With the NFL draft less than two weeks away, Buccaneers GM Jason Licht held court with the media yesterday via a conference call to talk about the upcoming draft and some other Bucs related topics.
For the first time ever, all members of the Bucs front office will be in a different location on draft night. This could make it very challenging from a communication standpoint, and also from a technology standpoint.
Licht said that he and the front office will be ready on draft night and do not anticipate any issues. Licht and head coach Bruce Arians will have an IT person at their respective homes to correct any IT issues should they occur.
“Each general manager and each head coach are going to have an IT person that’s going to be available at their residence,” Licht said. “I feel very comfortable with that.“
With Tom Brady as the starter for the next two years, Licht was asked about possibly drafting a developmental quarterback.
“We can afford to do it, I think. And it’s definitely something we would look at. But it just depends on who that player is, where he’s available, what other players are in front of him. If we are sold on that player, it’s not as easy as just picking any quarterback and thinking, ‘OK, he’s the developmental guy.”
With the Bucs pressing needs along the offensive line and at running back, The third or fourth round may be the earliest that the Bucs pull the trigger on that quarterback.
Licht was also asked about Jameis Winston being a bust and whether or not he felt that Winston was a miss as the number one draft pick in 2015.
“We have a lot of respect for Jameis. Jameis was still part of our plan if things went a different route. I thought he did a lot of great things, and I think anybody in our office or our building would say the same thing. He did some spectacular things for us. I would never say, and I think I speak on behalf of the organization that he was a bust.”
Winston is the all time Buccaneer passing leader with close to 20,000 yards and is second behind Vinny Testaverde in franchise history with 88 interceptions.
Licht went on to say, “I think Winston’s got a bright future ahead of him. I’m very confident that Jameis is going to go on and get an opportunity. That’s not the last you’re going to hear from Jameis.”
Running the ball effectively has been an issue for this team the last few seasons and there are two to three guys that should be available in the second when the Bucs make their second selection.
JK Dobbins of Ohio State, Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin, and Andre Swift of Georgia could all be available when the Bucs pick in the second round.
Ronald Jones showed a lot of improvement in year two, and Licht thinks that the future looks incredibly bright for Jones.
“We do think Ronald hasn’t even scratched the surface of what he can be. He made a huge jump from Year 1 to Year 2. That doesn’t stop us from wanting to add to that group. We have a lot of faith in Ronald and more faith in him than we’ve ever had. But looking across the league at some of the better teams, they have one, two or three guys, sometimes four, that they can rely on at different times in their offense.”
That would seem to indicate that the Bucs will be looking to draft a running back early on in the draft.
This will be Jason Licht’s seventh draft in Tampa, and he has more misses than hits on his draft resume.
His first ever pick as Bucs GM wide receiver Mike Evans has so far been his best draft selection in his time as Buccaneer GM and Evans has gone to become the all time Bucs leading receiver in yards and touchdown passes.
Out of 42 selections, 12 are starters and only cornerback Ryan Smith is still on the team from the 2016 draft.
With Brady under center, the Bucs are in win now mode. Licht has to have a strong draft to set this team up for success down the road after the Tom Brady era has ended.