NFL draft: Offensive line

Left tackle Anthony Collins didn't allow a single quarterback hit in seven starts for Cincinnati last year.
Left tackle Anthony Collins didn't allow a single quarterback hit in seven starts for Cincinnati last year.
Published May 2, 2014

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Offensive line

NFL draft

When: Thursday (Round 1), 8 p.m., ESPN, NFL Network; May 9 (Rounds 2-3), 6:30 p.m., ESPN, ESPN2, NFLN; May 10 (Rounds 4-7), noon, ESPN, NFLN

Where: Radio City Music Hall, New York

Bucs picks (round/overall): 1/7, 2/38, 3/69, 5/143, 6/185, 7/221.

Bucs watch party: Thursday, Raymond James Stadium. Gates C and D open 6 p.m.

First-round order: 1. Texans, 2. Rams (from Redskins), 3. Jaguars, 4. Browns, 5. Raiders, 6. Falcons, 7. Bucs, 8. Vikings, 9. Bills, 10. Lions, 11. Titans, 12. Giants, 13. Rams, 14. Bears, 15. Steelers, 16. Cowboys, 17. Ravens, 18. Jets, 19. Dolphins, 20. Cardinals, 21. Packers, 22. Eagles, 23. Chiefs, 24. Bengals, 25. Chargers, 26. Browns (from Colts), 27. Saints, 28. Panthers, 29. Patriots, 30. 49ers, 31. Broncos, 32. Seahawks

Who the Bucs have

Anthony Collins, LT: Top free agent grab steps in as a full-time starter for first time, but he has excelled behind Pro Bowl players in his time with Bengals.

Carl Nicks, LG: Played only two games in 2013 with toe injury and MRSA infection, so his health is a major concern. Team says it is pleased with his progress.

Evan Dietrich-Smith, C: Another free agent addition, stepped in as Aaron Rodgers' center for all 16 games in Green Bay in 2013. Just nine career starts before last season.

Jamon Meredith, RG: Twenty starts in past two years with Bucs, re-signed in free agency, but he's not paid enough to presume he's a starter.

Demar Dotson, RT: Quietly had best season of any Bucs lineman in 2013, and he's inexpensive, signed through 2016 with three-year, $4.5 million extension last year.

Top five prospects in draft

Greg Robinson, T, Auburn (6-5, 332): Played only two years but has established himself as best lineman in the draft, a potential franchise left tackle and a top-five pick.

Jake Matthews, T, Texas A&M (6-5, 308): Son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews and with two cousins in the NFL, this Matthews is one of three potential top-10 picks from A&M's offense.

Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan (6-7, 309): Four-year starter, fastest 40 of any lineman at combine. Allegations of assault don't appear to have impacted draft status.

Zack Martin, T/G, Notre Dame (6-4, 308): Three-year starter at left tackle likely moves inside to guard in NFL. Pristine record with intangibles, leadership.

David Yankey, G, Stanford (6-6, 312): Has started at guard and left tackle but projects inside as a pro. Could be there when Bucs pick at No. 38.

Under the radar

Billy Turner, OT, 6-5, 315; North Dakota State: Small-school prospect has visited with Bucs — helped program to three straight I-AA national titles. Father Maurice Turner was NFL running back in 1980s.

Free agency

The Bucs were active in overhauling the offensive line in free agency — T Donald Penn and G Davin Joseph were released and C Jeremy Zuttah was traded to the Ravens. LT Anthony Collins didn't allow a single quarterback hit in seven starts for Cincinnati last year, and Evan Dietrich-Smith started every game for Green Bay in 2013. If the Bucs were to sign anyone else, it'd be at guard should the draft not line up for them and someone comes available to provide insurance against Nicks' health.

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Best guess

Amazingly, the Bucs haven't drafted an offensive lineman since 2009, but expect that streak to end, likely in the first three rounds. Several top guard prospects match up well for Tampa Bay's second-round selection (No. 38 overall) — offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, fresh from his Cal days, should know Stanford's David Yankey and UCLA's Xavier Su'a-Filo well. Su'a-Filo could sneak in at the end of Round 1, so let's go with Yankey, who could step in as a starter from Week 1.

Greg Auman, Times staff writer