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Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft: Offensive linemen

The situation

While almost everyone has the Bucs taking a defensive end with the 20th overall pick, consider this: protecting franchise QB Josh Freeman, left, is a priority. This is a pretty good draft for offensive linemen, and the Bucs can't predict the future of G Davin Joseph and T Jeremy Trueblood, both free agents. Re-signing Joseph is a priority whenever the free agent period begins. Trueblood, who missed a month with a knee sprain, lost his starting right tackle job to James Lee. The Bucs had good contributions from rookie Gs Ted Larsen and Derek Hardman. If C Jeff Faine, who has missed 12 games in the past two seasons with an assortment of injuries, is healthy, Jeremy Zuttah can return to guard. Pro Bowl LT Donald Penn is the only offensive lineman to start all 16 games for the Bucs in 2010. General manager Mark Dominik has studied the Colts and Patriots and knows how those teams invest in the offensive line to protect QBs Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, respectively.

What they're looking for

The Bucs could benefit from selecting an offensive lineman at any position except center. Right tackle is a concern despite Lee's improvement. Pass protection for Freeman comes to mind, but a solid run blocker can make his job easier.

Fitting the bill

The Bucs have had success drafting Wisconsin offensive linemen; LT Paul Gruber, the fourth overall pick in 1988 and a mainstay for 12 seasons, comes to mind. The Badgers pump out blocking talent. Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi, left, is battle tested and could play right tackle or guard if he falls to the Bucs.

Top 10 prospects

Tyron Smith

T, USC, 6-5, 307

An outstanding pro day makes Smith the draft's top OL. He has the size, speed and agility to be a 10-year starter at left tackle.
Derrick Sherrod

T, Mississippi State, 6-5, 321

Started 50 games and will make an easy transition to the NFL. The team captain earned a degree in business with 3.54 GPA.
Anthony Castonzo

T, Boston College, 6-7, 311

Fourth-year senior started every game of his college career. A Rhodes Scholar candidate, he needs to improve run blocking.
Gabe Carimi

T, Wisconsin, 6-7, 314

Excelled against four potential first-round DEs, which makes him one of the most NFL-ready tackles in draft. Also worked at guard in the Senior Bowl.
Nate Solder

T, Colorado, 6-8, 319

The converted tight end with an 81-inch wingspan is hard to beat in pass protection. An elite talent at left tackle.
Matt Reynolds

T, BYU 6-6, 322

High-character player excels in pass protection. The quality of competition in the Mountain West makes his projection difficult.
Stefen Wisniewski

C, Penn State, 6-3, 313

Moved from center to start every game at right guard in 2010. A first-team All-America selection.
John Moffitt

G, Wisconsin, 6-4, 319

First-team All-American paved the way for two 1,000-yard rushers.
Rodney Hudson

G, Florida State, 6-2 299

Considered by many scouts to be the top zone-blocking guard. Voted the best offensive lineman in the ACC two years in row.
Marcus Cannon

T/G, TCU, 6-5, 358

Cannon played primarily at tackle the past two seasons but has a wide body and can play guard at the next level.
Tyron Smith

T, USC, 6-5, 307

An outstanding pro day makes Smith the draft's top OL. He has the size, speed and agility to be a 10-year starter at left tackle.
Derrick Sherrod

T, Mississippi State, 6-5, 321

Started 50 games and will make an easy transition to the NFL. The team captain earned a degree in business with 3.54 GPA.
Anthony Castonzo

T, Boston College, 6-7, 311

Fourth-year senior started every game of his college career. A Rhodes Scholar candidate, he needs to improve run blocking.
Gabe Carimi

T, Wisconsin, 6-7, 314

Excelled against four potential first-round DEs, which makes him one of the most NFL-ready tackles in draft. Also worked at guard in the Senior Bowl.
Nate Solder

T, Colorado, 6-8, 319

The converted tight end with an 81-inch wingspan is hard to beat in pass protection. An elite talent at left tackle.
Matt Reynolds

T, BYU 6-6, 322

High-character player excels in pass protection. The quality of competition in the Mountain West makes his projection difficult.
Stefen Wisniewski

C, Penn State, 6-3, 313

Moved from center to start every game at right guard in 2010. A first-team All-America selection.
John Moffitt

G, Wisconsin, 6-4, 319

First-team All-American paved the way for two 1,000-yard rushers.
Rodney Hudson

G, Florida State, 6-2 299

Considered by many scouts to be the top zone-blocking guard. Voted the best offensive lineman in the ACC two years in row.
Marcus Cannon

T/G, TCU, 6-5, 358

Cannon played primarily at tackle the past two seasons but has a wide body and can play guard at the next level.

Best guess

Because the Bucs have to generate a better pass rush, it's hard to fathom not drafting a defensive end in the first round. But there are quality choices on the offensive line in the later rounds. A player like Wisconsin's John Moffitt makes sense in Rounds 2-3.

Rick Stroud, Times staff writer

Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft: Offensive linemen 04/25/11 [Last modified: Monday, April 25, 2011 9:42pm]

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