It was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers second preseason game on Saturday, but for one of their players it was a first. Rookie Luke Goedeke got his first start in the NFL against the Tennessee Titans after playing with the backup unit last week. The first year guard finally got a chance to show what he can do with the starting unit.
Goedeke has been in a three way competition for the starting left guard job through training camp. Despite being picked in the second round of the most recent draft, he has been the lowest on the depth chart to this point. Much of that is due to him transitioning from college offensive tackle to guard.
Overall, his first start went alright. Goedeke had some good moments where he looked like he belonged with the starting offense. He had others where he looked like a rookie who played in the Mid American Conference a few months ago. I went in depth to review his game.
It’s obvious that Goedeke is the most talented of the options at left guard. He looked good moving down the line and working into space. In his best moments, he pushed his opponents around and looked the part.
In pass protection he showed some ability to anchor and adjust after initial contact. He moves well and is very light on his feet. Most struggles he had were mental, not physical, which you would expect from highly regarded rookies.
Overall, he looked good for a majority of his snaps. This is what Goedeke had to do to earn more opportunities moving forward and potentially earning the starting spot. The next step for him will be finding consistency.
There were plenty of warts to point to in this game. While Goedeke did look good for a majority of the time, it certainly wasn’t an overwhelming majority (maybe a 70/30 good to bad split). By NFL standards, there is still a ton he has to clean up.
The first thing that stood out was his hand placement. Goedeke was called for two holding penalties which eventually stalled the Bucs drive. Working inside means that things are more close quarters and that includes his hand placement.
There were other times where Goedeke was just pushed around. Some of that was getting beat off the line with hand usage. Some of that was being overpowered. In my perfect world Goedeke adds a few more pounds as he transitions to guard, but until then he has to be a technician. He is still learning how to do that as these techniques are different from what he did at tackle.
General awareness in pass protection will also have to improve. Things look very different at guard compared to tackle and the stunts and blitzes feel like they’re happening a lot faster. It’s obvious that Goedeke is still thinking about these things as opposed to just reacting.
It’s never good when a guard has two holding penalties, and gives up a sack and allows a tackle for loss. At this level, that just isn’t good enough. However, that’s what we saw from Goedeke in limited snaps against backups.
With that said, it wasn’t all bad. Goedeke did do some things well and there is every reason to believe he will continue to improve. If he can capture those moments and play at that level consistently then he will be a good player in this league.
However, Goedeke did not look ready for the season. This was just one game, his very first start at that, but it wasn’t good enough. He still has a long way to go before he should be expected to start in front of Tom Brady and company.
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