TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers love them some Ali Marpet. They proved as much on the second day of the draft, when they traded up four spots to grab the Hobart College offensive lineman with the 61st overall pick.
As soon as the selection was made, though, Bucs fans and amateur draftniks everywhere began shaking their heads in confusion and asking each other the same questions. Who? What? Why?
Their skepticism was — and still is — justifiable. After all, the Bucs made the 6-foot-4, 307-pound Marpet the highest-drafted Division III player in NFL draft history.
But did they reach too far, too soon as many have suggested? Maybe not.
A quick look back at a couple of scouting reports and a few mock drafts suggests the Bucs didn’t reach at all.
For example, WalterFootball.com’s second-round mock draft had Marpet going 63rd overall to Seattle, and one of WalterFootball’s scouts said Marpet would be “a great fit for the blocking scheme.’’
Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated’s second-round mock had Marpet going 64th overall to New England, and Don Banks wrote that the Patriots would be fortifying “their offensive line with a prospect who plays in the tough, battling style they most admire from their grunts up front.’’
And Bleacher Report, in its Day Two mock, had Marpet going 72nd overall to the Rams, saying “Marpet presents value due to his versatility. The Division III product can compete to start at center or guard.’’
Finally, in his 2015 NFL Draft Preview, NFL scout Nolan Nawrocki rated Marpet as a third- to fourth-round pick. But he quoted another unnamed NFL scout who called Marpet “a climber” and said he would probably go higher than the third round.
“I think it is going to shock you a little bit,’’ the unnamed scout told Nawrocki. “It reminds me of the kid from Central Florida (Jah Reid) a few years ago. He got pushed up for dominating at the East West game. (Marpet) went to the Senior Bowl and just outclassed all the other offensive linemen.’’