Grading Jason Licht – Round 1 (A Series)

April 24th, 2021

It’s time to get out your grading pen and assess the record of Super Bowl general manager Jason Licht when it comes to the NFL Draft.

Grading a GM’s draft savvy is a beautiful and difficult thing. It’s a challenging puzzle to assess what moves were made versus the ones that weren’t made and possibly should have been.

And it also is a challenge to score a team-building move versus a best-player-available move.

Then there’s the over-arching elephant of overall team result and impact.

Injuries are thorny because while a GM can’t really be blamed for injuries, GMs also laud how they have elite medical and training staffs. And that staff evaluates aspects of a prospect’s health and performance to project potential injuries – and prevent them. So logic says injuries – and good health – aren’t all luck.

Five days from the 2021 NFL Draft – the eighth draft of Licht’s Tampa Bay tenure – it’s time for fans to man up and grade Licht’s drafts.

Joe’s laying out this exercise as a round-by-round affair.

First up is Round 1.

2014 – Mike Evans
2015 – Jameis Winston
2016 – Vernon Hargreaves
2017 – O.J. Howard
2018 – Vita Vea
2019 – Devin White
2020 – Tristan Wirfs

Joe is not one to mince words and won’t do it here. Licht has drafted four studs, two busts and a question mark. That’s a hell of a strong record, especially considering that each of those four studs has Hall of Fame potential.

Evans has had a historic seven seasons and is the best receiver in Bucs history. White is a monster, and Wirfs should have been All-Pro as a rookie. All three were vital cogs of a Super Bowl champion. Joe can’t go there with Vea because he missed too much time, but Vea may become the best nose tackle in the NFL over the next few seasons; he already likely is the most talented at his position.

Yes, Jameis and Hargreaves were busts. Disappointing on the field and off. Case closed.

Howard is a wild card. He’s missed a whopping 22 games because of injury, plus the playoffs, and he’s never played a full season. That’s ugly, but he has proven to be dangerous and Bucs officials seem convinced that Howard was on his way to greatness last season before blowing out his Achilles.

Considering Marcus Mariota sucked and the 2016 selections after Hargreaves weren’t exactly a legendary crop, and what a collective role Licht’s picks played on a Super Bowl champion, Joe is giving Licht an A- grade for his first-round picks.

What say you?

40 Responses to “Grading Jason Licht – Round 1 (A Series)”

  1. bucfanforever Says:

    Considering the first round, the average gm picks 50/50 Bust/Good Player, and Licht is 4/7 on possible HOF’ers, it seems like an A to me. The biggest slight is that he was drafting early in the first round, where the odds are better.

  2. Medicated Pete Says:

    In 2018, that beer guzzler started taking his job seriously.

  3. Allbuccedup Says:

    OJ was a bigger bust than Jameis most teams would have taken Jameis if they were in the same position. OJ I believe was more of a Dirk K. pick not too many teams would have picked him that early in the draft. You have to remember Jameis was at one time a pro bowl QB.

  4. Bucsfan951 Says:

    I went with a b+. Jw being a bust hit him hard on points lost. 1st overall pick and it was a strike out… it happens.

    2016, licht traded back 2 spots and got vh3 with an additional 4th which was used in a trade that ultimately went to the Roberto pick… we won’t go there!!!

    Vita in 2018, licht traded back, still landed vita and got Carlton Davis and whitehead with the traded draft picks.

    2020, licht traded up a spot and landed what appears to be an all pro rt.

    Perhaps I was a little hard on Licht. Maybe an A- was in the cards on his 1st rd picks.

  5. MadMax Says:


    Mr Licht knows me

  6. firethecannons Says:

    that hargreaves pick was an egregious error
    no reason for that so many other better options
    Jameis may turn around yet but mm was a bad option also

    the Vea pick at the time was unpopular and Licht deserves alot of credit for that

  7. onebuc813 Says:

    I’d give him an A. The thing is there should be an asterisk next to Jameis because there were many, many factors out of his (Jameis) control. The defense, the lousy running back situation, him attempting to pass as much as he did. Jameis failed and there were no excuses to make for his turnovers in the end but come on there were so many other factors there. I wouldn’t even call Jameis a complete bust. Jason has done pretty damn well considering some of the previous coaches he served!

  8. Bird Says:

    Go to the archives


    He was your your guy
    Lets see

  9. Casual Observer Says:

    There is a learning curve in evidence here.

  10. Swampbuc Says:

    Hargreaves was a scary, stupid pick. Anyone who watches football knew he can’t play. Same with Kyle Trashk. Stats look nice, but the eyes tell a different story.

    I’m a Gator – Licht needs to stay away from any Gator not named Toney.

  11. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Keep in mind we received 2 2nd round picks for moving back….still got Vea….MJ Stewart a bust….but Carlton Davis wasn’t….

    So, we got Vea & Davis for that 1st round pick.

    Agree with Joe (for a change)….A=

  12. Pickgrin Says:

    A minus sounds about right.

    Very good job in Rd 1 – but not perfect.

    You made a couple good points about the “busts” Joe. 2015 – the Bucs were taking a QB with that #1 pick – no ifs, and or buts. 2016 – there was a serious lack of top end talent after the first 5 picks that year. It was either Hargreaves or Rankins at 11 – and neither turned out to be worthy of a 1st rd selection…..

  13. Pickgrin Says:

    And regarding Howard – basically EVERYONE had OJ Howard in their top 10 players available. Some had him in the top 5.

    His talent is actually in that range – but injuries have obviously kept OJ from reaching his potential to this point in his NFL career.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    When you average 3900 yards and 24 touchdowns over a 5 year period you are not a bust.

    Does he throw to many interceptions? Absolutely. Can that be corrected? Absolutely.

    Did he learn a lot this past year from Brees and Payton? Absolutely.

    He is far from a perfect qb but he is also far from a bust too. There is a fine line between winning and losing in the NFL.

  15. WillieG Says:

    I gave him an A because:

    OJ’s injuries aren’t his fault
    Hargreaves lack of development under Mike Smith isn’t his fault
    Winston’s stupidity isn’t his fault and Winston wasn’t actually HIS pick. It was Joe’s favorite coach’s pick.

  16. Jaymiss Pick6 Again Says:

    B+ – Jaymiss and Hargraves drug Licht’s record down a bit. The jury is still out on OJ – give him a healthy season with a QB that loves the TE position.

    @ Medicated Pete…really – stop casting stones.

  17. JimbobBucsFan Says:

    Jameis Winston was a bust because of intangibles. He had/has all of the tools. He looked to be strong on leadership and his love of football. Other character flaws regarding immaturity issues were red flags of course.

    Hargreaves was also a bust because of intangibles such as his attitudes and work ethic. The scouting staff may have failed to dig deep enough in his case. Looking at the following twenty picks, however, does not reveal to me anyone I can feel strongly that Licht “should have” picked instead.

  18. Seattle Buc is back in TB Says:

    The Hargreaves pick was a reach, but everyone thought he’d be better than he turned out to be. James was going to be the qb picked 1st off the board, Mariota was worse anyway. A.

  19. Paul Wartenberg Says:

    when the Hargreaves pick happened I had no problems with it: he WAS a top-rated corner in that year’s draft, it wasn’t that he was a risky pick. He just turned out to be terrible at the pro level.

    and for all that Jameis turned out to be – too turnover-prone, too reckless – he wasn’t a total bust. He gave us some of the best QB performances out of the drafted QBs we had, he was just too damned inconsistent for five years, and couldn’t get to that next level where he would stop throwing those damned pick-sixes.

  20. JeffreyLane77 Says:

    How has nobody mentioned trading up into the second round for a kicker Named Roberto Aguayo. Lol. Granted he was the best kicker in college football. And we were desperate for a kicker at the time. I’m all for if you have a chance at a player you want go get him. But second round for a kicker? And he was terrible at that. I remember they wouldn’t let him kick during practice with fans in attendance. 😆😅🤣😂

    I don’t blame Licht for taking Jameis he was the consensus No.1 overall pick. I hated the Oj Howard pick when it happened. We had other needs at the time.

    Licht seems to be able to draft Wide Receivers and linebackers really well. I say A- simply because nobody has a crystal ball. Busts are expected.

  21. MarkR Says:

    Under the various circumstances presented in each draft, all of his picks were either great (Evans, White, Wirfs), really great (Vea) or highly sought after by other clubs who may still work out (Winston, Howard) exoept one – Hargreaves, who was an overreach.
    W/o conducting an actual survey, I’d say that Licht, when compared to other GMs, has been remarkably consistent, Grade A

  22. SlyPirate Says:

    I agree with every one of those picks, except VHIII. That one was a head scratcher then and now.

  23. BA4President Says:

    For the “Mariota wasn’t good either” crowd, at least he wasn’t a bust on AND off the field. He wasn’t a complete embarrassment.

  24. BA4President Says:

    @WillieG, good call. Can you ultimately blame Licht for Winston?? Lovie? Glazers?

  25. 1Gr8Buc Says:

    I graded the players like this:
    My heart and gut says a high B or low A though

  26. Defense Rules Says:

    Obviously in the minority, but I gave him a B. Rnd 1 picks are precious. Sorry, but GMs should never miss with Rnd 1 picks, and particularly high first round picks.

    As far as the picks themselves go, yes Jason was the GM of record in 2014, but more than likely Lovie Smith made the Mike Evans selection (JL had come onboard). By 2015 I’m sure that JL had a big hand in the Jameis selection, but I’m guessing that was in no way totally on him (we tanked in 2014 for a reason, and that obviously wasn’t all JL’s doing either). 2016 was a weak draft year overall IMO, especially defensively which is what we needed (he was too focused on grabbing a CB no matter what). 2017 by comparison was a strong draft class, and JL bit for OJ instead of looking deeper (it’s not like TE was our biggest need?). Starting in 2018 though (Vea, White & Wirfs) our 1st Rnd picks have been Licht’s Out; very possibly the best in the league.

    Looks to me like that’s batting pretty close to 50%, which is about average for most GMs. But based on the strength of the last 3 picks, I’d say a B is fair for Jason’s body of work over 7 seasons. Of course nowadays when everyone gets a trophy just for participating, maybe that should be bumped up to a B+ or even an A-.

  27. The Daily Coroner Says:

    Are you a Gator?
    Seem to be picking on Free Shoes University.

  28. martindb9 Says:

    Hard to compare anything, maybe you should have chosen a few other GM’s and pick their picks side by side.

  29. TheBradyBunch Says:

    Allbuccedup – what I the world are you talking about. Heading into draft night most believed OJ was def a top 10 pick. They got him at 19 and was great value at the time as nobody thought he would fall that far.

  30. Costa Rica John Says:

    I liked all the 1st round picks except Hargreaves when they were taken. I still like Winston. He was exciting to watch. You never knew what you were going to get with him. That great game with close to 400 yards and a couple TD’s or that big turnover that just tore your heart out. I’ve been a BUCS fan so long I kind of expect those types of things.
    At 32 this year it’s going to get interesting. Go Bucs!

  31. TheBradyBunch Says:

    Jeffrey, because this article is about first round picks only. Try to keep up.

  32. Jim Says:

    He drafted decently in the first round. There’s a big but. You can’t whiff on a number one pick for QB. TB saved his butt

  33. Buczilla Says:

    I totally agree with the hits/misses, but I can’t give him an A. We should have stayed at 9 that year and taken Leonard Floyd instead of trading the pick to Chicago. Floyd isn’t great, but he’s a far better player than Hargreaves. Winston was a massive disappointment (I’m still pi$$ed he’s a bust), but he was the right pick at the time. Licht is far and away the best gm in Buc history.

  34. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    2014 – Mike Evans – SUCCESS
    2015 – Jameis Winston – BORDERLINE SUCCESS – BARELY
    2016 – Vernon Hargreaves – FAIL
    2017 – O.J. Howard – UNKNOWN

    2018 – Vita Vea – SUCCESS
    2019 – Devin White – SUCCESS
    2020 – Tristan Wirfs – SUCCESS

    1) Winston could just barely be considered a good pick. I mean, he did not lead us to a Superbowl and he certainly had his share of weaknesses, but he also had a number of strengths. Considering other 1st round picks that were drafted by other teams that became busts, Winston is better than the batch of them.

    He could still turn out great. We shall see. Sean Peyton may just be what he needed.

    2) Vernon Hargreaves hand promise, but he was just too small to be effective in today’s NFL.

    3) OJ Howard was a good pick…certainly worthy of being taken. Since then, injuries have held him back. So it is hard to say.

  35. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Given the above, I have to give him a B.

    But since 2018, an A+

  36. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Also, it is important to note the lack of control he had as a GM in the first half of his career. Winston and Hargreaves were both out of his hands.

    I think he had more say-so with Howard.

  37. mark2001 Says:

    Anonymous…it remains to be seen if Jameis’s problems can be corrected. It is easy to say just eliminate the interceptions. But if it is his ability to read and react quickly to disguised defenses, and he just doesn’t see and process the reads quickly enough, he may be at his peak. Becoming a Brady or a Rodgers isn’t an easy thing…that is why there are so few that reach their level. Don’t underestimate the difficulty of doing so, and the skill level those guys have achieved.

  38. J$MCSports Says:

    You gotta give him an B-. None of those guys turned out to be superstars or anything although White may change things. Vea hasn’t always played a full season but is top 3 at his position if you ask me. Winston may burn everyone too as a solid NFL starter with Payton. I like it if they use he & Hill effectively in sort of a motion offense. White is the guy that could change the grade to an A+. Wirfs as well.

  39. J$MCSports Says:

    I will clarify with superstars because there is Mike Evans. But White is the best chance to move the grade to an A+ in the future.

  40. Brandon Says:

    Funny how UF fans justify Hargeaves by saying he was highly rated… sorry, I just didn’t get it… at all. Too small, too slow to ever justify taking that early. Ronde Barber was a 3rd round pick and a very similar prospect. Hargreaves, despite his press clippings, was a late first rounder at best. Lots of draft heads stated he would be a very good nickle CB… big deal. You draft a guy that high he had better be a good starting and outside CB.