No other name on the current Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster elicits more jeers than Donovan Smith. Well, maybe Chris Conte, but that’s another topic.

Since being selected in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Smith seems to constantly be under fire from fans and media alike. If the media and fans aren’t calling for him to be cut they are calling for him to be moved to guard. Smith is going into a contract year, so its time for the age old question, should he stay or should he go?

Is it time to find a new tackle?

What if I told you that after the 2018 NFL Season there will be a 25 year old left tackle on the market that has allowed 10 sacks in 3 seasons? This player has started 48 consecutive games and, with the exception of one half of football, has never missed any significant time? Let’s think about that for a minute. 48 games and 10 sacks. That’s one sack allowed for just about every 5 games played.

In addition to his pass blocking skills, player X can also run block. According to some innovative stats by, this player was the 10th best left tackle in the run game last season. Sound familiar? It should, the player is on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster and his name is Donovan Smith.

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Where’s the love?

I’m not sure what Donovan Smith has done to draw the ire of so many fans and members of the media. Offensive lineman don’t get talked about at all unless its something negative, but I’m just not seeing the negative with Smith. All he does is perform.

He may allow a few hurries here and there, but Jameis Winston isn’t the easiest guy to block for. Winston has a a tendency to hold on to the ball for a long time. Winston is also very active in the pocket and that can spell disaster for an offensive line. Even with this added challenge, we’re talking about 10 sacks allowed in three full seasons.

It’s fair to call the Bucs running game in 2017 abysmal, yet Smith was still ranked 10th for left tackles in the run game. Why does everyone want to run this guy off? Have we forgotten about guys like Kenyatta Walker and Jeremy Trueblood already?

He’s doing just fine

Tyron Smith and Jason Peters are thought to be two of the best left tackles in the game right now. Over the past three seasons, Tyron Smith has allowed 13 sacks while playing 6 fewer games then Donovan Smith. Jason Peters allowed nine sacks in that same time frame.

Although that is one less then Smith, it was in 11 less games played. I’ve heard Bucs fans and media outlets suggest that the team should pursue Donald Penn if he’s released from the raiders. Don’t get me wrong, I love Penn, but he also has allowed more sacks over the past three seasons then Donovan Smith.

I know that to a lot of casual fans the offensive linemen are an easy target. Linemen don’t show up in any major statistical category and you typically only hear their name if they screw up.

In the case of Donovan Smith Bucs fans, you are off base. Bottom line, Donovan keeps the QB clean and what more can you ask for from your left tackle? Appreciate what you have Tampa and get off Donovan’s back. Donovan Smith is the Bucs best option at left tackle for the foreseeable future.

Jason Licht, do the right thing. Pay the man and don’t let him hit the open market.


Ben Wilson was born and raised in the Tampa area and has been following the Buccaneers for as long as he can remember. He is currently a contributing writer for Full Press Coverage Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Follow @FPC_Buccaneers on twitter to see more of his work and similar work.


  1. Although those are great statistics they don’t show the full picture. As a buc fan you may notice certain correlation between his play and the team’s success. He seems like a guy you would want to cheer for and I do want him to be successful but he has not performed adequately. One statistic that must have been overlooked in this analysis is penalties. Unfortunately Donovan racks up bad penalties often. He is a top five tackle in the league in regards to penalty yards per game and total penalties. When he does it, it appears to be a drive and momentum killer. And the correlation between that he performs holding and the Bucs lose is astounding. In the 6 games Smith was called for holding, 5 resulted in losses. 3 of those 5 losses were 1 possession games. If you can equate one player single handily to the difference between playoffs or not then you would feel baldly about said player’s play as well. That being said the fact that one player can make few mistakes and they are not overcome shows that flaws must’ve been in other departments such as too many turnovers from QB, bad pass rush, and poor defensive back play/scheme. The tackle play still shouldve received more scrutiny from the media rather than the focus on the other flaws.

  2. And also tied for the fourth most holding penalties last year in the league amongst tackles. But another statistic to look at would be qb pressure allowed by o-line which was 2nd in the league. I just feel as if the offensive line deserves more blame than the DB’s but an equal amount as the Defensive line. And that he is probably the worst starting offensive lineman the Bucs have this year. No open competition and no opportunity to be benched when mistakes have happened have ruined his development.

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