Small School Degrees; Top-Shelf NFL Talent

January 21st, 2022

Small school eye.

Joe knows for some this is a touchy subject.

Joe knows of Bucs fans who are hardcore draft guys. Ask them about someone from low-level Division I or even Division I-AA or lower, and they get shaken. It’s as if these people believe unless you play in the SEC you can’t play football.

Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht says, “Hold my beer.”

Brandon Thorn, who has developed quite a reputation as an offensive line guru, is a huge fan of the Bucs’ front line. In a recent “Big Ugly” notebook article he published for his website, “Trench Warfare,” Thorn raves about the Bucs’ interior offensive line.

… Ali Marpet, Ryan Jensen and Alex Cappa have been together for three seasons with seven combined missed games between them over that span. They are arguably the best interior grouping in the NFL right now. The coolest part? None of them went to a Division I school. No other team can say the same over at least the last 7-8 years that I’m aware of, which is a nod to the Bucs front office’s ability to identify hidden talent along the line.

And Joe believes that nod of Thorn’s is for Licht, himself a small-school offensive lineman. Yes, Licht played at Nebraska and as an upperclassman, he transferred to Nebraska Wesleyan. So perhaps Licht has a soft spot in his heart for small-school offensive linemen because he was one?

Or perhaps Licht saw his Cornhuskers teammates that were one of the best lines in college game, and then realized from his experience with Nebraska Wesleyan that guys on the small-school level could hang with the big-school boys. And Licht carried that memory with him throughout his NFL years in player personnel.

No, Licht did not draft Jensen, but he did give Jensen the richest NFL what was then the richest contract for centers. So clearly Licht saw something in Jensen and it is hard to argue Licht overpaid.

Licht has drafted a lot of guys from schools smaller than those in Power-5 conferences. And Licht and the Bucs have had solid success with them. Hey, they won a Super Bowl with three small-school offensive linemen, a small-school corner and a guy who made the biggest splash play of the postseason out of Bowling Green (Scotty Miller).

Licht’s personal motto may be the following: If you can play, you can play, it doesn’t matter where you went to school.

That’s smart.

7 Responses to “Small School Degrees; Top-Shelf NFL Talent”

  1. SOEbuc Says:

    Not to mention his UDFA like Brate and Hump.

  2. Bird Says:

    “Hold my beer”

    One of the great quote lines of all time

  3. PassingThru Says:

    I really wanted Quinn Meinerz in that last draft, he looked like the best DIII prospect since Ali Marpet.

  4. Marine Buc Says:

    Small school offensive lineman and linebackers from LSU are Jason Licht’s secrets to success… lol

  5. DrunkInYbor Says:

    I’m just ectastic we have a great coaching staff. How many players left and succeeded elsewhere. Because the coaching forced them to play thier scheme? Arians line of when you step up to replace a guy. You don’t have to be thier best be your best.

  6. SlyPirate Says:

    Not taking anything away from Licht, but Marpet and Cappa were not “hidden talent”. They destroyed their pre-draft workouts and camps. Cappa’s tape was ridiculous, and the Bucs had to move up to get Marpet before NE.

  7. Swampbuc Says:

    Hope Licht has to wait until the 32nd pick again.