Licht’s Draft Freedom Rings Through Jameis

April 24th, 2017

Tampa Bay’s only Pro Football Hall of Fame voter, Ira Kaufman, has hung his hat at world headquarters since July 2015. His columns pop here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and his award winning podcasts fire every Tuesday and Thursday. 

Today, of course, Ira looks at the NFL Draft in a different light.


In retrospect, the Bucs picked the right time to go wrong.

That 2-14 debacle in Lovie Smith’s initial year on the Tampa Bay sidelines was certainly brutal for Buc fans to endure, but the payoff was immense. Jameis Winston was there for the taking and Jason Licht pounced.

Good luck to all those teams looking to find a franchise quarterback in this draft.

“As far as the quarterbacks in this year’s class, I’m not banging the table for any of them,” says NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock. “I think there’s talent in the class, but I think it’s going to take a year for most of these guys.”

Mayock’s being kind. It’s not going to take a year for these quarterbacks … it’s going to take a miracle.

Jon Gruden is never going to tell us that a particular draft class sucks for quarterbacks. He’s ESPN’s quarterback guru, and he gets paid millions of dollars to hype Deshaun Watson, Pat Mahomes, DeShone Kizer, Brad Kaaya and Josh Dobbs.

How would you like to be a Browns fan, up to your Trubisky in quarterback trouble? You’ve got a glaring need under center, but your draft board tells you there are far better talents at No.1.

Same thing with other quarterback-needy franchises like the Jets, 49ers, Broncos and Texans.

That’s why the Bucs are in such good shape going forward.

Elite Company

They’ve got a 23-year-old quarterback who has the respect of everyone at One Buc Place and the attention of every opposing defense. For Tampa Bay’s brain trust, the only vexing question is deciding who is going to back up Winston.

Look around the rest of the division. Drew Brees is 38 and can’t go on forever. Matt Ryan turns 32 next month and Cam Newton, almost 28, is already starting to break down physically.

The Bucs may not be on the prowl for another starting quarterback until 2027, which might be the next time the Bay area lands another Super Bowl.

Without the benefit of a credible ground game, Winston threw 28 touchdowns last season. Only Aaron Rodgers, Ryan, Brees, Philip Rivers, Andrew Luck and Ben Roethlisberger topped that total.

In that group, Luck is the only quarterback younger than 32.

Can you imagine the debate going on in the war rooms in New York and San Francisco, teams so desperate under center that Josh McCown and Brian Hoyer are the presumptive starters this fall.

Licht Is Free; Chucky Wants “Fear”

In contrast, the Bucs, Titans and Cowboys appear set for the next decade with Winston, Marcus Mariota and Dak Prescott. All three are likely to cash in on their second pro contracts, but the Glazers will be eager to toss $100 million Winston’s way to keep him a Buc for an extended period.

Winston’s presence gives Licht the freedom to remain flexible in Thursday’s opening round. The Bucs could go defensive end, safety, running back, tight end or wide receiver with their premium picks — and that’s quite a luxury in a league where quarterback is king.

Despite adding DeShaun Jackson in free agency, Dirk Koetter craves more game-breakers. Who can blame him? As last year proved to Buc fans, speed kills and lack of speed cripples.

That’s why an O.J. Howard or a John Ross could be in play at No.19.

“Speed is the one thing you can’t coach,” Gruden says. “We always felt that’s the one quality we had to have on our teams in Oakland. It strikes fear in the defense and I still think it’s a valuable commodity. Everyone goes to the combine with their stopwatches for a reason.”

37 Responses to “Licht’s Draft Freedom Rings Through Jameis”

  1. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    We already have our six wide receivers. Three vets and three young guys to develop.

    Mike Evans
    Desean Jackson
    Adam Humphries
    Darell Walker
    Freddie Martino
    Donteea Dye

    I DO NOT expect the Bucs to take a WR in this draft, unless it is a kick returner.

    Perhaps a tight end.

  2. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I suppose if they take Kupp he could replace Donteea Dye…who is too short.

  3. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    RBs Samaje Perine or James Conner could replace Luke Stocker so far as blocking, and both could be third down backs as well.

    TEs O.J. Howard or Adam Shaheen would be nice, but I have a feeling the Bucs are targeting Michael Roberts later in the draft for TE.

  4. Tampa Tony Says:

    Bonzai, when not if when DeSean misses his 2-3 (or more games) the wr corps is right where they started last year. Need 1 maybe 2 WRs from this draft. To build depth

  5. Guzzie Says:

    Bonzai…DJax gets hurt, we have last years WR corps! Are you comfortable with that?

  6. Stanglassman Says:

    I’d put Derek Carr in that group before Dat Prescott. Dat has only done it one year and wasn’t ask to do as much.

  7. Gencoimports Says:

    The only way I can see us justifiably not drafting a WR is if we get one of these TEs – Howard, Njoku or Engram – and even then I wouldn’t like it.

    Dye being one of our six WRs is totally unacceptable.

  8. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    You guys are forgetting Darel Walker, who had 2600 yards over the last 2 years in the CFL. He’ll surprise many of you.

  9. Ocala Says:

    Good article Ira

  10. Gencoimports Says:

    And there is a reason Darrel Walker played in the CFL. He has no speed. His best 40 time is in the 4.55-4.6 range the year he was drafted.

    Signing DeSean Jackson is not an automatic cure.

  11. briandorry55 Says:


    You’re high.

    Quit trying to sell us Darell Walker, Freddie Martino, and Donteea Dye. If all is well and just, we’ll only have to carry one of those guys on the roster, at most. Desean Jackson is old and injury prone and Adam Humphries is a passable slot receiver…if Jackson goes down for any length of time, we’re back to where we were at the end of last season…teams doubling Evans every play because they guy on the opposite side is a practice squad caliber player. Time to add another receiver that can contribute now and replace Jackson in two years.

  12. briandorry55 Says:

    Darell Walker will surprise us…if he makes the team. Stop the nonsense. Productive CFL players come into the league every season and do nothing.

  13. Lord Cornelius Says:

    “Darell Walker, Freddie Martino, and Donteea Dye. If all is well and just, we’ll only have to carry one of those guys on the roster, at most.”

    Agree. I’ll be extremely disappointed if we do not take a WR in the top 4 rounds this year given the depth of the class.

  14. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    You guys scoff now, but I’ll get the last laugh.

    And btw, Licht gave Walker guaranteed money, so he WILL be on the final roster.

  15. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Jackson can play another 4 years.

  16. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Walker went to the CFL because no team was willing to draft him.

    He decided to take what he could and prove himself. He exploded when given a chance.

    Do you think great players do not come from other leagues???? Check your histories.

  17. Kobe Faker Says:


    Kobe Faker

    Route running skillset is the reason why rookie wrs never see the field their first year or become/have poductive/successful careers

    Who will be the next DGB/Dorsett/Trenwell

    We have the worst YAC team of recievers…our recievers cant…


  18. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Warren Moon, Joe Theismann, Doug Flutie, Jeff Garcia, Cameron Wake, Brandon Browner, Joe Horn, Fred Biletnikoff, Chad Johnson, Raghib Ismail, Ricky Williams, Jon Ryan…all of these players played in the CFL to prove themselves, some began there, some left the NFL and later returned.

  19. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Warren Moon, Joe Theismann, Doug Flutie, Jeff Garcia, Cameron Wake, Brandon Browner, Joe Horn, Fred Biletnikoff, Chad Johnson, Raghib Ismail, Ricky Williams, Jon Ryan.

    All of these players played in the CFL to prove themselves, some began there, some left the NFL and later returned.

  20. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    What Stang and Kobe said. Never seen mike wallace win a receiving title.

  21. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    We need to be more appreciative of ME. Minny dose not feel they have a #1 in treadwell.

  22. martinii Says:

    One of the benefits of losing year after year is that you get first shot at the prime prospects. Unless you are Cleveland, eventually you’re going to land a QB and a top wide receiver, upgrades in DB’s and edge rushers. Ultimately you get a core base of starters in place who take you to the brink of the playoffs. That has been the Buc’s trajectory over the past few years. Got the Right GM. right HC, right DC and a host of players and coaches that teeter on the edge of winning. Now all thats left is 7 picks in 2017 rounding out a 90 man roster with some competitive UDFA’s. Add maturity, a few tweaks, and a little luck and just maybe…….? One thing for sure we can’t lose in this draft, there is a lot of talent where we need talent. So for the first time in a long time sit back, grab a beverage and enjoy the show.

  23. WhatdaBUCisthis Says:

    Yea overall I’m going crazy waiting on the draft
    What @martinii said

  24. Lord Cornelius Says:

    “Who will be the next DGB/Dorsett/Trenwell”

    Dorsett is the only fast guy out of those 3. Treadwell was slow and actually known for his route running coming out lol

  25. D-Rome Says:

    All of the mouth breathers who continue to hold 2-14 against Lovie need to remember this team would still be in QB hell with one or two more wins that season. If Lovie doesn’t sut starters in the 2nd half against the Saints we’d see Jameis on another team. Simple as that.

  26. Buc Fresh Says:

    I am not cool with the WR we have. We definitely need to draft one.

  27. Tampa Tony Says:

    When you are the coach and hire the GM and have full roster control 2-14 is 1,000,000 % your fault.

    Back to WR topic Jackson has played 16 games in 3 years anyways me who thinks the corps is fixed with one player is just stupid

  28. Buc Fresh Says:

    Thanks Ira for the great read

  29. Tampa Tony Says:

    Has not played

  30. D-Rome Says:

    When you are the coach and hire the GM and have full roster control 2-14 is 1,000,000 % your fault.

    Breathe in through your nose and *then* out through your mouth. It promotes lower stress levels and clearer thinking. I never said 2-14 wasn’t Lovie’s fault. Lovie coached to lose and it was the right thing to do. When the next great QB is going to be available to draft any team should do what it takes to get him. The Colts did that with Andrew Luck a few years prior.

    My point is that it’s idiotic to hold 2-14 against Lovie. The 2014 team was never going to compete for the playoffs with McCown at QB so at the end of the season what would another win or two or six accomplish? There should be an asterisk next to that season as far as I’m concerned. It was a fake season aimed to get the #1 overall pick.

  31. Mojiska Says:

    Our top tier wrs are great. But out depth is really bad. Just because jackson could play 4 more years doesnt mean you dont start looking for a replacement to groom and add depth. I think there are a lot of wr in rounds 2-4 that can develop into solid #2 receivers in the nfl. Im not saying that our backups cant someday become something, but you dont go into a season expecting players that havent produced in the nfl to do well. Thats how you have a daquan bowers starting. They need a few options at the wr position.

  32. Miko Says:

    “Irv”, I’m really counting my blessings now on Winston. I travelled 2,000 miles to watch that sh*tshow of Lovies in that New Orleans closer that won us the #1 pick. A blatant attempt to lose. I was fuming then but it all worked out. It really is a huge problem when a team has no clear #1 QB 🙂

  33. Pickgrin Says:

    We are drafting a WR in the 1st 4 rounds. No ifs ands or buts. Licht isn’t going to make the same mistake as last year in not having enough quality depth at receiver.

    Bonzai says:
    “Licht gave Walker guaranteed money, so he WILL be on the final roster.”

    Only $100k guarantee which is a small price to pay for taking a chance on a productive CFL guy – and certainly no guarantee that he will make the final 53 man opening day roster.

    I hope you are right and Walker earns a spot and role with this team. Diamonds in the rough are always great finds and we have him under contract for only $560k the next 2 years…

    Light has proven he has a good eye for undrafted talent with players like Jac Smith, Humphries, Brate, Hey Jude, Javien Elliot, etc. contributing. But to EXPECT in April for Walker to be a major contributor for the Bucs in 2017 when he’s never even practiced on an NFL field is a bit of a stretch – Dontcha think Bonzai?

  34. Gilhealy Says:

    Mike Evans talks Walker up pretty good in his presser today. Sneaky fast, great hands, and routes. Said he’s better now than he was at A&M. Would love to see Corey Davis wearing a Buc jersey later this week.

  35. Gilhealy Says:

    I said the Corey Davis part. Not Mike.

  36. Ed Says:

    Draft fastest WR & edge rusher b4 RB. Those positions are more important than RB.

  37. Jason Says:

    Dye, Martino, Reedy need to all get cut tired of seeing those bums still on our roster