TAMPA ― The Bucs have a definite type when it comes to offensive linemen.
A mop of long, red hair. Maybe a non-Power 5 program. And for good measure, how about two missing front teeth?
In the second round of the NFL draft, the Bucs on Friday traded with the Packers to move up two spots to No. 48 to select North Dakota State offensive lineman Cody Mauch. Although he played tackle with the Bison, the Bucs plan to utilize him at guard.
Green Bay received Tampa Bay’s sixth-round pick, No. 179 overall.
With their third-round pick, the Bucs filled another need by selecting Louisville edge rusher YaYa Diaby.
The 6-foot-5, 302-pound Mauch was raised on his family’s fifth-generation farm in southeast North Dakota.
He lost his two front teeth when they were knocked out in a junior high basketball game.
“It was another buddy going for the ball, and I just kind of ran right into his head,” Mauch said. “I’m not going to get them fixed anytime soon, I’ll just say that.”
Mauch bears a striking resemblance to Bucs center Ryan Jensen.
“Yeah, something about small school guys, and there’s something about guys with long, red hair,” Mauch said. “I don’t know what that is. You know, it worked out with Ryan Jensen. I’m going to come in and make that work as well. I’m excited to play next to a guy like that.”
Mauch addresses a big need for the Bucs on offense.
They ranked last in the NFL in rushing yards, attempts and average-per-carry last season. They released left tackle Donovan Smith after eight seasons in March and traded guard Shaq Mason to the Houston Texans.
The Bucs have a history of drafting offensive linemen from small schools.
Ali Marpet, who started seven seasons at left guard for the Bucs before retiring in March of 2022, was a second-round pick out of Division III Hobart College. Former guard Alex Cappa, a third-round pick from Humboldt State (a defunct Division II program), played four seasons at right guard. Even Jensen, who joined the Bucs as an unrestricted free agent from the Ravens, played at Colorado-Pueblo.
“If you could somehow clone Jensen and (Bucs tight end) Ko Kieft together, you’d somehow get Cody Mauch,” general manager Jason Licht said.
Mauch played nine-man football at Hankinson High School, where he set school records for career receiving touchdowns and sacks. He redshirted as a walk-on tight end at North Dakota State and then added 40 pounds to move to the offensive line in the spring of 2018.
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He was a second-team Associated Press All-American and first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference pick in 2021, starting all 15 games at left tackle as North Dakota State won another Football Championship Subdivision title.
Mauch said his family grows corn, soybeans, edible beans and sugar beets on its farm.
“I was driving tractors when I was 7, 8 years old and crashing into things‚” Mauch said. ”They just trusted us with a lot of responsibilities at a young age, so that really helped shape me learning how to work hard. That’s one of the biggest things. It’s the summer at 7 a.m., you don’t want to get up and go to the shop, you want to play with your friends.”
Mauch says he has never been to Florida, but he won’t be coming alone. He will bring his chocolate Labrador retriever.
“Throughout the years, I’ve tried to show that more, tried show my personality,” Mauch said. “Just be different from everyone else. Looking like me, long red hair, no front teeth, I think you have to embrace the authenticity of it.”
Diaby brings more speed to Todd Bowles’ defense. At 6-feet-3, 263 pounds, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds at the NFL scouting combine. Nine of his career 10-1/2 sacks came last season.
“He’s very explosive,” Licht said. “He’s big. He’s long. He’s got like an 82 (-inch) wing(span). ... He’s all about football, and that’s kind of been the theme of these guys the last couple days.”
Licht said that unlike many edge rushers coming out of college, Diaby brings more than speed to his pass rush. He also has power.
“He’s very strong, so he’s got speed to power, which is hard to find,” Licht said. “I think I’ve found over the years, the guys who don’t make it don’t have an element of power. You can be fast as hell off the edge, but if you don’t have an element of power to combine with it, you get figured out by NFL tackles.”
Diaby is a late bloomer. He didn’t receiver a Division I offer out of high school and played two years at Georgia Military College before signing with Louisville in 2020 and starting seven of the eight games he played. His breakout season came in 2022, when he was voted third-team All-ACC by coaches after racking up 37 tackles, including 14 for loss and nine sacks in 13 starts.
What kind of player are the Bucs getting in Diaby? “Just know they got themselves a dawg, one that’s going to come in and work every day,” Diaby said. ”Hey, we’re going to be back in that Super Bowl talk.”
The Bucs don’t have a fourth-round pick, having used it to trade back into the fifth round to take cornerback Zyon McCollum last year. They enter Saturday without a pick until No. 153 (in the fifth round) but have five overall.
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