Bucs seek hidden value for offensive linemen in upcoming draft

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Although some observers and fans will almost surely disagree, the Buccaneers seem pretty well set at left tackle. Coach Dirk Koetter and general manager Jason Licht have had nothing but good things to say about their two-year starter, Donovan Smith, so there is nothing to suggest a change is coming there anytime soon.

That’s not necessarily the case at right tackle. Sure, the Bucs are just as happy with the play they’ve been getting from veteran Demar Dotson, but Dotson with turn 32 shortly after the season begins, so the Bucs have to start thinking about they’re going to do there in the future.

That may be why they recently spent some time working out small-school tackle prospect Julien Davenport.

The cousin of Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Davenport looks like a basketball player himself. He stands 6-foot-7, weighs 318-pounds and has a huge 87 ½-inch wing span that helped make him a force during the four years he started at left tackle at little Bucknell.

Most scouts believe he’s a developmental player who will need a couple of years of seasoning before he’s ready to step in and play at the NFL level, but with the tackle position one of the thinner in the draft, he could come off the board as soon as the third round.

That may be a bit soon for a team such as the Bucs, who like their starters and seem to have plenty of depth across the offensive front, but hey, the draft is more about the future than the present and the Bucs future at right tackle seems a bit cloudy right now.

There was a time not too long ago when Kevin Pamphile was the clear heir apparent to Dotson at that spot but that has changed a bit now that Pamphile has proven to be a solid fit at left guard.

Shoot, the Bucs are even considering working Pamphile at center this spring so they may have already decided that his future is in the interior of the line and not out on the edges.

If that’s the case then the Bucs will eventually have to find a new apprentice to work behind Dotson and now might not be a bad time to do it, especially if they can land a player like Davenport.

Again, the third round may be a bit too rich for a small-school player who struggled to hold his own at the Senior Bowl, according to scouts, and may now have to grow into a new position.

But, the Bucs have shown a willingness to take chances on small-school offensive linemen before. They did it with Ali Marpet, and so no one should be surprised if they do it again with Davenport.

Keep an eye on him.

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