Another draft for Buccaneers GM Jason Licht, and another series of premium picks have been spent trying to retool the Buccaneers secondary. This after Tampa Bay used all three of their Friday second and third round selection on either a defensive back or a safety.
And in continuing to emphasize that position group as a need, Licht simultaneously is admitting his past draft shortcomings exist.
More on that in a moment.
First, the Buccaneers used their second-round pick Friday in Nashville (39th overall) on Central Michigan defensive back Sean Bunting. A 6’0, 195 lbs. player from Central Michigan out of the MAC Conference is apparently exactly what new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is looking for in terms of man-to-man coverage ability.
While that can be debated, what cannot be debated is that Bunting joins last year’s two second round picks M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis, along with 2016 first round pick Vernon Hargreaves, as four corners that have been taken in either the first or the second round by Licht in four drafts.
Now, that’s not former Lions GM Mat Millen taking a wide receiver in the top 10 of three consecutive drafts (’03-05), but it’s still something of concern for Bucs fans.
And Licht wasn’t done Friday, because as the third round began, Licht wasted no time/went back to the defensive back position. And, for the second year in a row, he took another one from Auburn.
Jamel Dean, who is a former teammate of Carlton Davis’, was the latest Buccaneer pick at 94th overall. The Bucs had obviously seen Dean while scouting Davis and he is a little bigger than Bunting, plus, obviously played in a much tougher SEC.
Finally, Licht rounded out the most recent reboot of the Buccaneers defensive backfield by taking Kentucky safety Mike Edwards five picks later in the third round. That also means it is the third consecutive year the Buccaneers have drafted a safety going back to taking Justin Evans in the second round of 2017, and then, Jordan Whitehead a year ago in the fifth round.
With the understanding that it is another new coaching staff in Tampa Bay (the third one since Licht became the general manager in 2015) it still has to raise eyebrows the players just repeatedly picked again Friday night were done using premium first, second or third round selections at the same position group.
We wrote earlier this week that Hargreaves had the fifth year option of his rookie contract picked up, but it’s fair to say that he has been an injured bust, as a first-round draft pick. After basically being demoted to “slot corner” during his rookie season, Hargreaves missed the final six games in stretch run of 2017 with a hamstring injury. And then, he went on IR after an injured shoulder in the opening game a year ago.
Maybe, Hargreaves will live up to his first-round draft status under Bowles’ new system this year?
Then again, the draft picks of last year and this year could be an indication the Tampa Bay is ready to move on from the former Gator is he doesn’t perform or has another injury? Then, the fifth year option for Hargreaves valued at $14 million can be rescinded at no salary cap cost next off-season.
Another important point is Tampa Bay is in the pass-happy NFC South that includes the likes of Drew Brees and Matt Ryan throwing the football against you a couple of times each year. Therefore, you have to have a lot of guys that can run and cover downfield.
Still, by continuing to go to the draft and repeatedly take players at the same position group in valuable slots after already draftinh several recently, you make fans and observers alike scratch their head.
Is it an admission that your previous picks were a mistake? Is it a sign that you cannot have enough competition?
Probably some of both.
Time will tell on who gets playing time and who’s on the roster not just this season but next season in Tampa Bay?
Then, we’ll know for sure, which of Licht’s defensive back picks were or weren’t misfires.
We just know now, there’s been a bunch he’s taken.
Positive injury update news for Bucs DT Vita Vea
Bucs coach Bruce Arians gave another positive update Sunday on one of his star defensive players he’s counting on to come back from injury. It looks like hulking defensive tackle Vita Vea is still on track to potentially play in the season opener September 8th.
After the Buccaneers Sunday morning training camp workout, Arians was asked, if there was any new news on Via resting and rehabbing the sprained ligament in his left knee? He told the media:
"Obviously, when you’re put in game-winning situations and your young players perform, you’re proud of them, and they did exactly that."
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) August 18, 2019
“He’s getting better and better everyday. No pain (in the knee). So, I’ve got my fingers crossed that he’s gonna be ready (opening day),” Arians said plainly.
The former first-round pick a year ago out of the University of Washington was injured almost two weeks ago in a one-on-one pass blocking drill, crumbling to the ground with the Bucs and their fans holding their breath. However it turns out it was only a sprain ligament that did not require surgery and Vea could still possibly play at the beginning of the regular season, including the opener with the 49ers.
Vea was seen walking on the sideline Friday night during the Bucs preseason game with the Dolphins with the aid of a heavily braced left knee.
This is the second straight training camp that Vea has been sidelined with a significant injury. Last year, he suffered a torn calf muscle on the second day of workouts and missed all of the preseason and the first three games of the regular season recovering from the injury and getting into playing shape.
When he did comeback, Vea came on strong in the second half of the season and began to show signs of promise, as to why the Bucs had picked him in the top 15 of the draft. He had a career high nine tackles in a December game in Baltimore and was all over the line of scrimmage and the backfield causing disruptions.
Then, in Dallas the following week, he was once again making plays early in the game. Although, he had a first-half sack Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott nullified by a face mask penalty, he got another one that counted by blindsiding Prescott on the final play of the first half.
Vea finished with three tackles, the sack and one tackle for loss in that game. And, in the second half of the season, he ended up with 28 tackles with three sacks and five tackles for loss in eight games.
Vea is being heavily counted on to help the interior of the Bucs defensive line in new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ 3 – 4 defense. He along with new free agent pro bowl veteran Ndamukong Suh are going to be the guys relied upon to get pressure up the middle for the defense.
Report- Bucs have extended GM Jason Licht’s contract
Hoping to practice some form of continuity, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have reportedly extended the contract of GM Jason Licht.
This after a report Saturday morning from Bucs beat writer for the Tampa Bay Times, Rick Stroud, that Licht has been given a five-year contract extension to remain with the team:
Bucs signed general manager Jason Licht to a new five year deal https://t.co/g8fswc0gyJ
— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) August 17, 2019
A big part of the reason why the Glazer family, which owns the team, wanted to keep Licht is: his ability to lure former Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians to come out of retirement and join them this past January.
Further, Stroud reports that Arians made it a condition of his coming out of retirement that Licht remain with the team long-term and that the Bucs keep embattled starting QB Jameis Winston.
Licht had been given a one-year extension for 2019 before this offseason, and the Buccaneers had already committed to keep quarterback Jameis Winston for the fifth year option of his rookie contract. Then, once former coach Dirk Koetter was fired in January, Licht’s previous relationship with Arians helped the Bucs get their new coach.
Licht was the assistant general manager with the Cardinals, when Arians was hired in 2013 and led them eventually to the NFC Championship Game in 2014.
Licht became the Buccaneers general manager at that the start of that same season, but has had a rocky tenure of results. This includes only one winning season out of five and several free agent moves and draft picks that have backfired.
None bigger than when Licht traded up in the 2016 draft for FSU kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round, only to have Aguayo falter and be released the following year in training camp.
Licht has also had free agent busts like former Redskins defensive tackle Chris Baker and last year, Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry. Both of whom we’re paid heavily but did nothing in their one season before being released.
Licht and his staff do deserve some credit for finding unheralded players like tight end Cameron Brate, running back Peyton Barber and former wide receiver Adam Humphries. All of whom were undrafted and have been quality contributors over the last couple of seasons.
The team had no official comment on Stroud’s report of the extension.