After drafting Calijah Kancey with the No. 19 overall pick, Jason Licht had the sort of reaction that will have Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans fired up.
Despite months of speculation about what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers might do with the No. 19 overall pick, the front office ended up zigging rather than zagging.
As predicted, there was a run on offensive tackles earlier in the first round that drained the talent pool enough that it wasn’t worth dipping into at No. 19. Will Levis was somehow still on the board, which freaked some fans out that the team might take a bite from the forbidden apple and take him, but instead the Bucs added to the defensive side of the ball with its first round pick.
Calijah Kancey out of Pittsburgh was the pick, someone who can step in and hopefully be a monster with Vita Vea up front.
When Kancey’s name was read out at the podium, it raised some eyebrows among Bucs fans as someone who they weren’t entirely familiar with. As soon as he was drafted, the comparisons to Aaron Donald were made by draft experts breaking the pick down, both because of his position and the Pittsburgh connection.
That’s a bit unfair, and it’s something that Jason Licht leaned into when talking about the pick after making it.
Jason Licht compares Calijah Kancey to two Hall of Famers (sort of)
Rather than swat the comparison aside, Licht cracked a joke about how he’d compare Kancey to another player — one already in the Hall of Fame.
“I’m not comparing him to Aaron Donald, that’s not fair. I would say he’s more like John Randle,” Licht said with a smile, getting some laughs in the room.
“That was a joke,” he clarified with a chuckle.
Comparisons to Hall of Famers didn’t end there, though. Licht invoked Warren Sapp, saying that he’d love the pick since the two players have similar styles.
Again, while it’s not a serious comparison it’s still something that will make fan’s ears perk up after hearing it. For a guy that most fans didn’t really know when his name was read by Roger Goodell, hearing guys like Donald, Sapp, and Randle thrown around when talking about the kind of player he can be is going to excite a lot of people.
What’s not a joke is that the Bucs believe Kancey is a guy who can step in and help Vita Vea up front. Comparing him to Aaron Donald is unfair, but the expectation that he can keep pace with and compliment a Pro Bowler like Vea is just as big an endorsement.
“Our coaches are excited about all the different things you can do with a player like this. Just because of his elite athleticism and quickness,” Licht said. “Super intelligent. Just a great competitor.”
The NFC South isn’t regarded as a world-beating division around the league, but it’s one that welcomed both Bryce Young and Bijan Robinson on the first night of the draft. Derek Carr also arrived in free agency, and the Bucs don’t have the quarterback play on paper to compete with some of the offensive fire power elsewhere in the division.
If Tampa Bay wants to be competitive next year, its best bet is to revive a smothering defense that carried it to a Super Bowl back in 2020.