Was 2018 Draft Jason Licht’s Masterpiece?

May 10th, 2021

Hard to top 2018 draft.

Joe used to refer to the Bucs’ draft of 2015 as the “Grand Slam.” It brought the four starters who had the team on the cusp of the playoffs with a 9-7 record in their second season.

That 2015 draft included Mr. Entertainment, America’s Quarterback, Pro Bowler Jameis Winston, left tackle Donovan Smith, guard Ali Marpet and linebacker Kwon Alexander. All four are still in the league. Two were foundational starters on a Super Bowl champion.

However, it sure seems as if the 2018 draft may have been the best work yet of Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht. That netted him five starters for a Super Bowl-winning team.

Licht started the 2018 draft with a bang, trading back with Buffalo and picking up Buffalo’s first-round pick and a pair of second-round picks. With the 12th pick in the first round, Licht selected Vita Vea, who is one of the best nose tackles in the game and a complete force on the league’s top-ranked rush defense.

In the second round, Licht drafted Ronald Jones. After a terrible start to his career, last year he had nearly 1,000 yards rushing. Only a late-season injury prevented RoJo from starting in the playoffs, though he logged plenty of time.

With the 53rd pick from Buffalo, Licht swung and missed with slow-footed defensive back M.J. Stewart. He’s currently a reserve in Cleveland. Later in the second round at No. 63, Licht did much better by grabbing cornerback Carlton Davis. In the third round, Licht traded up to grab right guard Alex Cappa. In Round 4, safety Jordan Whitehead’s number was called.

To bring up the last two Bucs picks that spring, Licht drafted wide receiver Justin Watson and linebacker Jack Cichy.

And not to be overlooked, roughly a month before the draft, Licht traded away his third-round pick to the Giants for Jason Pierre-Paul.

So only Stewart was not here in February when Bucs players were making graffiti angels under the roar of the pirate ship’s cannons as the team celebrated its second Super Bowl win. (Cichy was on injured reserve and Watson was inactive for the Super Bowl.)

In summary, Licht ended up with five starters on a Super Bowl-winner from the 2018 draft; three of the five are arguably top-five players at their positions (Vea, Davis and JPP).

That’s a haul, folks. It’s hard not to marvel with respect.

Landing five starters (and trading for a sixth) for a Super Bowl-winner in one weekend means you’ve done something right.

Though we didn’t know it at the time, Licht’s wheeling and dealing in 2018 was very likely the turning point for this franchise.

Start your Monday with the recent Ira Kaufman Podcast, presented by Bill Currie Ford.

22 Responses to “Was 2018 Draft Jason Licht’s Masterpiece?”

  1. Leighroy Says:

    Oopsies on the graffiti angels vs confetti angels there Joe. Wonder who would be the best tag artist on the team? I bet one of the hog mollies like Jensen or Marpet has an artsy side to them.

  2. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    2019 and 2020 may have been a better draft for the Bucs:

    2019 gave us Devin White, SMB, Jamel Dean, Mike Edwards and Anthony Nelson. 2020, the Bucs drafted Tristan Wirfs, Winfield, Vaughn, Tyler Johnson and Khalil Davis.

    The last 3 years the Bucs and Licht have done a phenomenal job, both in the draft and free agency. Let’s see if the trend continues.

    Needless to say, Licht has proved to be one of the top GMs. Not only has he nailed the last few draft but he has managed the cap better than most GMs

  3. ModHairKen Says:

    Wirfs and Winfield. Both contributed heavily to this SB win. Both played above expectations. And the Peace Sign in the SB? Well, one of the best moments in franchise history.

  4. Bird Says:

    What a haul!

    And 2019 and 2020

    What a haul!

  5. Beeej Says:

    I feel bad for Watson—I wonder if Brady will EVER throw another pass to him?

  6. Kentucky Buc Says:

    Don’t forget that 4th round pick in 2020 AlabamaBucsFan. Gronk

  7. DingleBerry Says:

    Jason Licht was on an insanely good hot streak from 2018-2020. Each and every one of those off seasons were exceptionall good and resulted in numerous starters and impact players. During that span we picked up the following guys via trade/free agency and the draft

    Ryan Jensen
    Vita Bea
    Ronald Jones
    Carlton Davis
    Alex Cappa
    Jordan Whitehead
    Shaw Barrett
    Devin White
    Jamel Dean
    Mike Edwards
    Scotty Miller
    Tom Brady
    Rob Gronkowski
    Tristan Wirfs
    Antoine Winfield Jr
    Tyler Johnson
    Antonio Brown

    Now thats a haul. And absolutely insanely good GMing. That 3 year run without a doubt cemented Licht as one of the best in the league at what he does. So its only natural that the law of averages caught up with him in this draft lmao. Well, in the 1st 2 rounds at least. They cant all be hits.

  8. DingleBerry Says:


    Stupid auto correct.

  9. DingleBerry Says:


  10. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    Was it Jason Licht or was it just a coincidence that his drafts got better once Arians and Bowels stepped in the building?

  11. Marine Buc Says:

    Cool. Now do the 2016 draft… lol

  12. DingleBerry Says:

    I don’t think that it’s completely a coincidence that Lichts drafts got better when Arians and Bowles arrived, but it can’t be the sole reason why because the Arizona drafts that BA had in AZ were not very good at all.

  13. Baby Grace Says:


    How in the world do you know how this draft is going to turn out? None of them have played a single down. Period! Grow up and let it go! You posts are getting tiresome!!!!

  14. DingleBerry Says:

    Because we spent premium draft capital on 2 guys who might be pretty good in 2-3 years instead of drafting players better than them who could have helped us to repeat this year.

  15. BillyBucoff Says:

    None of these players gonna contribute this year man
    Dude please
    They already said they were gonna draft guys who will be good in 2 years
    Who would you have taken @dingleberry that would have started?
    Just enjoy the ride

  16. DingleBerry Says:

    Yeah I understand we are stacked. That doesn’t mean you can’t rotate players at certain position like Edge Rusher, Linebacker, Corner, Safety, RB and in situations where we use a 6th O-lineman.

    And I don’t mean to burst any bubbles, but this is the NFL. It goes without saying that sometimes in the NFL, starters get injured. In the case of that happening, wouldn’t you rather have a player who is ready to step in now instead of a project who still needs 2 years of development?

  17. Youngbucs Says:

    Dingledummy I know who you are you don’t have me fooled. When you gonna eat that crow?

  18. DingleBerry Says:


    Who is it I’m supposed to be now and what crow should I be eating?

  19. catcard202 Says:

    One could argue that Licht botched the 2018 draft by trading back & not taking WY QB Josh Allen…Instead of Allen, Bucs ended up w/ a DL (that has had trouble staying on the field), a RB (that took 3yrs to get any return) & a slow footed/tight hipped CB that cannot play CB worth a damn (& was cut before 2020 season).

  20. DingleBerry Says:

    Aren’t you the same *guy*

  21. DingleBerry Says:

    whoops wrong thread lmao

  22. Pickgrin Says:

    2018 WAS a great draft for the Bucs!

    And yet – that mid 2nd rd selection of MJ Stewart – with highly touted LSU speedster Donte Jackson just SITTING THERE is probably the Licht draft pick I hated most of all his picks over 7 years… I didn’t like the Aguayo pick – but I at least understood why he took that risk. MJ Stewart? That was just a BAD decision for which there is really no plausible excuse.

    Licht did try to explain by saying he wanted to get “tougher” on the back end. But I guess he forgot that “toughness” is meaningless when a CB can’t get within 2 yards of his man before the catch. Stewart was the poster child for socially distanced pass defense before that phrase was ever heard.