Captain Of The Official “Ghost List”

June 27th, 2017

Shadow-friendly GM

This is not a story about the haunting defensive end Michael “Ghost” Johnson inflicted upon Tampa Bay. (One could actually argue the Johnson’s evil was really the ghost of Simeon Rice, the Bucs’ last 10-sack master.)

No, this post is about the inner workings of the Bucs’ official analytics department.

Yes, the Bucs have their own team of secretive data miners. Last month, they appeared in the news when quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian explained how the Bucs are charting practice throws, a new phenomenon for 2017.

Today, the official team stat peddlers got national attention. Albert Breer typed a long look at how teams use analytics for

In there was a nugget on Bucs general manager Jason Licht and his annual “Ghost List,” the nickname for a pre-draft lineup of unknowns produced by Licht’s analytics team. It’s a group of undraftable players worthy of deeper study because of their college production.

Licht gets the list, which generally has 10-20 names on it, about a month before the draft and hands it off to the scouts working the players’ respective areas, instructing them to give the prospects a second look. The hope is the Bucs can find two or three players each year they might have earlier dismissed, often small-school guys, after the evaluators go back to the tape (showing the emphasis is still on traditional scouting).

Breer notes that Cameron Brate is an alumnus of the Ghost List.

Interesting stuff.

But since we’re talking analytics, there was no mention of whether the Bucs’ eventual signing of Brate actually had anything to do with the list. And before folks start high-fiving and happily running naked on St. Pete Beach celebrating the Ghost List, it’s worthwhile to note the Bucs cut Brate in 2014 and 2015.

Regardless, it’s great to see that Licht is blending old school scouting with new school computer programming, and stuff like virtual reality training for quarterbacks.

Man, Joe would love to see what the secret documents of the Bucs’ data team say about Doug Martin averaging 2.9 yards per carry last year on 144 carries.

21 Responses to “Captain Of The Official “Ghost List””

  1. Hawk Says:

    The cutting of Brate is irrelevant. The fact that he was an “undraftable” player meant that the coaches could cut him (instead of another player), and feel fairly confident that he would be there when they wanted him back. Keeping/cutting players is all about the ‘odds’.

  2. Drew Says:

    @Joe… great story! Charting QB throws. My thoughts are this has something to do with an active RFID tag inside footballs that allow the speed, trajectory and spiral rotation to be captured through the use of external sensors and algorithms.

    As I have indicated in the past… this is the future. 🙂

  3. Jason Says:

    Hawk, great point and well put.

  4. redblud Says:

    Joe will find a way to slide his hatred for Martin into any story. It’s getting down right despicable. SMH.

  5. The Buc Realist Says:

    Last week on NFL Radio on siriusXm they were going thru all the team drafts and undrafted free agents for the last 4 years. Needless to say they were very impressed with what the Bucs have done!!!!!! But they really liked how NFL GM Jason Licht was finding undrafted players and the Coaching staff was developing them, and how it will pay off in the future!!! Because the players and nfl agents will know that if they come to Tampa they will get a fair chance to make the team no matter how they arrived to 1 Buc!!!!!

    Go Bucs!!!!!!!!!

  6. Cobraboy Says:

    The Martin data prolly says “we need to field the 5 best OL to get the running game going.”

    Note that Koetter also admitted that Hawley got blown backwards a lot.

    I verified this in my “First contact with Martin came at least one yard behind the LOS on 43% of his rushing attempts” personal eyeball analysis on every one of his 2016 attempts.

    Martin Hate seems to have replaced obsessive Freeman Love, Johnny Football Love and Dalvin Cook Love.

  7. tmaxcon Says:


    whats down right despicable is the fact that POS gerbil screwed his team over last year. took the money and partied versus earning it. that is a POS anyway you look at it. Martin is a joke and his 3 out of 5 bad years prove that.

  8. Ghingus Kwon Says:


  9. tmaxcon Says:


    it’s not martin hate… it’s the fact he is unreliable and CAN NOT BE COUNTED ON…

    The team knew he had issues before the big contract that has been determined. Which means martin looked kotter and licht in the eye and said problems were in the past he can be counted on. Obviously, I am speculating about the language used that being said I don’t think anyone would dispute that a conversation like that took place. The specific language voiding his guaranteed money if suspended pretty much proves they knew he had problems. So basically, the pathetic gerbil looked those men in the eye and lied to them. Would you trust a proven unreliable back with injury history, integrity issues, drug and alcohol problems when your team is about to make a run. If one of your employees lied to your face and screwed his coworkers are you going to count on him… or reward him… pretty simple doug made bad choices and has to live with consequences. he cant be counted on. he can’t be counted on he is simply not that good to take the chance and history proves that. now if he had 3 out of 5 good years versus 3 out of 5 bad years maybe there is an argument but there is no argument the bucs can not afford to risk relying on a proven loser who is often hurt.

    this is not about drugs do all the drugs you want until it affects your work or home life. it’s about being reliable and Doug Martin has proved far to many times how unreliable he is and that he can not be counted on. bad teammate simple as that..

  10. Buccfan37 Says:

    Martin is here until he’s gone. Some Bucs coaches like how he looks early on. Sure that could be in order to pump his potential trade value down the line. Not too long before the team and fans find out. He may redeem himself and come back strong contributing to a winning season. That is entirely possible.

  11. K2 Says:

    I think the point should be that the bucs..developed Brate. They are very aware that they have a better chance of getting an underdrafted player to their practice squad. Clearly the whole bucs organization did a great job of identifying, coaching, and developing Brate. So, why make developing him (cutting) an issue.

  12. Cobraboy Says:

    @tmaxcon: link to where the team “knew” about Martin’s “problem” before they offered hum that contract.

    At least you admit speculation. Props for not morphing “speculation” into claiming it’s factual.

  13. Lamarcus Says:

    The true data I saw on Martin 2.9 was defenses STILL respected him. Boxed him most of the time. Just having Martin will keep defenses guessing. No defensive coordinator will kid themselves w that 2.9 bull crap. It’s more than that

  14. DuslocatedBucsFan Says:

    Nicely said TMAX. I couldn’t agree more.

  15. Joe Says:

    hatred for Martin

    Once again, for folks who have reading comprehension difficulties, repeat the following 20 times to help memory retention:

    Joe does not hate Doug Martin. At. All.

    Joe very much does hate lack of production.

  16. unbelievable Says:

    Don’t think you need any secret data, maybe just listen to your interview with the head coach? Ya know, when he said the o-line wasn’t strong enough at the point of attack….

    I’d split the blame for the run game woes like this:

    35% on the lack of receiving weapons (although we have Mike Evans, AND the leading touchdown scoring TE, Cameron Brate)

    40% on poor o-line play (MOST running plays stuffed behind the LOS in the entire league!)

    25% on our running backs

  17. Reach87 Says:

    Zero class calling anyone not convicted (or even accused) of a crime of morale terpitude a POS. This is something a moron would do.

  18. RayJameisStadium Says:

    In Licht We Trust.

    Go Bucs!!!

  19. Pick6 Says:

    As the article notes, the analysis starts with metrics and ends with eyeballs. the metrics say low ypc. the eyeballs say that martin moved like a pro bowl RB for the most part but didn’t get to the LOS cleanly very often at all

    the offseason moves tell you all about their analysis

    they attempted to upgrade the center position by moving their best lineman, and made a spot for their road grading prize free agent from last year.

    They spent a 1st round pick on a TE who is a proven as a key blocker but unproven as a key receiving threat. They chased the best WR on the market to clear defenders out of the box

    ….and while they were busy taking chances to improve everything around their RBs, they left the RB position itself in the hands of Mr 2.9, a 2016 week 1 waiver pickup, a perpetually injured dancer (Sims), a 5th round rookie, and a former undrafted free agent with 55 career carries.

    they passed on Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon, Alvin Kamara, Samaje Perine, Marlon Mack, and every other RB bucs fans might have recognized until grabbing mcnichols with their second-to-last pick in the draft.

    so, to revisit an old point Koetter & licht (and Joe) have made about analytics, the numbers alone can lead you down the wrong path, when it comes to evaluating football your eyeballs are your friend

  20. Bill Says:

    The running game is irrelevant. You’ll agree in 2 years.

  21. Bobby M. Says:

    Everyone keeps referencing D. Cook….the guy has serious off field concerns….no different then what we already dealt with last season with Martin. Don’t see that guy being a good example of a missed opportunity to replace Martin.