Lovie Smith named rookie linebacker Kwon Alexander the starter at middle linebacker because he deserved it. there is another rookie that deserves to be a starter as well. And that’s rookie offensive lineman Ali Marpet.
The D-III Hobart prospect seemed like a reach in the second round after the Bucs made the selection. It wasn’t just their normal selection either, they traded up for him. But all he has done is look like one of the most impressive players in camp.
Fortunately for him, Lovie Smith appears to be open to starting the best players, as it should be. Which also includes rookies.
“We would all prefer a veteran, but I prefer the best player and a lot of times he’s young,” Smith said. “It seems like more and more are younger. I have no problems, my history has been that. I have no problems playing young players.
“If you are the best guy, it doesn’t matter if you are a rookie or whatever. We’ll play you right away, but you have to do that a little bit for people to believe it. I think the guys believe it around here.”
Marpet opened a huge hole in pass protection Saturday against the Minnesota Vikings which allowed rookie quarterback Jameis Winston to run it in for a score from eight yards out. In fact, his strength and push during the game and throughout camp has been refreshing to see. And at practice, pushes around defensive linemen with ease on occasion — including Gerald McCoy.
Put him in, coach. Marpet’s ready to play.