Bucs Might Have A Real Sleeper In Former Gators OT

The Bucs traded for proper guard Shaq Mason this offseason and drafted Luke Goedeke to play left guard.

However Tampa Bay can be enthusiastic about one other new offensive lineman.

The Bucs signed veteran Bengals offensive deal with Fred Johnson on March 25. That transfer didn’t make many waves, however the group is quietly excited in regards to the younger lineman’s potential.

Cincinnati had initially supplied Johnson a one-year tender as a restricted free agent. Then, the group pulled the supply on March 22 when La’el Collins grew to become out there and signed the previous Cowboys deal with as a substitute. The Bucs signed the 6-foot-7, 326-pound Johnson three days later to a one-year deal price $1.152 million and imagine they could have a steal.

Johnson, A Nasty Run Blocker, Is Shifting To Left Sort out

Tampa Bay likes Johnson’s bodily presence. He’s a mauler within the run recreation, and his lengthy wingspan and good toes make him stable in go safety. Johnson, 24, spent the final three years in Cincinnati, the place he’s performed primarily at proper deal with. However he has additionally seen motion at left deal with and proper guard.

The Bucs know he can play proper deal with, which is his pure place. They’re utilizing this offseason to transition him to play left deal with, the place he’ll compete with veteran Josh Wells to be the swing deal with.

“Clearly, he’s been within the league since 2019,” Bucs offensive line coach Joe Gilbert stated. “I keep in mind he was a man that got here out right here in our native day and he was on the market and ended up going someplace else in the interim. Now he’s again right here. You possibly can inform Fred has been in a system within the NFL. He understands issues. It’s simply going to be, can he make that transition from proper to left constantly?

“That’s a tough factor, looking for guys that may do this. It’s so much tougher than you suppose, having the ability to motor-memory-wise [go] from proper deal with to left deal with. All that stuff since you’re punching with completely different palms at completely different occasions. There may be much more to it.”

Gaining Expertise In Cincinnati

Johnson was signed by Pittsburgh as an undrafted free agent out of Florida. The Bengals claimed him off waivers mid-season and he began two video games at left deal with as a rookie. Professional Soccer Focus gave him a 62.6 grade as a rookie, together with a 78.4 go blocking grade. Johnson performed 129 snaps with two penalties, zero sacks and no QB pressures allowed.

In 2020, Johnson struggled a bit, incomes a 48.4 grade from PFF. He performed 491 snaps, with most of his begins coming at left deal with (three) and proper guard (two), with one recreation at proper deal with. Johnson surrendered two sacks, 5 hits and 20 whole pressures. And he was penalized thrice.

His highest-graded season got here final yr. PFF gave Johnson an 81 total grade (61.3 go blocking and 83.6 run blocking). Johnson solely performed 90 snaps, with 53 coming at proper deal with, 20 at proper guard, 10 as a blocking tight finish and 7 at left deal with.

“He’s sensible, he’s constant,” Bucs head coach Todd Bowles stated. “He can play each side. He’s bought plenty of measurement and plenty of size.”

A Free Agent Steal?

League sources inform Pewter Report that the Bengals might need higher within the postseason beginning Johnson versus Isaiah Prince at proper deal with. Prince had a tough four-game stretch, permitting two sacks, three hits and 18 whole pressures in 4 video games. PFF gave Prince a 21.4 grade in Cincinnati’s Tremendous Bowl LVI loss to Los Angeles, together with a dismal 2.4 go block grade. Prince allowed one sack and 6 hurries towards the Rams.

There’s a respectable likelihood that the Bucs preserve each Johnson and Wells on the roster. Wells has loads of expertise taking part in in Tampa Bay, however he’s 31. Johnson, who’s seven years youthful, may very well be the long run high reserve at offensive deal with. And his expertise at guard can be helpful. Gilbert needs to see how Johnson fares at left deal with first.

“That’s going to be the most important factor to see competition-wise,” Gilbert stated. “We all know Josh can do it. He’s carried out it and began at each tackles for us during the last couple of years. Now, it’s simply seeing if Fred can.”

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