O-line coach in full support of Bucs tackles Smith, Dotson
As much speculation as there was in mock drafts that the Bucs might use their first-round pick on an offensive tackle, Bucs offensive line coach George Warhop was unwavering in his support for left tackle Donovan Smith and right tackle Demar Dotson.
"I saw that. I'm like 'Really?'" Warhop said Thursday as assistant coaches talked with reporters during offseason conditioning. "Unless they know something I don't."
Smith, a second-round pick in 2015, hasn't missed a snap in two years, and Warhop said he wasn't consistent enough in the first half of last season but continues to play at a high level, with room still for growth to the top of his position.
"He is an unbelievable talent," Warhop said. "He literally could be one of the top two or three tackles in the league. That's just my opinion. I love the guy. I think he's got strength, quickness, athleticism, he's smart. I thought the early part of last year, he just wasn't very consistent. If you watched him in the second half of the season, he played a lot more consistent and way better for us. I think that's where he is and where he's going to go up from. I'm excited for Donovan. I think you all better get ready for someone to do something spectacular."
Warhop also made it clear that Dotson is his right tackle moving forward -- he likes the veteran's experience and leadership on and off the field.
"Dot's a tremendous person. He's got the biggest heart of any kid I've been around my whole life," Warhop said. "Almost too big. He's ultra-competitive. ... Especially if he's playing against somebody we deem as pretty good, he literally beats the dog crap out of them. You can't help but love him. ... He's a great pro."
Warhop said if either tackle were to go down with injury, the Bucs would slide starting guard Kevin Pamphile out to tackle and insert a backup at guard, but he's also pleased with the progress of second-year linemen Leonard Wester and Caleb Benenoch.