Last Shot For 2016 Draft

September 3rd, 2019

Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter updates Jason Licht’s report card

BY IRA KAUFMAN columnist

He plays one of the most challenging positions in professional sports — and now he faces additional pressure.

Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves enters the 2019 season with a lot on his shoulder pads. He’s the only starter remaining from a 2016 draft class that threatens to be a washout.

The Bucs hoped a new coaching staff could unlock Noah Spence’s potential, but it didn’t happen. The 39th overall pick in 2016 was jettisoned and wasn’t picked up through the weekend.

A week into training camp, Jason Licht was crowing about Spence, telling SiriusXM NFL Radio that “he’s thriving in this new scheme right now.”

Vernon Hargreaves

Spence always appeared ill-suited as a defensive end in a four-man front. Tampa Bay coaches couldn’t decide on his ideal playing weight and his undersized frame was supposed to be masked in a 3-4 alignment.

In the end, he wasn’t a good enough pass rusher off the edge to compensate for his weakness against the run. He’s not the first bust drafted by the Bucs at defensive end and he won’t be the last, but his failures shouldn’t be minimized.

Spence finishes his career in pewter with 6.5 sacks in 34 games. In his final 23 appearances, he put one quarterback on his rump.


And yes, Michael Thomas, Deion Jones and Derrick Henry were all drafted in that second round, shortly after Spence joined the Bucs.

Power Broker

Let’s remember that Licht had been given enhanced clout by the Glazers heading into that 2016 draft. Dirk Koetter had just replaced Lovie Smith and Licht was clearly calling the shots. He started with Hargreaves and followed up with Spence, Roberto Aguayo, Ryan Smith, Caleb Benenoch, Devante Bond and Dan Vitale. Seven prospects still looking to make their mark in the pros.

Isn’t seven supposed to be a lucky number?

We all know how Aguayo turned out. Three years later, he is still out of football. The Bucs don’t know if Smith is better suited at corner or safety. What they do know is he has one interception in 45 games and he’s suspended for the opening month.

Benenoch started every game at right guard in 2018 and played so well he is now a backup right tackle. Bond is a reserve inside linebacker and Vitale didn’t make Tampa Bay’s 53-man roster as a rookie. He is now a Packers fullback who played in five games last year.

Last Call

Hargreaves needs additional pressure like he needs Julio Jones flying past him down the left sideline.

The former Gator standout enjoyed an impressive training camp and he’s healthy. He enjoys playing in the aggressive scheme implemented by Todd Bowles, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

General manager Jason Licht

Hargreaves has a lot to prove to himself and to Buc fans waiting to see the ball skills he flashed in Gainesville.

With only one pick in 26 games as a Buccaneer, Hargreaves is far from a sure thing. If he plays up to his draft status, Hargreaves could single-handedly salvage Licht’s 2016 class. If Hargreaves struggles or suffers a major injury, it’ll be considered among the worst draft hauls in franchise history.

Spence could land with a team like the Bills or bounce around for a few more years, but the odds on him ever emerging as an impact player are slim.

You think Licht wanted to cut him this weekend? Of course not.

Licht and Bruce Arians were hoping against hope that Spence would be reborn under a new staff. He had speed, but he had few moves, so the Bucs were forced to make their move.

Now it’s up to Hargreaves to save the day. The Magnificent 7 they ain’t.

Buc fans would settle for the Competent 1.

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15 Responses to “Last Shot For 2016 Draft”

  1. D-Rome Says:

    Dirk Koetter had just replaced Lovie Smith and Licht was clearly calling the shots.

    Of course he was calling the shots. Even one want to blame Lovie Smith (who had a better final season than Koetter’s last two) for setting the team back, the Bucs since 2015 were in very good cap shape. It should have been very easy to turn this team around quickly. The Bucs not only wasted the prime years of Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David, they also wasted the golden opportunity they had with Jameis on his rookie deal. Teams like the Rams, Chiefs, Eagles, and now the Browns are taking full advantage of their starting QBs in their rookie deal. Licht spent money like a drunken sailor (or Buccaneer), over estimated the talent on this roster, failed to act fast enough to fire Mike Smith, and the entire 2016 draft class has been a bust. Couple that with bad free agent signings and an inability to find a running back, it’s no wonder why the Bucs are 5-11 in cap hell. Even in hindsight the JPP trade isn’t anything special. What did 12 sacks get us last year? 5-11.

    Hargreaves really hasn’t shown anything.

  2. Buccaroo Says:

    Is it fair to judge corners solely on interceptions? Vernon is a small speed guy and should be used to cover the speed receivers. All things being equal put the bigger Carlton Davis on J. Jones.

    We need to support our players now and rip them later if they disappoint us.

    Positive vibes ..Go Bucs!!

  3. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Licht is not calling the shots now…..this draft was almost entirely the work of BA & Bowles…..that includes the final 53 & practice squad….

    Licht deserves to be blamed for many bad moves in FA & the Drafts…..but that stops with 2019.

  4. Defense Rules Says:

    All water under the bridge. VHIII, Bond, Ryan Smith and Benenoch are still on our team. None are superstars but still might be ‘serviceable’. I could see 2 of the 4 getting a cheap second contract.

    The bigger question IMO is. … How is Jason Licht still employed as the Bucs’ GM?

  5. Loyaltotheend Section 312 Says:

    So much for improved coaching helping out Licht’s bad picks

  6. GhostofSchiano Says:

    How is Licht still employed? Anyone please enlighten me on this. SMH

  7. Hodad Says:

    You think there were better options then Spence in the 2016 second round Ira, look at all the better options then Bunt Cake Bunting in the second of the 2019 draft. Stupid is, as stupid does, that about sums up Lichts second round draft choices.

  8. zzbuc Says:

    Ive always been critical on Licht…..So much evidence….But I guess we are a small minority…….He has a new 5 years contract…….And clearly he is not making important decisions anymore, so I guess The bucs franchise is a big time mess on ther other hand I am a bif time soccer fan…and guess what? Manchester United is a big time mess also………Isn´t it a coincidence????

  9. Conte Piscatelli Says:

    I would argue that Hargreaves and Ryan Smith both look better this year, maybe never great players but hopefully they will at least look like NFL starters. I think if Bond can stay health he will a solid year on special teams and be servicemen as a back up.

  10. Pickgrin Says:

    4 years after the fact, its always easy to pick a couple of eye popping woulda, choulda, shoulda’s regarding any player X drafted out of rd X in the 20XX draft…….

    To be fair though – the 2016 NFL draft was easily the worst draft class of the last decade and probably the worst of this 19 year old 21st century.

    The top of the 1st rd was good, but once you get past the 8th pick (Conklin, who the Bucs were going to draft at 9 had Jon Robinson not stolen him the pick before ours) – there’s a cliff sized drop off.

    Aside from the obvious standouts Ira already mentioned in WR Thomas, ILB Jones and Henry – I count like 8 or 9 decent to good NFL players out of 90 picks between #10 and #100. And one of them (Carl Nassib) – plays for the Buccaneers….

    Hargreaves has under performed for a #11 overall pick to be sure – but so has most of the rest of his draft class.

    This is Vernon’s last year as a Buccaneer – because its basically impossible for him to play his way into being retained for $10M next year.

    I honestly have no idea why the Bucs exorcised his 5th year option. At 5’10” and with a top speed of 4.5 seconds in the 40, Hargreaves is incapable of playing his way into a $10M for a 1 year payday – regardless of his alleged “ball skills” which Bucs fans have yet to see aside from maybe one or 2 games out of 26 regular season games started….

    Bucs should not have committed to that 5th year option. If they hadn’t – they could have negotiated with Vernon at the end of the season for less than $10M if he played pretty well this year – or let him go in free agency, which may well have resulted in earning a compensatory pick…. But now – neither more positive scenario is possible.

    A head scratcher for sure….

    Watcha got Vernon Hargreaves? For all that talk about “ballin”, we Bucs fans haven’t seen much from you the past 3 years. Seen a bunch of self aggrandizing finger wags on 10 yard overthrows though….

  11. Buc1987 Says:

    Jason Licht is a HORRIBLE GM.

    That said. Go Bucs!

  12. Brandon Says:

    Buccaroo Says:
    September 3rd, 2019 at 6:43 am
    Is it fair to judge corners solely on interceptions? Vernon is a small speed guy

    Vernon is certainly NOT a speed guy. Scouts and fans alike were hoping Vernon would be Joe Haden 2.0. A smaller slower CB that would get by on toughness and smarts. That hasn’t come close to happening at this point. In Licht’s defense, the entire NFL and those covering it had Hargreaves universally seen as a middle of the first round pick or better. Personally, I’m not big on taking great players that don’t test well at the top of the draft. I like all the boxes to be checked.

  13. ben Says:

    Licht should have been fired and why do fans think BA is calling the shots??? All i do know is that Licht has been a failure!!

  14. 813bucboi Says:

    Licht screwed up on some picks sure but what really screwed him was not hiring a better developer after Lovie….

    If you’re going to fire a coach replace them with someone that can improve the entire team and develop the players better than the previous coach….Licht didn’t do that…

    folks like to bash lovie but there’s no doubt players like Winston, Kwon,d.smith, mcdougal all looked like cornerstone/ foundation players their rookie year under lovie…..Licht and so many others thought the grass was greener on the other side but that wasn’t the case ….that 2016 team was going to go 9-7 regardless of who was coaching….back to back 5-11 seasons prove that…..

    We’ll see how it goes….I think this staff can develop players better than the last but I haven’t been impressed with white so far…still got a long season ahead of us…..


  15. ancientasbuc Says:

    A few publications did detailed reviews of Light versus other GMs and he did about what they did in talent evals over time. I think this type of scrutiny is hollow. Some guys make it, some guys don’t. I think it also does not shed light on the impact of coaches and coaching staffs on the player evaluation process. it is not only scouts or GM that weigh in for these calls.