“It Is Impossible To Predict”

April 25th, 2024

Draft strategy insight from a veteran.

So we know the Bucs draft late tonight in the first round provided they don’t trade up.

Only six teams will select later than the Bucs. That’s the penance Tampa Bay must pay for winning. What will Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht do?

Well, his former boss offered insight. That would be Bill Belicheat.

The winner of six rings (eight if you count his days as Giants defensive coordinator), Belicheat has had his share of drafting late in the first round. Maybe too much experience.

Last week Belicheat was on Pat McAfee’s show and Joe has rarely seen Belicheat like this. He was open, glib, free-speaking even guffawing at one point. Is this the same man who looked like he would rather chug bleach in New England, like he was the most miserable SOB on the planet?

What will Licht do tonight? Belicheat in so many words said there is way too much that could happen before the Bucs pick to have any sort of set plan.

In short, Belicheat said you have to go along for the ride for a couple of hours and see how things shake out.

“And the answer is, every year is different,” Belicheat said when asked how best to prepare to pick late in the draft. “You really don’t know. When you are picking at the end of the draft, and I get this question a lot, ‘What are we going to do? We’re picking 28th or picking 32nd?’ You tell me who is going to be there and then I will tell you what we are going to do.

“You really just don’t know. There are so many teams in front of you, it is impossible to predict.”

Then, Belicheat rattled off some surprises he had running the draft because the Belicheats were picking so late.

“Did I ever think we would draft Vince Wilfork? I thought there would be no chance he would be on the board when we picked,” Belicheat said.

“I didn’t think [Dante] Hightower would be there so we traded up and got him.

“I didn’t think Chandler Jones would be there, so we traded up and got him.

“Logan Mankins was there and we waited it out and then took Mankins at 32.

“You just don’t know what it is going to be [available] at the end of the draft when you are picking there. Sometimes you see a guy falling and you go, ‘OK, is it worth it to trade up and get the guy?’

“Other times you see who slides through. Other times, you are going to take a guy because there is not much there at the end of the first round, let me move back a few spots and try to either accumulate some [draft] capital.”

Belicheat then added that the fifth-year option is key to keep in mind when drafting. The fifth-year option is afforded those selected in the first round, but it’s not cheap. It’s only an option for first-round picks.

Belicheat added teams don’t want a fifth-year option in play for all positions, though it’s a positive for quarterbacks.

Belichick then rattled off several positions that teams don’t mind picking up an expensive fifth-year option on, but he did not mention guard or center (though he did mention offensive tackle). In these cases, Belicheat said, it’s smarter to just trade back into the second round and avoid the fifth-year option.

Belichick also added where the Patriots used to pick, “You’re usually talking about the fifth- or sixth-best guy” at his position.

So it sounds like tonight’s first round will offer plenty of drama for Bucs fans. Joe’s stoked for a fun night.

22 Responses to ““It Is Impossible To Predict””

  1. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    That’s great information. You wonder how many mock draft makers take those things into account. Probably few, if any.

    And it also makes a lot of sense. When picking late you obviously have to have a plan, maybe run through some scenarios of what you would do if certain things happen. But remember, the draft is one-dimensional. Either the guy you have rated at a certain point is there or he’s not. You probably should take the best player available with that choice shaded by needs. A modest reach is ok, a deep reach is not.

  2. Scott Says:

    I really hope there is a year 1 impact player left when we pick. I don’t want to see us have to reach for a project again.

  3. JimBobBuc Says:

    Much as I expected him to say, except I was unaware of the 5th year option. That option puts a little more spin on Licht trading down to high rd2.

    BTW, I just saw the hit rates (renewed contract) on 1st rd picks. Center is #1 at 92%, then OT (59%), G (50%),…Edge at 44%, …, WR was last at 27%. I hope we draft OL soon in rounds 1-3.

  4. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    ‘Some people are saying six QBs early. That means certain guys will drop who otherwise would not be there. Should be interesting. Won’t be any fun since it is so slow and boring. But it will be interesting.

  5. Bucs Guy Says:

    JL has a good plan. He has 5-7 players identified. I’m sure all of them won’t be there, but if 1 is then he will select him. If none are there, he trades back.

    The only exception should be if someone he was sure would be gone somehow is still available. Then you sprint to the podium to turn in the card.

  6. SlyPirate Says:

    There are a lot of players that can help the Bucs in this draft. The last two years Licht has found value from the top to the bottom of the draft. I’m feeling good the Bucs will be a far better team by Sunday.

    It’s exciting.

  7. AL121976 Says:

    If Mark Dominick would draft him (tryon), we should not. I have faith in Jason Licht but it is the roll of the dice. I hope we nail it tonight or trade back and then nail it, fingers crossed

  8. Steven007 Says:

    Interesting discussion about the 5th year option. I would have thought that in most cases teams would prefer that, no matter what the position. Because of course you have the option to not elect the fifth year thus alleviating you of salary concerns. Also interesting to see the contrast from his halcyon days as a GM, choosing very impactful players versus the last, oh I don’t know, 8 years or so.

  9. SB Says:

    Hey Joe. Here is one I read yesterday.

    “In an interview with NFL Total Access, Latu divulged his entry to the league aspirations, candidly expressing where he wants to wind up. “I would love to be drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,” he revealed during the segment.

  10. Craig Says:

    In 24 hours we will know how the dice rolled and can move on to important things, like how ignorant every NFL GM is for who they drafted.

  11. TheMIGHTYVH Says:

    1) Generally, there are only 12-15 prospects on average with true first round grades
    2) How many QBs will be drafted? More QBs drafted the more non-qbs get pushed down board. Personally, I think all 6 QBs will be gone by 26. Hell, I think they will all be gone in first half of first round.
    3) Bowers, Harrison, Neighbors, Odunze and Thomas are ALL off board by 26. That would now make 11 players (5 WRs/1TE and 6 QBs)…
    4) Joe Alt (OT), JC Latham (OT), O Fashanu (OT), Troy Fautanu (OL), T Fuaga (OL), A Mims (OT) will be gone. Now you are looking at 17 (6 OL + 6 QB = 5 WR)
    5) Dallas Turner (Edge), L Latu (OLB), Jared Verse (Edge) Byron Murphy (DT), Q Williams (CB), Terrion Arnold (CB), Nate Wiggins (CB) (7 defensive players +6 OL + 6 QB + 5 TE/WR) = 24 players…
    6) I would bet the farm by 26 there will be at least 3 surprise picks and 2 to 3 guys who slide… like potentially Latu with his medical. This happens every year and this draft will be NO different.
    Hopefully, Bucs will land a stud( Kancey ) and not a dude (JTS) like year. Personally I hope it is Latu, Thomas, or Q Williams but I think they will all be long gone.

  12. Tony Says:


    He might want to but I think many like myself would consider passing being he’s got a bad history of injuries. Only one I’d consider taking that’s dealt with some injuries is Payton Wilson.

  13. D Cone Says:

    It is going to be interesting to get a peak behind the curtain at what a draft room looks like in real time.

    When you are picking late year after year and still manage to have teams that win speaks volumes.

    Brady didn’t smile much when he was working either. Bill and Brady had the ability to focus and were very instinctive.

    With all his coaches asking if they were calling timeout, with time running out, backed up to his own goal line in a Super Bowl Belichick was focused on what the opposing coach was doing and decided to keep the clock running. Defense knew the pick play was coming and Bill’s staff had prepared his rookie DB for it leading up to the game without any success. Vet jammed the pick and rookie made the play. No cheating there.

    Most teams cheat in one way or another.. Atlanta and Philly both allegedly got caught this year. When players leave for the offseason looking like Horace Wimp and came back looking like Thor the team knows and not many would say Jack unless the league made a stink about it.

    Wonder just how many GM’s will be watching Bill to see if he has an assessment of players that might not have been getting much attention from all the mock experts out there. Could be a few Diamonds in Rough.

  14. Ryan Smith Says:

    I once predicted every pick including trades for the 7th round of the NFL draft! JK

  15. BillyBucco Says:

    I think they are still expecting Dennis to be a stud and LB isn’t on their radar early. Hopefully someone before is takes Adonai Mitchell, Junior Colson, Xavier Worthy, Braden Fiske, MCKinstry, etc and we have 3 or 4 guys we like.
    Trading back takes a viable partner and unless it’s Carolina, Washington or NE, I wouldn’t even consider it. It’s hard for me to believe the Bucs had all night to think about it, and still went with Logan Hall as the first pick.
    Doesn’t exactly breed confidence if we trade back.

  16. Cobraboy Says:

    He is 100% correct on one statement: at 26, no human on the planet can predict who will be there.

    Besides after like #15, all the real studs are gone. Then it becomes even more of a crap shoot.

    Licht will just have to let the draft come to him.

  17. Esteban85 Says:

    Here’s to hoping someone wants to jump up into the first round and grab a Bo Nix or a Penix. Trade back seems like a good option for us considering all these QB’s and OT’s in this draft. Would love to pick up a fifth round pick or maybe another 4th. There is so much talent being pushed down the board this year and round two is gonna have some first round talent available I hope. H*pe

  18. Peskajumba Says:

    I wish Philadelphia had actually tried in that wild card game.

    Last season was not the success that so many now consider it to be.

    We didn’t beat a team with a winning record until Jacksonville.

    There had been so many articles and posts throughout the season
    about how it wasn’t necessarily the losing that bothered us, but the way we were losing.

    And was I the only person that caught that play against Jacksonville where Devin White missed the receiver and absolutely murdered Winfield?

    But yes we kept

  19. Peskajumba Says:

    Most of our own guys.
    That worked so well the year after the SB.

  20. Peskajumba Says:

    Now, here I am, f****** up comments.

  21. unbelievable Says:

    @SB – I also saw a clip of Latu on instagram saying he wanted to play for the Bucs so he could play next to his boy, Joe Tryon…

  22. D-Rok Says:

    Cool intel, thanks Joe! Love these stories after-the-fact. Who wouldn’t want to be a fly on the wall in the war room on draft day?