Jason Licht’s Draft History & Grade

April 13th, 2018

On Tuesday’s Ira Kaufman Podcast, there were typical tense and passionate moments.

One focused on the appropriate grade for general manager Jason Licht’s draft history.

The great Sage of Tampa Bay sports (eye-RAH!), while dishing wisdom gleaned from 40 years of NFL coverage, mentioned that Licht gets an “A-” for his Tampa draft resume.

When Ira wrapped up his take, Joe advised him that a chunk of fans just drove their cars off the road hearing Licht get an “A-.” Joe said a “B” was more appropriate.

It’s a great debate.

Of course, the 2016 draft is still an “incomplete,” but so is 2017. Vernon Hargreaves may not be a bust, but O.J. Howard could be a bust. It’s just too early to firmly label any players from those drafts still on the Bucs roster. But that does not mean intelligent and thoughtful grades are impossible to assign.

Grading a draft is very tricky. Is it about the lasting quality of the talent? Is it fair to factor in who wasn’t taken in that slot, as who could have been drafted instead? Do you study the pick in a vacuum, looking at the state of the roster and team needs at the time of the pick?

There are many layers. Was former Bucs rockstar general manager Mark Dominik a genius for drafting Rams stud Mark Barron, Doug Martin and Lavonte David to open the 2012 draft, and then score linebackers Najee Goode (a starter and Super Bowl winner with the Eagles last year) and Keith Tandy?

If Austin Seferian-Jenkins, now a big-money player on the Jaguars, continues to flourish in his post-Bucs career, is that a feather in Licht’s hat?

The hypotheticals are endless.

Joe does know this about Licht’s draft grades. He a needs one big-impact rookie out of this year’s class. If not, well, then there’s a great chance Licht won’t be drafting in Tampa next season. That’s just life in the NFL.

41 Responses to “Jason Licht’s Draft History & Grade”

  1. Easy Denman Says:

    He gets a B from me. The Aquayo pick will always be tied to him and he can never get an A

  2. meh Says:

    Aguayo means he can’t be higher than a C. He overpaid for a trade up to draft a bust kicker in the 2nd round. On what planet can anything else he did make that higher than a C? A C might be too generous but I didn’t want to lump my C- with the Fs on that poll.

  3. Jolly Bucs Fan Says:


    Aguayo and Hargreaves being what holds him back from an A+

    Even still, Lichts hit rate on the draft would make most GMs ravenous with lust.

    However both of these were picks were idiotic.

    Hargreaves was and always will be small, cant change that. he was and always will be slow, cant change that either. Yes, he was “rated” highly. But a good GM should be able to see that he wasnt going to translate to the NFL.

    The Aguayo pick? pure stupid. Straight and simple

  4. Bradentonbuc Says:

    2015 home run, nuff said. B+ For me. Aguayo, ASJ, the entire 2014 draft besides ME keeps him from an A

  5. Jolly Bucs Fan Says:

    I disagree with any rating lower than a B-.

    As stated above, EVEN COUNTING THOSE TWO BUSTS, he still hits on the draft EXCEEDINGLY higher than the NFL average.

  6. The Buc Realist Says:

    The drafting is better than it has been in a long time!!!!!! But we have to take into account that NFL GM Licht has been drafting very high!!!!!!!!! I don’t mind taking chances either in the draft as this roster was so far behind from the talk show domnik disaster!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    My main complaint of drafting is the priority of skill position over the trenches!!!!! look at the first round picks just by position!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    WR, QB, CB, TE all skill position, and the fantasy football fans love it!!!!!!!! But “real” football teams know that it all starts up front!!!!!!!!!!!!

    If you defense make up of a draft pick on the d-line as a situational pass rusher, but have two first round picks and a second round pick in the secondary then that is backwards!!!!!!!!!

    Go Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. derrickbrooksforGM Says:

    This poll really is to see how may dumb Buc fans there are. The result… LOTS!

  8. Jolly Bucs Fan Says:

    A+ point realist and something I havent been considering. A part of drafting is “team-building”

    His drafts have been on point as far as finding talent and starters. But he has been working backwards. Skill positions -> Trenches.

    That being said, having a GM actually finding talent is a huge breath of fresh air. Now that we are finally working towards fixing the trenches, and we already have the skill positions set, things are looking bright

  9. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    I gave him a B-

  10. R.O. Says:

    We didn’t release ASJ because he couldn’t be a good player… Ask Chris Carter if getting cut by the Eagles helped save his life.

  11. Joeypoppems Says:


  12. Horse Liver Says:

    Mark Dominik should never be mentioned in this context. He was a buffoon and an incompetent. 25-52. How many of his picks are left on the team?

  13. Marine Buc Says:

    He gets a C from me. Picking a kicker in the second round while we needed help at every single position except QB was one of the dumbest moves made by the Bucs in a long time. He is still better than Mark Dominik and Bruce Allen who both get a D from me.

  14. William Walls Says:

    Licht seems to take the same attitude into the draft that Brett Favre had as a quarterback: they’re both great gamblers.

    Did Favre throw interceptions? He sure did. Some of them were awful.
    Did Favre heroically save the day making amazing throws? More than most QBs.

    Has Licht blown some picks? You bet he has. Some of them were awful.
    Has Licht drafted some amazing players? More than most GMs.

    No GM nails every pick. And the best GMs have the guts to pull the trigger on longshots and take it on the chin if and when they don’t pan out.
    Some Bucs fans don’t seem to connect the fact that it took the same guts to draft Aguayo, the longshot bust that it took to draft Marpet, the longshot beast. For every longshot bust in Licht’s draft resume, he has more than one longshot beast to show for it. In a league where less than half of players drafted in the top three rounds has a career longer than 3 years, that’s pretty outstanding.

    No one stays in their job forever, so the Licht era in Tampa Bay will have to come to an end someday. When that day comes, I’ll be shocked if he isn’t hailed as the best GM in Tampa Bay history and one of the top-five GMs in the league during his tenure.

    Nobody ran Favre out of Green Bay just because he gambled on a longshot pass and threw a pick, because Green Bay fans aren’t stupid. They swallowed the bad play because they knew they could trust Favre to recover, put the team on his back and win.

    It’s exactly the same with Licht. Moaning about the occasional bust pick just because it was a longshot and wanting him gone, while ignoring the great selections he’s made that were also longshots is shortsighted. Only someone who doesn’t understand the sport or can’t see the big picture would fail to see how great a GM we have in Jason Licht.

  15. darin Says:

    B-. Might be generous. The amount of picks he traded away to move up for players has hurt the depth and forced him to hit free agency too often. He has been neglecting the Dline too long. The aguayo thing wouldnt be as bad if he didnt toss away another pick with it. I like the fact he gets his guys but he also needs to adjust for his trade ups and trade back at some point in same drafts. R-e-l-a-x Jason, pop a couple chill pills and let it come to you

  16. Marine Buc Says:

    @ william walls – What was Brett Farves win %? What is Licht’s win %? Not looking to good so far. I will give him and this coaching staff one more season but we need to start winning and make the playoffs before he earns any higher than a C from me.

  17. Lamarcus Says:


    With some slam dunks mixed in with some questionable picks.

    Overall results for me to judge is how much of his picks are amounting wins? With that being said I can’t go higher than C+ just my personal opinion. I like Licht tho

  18. WyldKat Says:

    He doesn’t always screw up a draft pick, but when he does… stay thirsty my friends. B.

  19. ComeOnJoe Says:

    I think most people have an unrealistic view on the draft. With 2016 as the exception Licht drafts well above average. The saints draft of 2017 was an anomaly. 1st round picks flame out 50% of the time. 2nd and 3rd round pics hit at a 25% rate. Whichever team you believe is the best at drafting, go look at their drafts. You will find more misses than hits. All of Licht’s first round picks have been hits with the one possible exception being VH3. Overall rounds 1-7 nearly 50% of drafted players are still in the league.

  20. K2 Says:

    Wow, a rookie TE with 6 TDs and a solid blocker a potential bust? I guess anything is possible. I think we need to look at the total picture. Agree, ASJ didn’t workout, but we have Cameron Brate. I was disappointed that we used a second round pick for Aguayo, but they certainly didn’t know he was going to have a melt-down. Probably the pressure of being a second round pick contributed to the result. Licht believed that he was drafting a kicker that was going to be a long-run difference maker. We arm chair managers get to forget our mistake…and act like we only make great decisions. YEA RIGHT!! Just face the facts…if you were really that talented the NFL teams would show up at your door and offer you millions. Money Manziel could be our QB. If you gave Licht less than a B-…I think you need to start being a little more honest with yourself. Oh, that’s right you knew Noah Spence was going to injury his shoulder in his first two years. Because all his teammates thought he was going to be great and lead the team in sacks.

  21. Jeebs the Honey Bear Says:

    Anything higher than a B is insane. I am giving him a B- based on some great picks he made. But he also drafted VH3, only one player still around from the 2014 draft, and of course the 2nd round kicker who shall not be named. But my biggest issue with Licht’s drafting? No D-Linemen! Let’s not forget our sack total last year, and getting completely torched due to no physicality up front. Drafting great linebackers doesn’t make up for that. I think a B- is generous to be honest.

  22. JimmyJack Says:

    I picked right!!! Nailed it!!! Voted B+ and clearly by the results I was correct.

    Laughing so hard that Licht can’t never get an A because of one pick(Aryarygyo).

    At the end of the day the only thing that matters is what and how many good players you got. Fans worry too much about misses. If you think one singular pick is that big a deal then you outta just skip the offseason. The reality of the NFL Draft history is much revealing then Tampa fans obsession with one singular missed pick.

  23. Marine Buc Says:

    @ Jimmy Jack – At the end of the day all we should care about are wins, play off appearances and Super Bowl victories. Licht and company have not delivered yet.

  24. 813bucboi Says:

    I picked B+….

    he aint been too bad…..I think the coaches are screwing him a bit….

    #NOEXCUSESIN2018!!!!….GO BUCS!!!!

  25. JimmyJack Says:

    Another misguided theory among Tampa fans is that the 2014 draft was bad because only ME remains. First off, that isn’t even true because we got Brate from that draft. I know it’s not a draft pick but it is still part of the draft.

    Secondly, just because you don’t resign a guy does not mean it was a bad pick. Did we get any production from those players? And when you change coach’s all the time they aren’t going to want to invest in the same players the last coach wanted…….You change philosophy you change the roster. Its doesn’t mean they were bad picks……..Heck we Buc fans have enough history with this scenario, go back and look at every roster turnover we have had when we change coach’s. Each time we drop guys who can play so our new staff can assemble the team that fits their philosophy.

    At the end of the day Licht made some good picks in 2014. That’s why most of his picks are still in the league producing.

  26. NFLNut Says:

    90.67% of the votes have him at a B- or better … and yet many posters on this site were demanding he be fired at the end of last season … strange.

  27. JimmyJack Says:

    I agree Marine…….It’s an opinion thing. My opinion is that the losses haven’t been due to drafting.

    Lots of other reasons have led to the losing IMO. Licht can be blamed for most of them too. Bad HC hire til proven otherwise. Bad DC hire til proven otherwise. Bad free agent signings. Bad evaluation of your own players.

    I also don’t blame Licht as much for the first two year when he was hired by Lovie and Lovie had personal control. I judge him more critically based on the last two seasons because he got more control over the team when Lovie was fired.

  28. Bucko40 Says:

    Licht gets a D grade simply for drafting Winston. Licht had every opportunity to draft Derek Carr or Jimmy Garrapolo in 2014.

  29. Marine Buc Says:

    In high school a C grade means you are average. Can you honestly tell me that Licht is better than average up to this point? I gave him a C because I see him as a very average GM up to this point. Mark Dominik will make ANY GM look genius. If we have a solid draft and win 10 games or more and make the play offs I will adjust my grade.

  30. JimmyJack Says:

    NFL Nut……Some fans blamed Dirk more then Licht. Not sure how many either way and I’m sure many wanted everybody fired.

    I was one calling for Dirks head but I’ve started thinking differently this offseason……..Mainly, like I said above, that when you change coach’s your changing philosophies and are going to have to change the roster accordingly. So you are basically tearing down part of what you built.

    I really had never thought about it that way and I think that’s because we have been a very lousy team in the draft and never really built anything decent, at least in the last 20 years. I still have not been impressed at all with Dirk but at least now I understand that it might be a decent plan…….So long as they didn’t have the Big Tuna ready to fix this team firing Dirk was maybe me thinking with my heart too much.

  31. Defense Rules Says:

    Realist hit the nail on the head … Licht’s been drafting high (no excuses for busts in Rnds 1 & 2 as a result IMO), plus he hasn’t given high enough priority to building the trenches (last year’s 5-11 record was largely the result of that IMO). But Realist you didn’t give him a grade … tisk, tisk. I give Licht a C+ overall … to me that’s slightly above average. With a 4-year track record of 22-42 I personally think that’s pretty generous actually. He built this team (very few players still here from pre-2014) and he needs to be held accountable for its’ performance, along with the coaching staff (who I assume he has a MAJOR input in selecting).

    But as an aside Joe, had you taken this same exact poll right after the 2017 FA began and before we signed several to help our DLine (somewhat of a delay picking up anyone), I suspect the results would’ve been much different. We’ve gained 4 hopefully good players to ‘fix’ our DLine (and ‘lost’ Ayers, McDonald, Baker & Russell … I’ll keep quiet about that exchange). We’ve added a Center but still have 1 starting hole in our OLine IMO (not counting on Sweezy in any way), 2 RB holes, and a lack of OLine depth (again IMO). Defense has MAJOR holes in the secondary in terms of starters, but adequate depth. In other words, the TEAM THAT LICHT BUILT … even with recent ‘repairs’ … needs a BIG TIME DRAFT to compete in the NFC South. I’m rooting for him (we’d be fools not to), and I’m still ‘cautiously optimistic’ BUT … there’re still a lot of cards to be played in this poker game.

  32. BucTrooper Says:

    Major props for Ali Marpet, Jameis was a no-brainer, Mike Evans was a find.

    Ignoring DE in the draft, the Aguayo debacle and passing on Cook for Oj Howard are misses.

    Solidly average. Better free agent scores would make him look better.

  33. Bucsfanman Says:

    What’s our record with Licht at the helm?
    Enough said!!!

  34. G-Men Says:

    If C is an average grade and 8-8 is an average record, then Licht deserves a D. You might be able to bump it up to a D+ or C- if you assume this roster is good enough to go 8-8 but bad coaching or some other external factors ruined our record.

  35. 813bucboi Says:

    JimmyJack Says:
    April 13th, 2018 at 1:01 pm
    NFL Nut……Some fans blamed Dirk more then Licht


    you can collect all the talent in the worls but if you don’t have coaches that can get the most out of them or put them in position to win, they’ll fail…and we’ll lose….simple as that….

    I wanted dirk gone too!!!!!….licht not so much but his seat was warming up IMO….he’s done a decent job this offseason trying to fix the both lines….

    IMO, its on the coaches now…..

    #NOEXCUSESIN2018!!!!…GO BUCS!!!

  36. ComeOnJoe Says:

    Some of you have poor reading comprehension. It says grade Licht’s draft history. It doesn’t say free agency. It doesn’t say coaching hires.

  37. ComeOnJoe Says:

    NFL network just rated multiple Superbowl winning Seahawk’s draft picks. They had 5 straight years of 1st round busts.

  38. stopthemadness Says:

    Bucko40 when their careers are all done I highly doubt Derek Carr or Jimmy Garrapolo will have had the success of Jameis. Way too early to call him a bust. He’s putting up records with mediocre coaching and supporting cast. Be patient bro.

  39. Jarod lauderdale Says:

    Yes he may be always drafting high ” so far ” but what about beck & kwon and Godwin and some undrafted players that have made a positive impact for this football team.. I for one think the drafting around here has been way better than anything rock star marky and grudens puppet allen could have ever done around these parts.. I also liked how rick McKay handled his bizz as well. I as a life long bucs fan feel we should just let our current GM stay for awhile and see what he can continue to build.. Go bucs

  40. unbelievable Says:

    “Mike Evans was a find.”

    A find? He was a consensus top-10 pick before the draft. Let’s just be thankful we didn’t get Johnny Football that year like Joe wanted.

    “passing on Cook for Oj Howard are misses.”

    OJ might end up being one of the best tight ends to ever play the game. But wait he’s a miss because he was massively under utilized his rookie season? Or cuz you’d rather have a RB who played for a whopping 3 weeks before getting injured?

    OJ was absolutely the right move.

  41. Owlykat Says:

    The 2018 Lindy’s Draft Issue gave grades for each team’s drafting over a five year period. Their lowest grade was C minus and that went to the Browns. They gave only four c’s and the Bucs got one of them and 80 per cent of ours were Licht’s picks in four of our drafts so Marine Buc hit it right on how an expert rates our drafts too. Licht has left our trenches and RB position in poor straights up until this year and our win loss record with Licht wouldn’t even rate a C if he scored that low on his tests in high school. But what did you expect for a rookie GM who previously was a nomad as a scout moving from one team to the next. Robinson as a rookie GM at least got the Titans to the playoffs in his second year. We should have promoted him to our GM and booted Licht. But despite all that we could have a better year this year if Licht just fills our remaining holes in this draft instead of just taking BPA like he usually does.