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) /
2 of 3
Roberto Aguayo, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Roberto Aguayo, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

2016 NFL Draft

Notable Picks: Roberto Aguayo (59)

Following up a very solid class the year before, the 2016 Buccaneer rookies were not at all up to par. Licht took some swings at some key needs for Tampa Bay, but with a class highlighted by inconsistent play from Vernon Hargreaves and Noah Spence there’s only so much credit to be given.

Additionally, the story of the 2016 Buccaneer draft class cannot be complete without mentioning Roberto Aguayo, who might go down as one of Tampa Bay’s most significant busts ever. An awful showing from the third-year GM.

Pick Analysis. Grade. F. F. 48. Scouting Report. 2016 NFL Draft. player

2017 NFL Draft

Notable Picks: O.J. Howard (19), Chris Godwin (84)

This class can be looked at as a bit of a bounce-back year from Licht, though perhaps only because of the woeful 2016 class in the rearview mirror. Licht trusted the process on uber-athletic O.J. Howard, who turned in three solid years as a physical TE with occasional flashes of exceptional pass-catching ability.

The most exceptional pass catcher, however, came in Chris Godwin – Licht’s first 3rd round selection in the draft. Godwin, as Bucs fans know, has blossomed into a significant weapon for the Buccaneers’ offense. One of the best WR blockers in the game, and capable of making any catch, Godwin is a true talent. Especially adjusted for the relative value of the pick used to get him, Godwin is a tremendous acquisition.

B-. B-. 48. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Grade. 2017 NFL Draft. player

2018 NFL Draft

Notable Picks: Vita Vea (12), Carlton Davis (63), Alex Cappa (94), Jordan Whitehead (117)

Now Jason Licht is finally cooking with gas. The 2018 draft class for Tampa Bay is nothing short of masterful. Flying in the face of many Bucs fans, including yours truly, clamoring for secondary help, Licht secured Vita Vea in the first round. Vea, of course, has since become one of the most feared interior defensive linemen in the game.

The secondary was addressed later, with Carlton Davis slotting in as the Bucs CB1 since day 1, and Jordan Whitehead becoming an immediate impact player/plug-and-play starter. Added to this is the impact of Alex Cappa, who joined Ali Marpet and newly-acquired Ryan Jensen to form an absolutely elite trio at the heart of Tampa Bay’s offensive line.

Finally, it has to be said that while Ronald Jones never quite lived up to the potential he was drafted for, he was a large piece of the Buccaneers’ eventual Super Bowl run. Tremendous work overall from Jason Licht in this one.

Grade. A. 48. Scouting Report. A. 2018 NFL Draft. player. Pick Analysis

2019 NFL Draft

Notable Picks: Devin White (5), Sean Murphy-Bunting (39), Jamel Dean (94), Mike Edwards (99)

Yet again, tremendous. Devin White has had his issues, but is one of the most athletic and purely talented players in all of football. Sean Murphy-Bunting, Jamel Dean, and Mike Edwards each became huge impact players for a Bucs team that was rapidly gaining notice as one of the most complete and talented rosters in the league.

Even late-round picks Anthony Nelson and Scotty Miller became contributors in the eventual rise of the Buccaneers. And Matt Gay, though he left Tampa before the turnaround was complete, is still a very talented Pro-Bowl level kicker.

This was another phenomenal class from Licht who, in the 2018 and 2019 draft, did more than perhaps any other to eventually deliver the Buccaneers a Super Bowl. Without the incredible number of genuine starting talents from these two years, it is unlikely that Tom Brady ever comes to Tampa Bay – and thus unlikely that the Lombardi trophy follows suit.

2019 NFL Draft. A+. 48. A. Pick Analysis. Grade. player. Scouting Report