Part one addressed guards now lets look at tackles who may help the Bucs for 2015.
I previously analyzed the offensive line and their struggles, but here are some fresh faces in the tackle position who may help the team.
Free is the highest paid right tackle in the NFL and only behind Tennessee Titans left tackle Michael Roos (who’s contemplating retirement) as the top paid tackle, overall. Frees the only other tackle whos made over $6.5 million in 2014 but might be a cap casualty as the Dallas Cowboys are also looking to resign offensive stars receiver Dez Bryant and running back DeMarco Murray to contract extensions.
After accepting a reduced salary prior in lieu of being waived to the 2013 season, Free; who was in the middle of a four-year, $32 million contract; become one of the most consistent linemen for the team. Free, who stands at 6-foot-6 and 325 lbs, started in 82 of his 92 games played for the team. The Cowboys finished seventh in overall offense in 2014, second in rushing and 16th in passing. Since being drafted by the team in the fourth round in 2007, the Cowboys finished within the top 10 in offense five out of his eight years in the league.
Dunlap is the next highest paid left tackle after Roos at over $2.4 million. Starting in over half the games hes played in, the seven-year veteran was drafted in the seventh round by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2008 before leaving for the San Diego Chargers in 2013. His versatility to play at both tackle positions provide an invaluable depth protecting the likes of Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, Michael Vick and Philip Rivers. During Dunlaps time with the Eagles, the offense was top 10, in three of five years with the team. The Chargers finished fifth overall in offense in 2013 and 18th in 2014. The Chargers finished this season with the 10th in passing and 30th in rushing, according to NFL.com.
Dunlaps performance this year warranted a Pro Bowl snub mention by Rivers. Dunlap also has prior history with current Bucs general manager Jason Licht, who was Eagles vice president of player personnel in 2008.
In a draft loaded with top-tier first-round caliber talent at tackle, the opportunities are primed for the Bucs to capitalize if theyre to trade down from the top pick. First on this list is T.J. Clemmings. Standing at 6-foot-6, 315 lb., the Pittsburgh standout is a converted defensive lineman with long arms who utilizes his strength to keep defenders at bay. A stronger run blocker, Clemmings can be coached up to be a staple at the left tackle position. If the Bucs were to trade down, he may be available at the mid-late first round.
The Florida State tackle has versatility at his side playing both left tackle and center. Erving, who stands at 6-feet-5, 309 lb., has shown the ability to fend off edge rushers while remaining stout against defensive tackles at center. Ervings versatility may be his biggest strength in a unit that often demands its players to play multiple positions. While Erving is a smooth puller, he loses track of his target at times.
CBS Sports ranks Scherff as their top offensive tackle in the 2015 draft. Scherff provides one of the most sound run and pass blocking in the current crop of tackles. He is considered by scouts as one of the countrys most pro-ready lineman. With a 6-foot-5, 315 lb. frame, Scherffs been known to have some hip and joint tightness in his technique.
Scherffs been compared to four-time Pro Bowler Joe Staley of the San Francisco 49ers, which is certainly not too shabby. If Scherff becomes the Bucs first overall pick, he could very well fulfill the staple force at the position Paul Gruber was for the team for 12 seasons.