TAMPA — The play of their since-dismantled offensive line was one of the biggest reasons the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ranked dead last in the NFL in total offense last year.
It was a line that struggled not only to protect its quarterbacks, allowing the sixth-most sacks in the league (47), but struggled to open holes for its running backs, who ranked 25th in the league with a 3.8-yards per carry average.
In the midst of the line’s struggles, though, a secret superstar emerged. Or so says the numbers crunchers at ProFootballFocus, which is so enamored with right tackle Demar Dotson, they ranked him worthy of a Pro Bowl berth.
“The elite tackles in this league have the unique ability to perform consistently and limit their bad games,’’ PFF wrote. “Joe Thomas had only one negatively-graded game this past season while Jordan Gross’ lowest graded game was just -0.6. After playing every snap of the 2013 season, Dotson joined their company with just three negatively-graded games and a low pass blocking grade of -0.7. His +23.0 overall grade was good enough for third among right tackles and 13th among all tackles.
Dotson’s run blocking (+2.9) was a step up from his 2012 performance, but it was his pass blocking that really went to the next level. Dotson finished 15th among tackles with a Pass Blocking Efficiency of 95.3, allowing five sacks, two hits, and 27 hurries on the season. Just for reference, Donald Penn had a PBE of 93.5 and yielded 12 sacks, six hits, and 28 hurries. It was a truly special season for the fifth-year pro that looked like a severe project as recently as two years ago.’’
An undrafted free agent who didn’t even start playing football until his senior season at Southern Mississippi, Dotson will have a hard time replicating his 2013 season, PFF believes.
But at 6-foot-9, 315 pounds and with better talent around him, Dotson has a bright future that may even include a move to left tackle should newcomer Anthony Collins not work out, PFF writes.