Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht appeared on NFL Network’s Total Access Monday night to talk about the team’s top three draft choices, as well as the physical transformation of Jameis Winston as he enters his second season.
Regarding the draft, Licht said they were happy just to land Vernon Hargreaves III, in itself, though the extra draft pick – No. 106 overall from the Bears – certainly added to the excitement as it allowed them to further execute their pre-draft strategy. Tampa Bay had Roberto Aguayo targeted in the third round, but was able to use the extra pick as ammunition to move up and ensure his services.
“He’s a guy that’s going to score a lot of points for us and we didn’t have any problem taking him where we did,” said Licht, who isn’t afraid of criticism for a pick he believes will ultimately win games for the organization.
“In addition to being extremely successful at the college level – which is harder to make field goals at the college level because of the wide hashes – he’s also great,” Licht continued on Aguayo. “He has a big-time leg on kickoffs, he’s a weapon on kickoffs as well as field goals. And then the extra points – he’s never missed.”
In between the addition of the Florida cornerback and the Florida State kicker, though, was a highly touted defensive end, Noah Spence, who came in with his own deal of scrutiny. Once a top prospect at Ohio State, Spence was banned from the Big 10 in 2014 following two failed drug tests. The 6-foot-2 pass rusher then transferred to Eastern Kentucky, where he went on to record 11.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss, this coming after a 7.5-sack season in Columbus.
Spence spent the months leading up to the draft convincing teams that he’s matured, assuring them that he’s more of a reflection of the on-field player in college than the off-field person.
Licht, who called Spence the “best pure pass rusher” at his post-draft press conference, was clearly sold.
“The more and more work we did with Spence – we do a lot of work on a lot of players – and more we did, the more comfortable we felt,” Licht said, crediting his scouting staff for their due diligence. “He’s made some immature decisions but he’s a good kid. He’s a very good player; we think he has a tremendous upside, so for us to wait and still get him where we did, we were elated.”
Before the interview ended, Licht was asked about Winston’s body transformation. A hot topic surrounding the team in recent months, Licht said the young quarterback’s offseason conditioning speaks to his commitment as a leader.
“He felt that he needed to get his body in better shape,” Licht said. “This is the first offseason he’s ever had where he wasn’t playing baseball, where he could commit to football. He feels he can be a better player by getting in better shape, which would translate to wins. It’s a selfless act in the big picture because all he cares about are wins. He doesn’t care about individual glory or accomplishments – he just wants to win and this, he feels, puts the Bucs in better position to win more games.”
And more wins, Licht said, are ultimately what will justify the team’s decision to select him No. 1 overall in 2015.
“People ask that a lot – if he exceeded expectations,” Licht said. “I’d say he fulfilled them. We were very pleased with him, with what he accomplished last year. Now we just need to win more games.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Just win baby!!!!
yes we have ti win more games. An 8-8 record would be very positive. Go Bucs!
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