The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had quite the haul during the 2018 NFL Draft, selecting eight players after general manager Jason Licht traded down twice – once in the first round and again in the second round. Now it’s time for PewterReport.com’s Scott Reynolds to review the 2018 Bucs draft class and assign some initial grades based on the players’ attributes and value based on the round they were selected.
Linebacker Jack Cichy, Tampa Bay’s sixth-round pick, is the last of the draft picks to be profiled in this series.
Cichy, a former walk-on, missed the last year and a half playing football while recovering from two injuries. He was an excellent downhill defender against the run and the pass, and was deemed as a coach on the field by his teammates at Wisconsin. Cichy absolutely loves football. A torn pectoral muscle against Iowa ended Cichy’s junior year halfway through the season after he put up 60 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and 1.5 sacks in seven games.
Wisconsin CB Jack Cichy – Photo courtesy of Wisconsin
Cichy missed all of the 2017 season rehabbing a torn ACL that happened during training camp last August. He was only able to do the bench press (18 reps) at Indianapolis, but was able to do agility drills at his pro day where he was deemed to be 90 percent healthy. While he didn’t run a 40-yard dash, his speed is believed to be in the 4.75 range, and he did do the three-cone drill (6.87) and the short shuttle (4.17) and turned in good times with Buccaneers linebackers coach Mark Duffner in attendance.
Prior to his ACL injury, which was a clean tear, Cichy was regarded as a possible second- or third-round pick, depending on how fast he timed in the 40-yard dash. In just one and a half years as a starter for the Badgers defense, the highly instinctive Cichy recorded 121 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, six pass breakups and two forced fumbles. Some believe that if he returns to form and can play at an NFL-caliber speed that he could be a true Day 3 steal for Tampa Bay.
The Question Marks
Cichy is a high-motor, tough, instinctive linebacker when healthy, but will he make a full recover from his torn ACL as fast as Kendell Beckwith, last year’s third-round pick, did? And is he fast enough to start and play at the NFL level, or will he be another Big Ten linebacker like Riley Bullough, whose speed is also limited? Cichy didn’t drop in coverage a lot at Wisconsin, so does he have the ability to play in reverse instead of just straight ahead?
The Rookie Season Expectations
Tampa Bay isn’t afraid of taking linebackers coming off ACL injuries, evidenced by drafting Beckwith in the third round last year. Like Beckwith, Cichy is a bigger linebacker at 6-foot-3, 238 pounds, and is a downhill player and a good blitzer. The Bucs will likely have him learn MIKE linebacker and cross-train at SAM like Beckwith did a year ago, hoping he can return to form where he recorded 60 tackles, eight tackles for loss and five sacks with his blitzing ability. He might miss some of the OTAs like Beckwith did a year ago, but Cichy should be ready to go in training camp where he will compete with Cameron Lynch and Bullough for a roster spot as a reserve and a special teams player.
The Grade: C
Cichy has a legitimate chance to make the roster as a sixth-round pick, but did the Bucs pick the right Wisconsin linebacker, as Leon Jacobs, who has 4.48 speed, was still available? Would drafting another running back to compete with Charles Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers, or a young defensive end to groom behind Vinny Curry and Jason Pierre-Paul been a wiser pick? If Cichy is healthy and can play with 4.7 speed or better, this grade could be higher. But questions about his recovery and his 40-time keep it in the average range.
Scott Reynolds is in his 27th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive coordinator/defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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