Buccaneers’ Luke Goedeke: From Bust To Beast


The NFL draft is a fickle thing, as Buccaneers fans we know this too well. It’s hard to say exactly what a player is going to develop into or what shortcomings he may have that will prevent him from being successful in the league. This is because of the human element that makes football an inexact science.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers experienced that first hand last year. After a full year of attempted development, it had felt like the team had whiffed on an early round draft pick. This was the 2022 second round pick Luke Goedeke.

The Bucs picked the right tackle out of Central Michigan University with the plan to move him inside to guard. This is a blueprint that general manager Jason Licht has had a lot of success with in the past. College offensive tackles such as Ali Marpet and Alex Cappa have successfully made the transition inside under this staff.

There was every reason to believe that Goedeke could make a similar transition. He showed great ability in college, but with shorter than average arms many projected him to move inside. For the interior he would have good size and had excellent mobility to get into space and be a quality run blocker in the Bucs zone offense. 

However, Goedeke struggled with this transition in 2022. Even to the point of losing his starting job to Aaron Stinnie by mid-season. At that point, it felt like he was on the fast track to being a bust in the NFL.

The Start Of The Turn Around

It wasn’t until the last game of the 2022 season where this trajectory began to change. It was a game where the Buccaneers had locked up a playoff spot and were giving regular starters a chance to rest and get ready for the postseason. This included offensive tackle Tristian Wirfs, which left a hole at one of the starting tackle spots. 

This allowed Goedeke to step back into the starting lineup and play the position he played in college at right tackle. It was a great opportunity, not only to show his stuff at a position he was comfortable in, but against an Atlanta Falcons team who had no great players lining up against him. This was an opportunity he took advantage of.

Goedeke showed well in that game; better than he had looked all year at guard. This was enough for the coaching staff to buy into his future at the position. Based on this game, Jason Licht and Todd Bowles decided on the plan to move him to right tackle full time.

Working Behind The Scenes

It wasn’t known to the world, but the Buccaneers went into last offseason with the plan of moving Goedeke to right tackle full time. So while fools like me were mocking them an offensive tackle in the draft, the team always knew this wasn’t the direction that they would be going. They knew it, and more importantly, Goedeke knew it. 

This gave him a chance to train with specialists to better prepare him for life as an NFL offensive tackle. One of which was fellow Central Michigan alumni Joe Staley. Staley, a former first round pick, played 13 seasons for the San Francisco 49ers and made six Pro Bowls as their left tackle. 

The two had a relationship going back to Goedeke’s time at Central Michigan. They also shared similar concerns about playing the position in terms of having less than ideal length. This made Staley the perfect person to learn from as Goedeke moved all his focus to playing tackle.

How It Translated

Whatever he learned in the offseason, Goedeke looked like a new man in 2023. Starting from the first game to the last at right tackle, he played above average all season long. This included when he went up against top competition such as Aidan Hutchinson or Danielle Hunter.

It was always expected that Goedeke would translate well as a run blocker. He is physical, athletic, and frankly nasty as a run blocker. He used those traits to win at the point of attack, as well as get into space and make blocks on the move.

Where it was unclear if it would work was in pass protection. With shorter arms, it wasn’t a sure thing that he’d be able to grapple and win the battle of reach at the NFL level. He also had to show that he was athletic enough to mirror NFL pass rushers after playing in the Mid American Conference during his college days.

It turns out, Goedeke’s blend of foot quickness and power were more than adequate to play the position at a high level. He could redirect with speed rushers as well as anchor against power rushers. In terms of physical tools, Goedeke passed all the tests.

He was also surprisingly good when it came to his hand usage. Even with shorter arms, Goedeke was scrappy at worst with his hand fighting and down right good most of the time. Whatever he learned from Joe Staley over the last few years, it stuck and has helped result in Goedeke becoming one of the better right tackles in the NFL last season.

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