” like mentality, he is a smart player who was named to the ACC all academic team twice. Coaches rave about his work ethic, and he even said he was open to playing center, a position he’s never played before. If this freak of nature is on the board at 27 and the Bucs take him, it would create the best line in the NFL.
As a player, Kenyon Green isn’t that far off of Zion Johnson. His high motor and ability to always find a man to block will be used for any NFL team. Alongside this, his anchor is one of the best and his ability to stop power rushers was evident in college. Green is also extremely versatile and can play any position along the offensive line when asked. Aside from the occasional bad technique and sometimes he’s caught leaning, Green could be a pro bowler and definitely has his best days ahead of him.
There is a pretty steep fall off after the top two, but Dylan Parham is still a decent prospect. Parham is another short lineman who wins with leverage. For a smaller guy, he has a surprisingly good anchor when controlling a bull rush and won’t collapse the pocket. Parham comes with a couple weaknesses, one being his lack of strength and inability to move bigger bodies. In the second round, Parham could be a solid starter and wouldn’t be a complete liability.
Cole Strange is the prototypical Buccaneers offensive line selection. Small school guy with a chip on his shoulder mentality. Strange is a violent guy in the trenches who has that “F-you” mentality, a perfect running mate for Ryan Jensen. He isn’t the strongest or most athletic, but he comes with effort and a mentality you can’t teach. His technique won’t be something to worry about, but he does struggle with leaning and sometimes he flat out would fall on his face if he missed his first punch. Spending a day two pick would be well worth it and Strange could blossom into a long time starter.
Last season at Georgia, Jamaree Salyer played primarily tackle, but I project him as a guard in the NFL. He’s a massive guy and doesn’t have the foot speed to play tackle at the next level. That’s okay though, the Buccaneers don’t need a tackle, so Salyer should be on their board. In mobile for the Senior Bowl, the coaches had him playing guard and snapping the ball. His positional versatility could be priceless at the next level. On the field, Salyer is a massive human being, maybe even too big, and plays with power. For the Bucs, having a guy who can play any position on the line could/will be valuable, especially in a deep postseason run.
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