The NFL Combine is over and free agency/new league year is less than a year away. As such, we’re getting close to seeing the first moves that teams will make to improve their rosters.
Well, that is if you have cap room. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers do not. As such, don’t expect to see much except for journeyman, depth additions, etc. added by Jason Licht in free agency. And yes, they could re-sign some of their own free agents (i.e., Lavonte David, Sean Murphy-Bunting, etc.), but outside solutions to roster holes will likely be filled in the draft, rather than free agency.
As such, this draft will be huge for Licht as life after Brady begins. And speaking of huge, there’s a sizeable player that could really help one big area of concern for the Bucs.
A quarterback’s best friend
Northwestern OT/G Peter Skoronski is one of the best pass blockers in the draft. Pro Football Focus gave him a pass blocking grade of 93.0 last season, which constitutes the best mark of all offensive tackles in the nation. He finished his freshman year with a 71.0 grade and steadily improved during his three seasons in Evanston. For his college career, he allowed only 5 sacks in 1210 pass blocking snaps.
Tampa Bay is in need of a new left tackle after officially releasing Donovan Smith today. Accordingly, finding a top-level tackle to bookend with Tristan Wirfs will be a key move this offseason. Based on the Bucs’ aforementioned cap problems, being able to sign a high-level left tackle will be all but impossible. As such, they will almost certainly look to the draft to address it.
Putting Kyle Trask or whatever veteran wins the job in the best position to succeed starts up front, and an investment in that protection makes a ton of sense for this team. So why not get perhaps the best protector in Skoronski?
Flexibility is a great ability
One thing 2022 showed us is that having guys who can play multiple positions is an extremely valuable luxury to have. And Skoronski can play both guard or tackle. OT Luke Goedeke was put in a tough spot after Aaron Stinnie missed the season with a knee injury. Switching to guard, the rookie struggled, eventually being replaced by Nick Leverett. Skoronski would likely be more suitable to making a move, making it easier for the staff to shuffle the line around if the injury bug comes back in 2023 like it did in 2022.
Peter Skoronski – #77 Northwestern
– One of the top prospects regardless of any position. He projects more as a G to me due to physical limitations.
– Gets to the 2nd level better than any OL prospect
– Great functional strength and strong hands
– Intelligent pic.twitter.com/XANYvzSbrm
— Landon Oliver (@Landon3MR) December 6, 2022
There is some concern about Skoronski’s arm length – he measured 32 1/4 inches at the combine, and the threshold for tackles is normally around 34.
I know it’ll be controversial to keep Skoronski at tackle with his arm length. But he has elite explosiveness as shown by his film, jumps, and ten-yard split. He’s got tackle feet with superb technique/smarts. Keep him at OT. pic.twitter.com/3WpxJCJ49y
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) March 5, 2023
But even if he slides inside as some project, the Bucs still need to address one guard spot, and possibly two if they don’t extend Shaq Mason before he becomes a free agent next season.
In short, the Bucs have needs in multiple spots along the line, and Skoronski can be an answer at any one of them.
Can they get him?
Most mock drafts have Skoronski getting selected before the Bucs are on the clock, normally in the top 15. The Pittsburgh Steelers also have a substantial need for quality offensive linemen at pick 17. As such, it might be necessary to trade up and take him if Licht wants him.
But having a physical offensive line is a staple of the teams at the top of today’s NFC, and sometimes you have to go get a guy that you see as capable of anchoring a top-level unit. If Licht sees him as that guy, then he’d be wise to go get him.