Wednesday, October 4 2023

As colorful draft picks go, Cody Mauch is nearly perfect.

The official head shot from his senior year at North Dakota State shows a long mane of red hair, a bushy beard and a huge smile, unabashedly missing the two front teeth on top.

The small-school offensive lineman, drafted by the Bucs in the second round Friday night, lost the teeth in a junior-high basketball game, and years later, he’s still gap sound, as they say. An elbow, perhaps?

“It was a head,” he explained. “I had another buddy go for the ball and I just rammed right into his head.”

Mauch — it’s pronounced with an “ow” sound, appropriately enough — has kept the toothless look as a source of pride.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I’m not going to get them fixed anytime soon, I’ll just say that.”

The pick is as entertaining as the pic. Mauch grew up on a 5,500-acre farm in southeastern North Dakota that’s been in his family for four generations, driving tractors from as young as 7 years old. 


“They trusted us with a lot of responsibilities at a young age, so that really helped shape me, learning how to work hard,” he said. “It’s the summer at 7 a.m., you don’t want to get up and go to the shop. You want to go play with your friends. But it’s helped me a lot in life.”

Mauch is 6-foot-5 and 302 pounds, having arrived at NDSU as a 220-pound tight end in 2017. He had 29 reps at 225 pounds in the bench press at the combine, showing that country strength, but also ran the 40 in 5.08 seconds. Tampa Bay has a need for a starting tackle, having released Donovan Smith this spring after eight years as their starting left tackle. Their All-Pro right tackle, Tristan Wirfs, could shift to the left side and create an opening on the right, and Mauch will be in the mix to play there or at guard.

Bucs general manager Jason Licht has an affinity for small-school linemen. Center Ryan Jensen played at Colorado State-Pueblo, and Licht has drafted linemen from Hobart (Ali Marpet) and Humboldt State (Alex Cappa), and just signed free-agent guard Matt Feiler, who went to Bloomsburg. Mauch’s big-hair look is somewhere between Jensen and tight end Ko Kieft, drafted from Minnesota last year.

“I’ve tried to show that more to show my personality,” Mauch said of his look. “Just be different from everyone else. Looking like me, long red hair, no front teeth, I think you have to embrace the authenticity of it.” 

Greg Auman is FOX Sports’ NFC South reporter, covering the Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers and Saints. He is in his 10th season covering the Bucs and the NFL full-time, having spent time at the Tampa Bay Times and The Athletic. You can follow him on Twitter at @gregauman.  

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