It has been a roller coaster five years for Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht. His draft classes have been much of the same; a few hits in the first round and a plethora of misses throughout the second and third days of the draft.
To say tomorrow’s draft is an important one for the Buccaneers would be an understatement. The jobs of many are on the line, and the biggest by far is none other than Licht. Entering his fifth year in charge in Tampa Bay, Licht has managed a 27-53 record since taking over in 2014. With misses in free agency and lackluster draft hauls, Licht finds himself on arguably the hottest seat in the NFL entering the 2019 season.
Licht has landed a few Pro Bowl caliber players in the early rounds of previous drafts, but it has been the lack of starters and depth players in the second and third day of the draft that has plagued Licht the most. The lack of depth has ultimately lead to the Buccaneers losing many games. For every Mike Evans, O.J Howard and Chris Godwin that Licht has drafted successfully, there have been misses and question marks such as Roberto Aguayo, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, M.J Stewart, and Noah Spence.
Tampa Bay has an opportunity to make a quick turnaround with a brand new coaching staff. Licht believes they will get the most out of the players he drafted by putting them in schemes more suitable to their strengths. However, without a highly successful draft class, it is unlikely Licht will see another season. Tampa Bay has the same glaring holes that they had when Licht took over in 2014. Solidifying a pass rush is still the top need, while also finding help on the offensive line.
To make matters worse, a year from now the Buccaneers may be without both Gerald McCoy and Jason Pierre-Paul as they both have high cap hits with no guaranteed money left on their contracts. It is imperative for Licht to land a minimum of three starters on the defensive side of the ball alone, as this is the deepest defensive draft in recent memory.
I would argue that two of these draft picks need to be on the defensive line. I wrote a piece on Kentucky’s edge Josh Allen and how he should be the Buccaneers primary target in the NFL Draft. Other names that Licht could look to target on the defensive edge include Michigan’s Chase Winovich, Texas’ Charles Omenihu, and Florida’s Jachai Polite.
The linebacker position was also left wanting after Kwon Alexander signed with the San Francisco 49ers this offseason. Linebackers that could be in the mix around Tampa Bay’s selections could be LSU’s Devin White and Minnesota’s Blake Cashman.
Licht will need to hit at both positions if he is to be in charge of the draft in 2020. We will see what happens tomorrow to start this vital decision-making process.