Ali Marpet

Buccaneers Place OL Marpet, Dotson On IR

The Buccaneers have lost two starting offensive lineman for the remainder of the season, as the club announced today that they’ve placed tackle Demar Dotson and center Ali Marpet on injured reserve. In addition to the previously announced promotions of tight end Alan Cross, defensive end Pat O’Connor, and wide receiver Bobo Wilson, Tampa Bay has also signed cornerback Deji Olatoye.Ali Marpet (vertical)

Marpet has been a full-time starter along the Buccaneers’ offensive line ever since being selected in the second round of the 2015 draft. A guard during his first two years in the league, the 24-year-old Marpet transitioned to center prior to the 2017 campaign. He’s mastered the position switch, as Pro Football Focus grades Marpet as the NFL’s No. 6 pivot. Marpet, who has one year remaining on his rookie contract, is eligible for an extension this offseason.

Dotson, too, has played nearly every offensive snap (97.1%) for Tampa this year, and he’s also been excellent (No. 4 tackle, per PFF). A former undrafted free agent, Dotson has been with the Bucs since the 2009 season but didn’t become a starter until 2012. He’s signed through 2019, although the fact that he’ll be entering his age-33 campaign next year could render him a cap casualty.

The Buccaneers will turn to replacements along its offensive line just as quarterback Jameis Winston returns from a shoulder injury. With top reserve Evan Smith in the concussion protocol, Tampa Bay will likely turn to Joe Hawley at center and Caleb Benenoch at right tackle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ali Marpet To Shift To Center

After spending the first two years of his career at right guard, Buccaneers offensive lineman Ali Marpet will be moving to center, according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. Marpet performed very well for Tampa Bay last season, grading as the 13th-best guard in the league out of 71 qualifying players, per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required).

Oct 30, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive guard Ali Marpet (74) during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

However, with guard J.R. Sweezy set to return after missing all of 2016 with a back injury, the Bucs are hoping Marpet’s success will continue at center. The team also has veteran centers Evan Smith and Joe Hawley on the roster, both of whom received $1MM bonuses in the offseason – and Hawley performed pretty well himself in 2016 – so it would be easy enough to simply line Sweezy up at left guard and keep Hawley and Marpet where they were last year. But the Bucs apparently have a different vision for the future of their line.

Marpet has snapped before and during practices in case he was ever called upon as an emergency center, but he never even played center in a high school or collegiate game, much less a professional one.

Nonetheless, the 2015 second-round pick out of D-III Hobart College is excited about the transition. He said, “I’m a center. It’s always been in the back pocket. I can still play guard. I know. I’ve played guard. I imagine they’re not saying ‘You’re the starter, no matter what you do.’ But they like the idea, so we’re going to try it.” He and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy believe he could be especially effective in the more confined spaces that a center is required to work in.

Tampa Bay’s line returns almost entirely intact from last season, and despite a couple of moving pieces, that consistency should be a boon to young signal-caller Jameis Winston and the offense as a whole in 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Bucs, Aguayo, Winston, Jaguars

Draft evaluations are subjective and tend to vary greatly from team to team. This week, Buccaneers GM Jason Licht reminded us of that fact when he explained that he had first-round grades on three of his rookies this year, including kicker Roberto Aguayo. The Bucs thought enough of the FSU product to trade into the second round for him and apparently it’s a move that the Bucs made with confidence. Along with Aguayo, the GM feels that he snared first-round talents in cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and defensive end Noah Spence. In 2015, Licht says he also hit it big.

We think we got four last year,” Licht told Scott Reynolds of Pewter Report, referring to quarterback Jameis Winston, left tackle Donovan Smith, guard Ali Marpet, and linebacker Kwon Alexander . “That’s the goal – to get multiple first-round draft picks each year. When it’s all said done, to look back and say, ‘We got multiple first-round picks in this draft’ – that was the goal.”

While you ponder Licht’s assessment of his last two drafts (and his evaluation of Aguayo), here’s more out of the South divisions:

  • New Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken admits that he wasn’t a big fan of Winston prior to the 2015 draft. Today, the former Southern Miss head coach isn’t afraid to admit that he has had a change of heart. “It’s who he is, how he’s wired,” Monken said, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “I think that’s one thing that’s a misnomer. I think from the outside you would’ve looked at it with all the things that were publicized in the past about him and who he is. I was dead wrong. He wants to win as much as we do. He’s a competitive joker, man, he’s smart, he’s intelligent…you can win a lot of games with guys like that.”
  • Jeff Linkenbach‘s contract with the Jaguars is for one season and will pay $810K, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets. The guard/tackle has 86 appearances and 36 starts on his NFL resume.
  • The Jaguars got some bad news on Thursday when they learned that first-round pick Jalen Ramsey will have to undergo surgery to fix a knee injury. Depending on the second opinion and the treatment option he goes with, Ramsey could reportedly miss 4-6 weeks or 4-6 months. If all goes well, however, he’ll be ready for the start of training camp.

Bucs Sign Second Round Pick Ali Marpet

The Buccaneers have signed second-round pick Ali Marpet, according to Roy Cummings of the Tampa Bay Tribune (on Twitter). With the Hobart guard in the fold, the Bucs have now signed all seven of their 2015 draft picks.

The Bucs traded up from No. 65 to get the Colts’ No. 61 pick, where they selected Marpet. The swap called for the teams to swap their fourth round picks, which meant that the Bucs moved down from No. 109 to No. 128. Buccaneers GM Jason Licht later said he traded up for Hobart guard Ali Marpet because offensive line depth in the draft was shrinking.

Tampa Bay also fortified its offensive line earlier in the second round by selecting Penn State tackle Donovan Smith with the No. 34 pick. Both Smith and Marpet are considered front-runners to start on a revamped Buccaneers’ offensive line in 2015.

Extra Points: Gregory, Texans, Bengals

Here’s a look at the latest from around the NFL as the 2015 draft continues:

  • Representatives for Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory, whom the Cowboys chose 60th overall, made it clear before the draft that he’d need significant support from his NFL team, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter. That support is expected to include a security person and personal handler for Gregory, whose draft stock plummeted because of off-field concerns – notably marijuana use and potential mental health issues.
  • The Texans aren’t going to trade cornerback Johnathan Joseph, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). The nine-year veteran is entering the final season of his contract, but McClain reports that his place on the team is safe.
  • The Bengals filled a need along their offensive line Thursday when they used their first-round pick on Texas A&M tackle Cedric Ogbuehi. Had Ogbuehi been gone before then, the Bengals would’ve selected Oregon’s Jake Fisher, tweets ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. As luck would have it, Fisher was still available at No. 53, the Bengals’ second-rounder, so they were also able to land him.
  • Before drafting Mississippi cornerback Senqeuz Golson with the 56th pick, the Steelers attempted to move up and grab LSU’s Jalen Collins, who went 42nd to the Falcons, reports Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com (via Twitter). They also liked Utah’s Eric Rowe, whom the Eagles selected at No. 47.
  • Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said he traded up for Hobart guard Ali Marpet because offensive line depth in the draft was shrinking, Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com tweeted. The Bucs selected Marpet in the second round after sending the 65th and 109th picks to the Colts for Nos. 61 and 128.
  • Michigan defensive end Frank Clark, whom the Seahawks chose with the 63rd pick, said he had a lot of pre-draft contact with the team, tweets Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Clark’s agent told him that the Seahawks “had a man crush on [Clark],” according to Condotta.

Buccaneers Acquire 61st Pick From Colts

The Buccaneers have acquired the 61st pick from the Colts in exchange for No. 65, according to Mike Chappell of Fox59 (Twitter link), and Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that the Bucs will select Hobart guard Ali Marpet. Stroud also reports (Twitter) that the teams will swap fourth-round picks, Indy receiving the 109th choice and Tampa getting No. 128.

Draft Notes: Ray, Scherff, Peters, Williams

There was some concern that Missouri pass rusher Shane Ray, who is expected to come off the board early in the draft next Thursday night, would require surgery on a troublesome foot injury. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links), Ray’s injury – which is similar to turf toe – was discovered during a team visit and prompted a visit to a foot specialist, who recommended rest rather than a surgical procedure, good news for the young edge defender.

Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net (Twitter link) hears that the Cowboys flagged Ray as needing surgery, but not all teams – and not all doctors, apparently – were convinced it was required.

Let’s check in on a few more Thursday draft updates….

  • Iowa tackle Brandon Scherff is drawing “heavy interest” from teams drafting between the fifth and ninth spots in the first round, a source tells Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post (Twitter link). The clubs currently in those spots? Washington, the Jets, the Bears, the Falcons, and the Giants.
  • In addition to making 17 pre-draft visits to teams, Washington cornerback Marcus Peters had individual workouts for the Falcons, Panthers, Buccaneers, and Dolphins, tweets Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • Speaking to Maggie Gray on SI Now, Florida State cornerback P.J. Williams said that most teams are telling him his DUI incident shouldn’t have a huge impact on his draft stock.
  • Montana edge defender Zack Wagenmann, who is projected as a mid- to late-round pick, broke his foot recently during a private workout with an NFL team, writes Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. Wagenmann won’t be able to participate in football-related activities for eight weeks, but is aiming to be ready for training camp.
  • Caplan also passes along an update on Hobart offensive lineman Ali Marpet, reporting (via Twitter) that Marpet visited the Chargers earlier this week, and has worked out for the Cardinals, Bengals, and Texans.
  • Besides confirming some of his previously-reported visits, T.J. Clemmingsdraft diary for USA Today (via Tom Pelissero) added some new teams to his list of possible suitors. According to the Pittsburgh tackle himself, he visited the Bears and had a private workout with the Panthers. Clemmings will also privately work out for the Dolphins tomorrow.
  • Florida linebacker Neiron Ball has made pre-draft visits with the Patriots, Broncos, Buccaneers, and Texans, writes Wilson. Ball has also worked out privately for the Falcons, Rams, Steelers, Cardinals, and Texans.

AFC Notes: S. Brown, Texans, Pats, Titans

Free agent safety Stevie Brown, who is said to be close to deciding on where to sign, visited the Texans yesterday, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Houston already signed one free agent safety this offseason, adding Rahim Moore, so we’ll see if the club makes a play for Brown, who may prefer the Giants if everything is equal.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Georgia running back Todd Gurley is in New England today to meet with the Patriots, reports Field Yates of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Gurley is widely considered a strong bet to come off the board in the first round, so he may not last until the Pats’ pick at the very end of the first.
  • Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk doesn’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that the Titans would draft a wide receiver with the second overall pick next Thursday.
  • The Broncos are hosting Florida offensive lineman D.J. Humphries and Oklahoma defensive tackle Jordan Phillips on pre-draft visits today, writes Mike Klis of the Denver Post.
  • Offensive lineman Chris Hairston got a $25K bonus on his new minimum salary deal with the Chargers, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter).
  • Taiwan Jones, who started his career with the Raiders as a running back before moving to cornerback in 2013, will return to running back this year, according to Oakland’s official site. Whether he’s listed on the offensive or defensive side of the ball, Jones contributes primarily as a special teamer.
  • Intriguing Hobart guard Ali Marpet is visiting the Browns today, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com.

Draft Notes: Winston, Gregory, Steelers, Rams

The NFL announced (via Twitter) that 26 prospects will attend the draft in Chicago later this month, but neither of the two biggest names — quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota — will be present to hear their respective names called. Receiver Amari Cooper, also expected to be a top-five pick, will also skip the event, but the likes of Leonard Williams, Kevin White, and Dante Fowler Jr. will be on hand.

Let’s look at some more draft news as we get closer to April 30:

  • Winston reportedly scored a 27 on the Wonderlic, the NFL’s predraft intelligence test, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports, who notes Winston’s mark is just one shy of Peyton Manning‘s grade in 1998. It’s unclear what role the Wonderlic plays in teams’ draft decisions, but it’s an interesting note nonetheless.
  • We previously heard that Nebraska edge rusher Randy Gregory was set to visit Pittsburgh at some point this week, and it looks like he’ll meet with the Steelers on Thursday, writes Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
  • In the market for offensive line help, the Rams met with guards Ali Marpet, Tre Jackson, and Jamil Douglas today, according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  • Oklahoma fullback Aaron Ripkowski met with the Packers today, tweets Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net.
  • Texas long snapper Nate Boyer (a former Green Beret whose story can be read here) has a predraft visit lined up with the 49ers, he tells Alex Marvez of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
  • More from the Bay Area: The 49ers have maintained heavy interest in a pair of LSU players — linebacker Kwon Alexander and running back Terrence Magee — a source tells Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link).

Extra Points: Lions, Titans, Draft, Pats

Let’s take a look at a handful of stories from around the NFL this evening:

  • Aside from acquiring Haloti Ngata, the Lions haven’t made any major headlines this offseason. They’re fine with that, according to Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. “We’re not out just reaching to grab anyone and high-fiving in March,” said Lions vice president of pro personnel Sheldon White, per Meinke.  “We’re trying to find guys who selectively fit our profile, fit what the coaches need and we all get together and come up with a plan that we think will help the Detroit Lions.” Nevertheless, despite what team president Tom Lewand calls the organization’s “selectively aggressive” approach, Meinke notes that it still has several holes to fix. Left guard and running back lead the way.
  • Last year’s NFL draft featured a deep, star-studded receiving class that included the likes of Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins and Kelvin Benjamin. This year’s class of wideouts could be nearly equal to the 2014 group in terms of both ability and depth, an AFC personnel executive told Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. “Could see five or six going in the first round,” the exec said, “and at least a dozen in the first three rounds. It’s really deep again.”
  • ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky answered fans’ questions in a Titans mailbag. One of the Titans’ issues Kuharsky addressed is receiver, an area he thinks the team should prioritize in the draft because of its lack of playmakers.
  • Nik Beimler of WEEI.com profiled Hobart guard Ali Marpet, who could be a fit for the Patriots in the draft. Marpet is expected to be hear his name called in the second or third round.