The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the splashiest move of the offseason a few weeks back, signing six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady to a 2-year, $30 million deal. The $15 million-a-year will be the highest total the 42-year-old quarterback has ever been paid in a season.
Signing a quarterback like Brady has it’s obvious risks and rewards. The Buccaneers should have one of the most high powered offenses in the NFL, as the two-headed-monster of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin give Brady two of the league’s most talented deep ball threats who are arguably the most talented duo of receivers that Brady has gotten to throw to.
As good as that theoretical offense could be for the Buccaneers, it won’t get anywhere if Brady has no time in the pocket. Those deep ball routes take a long time to develop, and the 42-year-old quarterback is pretty much the opposite of nimble in the pocket these days.
In order to protect their $30 million quarterback, the Buccaneers should turn their draft attention to the offensive line. The Bucs finished seventh in Pro Football Focus‘ annual offensive line rankings thanks to the interior talents of Ryan Jensen and Ali Marpet, but the squad could use some help at offensive tackle to make them the best offensive line in the league.
Demar Dotson, who was the starting right tackle for the Buccaneers last season, has still been unsigned and leaves Tampa Bay with a hole to fill. The signing of Joe Haeg will help with depth and could be a short-term plug-in, but the Bucs would be wise to invest their first round pick into a highly rated tackle who could become a cornerstone of their offensive line while protecting Brady from EDGE rushers.
In his latest mock draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. suggested that the Buccaneers draft Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, who can play at both tackle spots and is one of the most talented offensive line prospects in this draft.
“Thomas played both left and right tackle for the Bulldogs, and he would help keep Brady’s jersey clean. I also thought about a running back to help Brady, with D’Andre Swift a great option to catch a bunch of passes from the future Hall of Famer. But offensive tackle feels like a lock at this point.”
Drafting Thomas is the most logical decision for Tampa Bay, as Thomas helped lead the Georgia Bulldogs into what would eventually become the second-highest rated offensive line in all of college football, per PFF. He was graded at a 92.4 for the season, placing him third out of hundreds of qualifying collegiate offensive tackles.
Pairing Thomas up with Jensen and Marpet instantly gives the Buccaneers one of the best offensive lines in the league. Thomas can be plugged in right away at the right tackle spot and can help improve the Tampa Bay running game while protecting Brady on dropbacks.
There’s a decent chance that Thomas ends up being the most talented blocker in this draft, so picking him up in the middle of the first round would be a major value pick for the Buccaneers.