Tampa Bay BuccaneersAn overview of the Buccaneers offensive line depth chart during Phase Three of the offseason workout programBrianna Dix
A new season is on the horizon. Anticipation builds for toe hitting leather. Like the rest of the NFL during the offseason, change materialized for the Buccaneers as free agent acquisitions and draft selections bolstered the roster. Tampa Bay will undergo modifications to the offensive line come fall, following the departure of Donovan Smith and Shaq Mason. The team released their longtime starting left tackle, Smith, and reliable veteran, Mason, was traded to Houston for a late-round draft pick. The Bucs proceeded to sign a cap-friendly alternative in Matt Feiler, who has experience starting at both guard and tackle. In addition, Tampa Bay drafted Cody Mauch, a mauler out of North Dakota State University in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Stalwart Tristan Wirfs will switch to the left side of the formation and second-year player Luke Goedeke will revert back to his natural position at right tackle.
There will be competition along the line throughout the summer but as of now, the starters are projected to be Luke Goedeke at right tackle, Cody Mauch at right guard, Ryan Jensen at center, Matt Feiler at left guard and Tristan Wirfs at right tackle.
"Right now, he's [Luke Goedeke] trending towards right tackle," Run Game Coordinator Harold Goodwin remarked. "He went on to confirm Dave Canales' earlier comments about the opposite side of the line by saying, "I think Dave has already told you guys that Tristan and Matt are on the left and now he's penciled in on the right."
The Bucs' lone Pro Bowl selection in 2023, Tristan Wirfs, set the tone in 2022. He anchored the line, continuing his reign of dominance at the line of scrimmage against top-tier defensive ends in the NFL. Wirfs has started in 46 games over the previous three seasons, including 13 in 2022 as an ankle injury sidelined him for several games. Wirfs can generate movement at the point of attack and sustains his blocks well. He is an effective puller and stays square to rushers. The Bucs are expected to have an uptick in wide zone runs under the leadership of Offensive Coordinator Dave Canales, which will benefit Wirfs' mobility. He thrived in a similar system at Iowa, that leveraged his quickness. Wirfs allowed the lowest pressure rate in 2022 with a minimum of 500 pass blocking attempts (0.9%) and will vie to continue his dominance in 2023, manning the blind side.
Luke Goedeke, the club's second-round pick in the 2022 draft, won the starting gig next to Robert Hainsey at left guard during the outset at the 2022 season. He was a two-year starter in Central Michigan's zone-blocking scheme at right tackle, occupying their vacancy. Goedeke is a finisher in the run game and possesses great contact balance to stay centered in blocks. He consistently drove defenders off their spot at the collegiate level and continued to develop as reps increased. Goedeke suffered a foot injury in the club's 21-3 loss to the Panthers, thrusting Nick Leverett into the lineup. The coaching staff had begun using both interchangeably at the left guard position and given Leverett's production during Goedeke's absence, he solidified a permanent starting role in the interior of the line. Goedeke served as the right tackle during the Bucs' regular-season finale at Atlanta and looked comfortable in the role. After facing a gauntlet of elite three-techniques last year, Goedeke endured unfair evaluations in his rookie campaign. Now, he will have a fresh slate in 2023, back on his dominant side.
Cody Mauch, the Bucs' second-round pick, has a striking resemblance to Ryan Jensen and embodies the same fiery demeanor. You could say based on his selection that the Bucs have a type when it comes to drafting interior linemen. Mauch plays with a relentless mindset and is a terror on second-level blocks, and on driving defenders off screens. At North Dakota State, Mauch manned the left tackle position in their run-centric scheme. He possesses the quickness and body control to operate in space, which will elevate the Bucs' new retooled offensive system.
The Bucs suffered a significant setback during training camp in 2022, as starting center Ryan Jensen went down with injury. On the second day of camp at the AdventHealth Training Center, Jensen suffered a significant knee injury. He later disclosed the details of the injury as three ligament tears, multiple fractures and a meniscus injury following the Wild Card matchup versus Dallas. Traditionally, that would be a grueling recovery process that should take nine months or longer to recover from but roughly six months later, Jensen made his highly-anticipated return against the Cowboys in the first round of the playoffs - a testament to his resilience and commitment to the team. He played 80 snaps in the game and showed no signs of limitation, bolstering the offensive line. With high-effort on every snap, Jensen sets the standard of play in the middle of the line.
The week before the draft, the Bucs signed free agent guard Matt Feiler. Feiler will enter his eighth NFL season since signing with the Houston Texans as a college free agent in 2014. He has appeared in 79 career games (73 starts) between the Pittsburgh Steelers (2016-20) and Los Angeles Chargers (2021-22). Feiler became a full-time starter with the Steelers in 2018 and throughout his tenure in the league, Feiler has registered 3,234 snaps at left guard and 1,599 snaps at right tackle. According to Pro Football Focus, Feiler received a 74.0 overall grade in 2021, the fourth-highest mark among left guards with 1,000-or-more snaps that year. His run blocking grade of 78.5 was second-highest among left guards with 1,000-or-more snaps, trailing only former Bucs' legend Ali Marpet. He will compete for a starting role in the Bucs' offensive line, fostering growth. Ryan Jensen (center) and Tristan Wirfs (left tackle) have their roles entrenched, but there will be competition at the other three spots. Among the other candidates to fill out the offensive front are Goedeke, Feiler, Mauch, Robert Hainsey, Aaron Stinnie, Nick Leverett and Brandon Walton.
Position Group: Offensive Line
Silas Dzansi (UDFA)Matt FeilerLuke GoedekeLuke Haggard (UDFA)Robert HainseyGrant HermannsRyan JensenNick LeverettCody MauchJohn MolchonChris Murray (UDFA)Michael NieseRaiqwon O'Neal (UDFA)Justin SkuleAaron StinnieBrandon WaltonTristan Wirfs