Grading Jason Licht — Round 2 — (A Draft Series)

April 25th, 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 is a beautiful and difficult thing, a challenging puzzle to assess what moves were made versus the ones that weren’t and possibly should have been.

It’s also a challenge to score a team-building move versus a best-player-available move.

Then there’s the over-arching elephant in the room: a team’s record and a player’s 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 prospects’ health and performance to project potential injuries – and prevent them. So logic says injuries – and good health – aren’t all luck.

Four 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.

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

Next up is Round 2. (Round 1 grades are here.)

2014 – Austin Seferian-Jenkins
2015 – Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet
2016 – Noah Spence, Roberto Aguayo
2017 – Justin Evans
2018 – Ronald Jones, M.J. Stewart, Carlton Davis
2019 – Sean Murphy-Bunting
2020 – Antoine Winfield, Jr.

Licht is batting over 50 percent in Round 2, which is better than the league average. That cannot be ignored.

Yeah, Licht has historic strikeouts in the second round, but no matter how bad your swing is, it still only counts as one whiff. (Thankfully!). Joe still isn’t sure what the Bucs saw in M.J. Stewart to select him two picks before then-LSU cornerback Donte Jackson and Carlton Davis. There were other gems selected in Round 2 after Stewart, as well, including the Vikings’ strong right tackle, Brian O’Neill, and Jaguars Pro Bowl receiver D. J. Chark.

Considering the rest of Round 2 taken after Murphy-Bunting, on paper he looks like an even better selection than he was.

The Evans pick was so damn frustrating at the time because the Bucs were desperate for a running back and didn’t seem to know it, and that draft was loaded with special backs. Back in 2015, Joe thought Licht and Lovie Smith showed a lot of balls ignoring offensive line in free agency and drafting Smith and Marpet to start immediately.

Six critical contributors to a Super Bowl team drafted in seven years. Joe has to hand Licht a B+ in Round 2. Have your say below.


3,000+ Square Feet Of Covered Outdoor Seating!

Plus indoors!

Two lucky fans attending will each win a $300 American Express gift card thanks to Joe’s friends at Florida’s Elite Restoration.

Thursday night, April 29!

Giveaways, special guests, and more. Ira Kaufman and Joe will be in the house starting at 7 p.m.

Two lucky fans attending will each win a $300 American Express gift card thanks to Joe’s friends at Florida’s Elite Restoration.

(More cool Bucs giveaways, too.) Joe is fired up for a great time with Florida’s best craft beer, amazing food and great fans. Joe loves Big Storm Clearwater,

31 Responses to “Grading Jason Licht — Round 2 — (A Draft Series)”

  1. Buczilla Says:

    Zero pro bowlers/all pros among those picks, but Marpet surely would have made a couple if he played in the Northeast. Aguayo and Stewart were also major blunders, so I can’t give em any better than a C+.

  2. Reddington Neck Shores Says:

    Marpet is a pro bowl player. Winfield will be one as well. Cant use pro bowls as a metric we tied the record for fewest pro bowl players on a championship team. The other team? The 07 giants. Dominant performances in the playoffs matter more and smith was all pro then too.

  3. Bucsfanman Says:

    Round 2 players should be “foundational” and contribute in their first couple of years. In this case, some good, some really really bad. I gave him a ‘C’ for round 2.

  4. ArmchairGM Says:

    Are we grading on a curve based on round? I’d expect 50% success in round 1 as average. The fact Licht is over that in round 2 is amazing. Giving him an A even with drafting a kicker.

  5. Paul Wartenberg Says:

    We’re going to have to talk about it, but the trade-up to snag Aguayo is something that still haunts this team.

    It wasn’t the pick himself – Aguayo was the high-scouted kicker that year, there was talk of him going in the THIRD Round – but that Licht panicked and traded up into the Second is what jinxed the whole situation. By effectively making Aguayo valued at two picks – adding the one lost in trade – that created additional pressure to excel out the gate. The fan outrage over the trade (I myself was angry, but it was the trade move that pissed me off, not Aguayo. God, I still feel guilty about this) translated into outrage over the player, which added more psychological pressure.

    Every missed kick became a catastrophe. Every lost game by missed field goals became a disaster. Adding onto the recent history of bringing in weak kickers after we let Matt Bryant go, it created a perfect storm of a destroyed career for Aguayo and long-term shame to Licht.

  6. Paul Wartenberg Says:

    When looking at the recent history of using the Second Round to bring in Secondary players – Corners and Safeties – what I see are big gambles on boom-bust players relying on who was defensive coordinator that year. You have to admit from 2017 onward we needed more help in the backfield, and while Evans showed flashes of being a great Safety, those injuries to him did wipe him out. You look at Winfield and you beg the Football Gods “oh Lord please don’t bang him up too.”

    Ronald Jones is the pleasant surprise of getting better after a bad rookie year. I’m a bit miffed there isn’t more faith in him. Having improved our offensive line and showing more signs of smarter running routes in our playbook, we’ve seen a stronger run game we haven’t seen since the glory year (singular, alas) of Doug Martin.

  7. Brandon Jeff Says:

    I agree! To be realistic, you have to grade on a curve based on round. No GM can be expected to do as well in the second round as the do in the first.

    If the expectation is 50% positive in the 1st, I would expect it to drop to at least 33% in the 2nd, 20% in the 3rd and 10% in the 4th.
    Any hits after that would be gravy.

    Granted, I just pulled these numbers off the top of my head but I think they will be close to reasonable expectations.

  8. Greg Says:

    I really dislike the revisionist history on the Aguayo pick. Yes, it made news for the “reach” in the second round. But let’s not forget the data and info on aguayo at the time. This was the most accurate kicker IN THE HISTORY OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL. Not a one year flash, not the most accurate kicker in the draft, the most accurate ever to do it. He was also a kicker that was not only obnoxiously accurate, but he had range for days, and played in the highest pressure games at FSU.

    We all also acknowledged at the time that the kicking game had directly led to several losses for our team. No one at all knew Aguayo was going to break down mentally, and there was zero hint that that would even be a possibility.

    It was a savvy play by a GM based on the data at the time. If Aguayo does what EVERYONE expected him to do we forever judge that pick only by the reach in round two, but are silently grateful to have a competent kicker.

  9. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    ProBowl should not even be a factor at all…as it is not about the best of the best anymore. Not since it was opened to fan voting.

    So it is not an accurate metric to consider.

    I gave it a B. He had slightly more successes than blunders. I don’t hold Evans or Spence against him. Injuries are just something you can’t predict.

  10. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I would also point out that Licht came here as a rookie GM, so it was expected that he would make mistakes and learn from them. Also, he did not have the control he should have had as a GM until recently.

  11. Greg Says:

    Also wanted to add, I love this series of articles leading up to the draft Joe! It’s a really fun way to read/discuss about the Bucs leading up to the draft!

  12. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Again i agree with Joe…..MJ Stewart & extra pick…but still a bust…..Can’t fault Licht for Evans’ injury.

    He has some As……Some C’s & an F…..(guess who)

  13. Mitch Says:

    The draft is a calculated crapshoot. However, Licht has shown to be a great scout and evaluator of men. I believe early in his tenure he was handcuffed in the drafting process by Lovie and Dirk (especially Lovie). He and Bruce are on the same page and that is why he has hit so many picks recently. Lets keep the trend rolling!

  14. Jason Says:

    I’m still not 100% sure Justin Evans actually exists.

  15. Jaymiss Pick6 Again Says:

    I went with B-. Noah Spence and Roberto Aguayo really drag the grade down. Throw in MJ Stewart too.

  16. Bucfanforever Says:

    6 starters in 7 drafts from round 2 = A
    After the draft, I was happy with the kicker pick. Just who knew that he would decide to unlearn how to kick?

  17. Marine Buc Says:

    @ greg

    Look at Aguayo’s numbers his final year at FSU… Not that great.

    He was the most accurate kicker hos Freshman and Sophomore years then started to slide and he got worse in the NFL.

    Just a horrible pick and poor decision by Licht. There is no sugar coating this turd.

  18. Cobraboy Says:

    Re: Aguayo: It’s easy to scout a guy’s physical prowess. It’s nearly impossible to scout his mental strength.

    Aguayo hid his mental fragility with superior physical skills.

    He is also an example of why picking a guy too high out of acute need rarely works out as expected.

    Besides, we don’t know whether Licht—who did NOT have the amount of power then as now—drafted Aguayo purely by himself, or whether he was ordered “to get a kicker,” especially a semi-local guy from a popular state institution.

  19. Señor Harry in Costa Rica Says:

    “…The Evans pick was so damn frustrating at the time because the Bucs were desperate for a running back…”

    I think this blinds your POV. If you gave Licht an A- for Rd1, how can you give him less here? Smith, Marpet, Carlton Davis, Winfield are all Rd1 talents Licht used 2nd Rd picks to acquire. And, as you said, I do not think you can penalize Licht for injuries, so you have to discount Evans and Spence.

    Yeah, the Aguayo pick deserves a double F. Stupid. And can’t defend ASJ much either. Licht should have picked up on him being a head case. Personally, I gave him an A on the 2nd Rd and a B+ on Rd 1

  20. Bucamania Says:

    Aguayo, Evans, and MJ Stewart were all ‘WTF?’ picks on draft day.

  21. Bucsfan951 Says:

    Licht gets an A- in my book with the second round. Pretty good picking when you have the entire left side of your o line, #1 starting cb AND safety, plus what ever you want to name SMB (starting slot cb) coming from the second rd. The Berto pick will always follow licht and it abound. Trading UP for a kicker and especially in the 2nd rd is crazy!

    I was always hard on licht but I’ve given him a B+ for the first rd and an A- for the second. I guess winning a sb really turns things around 🤣🤣🤣

  22. Anonymous Says:

    Aguayo pick still rings dead because you traded up to get him and Yannick Ng…. was still available. part of the wasted McCoy and LVD years. Spence was never a 4-3 lineman, he was definitely a 3-4 lineman, if Bowles could’ve could have had him early on because he was a tough son of a gun. No doubt ASJ’s talent, but the mental part was it him or was it playing for the Bucs

  23. JimmyJack Says:

    Why isnt there an A+ option? And if i had my way id vote double A++.

  24. JimmyJack Says:

    Joe this is a really fun read and good idea for an article. I think after you do all the rounds you should include a piece about undrafted additions. Licht has done well in this area as well and has found us a few gems. Most notably Adam Humphries and Cameron Brate.

  25. MadMax Says:

    I remember being asked by someone here before we pulled the trigger on Evans while the draft was happening live….I said yeah I like him and would take him….then we did. It sucks he didnt work out. If he didnt have those injuries, I still believe he wouldve been a great safety.

    And Marpet, yeah, I was lobbying hard for him on this forum. Just watching his combine and interviews, i knew we needed him bad and knew the only way was a trade up in the 2nd…and we did it, and look at him now.

    I had no hands in it or even talked here about the CB’s….was actually very surprised when that happened. But we needed CB help so theres that lol.

  26. MadMax Says:

    Yeah, I like this Joe…this is an awesome idea, to revisit past drafts from Superbowl winning AC/DC loving Mr. Licht…(i grew up on ac/dc lol, love them too…check out a new band called the LA maybe, their singer was the guy who was about to replace Brian Johnson when he stepped aside, then the gig was given to axl rose)

  27. theodore Says:

    5 starters (6 if you count Jones) = A-

  28. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    Licht does the best when he draft’s an offensive lineman. While Bucs do not need an OL in early in the draft, he might pick one later. Todd Bowles has a good record of picking a DLs. Let Bowles pick in the first two rounds and we’ll do good.

  29. J$MCSports Says:

    They have had a lot of picks in this round over Licht’s tenure. ASJ wasnt bad at the time and seeing how long ago that was he was about as expected. Spence career was unfortunate he gave it everything for one season and was ruined after that. Aguayo was unnecessary but was fun for us FSU ppl here. MJ Stewart is the only pick I hated. He was not good at all. Davis has been outstanding and Smith and Marpet were the best steals since Joseph & Trueblood who were drafted in the first round. That says a lot there. Winfield and RoJo are Champs fr and will go on to have great careers.

  30. Anonymous Says:

    The big takeaway for me is JL is getting better. If you look at his last 4 drafts, his hit percentage is very good. If you lokk at his first 3 years it’s not so good. Same with his 1st round. His 2nd round picks for the last 4 years only had 1 miss in Stewart. I’ll give him partial credit on Justin Evans who was good when he played. I think any fan would agree 4.5 out of 6 in the 2nd round is a very good average. Let’s hope JL continues this trend with 2 future starters in his first 2 picks this year.

  31. WhatTheBuc Says:

    Once again most JBFers are showing how little they understand the draft. When you say I’m dropping Licht’s grade because he drafted player “A”, your opinion means squat to me. Stop thinking that there are GMs that hit on every pick. The league average is around 40% success rate in the 2nd. That means that most second round picks aren’t good. So go ahead and include Roberto, Spence and whoever else. Licht is still way above league average in the 2nd round. Even Lichts cast-offs aren’t that bad. MJS started against the bucs last year. ASJ got 2 more contracts and one at big money. Spence is still in the league.