The Bucs don’t think Luke Goedeke is a bust, nor is the team giving up on the young offensive lineman as he enters his second season in Tampa Bay. The team’s second-round pick last year drew the ire of fans as he committed five penalties and allowed two sacks, three QB hits and totaled 22 pressures as a rookie left guard.
Goedeke, who was a two-year starter at right tackle at Central Michigan, not only struggled with a position switch from tackle to guard and the leap from the MAC to the NFL. He also had a difficult time adjusting from playing on the right side in college to the left side in the pros.
Yet, the Bucs and head coach Todd Bowles are encouraged by how Goedeke finished the 2022 season and see him having a bright future in Tampa Bay.
“I thought Luke started out learning and I think he’s a very physical football player,” Bowles said. “I think he’s going to help us this year. He’s going to play somewhere on the line. We’re not quite sure where yet.”
Luke Goedeke Struggled Initially At Left Guard, But Finished Strong
Bucs LG Luke Goedeke and Falcons DT Grady Jarrett – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The 6-foot-5, 312-pound Goedeke started the first seven games of the season at left guard last year and had some real growing pains right off the bat. He faced a gauntlet of stellar defensive tackles, including the likes of Green Bay’s Kenny Clark, Kansas City’s Chris Jones, Atlanta’s Grady Jarrett and Pittsburgh’s Cameron Heyward in consecutive weeks.
The Bucs platooned Goedeke and Nick Leverett during a Week 7 loss at Carolina, and Leverett took over as the starter the next week. While Goedeke injured his foot during the Panthers game, Leverett outplayed him and took over as the starting left guard for the rest of the season.
The Bucs sat out Tristan Wirfs as a precaution in Week 18 and Goedeke started at right tackle at Atlanta. That wound up being Goedeke’s highest-graded game of the regular season, according to Pro Football Focus. He earned a 63.6 overall grade and a 70.2 pass protection grade.
When Leverett was forced to miss the playoff game against Dallas, Goedeke moved back to left guard, where he earned a 67 overall grade in the 82 snaps he played. That also included a 76.6 pass protection grade.
Goedeke’s last two starts have the Bucs and Bowles encouraged about his second season.
“You really like him at guard and then he showed he can really play tackle at the end of the year,” Bowles said. “So, depending on how the draft and the rest of free agency goes, we’ll find one of the two spots for him. But it’s good to have the versatility.”
Bucs May Start Luke Goedeke At Right Tackle – Or Right Guard
Central Michigan G Luke Goedeke – Photo courtesy of CMU
If the Bucs don’t draft a starting-caliber offensive tackle in April, the team is considering moving Tristan Wirfs from right tackle to left tackle and replacing him with Goedeke on the right side.
“He’s on the right side now,” Bowles said of Wirfs. “As free agency goes on and the draft goes on, we’ll try to make a decision somewhere around the line. We know he’s a great right tackle. He can always play right tackle, so we’ll see going forward.”
The Bucs initially moved Goedeke inside to guard due to his shorter-than-ideal 32-inch arms. Typically, NFL teams prefer offensive tackles have an arm length of 34 inches or more. Bowles didn’t think Goedeke’s shorter arms stymied his ability to block Atlanta’s edge rushers in Week 18.
“I don’t think it matters with him,” Bowles said. “With certain guys it does. He does have the height and he does have the fight, so I don’t think it matters with him.”
At the NFL Owners Meeting in Phoenix this week, Bowles was asked if finding another offensive tackle to replace former starter Donovan Smith was a pressing need.
“It’s pressing because we don’t have one, but Luke played [right tackle] the last game,” Bowles said. “Free agency is still in the middle and we have the draft and we have June 1 cuts. It’s a process. We’re not panicking right now. You have to find the right fits for your team and we’re sitting there waiting. We have an idea of the things we want to do and when the process plays out I think we’ll be pretty pleased.”
Bucs C Ryan Jensen and LG Luke Goedeke – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
If the Bucs draft a left tackle like Oklahoma’s Anton Harrison in the first round, Wirfs could stay at right tackle. But if Tampa Bay drafts a right tackle like Tennessee’s Darnell Wright, then Wirfs would move to left tackle.
Either scenario could prompt the Bucs to insert Goedeke at right guard, where he might have more success due to the fact he was used to playing on the right side in college. The Bucs need a replacement for Shaq Mason, last year’s starter at right guard, who was traded to Houston this offseason.
Goedeke’s improved play at the end of the season at right tackle and left guard has Tampa Bay encouraged by his progress – and ability to start at multiple positions.
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