Overall draft assessment
It's never bad to address the offensive line during the draft, and the best linemen will come off the board very fast. If the best player available at the Bucs' No. 13 overall pick is a tackle, Tampa Bay has to give serious thought to taking him.
Top five in the draft
Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M, 6-6, 306 — The tackle likely will protect QB Alex Smith's blind side for the Chiefs, who have the No. 1 pick.
Eric Fisher, Central Michigan, 6-7, 306 — Some consider him better than Joeckel and suggest he could be the Chiefs' No. 1 pick though he hasn't played top competition.
Lane Johnson, Oklahoma, 6-6, 303 — He played quarterback in high school, and tight end and defensive line in college before being converted to right tackle.
Chance Warmack, Alabama, 6-2, 317 — Considered the top guard in the pool, he might have trouble living up to the hype.
D.J. Fluker, Alabama, 6-5, 330 — He is a huge tackle considered a mauler in the running game. He is projected on the right side.
Breaking down the Bucs
Who's back: The deepest position for the Bucs might be offensive line. They set club records for passing offense last year and watched Doug Martin set the club rookie rushing mark without guard Davin Joseph, who missed the season with a knee injury, and guard Carl Nicks (left), who played eight games before needing foot surgery. Players such as tackle Jamon Meredith and guard/center Ted Larsen picked up the slack. Joseph and Nicks return, along with left tackle Donald Penn, guard/center Jeremy Zuttah and right tackle Demar Dotson. Though Dotson signed a three-year extension, it wasn't for a lot, $1.875 million per season.
Who they picked up: No one.
Who left: Tackle Jeremy Trueblood, who lost his starting job to Dotson, signed with the Redskins.
Rick Stroud, Times staff writer