Grading every Buccaneers NFL Draft class under Jason Licht

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2021 NFL Draft (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2021 NFL Draft (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Bucs fans, find April 27th’s NFL Draft rapidly approaching, there are a lot of opinions being offered about who the Buccaneers’ first pick should be. Sitting at pick #19 isn’t a high spot, but it’s still an area that allows GM Jason Licht more than enough leeway to make a play for almost anyone on his draft board. But is that leeway a good thing?

To answer that, it is worth examining how much trust the Tampa faithful should have in Jason Licht to steer the team through this crucial draft.

So, lets review the draft picks from Jason Licht’s tenure as the Buccaneers’ GM, from 2014 to 2022, and figure out whether trust in his process has been earned so far.

2014 NFL Draft

Notable Picks: Mike Evans (7)

Jason Licht became the GM for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014, with his first draft class coming that same year. In a year with a stacked WR class, and not much depth of talent elsewhere, Licht snagged arguably the best WR of the lot in future Hall of Fame receiver Mike Evans.

He would also add a few minor contributors like Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and Charles Sims, but the Buccaneers’ class of 2014 is inarguably known as the year they landed Evans – who has since become the franchise’s all-time leading receiver.

A-. A-. 48. Pick Analysis. Grade. 2014 NFL Draft. player. Scouting Report

2015 NFL Draft

Notable Picks: Jameis Winston (1), Donovan Smith (34), Ali Marpet (61), Kwon Alexander (124)

Licht’s next draft brought many more contributors to a roster that desperately needed it, even if none approached the absurd talent of Evans from the year before. Picking first overall, the Bucs (previously-quarterbacked by Josh McCown and Mike Glennon) desperately needed a signal caller at the top of the draft.

Licht’s answer was Jameis Winston. And while Winston ultimately never developed into the leader or player that Tampa Bay hoped for, it’s hard to say Licht made a wrong choice here. There was never any option other than getting a QB, and Winston has still outperformed the #2 pick from 2015, fellow QB Marcus Mariota.

The rest of Licht’s draft was outstanding. Donovan Smith, despite his occasional woes, has been a serviceable blindside tackle for the better part of a decade. Ali Marpet became one of the best at his position over the course of his highly-underrated career. And Kwon Alexander was the heart of a hungry new-look Tampa defense for four years – which is not bad at all for a late fourth round selection.

2015 NFL Draft. A-. player. 48. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Grade. A-