Buccaneers feel, fill need for “speed” during NFL Draft

Photo by Icon Sportswire


TAMPA – Months before the draft process even began, on a white grease board in his office at One Buc Place, Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht wrote one word in big black bold letters:


That word is still on that grease board, serving as a constant reminder to Licht and coach Dirk Koetter of the one element they believed the Bucs needed to add most through the course of the offseason.

The Bucs have done a pretty good job of filling that need the last few weeks, adding wide receiver DeSean Jackson in free agency and three more speedy offensive skill-position players during the draft.

Third-round wide receiver Chris Godwin ran the fifth fastest 40-yard dash (4.42 seconds) in his position group at the scouting combine this year while fifth-round running back Jeremy McNichols ran the sixth-fastest 40 (4.49) among the players in his position group.

First-round tight end O.J. Howard, meanwhile, ranked second among all of his positional peers at the combine in the 40 with a 4.56-second finish and also ranked first with a 10-yard split time of 1.52 seconds.

He also ran the fastest 20-yard shuttle (4.16 seconds), 60-yard shuttle (11.46) and three-cone drill (6.85) among all tight ends, further proof of his exceptional burst, speed and endurance.

It’s no wonder then that Licht walked away from the draft feeling a lot better about the speed of a team that he considered to be a bit slow at too many key offensive positions last year.

“You can’t have enough speed,’’ Licht said. “We really felt like we needed to add that and we did with (Howard), with Chris and even with the safety (second-round pick Justin Evans, who ran a 4.50 40).

“We’re excited about that. Not that we’re just looking for that (one) attribute in a player whatsoever. They have to be good players as well. But we definitely felt like we have added to our team’s speed.’’

Indeed they have, and that’s just another reason why this Bucs team that Licht and Koetter are building figures to be not just one of fastest but one of the most potent and exciting Bucs teams ever.



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