In the 2022 NFL draft the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a clear plan. They invested their first two picks into a pair of developmental prospects who could help them in the future. This made sense considering how good the team was and how many free agents the team expected to have following the 2022 season and the likely retirement of star quarterback Tom Brady.
Fast-forward to the present. Brady retired as expected following the season and it came with a mass exit of veteran players who had latched on with the team to chance that elusive Super Bowl ring. This has left the Bucs cash strapped and looking for a new wave of young talent to replace those players.
Luckily, general manager Jason Licht had the foresight to prepare for this. By drafting high upside developmental players last year it gave them the chance to play in a limited capacity and prepare to take over this season. This was the case for defensive lineman Logan Hall and offensive lineman Luke Goedeke.
However, not all has gone according to plan. While neither player impressed in their rookie season, Hall seems to be right on track to turn into the player we all expected when he was drafted. On the other hand, Goedeke leaves us all with a lot of questions.
Goedeke was drafted in the second round with the 57th overall pick last year. Although he played right tackle at Central Michigan, he was brought in to play guard at the NFL level. This made sense for an athletic offensive line prospect who lacked the length typically required to play tackle at the NFL level.
With the position change also came a change in what side of the line Goedeke played on. Although he played right tackle in college, he was moved to the left side as the Bucs already had veteran Shaq Mason playing left guard. This made for another layer of adjusting to the transition into the NFL.
Despite the learning curve, Goedeke was in the mix to win the starting left guard job in training camp. While he might have been the best option to start the year, it never made sense to rush him into action. However, when veteran Aaron Stinnie went down with an injury it became Goedeke’s job to lose.
The start of the year went as you might expect for a young player being rushed into action when he probably wasn’t ready to play. However, his flaws were greatly magnified when he went up against some of the best defensive tackles in the NFL.
In his first six weeks, Goedeke matched up against several All Pro caliber defensive tackles. These included Kenny Clark, Chris Jones, Grady Jarrett and Cameron Heyward. When going against this level of competition Goedeke was beaten often. However, when he lined up against players who weren’t among the elite defensive tackles in the NFL he played well.
Following a week seven loss to Carolina, Goedeke lost his starting job to back up Nick Leverett. He would not see the field in a starting capacity again until week 18 when the Bucs rested their starters for the season finale. In this final game vs the Atlanta Falcons he lined up at right tackle so star Tristian Wirfs could continue to recover from injury.
Goedeke played well in this game vs a Falcons team that might have the worst group of defensive ends in the NFL. Goedeke then carried that momentum into the playoffs where he started at his original position of left guard where he again played well against the Dallas Cowboys.
Are The Bucs Doing Goedeke A Disservice?
The 2023 season was always the timeline to expect Goedeke to make a significant impact on the Bucs and assume the starting guard job. His issues last year can be chalked up to growing pains and bad luck in terms of who his opponent was. However, his struggles last year seem to have deterred the Buccaneers coaching staff from that plan.
With the 48th overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft the Buccaneers selected another guard, Cody Mauch out of North Dakota State. The Bucs also signed free agent left guard Matt Feiler who was a starter with the Los Angeles Chargers last season. With the addition of two new starting guard options it seemed clear that the Buccaneers intended to move Goedeke to right tackle.
Despite spending his rookie year learning a new position and adjusting to the left side of the line, the coaching staff was willing to scrap that plan rather quickly. This feels like a wasted year of development for Goedeke.
It is also concerning that despite a majority of people viewing Goedeke as a guard coming out of the draft, the Bucs are now moving him outside. Here his shorter than average arms can be exposed whereas that wouldn’t be a problem on the interior offensive line where the average arm length is shorter in general.
This leaves me with a lot of questions.
Why would the Bucs abandon their original plan so quickly? Did the Buccaneers make this move based on one game against a bad Falcons defense? Why would they value that game over the playoff game where Goedeke played just as well? Can Goedeke overcome his shortcoming in terms of length to play this position at a high level in the NFL?
All of these questions lead me to wonder if this move is what’s best for Goedeke’s development and what is best for the Buccaneers offensive line in 2023.
I think there is a chance that Goedeke playing tackle could work this year. He is a much more natural fit in the Dave Canales wide zone blocking scheme as opposed to the power run game he was often asked to execute last season. On top of that he will have had his feet wet for a full year at the NFL level so the game won’t move as fast this season.
With that said, this move leaves me with more questions than answers. I see a lot of ways that this plan can fail and it seemed like an unnecessary move for Goedeke when his future appears to be more likely at guard.
Why move Goedeke when new left guard Matt Feiler has NFL experience playing right tackle? I don’t fully understand why Feiler, who is only on a one year deal and won’t likely be a long term player for the Bucs, wasn’t the choice to play right tackle as opposed to Goedeke who can be a long term answer at guard. Just another confusing decision made in this offensive line shuffle.
These are all questions that need to be answered this season and could all have been the right choice when it’s all said and done. However, at this point I am more concerned about how the Bucs have handled Goedeke and his development than any shortcoming we saw from him on the field last season. Time will tell.