2. Ali Marpet (2015)
Full disclosure: the second, third and fourth spots were very difficult to shake out. However, the ultimate decision was to place Ali Marpet at two. He is the heart of the offensive line and has had three very strong seasons in the NFL since being selected in the second round of the 2015 draft. It didn’t take him long to get acclimated to the NFL either, as he was named to the Pro Football Writers Association’s all-rookie team.
Marpet’s versatility has been huge for the Bucs early in his career. He played guard in 2015 and 2016 before moving to center in 2017. The big man was good at both positions, demonstrating how valuable he can be to the team for the future.
This year, he is moving back to guard after Tampa Bay brought in former Ravens center Ryan Jensen. The one year spent at center wasn’t at wasted, as it helped everyone see that Marpet was both versatile and willing to do whatever the team asked of him. That’s always a plus.
The brilliance of this pick cannot be overstated. Licht clearly had his sights set on Marpet, considering he traded up in the second round to land him. And of course, there’s the fact that he came from Hobart, which competes in the NCAA’s Division III. Those picks can be risky, but Licht clearly liked him enough and had faith that he would transition well to the NFL. So far he has, making his general manager look great as a result.