Jason Licht Draft Trends

April 9th, 2024

Buccaneers GM Jason Licht

Very soon it will be draft No. 11 for Buccaneers Ring of Honor general manager Jason Licht.

Obviously, he’s grown as a draftmaster and Joe thinks it’s fair to consider Licht’s trends over the past six years (2018-2023) when his maturity as a GM became evident.

Among his first three picks of each of those drafts (18 total picks), Licht has selected a whopping nine guys who play in the trenches. That’s as many as the Eagles, who are known for collecting big bodies. And Licht has ramped up his pace in recent years. Among Licht’s first three picks of the past three drafts, seven of nine players have been trenches players.

Hmm, the Bucs have won three consecutive division titles.

Joe expects Licht to go back to the trenches in two weeks. The writing on the wall — perhaps in Bucco Bruce Arians’ red pen — says Licht will draft an edge rusher with his top pick. (“This Joe” already has placed the wager.)

It’s also a safe bet Licht is pacing the halls of One Buc Palace believing he knows who the next Luke Goedeke or Alex Cappa is that he wants to draft in Round 3. (Kudos to Cappa for becoming a beloved guard in Cincinnati and entering Year 3 of his fat Bengals contract.)

However, Joe can’t say Licht will be able to pick that hopeful steal of an offensive lineman. It’s not easy to make happen on draft night.

Licht has not used one of his first three picks in a given draft on a wide receiver since 2017 (Chris Godwin). Good luck finding another NFL team that can say that. It’s a truly freakish stat.

Does that mean Licht will be looking for an elite receiver talent as Godwin enters his eighth season and Mike Evans tackles Year 11? Joe wouldn’t bet against that.

The data demons at One Buc Palace have to be pushing Licht in that direction. It’s a smart play in a passing league. And could a big-body rookie find two better receivers from which to learn? Joe sees Trey Palmer’s ceiling as a strong No. 3 receiver. No shame there.

Joe also knows the Bucs won a Super Bowl without a first-round pick of a defensive back on the field. They rolled in 2020 with five young players drafted between Rounds 2 through 4. Licht’s last first-round cornerback or defensive back pick (Vernon Hargreaves in 2016) was a notorious bust.

Is that a strong Licht trend, believing he doesn’t need to draft a corner early because Todd Bowles is so damn good at developing DBs?

Lots to consider in Licht’s history.

One trend Joe hopes Licht breaks this year is at running back. Maybe this is the year Tampa Bay find that rookie — like many other teams have — who hits the ground productive and dangerous from Day 1.

48 Responses to “Jason Licht Draft Trends”

  1. bucsfaninchina Says:

    Great write-up, loved the history lesson. Hadn’t thought of Vernon Hargreaves for a nice, long time.

    While Latu is any Bucs fans wet dream, Licht has placed this team in a great place to go Best Player Available for round 1.

  2. BillyBucco Says:

    One trend would be Mims moving inside to LG or Goedeke moving to LG.
    If the QBs go high there will be a plethora of guys who could be the pick. I don’t see edge rusher in the first simply because there aren’t that many of them.
    It’s O Line, WR or CB in that order unless God intervenes. Last I checked HE doesn’t have favorites unless you consider Andy Reid.
    If none are worth it, you trade back if possible.
    It’s really not rocket science this year no matter how much we talk about it.

  3. geno711 Says:

    The hit rate on Wide Receivers is pretty low. Many GM’s trying to hit on those goys leave viable trench talent on the board. I am glad Licht adapted.

  4. A Bucs Fan Says:

    Oline, Dline, QB, TE, WR LB DB/S then RB are the value of modern NFL positions in order.

  5. Rayjay1122 Says:

    I wouldn’t mind if we drafted a WR in the 2nd round. I wonder if Lad McConkey would still be on the board when we pick. He would be a solid replacement for CG14 if he departed next season.

  6. Boss Says:

    OL, DL repeat….then freak athletic projects

  7. MadMax Says:

    Powers….Braswell….Trotter…..Estime…….somehow someway

  8. Bucs Guy Says:

    Top 3 Edge or Top 2 C in the first or trade back. Pick the other in the 2nd. WR, ILB and RB in the 3rd and 4th. Finish up with CB and TE in the 6th and 7th.

  9. Salary Cap Hell Says:

    Statistical NFL fact the battle is won in the trenches players who are drafted in the upper rounds tend to pan out much better than the others….

  10. Boss Says:

    I do like the way JL drafts though!!

    short of the kicker…. he musta been sauced on that one

  11. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    Once in a while you need to draft a plug and play lineman. We got Wirfs four years ago. Time for another.

  12. Hodad Says:

    Adoni Mitchell wide receiver Texas. Weapons for Mayfield!

  13. Duane in Sanford Says:

    Its going to be BPA. DE/OL/CB/WR. If Turner, Verse, Latu are gone, then its JPJ,and Barton. If all 5 are gone, then we get a solid db or receiver. I think Bowles does have a skill at developing dbs, so the receiver may be a higher priority. Dont trade up.

  14. Buc4evr Says:

    Need a C and an Edge. Get a WR in a trade or in free agency this year. Would rather get a CB or ILB in the later rounds than a WR.

  15. TheMIGHTYVH Says:

    For me the priority is trenches, trenches, trenches. My wish is that they trade back and pick up another 2nd or 3rd rounder. On avg there are 12-15 legitimate prospects with first round grades. This season is no different. So where Bucs are picking I doubt a player they have with a legit first round grade falls to them.

  16. Pickgrin Says:

    “Licht will draft an edge rusher with his top pick. (“This Joe” already has placed the wager.)”

    Thats not a very good bet unless Licht trades either up or down.

    There are not likely to be any Edge rushers with a 1st rd grade sitting at #26.

  17. Obvious Says:

    Alright, I’ve been pondering just a bit and after the all over the place with the draft mocks, I’ve decided that the Buccaneers are going in an untraditional direction UNLESS one of say Tampa’s top three fall in their laps. …

    With the way that Todd Bowls NOTORIOUSLY operates quite well outside of the box and has HUGE success producing sacks EVEN THOUGH we’ve had no super star, sack master to speak of in some years. So why break it if it isn’t broken. It’s Not a traditional style but his is a Highly Effective style. Seriously unconventional in some minds but not in certain creative minds.. So here’s my guess at our first pick and admittedly it’s from the hip but it makes some sense.

    Instead of a traditional Edge Rusher, I can see us taking the Best Defensive Tackle instead. It works well for 2 reasons.
    1. Vita Vea is getting old. Being that it’s likely that he may only do this for a few more years, it makes sense to continue to fill the need with another Monster to not only fill the “obvious” upcoming need but for a strategy that I think can work.
    2. The Strategy that can work… Why not simply use the big Boys as our edge rushers? Why not? Imagine ALL HIGHLY TALENTED D Line men instead of benders on the ends… Not only collapsing the pocket straight up the middle buy also collapsing the sides. It’s just not typically done. I’ve noticed that when we line for instance Vea up on the edge, he does a pretty solid job of getting to the qb. Imagine a Vea on both edges AND Vea’s collapsing the pocket as well… You might say we’ll screens of course but that’s what line backers are for. Imagine how you’d feel if you’re the qb and you’ve got a Vea coming from every direction. Would be nervous?

    So a flimsy example but it sets the point across. Adding the number one D lineman as our first pick could get very interesting. Just a thought and our GM is the type of guy that likes to find new a exciting ways to bring in guys nobody else saw coming.

    I’m throwing my hat in on the first pick and I’m going D lineman IF he’s there to be had,. Besides, I’m tired of the same usual picks for us so I’m heading outside of the box. There’s a strategy I think can work with the particular defensive head coach we have

  18. Boss Says:

    If they can trader the 1st pick to a decent 2nd rounder and a 3rd

    that 2 second rounders, one fairly early

    3 3rd round picks. We could easily weasel our way back into an earlier pick…

    5 picks in rounds 2 and 3? would be happy provided we got no less than 2 OL, 2 Edge and wr or rb….

    still have 4,5,6,7

    9 draft picks, no less than 2 starters, probably 3 (if the wr/rb gets time which they probably will) and BPA late combined with athletics freaks, Giddy Up!!

  19. unbelievable Says:

    Trenches trenches trenches.

    Without a pass rush, it doesn’t matter if you have the legion of boom in your backfield, they’re gonna get roasted.

  20. Lou. Says:

    @Joe —

    This walk back down memory lane should also remind us of the Lost Draft Years of 2021-2022. The success of Brady’s championship led to front office overconfidence. The team literally drafted for backup and special team players. Resigning all the starting roster proved a bad move. Sometimes you’ve got to burn your press clippings and press forward even harder. We are still paying a price for complacency.

    That needs to be put on Jason’s record, too. He’s not Ozzie Newsome yet.

  21. WilieG Says:

    Wasn’t the Bucs philosophy of team building “front to back, inside to outside” during the Sapp, Brooks, and Lynch years? It stands to reason that it would be Licht’s as well.

  22. Joe Says:

    Resigning all the starting roster proved a bad move.

    Joe believes the total opposite, unless you were just good with one Super Bowl and burn Tom Brady’s final two years.

    Had the Bucs not returned their 22+1 starters, would they have been a heartbeat from returning to the Super Bowl in 2021? Unlikely. Both Bruce Arians and Brady wanted the team to be aggressive to max out their final seasons. Both knew they were staring into the setting sun of their careers.

    Should the Bucs have drafted a corner rather than throw away a pick on Kyle Trask? In retrospect, that’s a no-brainer.

    What doomed the Bucs in the 2021 playoffs wasn’t keeping the gang together, it was injuries, specifically a knee and head injuries to two of their three best receivers. Bucs were using receivers in the loss to the Rams they just pulled off the street (John Brown).

    It’s not like the Bucs fully collapsed with their draft strategies in 2021 and 2022.

  23. JimBobBuc Says:

    I wonder how the Bucs view Goedeke as a G. In his rookie year he stuggled at G. Was is because of him playing mostly RT in college, or just that he was a rookie? How do they view him moving back to G?

    If Latu, JPC, and Barton are gone at 26, then an option for Licht is to draft a really good right tackle at 26 and then move Goedeke back to G. Then draft a C or edge in rd2.

  24. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Just did a mock where for whatever reason Dallas Turner was falling (it’s usually verse or Latu but they went ahead of him).

    I traded pick 26 + a 2025 1st + one 3rd this year to move up to 17 with the Jaguars. Kind of rich but probably what it would take.

    In the 2nd I traded back from 57 to 79 and sent a future 4th to get an extra 2nd rounder next year from Atlanta. All the top OG/C I liked were gone (i should have traded up again probably looking back because Zach Frazier was picked just 2 spots ahead which killed me in this fake world draft lol.)

    I also did like the idea of adding draft capital next year if we won’t have a #1 pick.

    1) 17 – Dallas Turner DE
    2) 79 – Ricky Pearsall WR
    3) 92 – Dominic Puni OG
    4) 125 – Ray Davis RB

    Puni + Davis both Kansas dudes. Pearsall would be a great #3 WR with #2 or more upside.

  25. Jbeachbuc Says:

    Very nice post Joe. It’s no wonder this site is by far the best Bucs site of all time. I might know.. been In love with the Bucs since my father came to me as a 7 yr old in ‘74 and said, Son We have been awarded are very own NFL team here in Tampa. Keep up the great work!

  26. 74 Bucs Fan Says:

    BillyBucco Says:
    April 9th, 2024 at 11:22 am
    One trend would be Mims moving inside to LG or Goedeke moving to LG.

    Goedeke back to LG?? A joke or flying high from the peace pipe? Yikes!

  27. gotbbucs Says:

    This will be a heavily offensive draft. We’ll see at least one interior offensive lineman, one traditional WR and probably one that excels at returning kicks, a RB, an outside the numbers CB, and probably some some combination of LB, TE, or S, basically role players that can play special teams.
    It won’t surprise me one bit if they don’t take a single edge rusher in this draft unless something special falls in their lap.

  28. DeRobbins Says:

    first three rounds better be trenches, trenches, trenches.

    a star LB or WR would be ok in rounds 2-4.

  29. LANshark Says:

    Obvious – I love this idea. Especially if they move Kancey to DE or OLB even on passing downs.

  30. Joe Says:

    Hadn’t thought of Vernon Hargreaves for a nice, long time.

    Whenever Joe sees a baseball umpire signal “safe,” Joe is triggered by Hargreaves.

  31. SlyPirate Says:

    I have a feeling we’re grabbing a WR early. Too many in this draft. One will likely fall.

  32. Larrd Says:

    Everyone wants pass rushers. Even the guy with the broken neck may be gone.

    A true stud IOL is the need and it seems there are one or two who could be there.

    Lots of receivers, too.

  33. heyjude Says:

    Excellent summary. Nice to hear the name Vernon Hargreaves again!

  34. Shane Callahan Says:

    Just saw a mock draft where OL Graham Barton, CB Kool-aid, and Edge Chop Robinson are all available at #26. I’m glad I don’t have to make that choice, lol.

  35. D Cone Says:

    Pickgrin Says:
    April 9th, 2024 at 1:17 pm
    “Licht will draft an edge rusher with his top pick. (“This Joe” already has placed the wager.)”

    Thats not a very good bet unless Licht trades either up or down.

    Don’t be surprised if Licht makes a deal with the Cardinals, trading up and sending Godwin to AZ.

    With an Offense that will live or die based on Timing Routes it’s less about a receiver’s ability to get open and more about being in a certain spot at 2 Mississippi.

  36. Dave Pear Says:

    Todd is so good at developing DBs that he had his two best press-man CBs playing cover 3 bust 10 yards off the LOS and gave up the 4th most passing yards in the league. Anyone not named Winfield has regressed under Todd’s genius. Why develop a player and then not let them play their game?

    Might as well not draft any DBs because Prime Time himself couldn’t play in Todd’s genius defense.

  37. Defense Rules Says:

    JL’s drafting record prior to 2018 was not all that sterling, only 4 of his 13 Top-3 picks in those 2014-2017 years received 2nd contracts with the Bucs (Evans, Godwin, Marpet, D Smith). Just as bad, none of the 13 picks in Rnds 4-7 got 2nd contracts, and all but 2 of them are out of the NFL right now.

    2018 was a turn-around year for Jason IMO. He had 5 picks in the Top-3 Rnds, and hit on Vea & Davis who got 2nd contracts (Cappa, MJ Stewart & Watson are still in the NFL also). Whitehead (Rnd 4) also played big & is back with us.

    But IMO it wasn’t until 2019 when Bruce Arians & Todd Bowles arrived that Jason’s drafting prowess really shone through. Like you Joe, I don’t believe in coincidences, and I’m convinced that Arians & Bowles provided Licht with a detailed PLAN of what they wanted him to provide via the draft … and Jason delivered. In the 5 years since BA arrived, Bucs have had 16 picks in the Top-3 Rnds. And 12 of those 16 picks are still Bucs; 4 have moved on to other pastures (Davis, D White, Edwards, SMB). Even 11 of the 22 picks in Rnds 4-7 are still with us.

    Overall it looks to me like 28 players drafted by the Bucs are still on our roster (not counting undrafted FAs). I’m sure several teams have done better, but just as sure that most teams have done worse. Selection is still only the starting point though; player development is the real key IMO. And that’s where our coaching staff has excelled since 2019.

  38. Tucker Says:

    If it was between those three that’s easy choice.

  39. BillyBucco Says:

    74 Bucs Fan Says:
    April 9th, 2024 at 2:13 pm
    BillyBucco Says:
    April 9th, 2024 at 11:22 am
    One trend would be Mims moving inside to LG or Goedeke moving to LG.

    Goedeke back to LG?? A joke or flying high from the peace pipe? Yikes!

    Not much of a pipe dream when Licht already said as much at the Combine.
    Pay attention man!!!

  40. unbelievable Says:

    Dave Pear Says:
    April 9th, 2024 at 3:48 pm

    Todd is so good at developing DBs that he had his two best press-man CBs playing cover 3 bust 10 yards off the LOS and gave up the 4th most passing yards in the league. Anyone not named Winfield has regressed under Todd’s genius.

    While I agree about that terrible zone coverage, that last bit is absurd.

    Jordan Whitehead, Carlton Davis, Jamal Dean, and SMB are all better today than they were before being coached by Todd Bowles, and all have earned 2nd big money contracts.

  41. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I really feel for you, Joe.

    Every year you want a RB picked high, and it never happens.

    This might be your year.

  42. NYbucsfan Says:

    Jason needs to get some player to light up the scoreboard. Mike Evans is the only player we have that may put fear in any other team. Other than him who consistently made big plays? I’m all for building through the trenches but we’ve been there done that. We lack Playmakers. We were fortunate enough to be in a crap division that we could be subpar and still win it that’s not going to last forever.

  43. Cho Says:

    Beautiful. That’s why the Bucs win. Build through the trenches. It’s strange. It’s the one proven method for NFL success. And yet, few teams stick to it.

    I hope the Bucs do it again. 3 Linemen with our top 3 picks.

    And who might that next Ali Marpet, Luke Goedeke or Alex Cappa be? I think maybe Mason McCormick. Bully of a Guard.

    Jason Licht is, after Brady, the best thing that has happened to the Bucs in over 20 years.

  44. OrlandoBucFAn Says:

    With the exception of Hargreaves, Licht has done well drafting defensive backs. He has gone the thrift store quality route. Nothing wrong with that. Where Licht seems to excel is with the offensive linemen, and that is an area of need. With that said, the Kancey pick was excellent! Diaby was probably a bit of luck mixed with preparation. I see Licht fortifying the trenches early in the draft unless something special presents itself.

  45. Obvious Says:

    Thanks Lanshark,

    I’ve noticed that, that’s the way it’s been “sort of” unfolding for some drafts now. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if a D lineman is the guy “if it plays out that way”.

    Usually the top d line guy ( a monster on Vita’s level) is gone before he gets near our pick but as you said and I agree, Kancey would probably make out to be a Devastating edge rusher. I was basically referring to “Kancey” as being a Vea off the edge.

    Kancey has the moves and quickness and possibly the bend of just about any edge rusher out there. He could certainly compete for the job and probably take it, Right Now! Plus he has the weight advantage over at least 95% of rushers league wide. Much less his leverage advantages.

    If we add another High End Monster up the middle on the talent and pure force of Vea for our first pick. That would make it possible to move Kancey to the edge. Just seems logical and it would be a MASSIVE upgrade compared to what we have to offer now and quite possibly a better choice than adding any of the top 3 edges from this draft. I truly believe Kancey could excel at that position.

    In any case it’s my 2 cents worth from the cheap seats.

  46. Senor Harry in Costa Rica Says:

    Great article Joe. Spot on

  47. Sacker58 Says:

    Well said ,exactly our needs!!

  48. Dave Pear Says:

    Someone needs to check how many passing yards the Bucs have given up the last three seasons. More every year. That is the definition of regressing. No way anyone would ever say Davis and Dean were better in 23 than 22 or 21. Nor Diva White, nor JTS, nor Hall, nor Vita.