— Sports

Super Bowl champ Bucs focused on building depth in NFL draft

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – Jason Licht is enjoying the perks that come with being the general manager of a reigning Super Bowl champion. That includes the challenge of getting a late start on preparing for the NFL draft and not having a selection until the tail end of the first round as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to get acclimated to what life’s like with Tom Brady. “It’s a good problem to have.

Said Licht, who already has had a successful offseason by boldly promising to do whatever was necessary for free agency to keep an all-star roster assembled around Brady. With all 22 starters from the Super Bowl returning, the Bucs find themselves in unfamiliar territory for a club that missed the playoffs 12 consecutive seasons before Brady’s arrival set a new course in March 2020. For the first time in franchise history, Tampa Bay indeed enters a draft without a need for immediate help at any position.

“It is a feeling this year that just about any player at any position we could take,” Licht said before cutting himself short. “I guess I’ll say I won’t take a kicker,” the GM added with a smile, mindful of recent draft-day blunders, including Tampa Bay’s selection of Roberto Aguayo (second round, 2016) and Matt Gay (fifth round, 2019), both of whom were released after disappointing rookie seasons.

NFL draft

“But liberating is probably a perfect word’’ to describe what it’s like to pick 32nd overall compared to the top 10. “It’s a luxury we can choose the player we think will be the best in two years instead of two games. And despite having no intentions of moving on from Brady, who signed a contract extension that’ll keep him in Tampa Bay for at least two more seasons, Licht and coach Bruce Arians have not ruled out selecting a quarterback at some point in the draft.

“We go into that every year. If the guy’s there at the right time that we really think has a great future, then there’s no better time to have one sit for a couple of years and learn,” Arians said. “Each round, there’s going to be one of those guys in that picture to try to see who’s the best (player) available right then. Brady turns 44 in August, and Ryan Griffin, who’s thrown four passes over six NFL seasons, is the only other QB currently under contract.

Licht said what the Bucs wouldn’t do is draft a quarterback “just to pick a quarterback.

“You want everybody to be on board, and the guy’s got to have the right mindset. He’s got to be talented and can throw the ball, but he’s got to be someone we all feel comfortable with above the neck,” the GM said. “There’s always positives to drafting a quarterback if those align.”


Unlike a year ago when Tampa Bay’s top two draft picks – correct tackle Tristan Wirfs and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. – became immediate starters and flourished, the Bucs are focused on finding prospects to contribute on special teams as rookies and compete for more prominent roles in 2022 and beyond. Arians said an emphasis would be placed on adding speed on defense and depth on both lines of scrimmage.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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