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Column: Drafting The Bucs 2018: Offensive Guard/Center

When you hold the line, you open up the lanes for the running game and give the Quarterback ample time to find the open receiver. Who will the Buccaneers select to shore up this crucial position?

I have sat on this for a little over a week now. We are down to the final three positions of need with two weeks until draft night. I can’t believe we’re almost there and I’m stoked to be able to present our last three features as we look to scout potential long-term fits for our beloved Tampa Bay Buccaneers two Thursdays from today.

Why I sat on this is simple, there are two positions that I believe are more important to fill for the immediate health of the Bucs roster, but in my humble opinion, one of the most can’t miss prospects and potentially the safest pick in the draft sits at the top of our list of three in today’s feature.

I lumped center into this as well strictly because one of the prospects is a dual threat option at both guard and center, and with the Bucs moving around keys cogs on their offensive line machine, we seem set there.

Having said that, without further ado, the guard options are here in the latest installment of Drafting The Bucs!

Offensive Guard/Center:

Quenton Nelson (OG, Notre Dame, 6’5, 325 lbs.)

As reference shortly before the reveal of the name here, we mentioned a can’t miss prospect. This is your guy.

Nelson have been ranked by many scouts as having grades higher than starting caliber players on rosters such as those of the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys.

Funnily enough, in reference to the latter, pro-bowl guard Zack Martin of the Dallas Cowboys was also a member of the touted Notre Dame roster when he came out of the 2014 NFL draft and found himself as the first round selection of the Cowboys instead of celebrated Texas A&M Quarterback, Johnny “Football” Manziel.

Nelson is a brute force at the guard position and whereas you can rattle off many a state line when it comes to offensive skill players, you can’t really rack up “pancake” stats for the offensive line positions, but as is always the case, the tape doesn’t lie.

Quite frankly, as mentioned earlier, there are two positions that seem more likely to be filled on draft day, but if Nelson is there at pick seven, do not be the least bit surprised if this is the card turned in.

Is a guard selection the most glamorous? Not in the least, but if you can add a future pro-bowler for a decade to protect your Quarterback and open holes for long runs for whatever feature back finds itself on the roster this year, doesn’t that make the most sense?

I’ve already harped on it, but get yourself a cup of good, strong coffee or something cold to drink and watch the film, it doesn’t lie. Nelson is a premiere athlete and his speed is only matched by his size. This is an A+ option.

Will Hernandez (OG, UTEP, 6’2, 340 lbs.)

If there is one knock on Hernandez, it’s that he is just a little bit shorter than your average guard. That’s it. That is literally only negative thing that can be said about him.

While not as polished as Nelson, Hernandez is another option that can potentially slide out of the first round to early day two. Do I believe that it’s going to happen? Not really, but this is the NFL draft and with an expected early run on Quarterbacks in this year’s draft, stranger things have happened.

Where guys like Nelson, Billy Price of Ohio State, and Isiah Wynn of Georgia are the buzz of the position because of their prestigious universities, Hernandez is out there opening holes and allowing the Quarterback time to throw the ball at the University of Texas at El Paso.

He hasn’t lined up against stalwort defenses from the SEC, ACC or Big Ten, but as has become redundant at this point, watch the tape. He is quick to toss guys off of him and he’s kept many a “big nasty” in check as his program looked to complete the pass or finish the run.

Hernandez has quite the sturdy base and as with Nelson, he is very quick at the point of attack and he ties up the competition. It’s the main thing you can ask of your offensive guard and he’s as sturdy as a well built ship. If Nelson isn’t the choice, this is another potential pro-bowl guard that can hold the line for years to come.

James Daniels (C/OG, Iowa, 6’3, 306 lbs.)

Akrum Wadley has Daniels to thank for opening many a hole for him to find daylight through as they both represented the Hawkeyes.

Daniels is enigmatic as he is feature all over different draft boards as a potential first rounder to a mid day two selection.

Here’s his biggest potential strength. The man can play the guard spot well and many teams have him slotted on their draft boards as just that.

However, what happens if the center goes down to injury? Daniels can slide over and fill the position nicely.

He predominantly played the center position, and the man that can hike the ball truly holds all the keys to the success of the offensive.

Quarterbacks all over the college rankings and NFL teams have probably paid for many a steak dinner for players with Daniel’s versatility, and with Burns and Capitol Grille in our great city, I’m sure a Del Monaco wouldn’t be turned down.

Kidding aside, Daniels is a steal in the second or third round and with the way that things are shaking up, if Tampa goes in a different direction with their seventh overall selection, Daniels is a fine selection that can immediately be inserted on the line and hold steady for years to come.

Rest assured, this position will and certainly needs to be addressed in this year’s draft and it should be addressed early. Jameis Winston was sacked way too many times this past season and if he’s to be the Quarterback of the future, we need him healthy and it all starts with a steady offensive line.

We’re getting down to the wire now, and having addressed guard, we’ve only the secondary left. We’re almost there folks, two short weeks!

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