Buccaneers Projected to Take Center Compared to Ryan Jensen

Jackson Powers-Johnson

Getty Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers just lost one of the NFL’s best centers to retirement. The 2024 NFL draft could present an opportunity to pick a player who could be a long-term solution as his replacement.

Buccaneers.com’s Scott Smith has Tampa Bay projected to take Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson with the No. 26 overall pick in the first round in his latest mock draft.

Tampa Bay center Ryan Jensen retired in Feb. 2024 after 11 seasons in the NFL. He spent the last six with the Buccaneers, where he was a Super Bowl champion in 2020 and a Pro Bowl pick in 2021.

“To me, the best win-now move was to add an instant starter to a line that is currently without a number-one left guard,” Smith wrote. “In this case, I would probably project Powers-Johnson to stay at center, moving Robert Hainsey to left guard. JPJ would give the Bucs a wide body for interior rushers to get around, and his easy lateral movement would make him an asset in combo blocks and pulling plays. Plus, Powers-Johnson plays with a nasty streak that the Bucs enjoyed in their last Pro Bowl center, the now-retired Ryan Jensen.”

Jackson Powers-Johnson Impressed in One Season as Starter

Powers-Johnson, 6-foot-3 and 328 pounds, was a top-five center recruit out of Utah powerhouse Corner Canyon High School in 2021. He started four games over his first two seasons at Oregon at three different positions — right guard, left guard and defensive tackle in the 2021 Alamo Bowl.

He became the Ducks’ full-time starter at center in 2023, starting all 13 games on the way to being named a unanimous Associated Press All-American, All-Pac-12 and winning the Rimington Awards as the nation’s top collegiate center.

Powers-Johnson is the No. 2 center in ESPN’s draft prospect ratings from Field Yates, Matt Miller and Jordan Reid.

“Powers-Johnson is a fierce competitor with a salty disposition but needs to improve his first-phase technique to create more consistent block sustains,” wrote NFL analyst Lance Zierlein. “Despite average athleticism, he doesn’t seem to have many issues in pass protection, as he works with clear eyes, a wide base and good discipline to keep his weight back. His rookie season could be bumpy if he has to play early, but he should come out on the other side as a long-time starter.

Buccaneers Have Flexibility Along Offensive Line

Moving Hainsey to guard seems to be the right move if the Buccaneers were to draft Powers-Johnson considering Hainsey’s struggles at center.

Hainsey has started 34 consecutive games at center for the Buccaneers — every game in 2022 and 2023 — after being drafted as an offensive tackle out of Notre Dame in 2021.

According to PFF’s advanced stats, Hainsey was one of the NFL’s worst centers in 2023. He was second among NFL centers with 9 penalties and tied for eighth with 4 sacks allowed and graded out at an anemic 52.8 percent for the season.

By comparison, two of the NFL’s highest-graded interior offensive linemen in 2023 were centers — Detroit’s Frank Ragnow graded out the highest in the NFL at 88.8 percent and Miami’s Connor Williams was No. 3 at 86.5 percent.

Read More