Sikkema’s Stat of the Week

Whether you were on #TeamVita or #TeamDerwin, it’s very hard and even foolish to try to dislike the moves the Bucs made on NFL Draft weekend. Going into the draft, the Bucs had needs on the defensive line, offensive line, in the secondary all around and certainly needed an extra running back, too.

What they came away with was this:

Round 1, Pick 12: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Round 2, Pick 38: Ronald Jones II, RB, USC
Round 2, Pick 53: M.J. Stewart, CB, North Carolina
Round 2, Pick 63: Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
Round 3, Pick 94: Alex Cappa, G, Humboldt State
Round 4, Pick 117: Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh
Round 5, Pick 144: Justin Watson, WR, Pennsylvania
Round 6, Pick 202: Jack Cichy, LB, Wisconsin

So, if you’re keeping score at home, the Bucs, in fact, addressed needs at defensive line, offensive line, in the secondary all around and got themselves an extra running back, too. I thought the Bucs did a good job, not only addressing their needs, but also in the way they were prioritized when selecting them.

The theme of the offseason has been totally recreating the defensive line from its foundation. That started with current defensive line coach Brentson Buckner being brought in to replace former Buccaneers defensive line coach Jay Hayes – something that has already shown promise in the team’s recent rookie camp. Then the team went out and signed Vinny Curry, Beau Allen and Mitch Unrein, and topped all that off by trading for Jason Pierre-Paul. Knowing that, it was no surprise that the Bucs also invested their highest capital in the draft on the defensive line. Some would say that the defensive line had already been “fixed” in free agency, but no one knows that for sure, and after watching what he watched last year, Bucs general manager Jason Licht wasn’t going to roll the dice in any way again in the trenches.

Bucs GM Jason Licht - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

After the selection of Vea to bolster the defensive line, the next two biggest needs were filled in the second round. The Bucs were able to dip into a deep and talent running back class in what I would have called a “sweet spot” just inside the second round to get Jones, and spent their next two selections after that on the cornerback position with Stewart and Davis.

Not only were two cornerbacks selected, the two they chose specifically are stylistically different from what the team deployed last year. We’ll see how much change comes because of that. Before the draft got too deep, the Bucs then picked up a small-school guard in Cappa they think has a lot of potential, and the rest of the draft was rounded out with three high-ceiling players that the team took some development risk on (which I’m always a fan of on Day 3).

Even though you all already know all those picks by now, I wanted to write them out because I don’t think I have collectively, to this point, and I really wanted to state how impressed I was with this draft class. Obviously the players have to play out their careers to ultimately see how good the selections were, but in terms of who they got where and what needs they filled immediately, as well as the potential they could have in the future, the Buccaneers draft warranted good draft grades from all around the media world.

But me being impressed with the Bucs’ draft haul doesn’t stop there – or should I say, it didn’t start there. My strongest tip-of-the-cap to the Bucs’ war room actually comes from how they maneuvered the draft in such a way to end up with the number of players they wanted and needed while moving up and back a few times to make it happen.

I said this on one of the recent episode of the Pewter Nation Podcast after the draft, but I was so impressed with the intel on other teams the Bucs had in this draft thanks in part to director of pro scouting Rob McCartney. They moved back from No. 7 to No. 12 to get exactly what they wanted in two second-round picks all while knowing one of Vea or Derwin James was going to be available for them. They rolled the dice not selecting Davis first before Stewart and ended up betting correctly by getting both. And finally they then had the mindset to wait for the perfect time to give up the right value to move for Cappa.

The NFL Draft is a game and a complex one, at that. You can’t just sit there with your seven picks, one in each round, pick decently well and think you’re OK while other teams are moving up and down from year-to-year getting great value out of their selections in the talent they pick and the time in which they pick them. You have to be aggressive but smart. You have to play the game but not get played yourself. It’s a weekend of deals and treaties, but it’s also one big free-for-all.

The draft value chart is a theoretically accepted way to represent trade value for draft picks. It was created by Jimmy Johnson in the early 1990s when he was the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. What it does is it gives a numerical representation of each pick to (in theory) balance out trades. Though each general manager will obviously have his own personal value of what he thinks his picks are worth, this sort of centralizes it.

The picture above is of the aforementioned draft chart for 2018. Some charts look a little different than others because the original one didn’t have compensatory picks involved in its numerical scale because you used to not be able to trade compensatory picks. But now you can, and thus there are some subtle differences in the exact point value for the later round picks – which usually doesn’t mean too much.

When the 2018 draft began the Bucs had 2,175.7 “draft points” over the span of six draft picks and one compensatory pick. What the Bucs ended up with when the 2018 draft was finished was 2,481.7 “draft points” from the eight total picks they ended up using. More picks and more value? That’s a double win when it comes to the draft game; that’s something every general manager tries to do every year. That’s what Licht did this year.

When you subtract the two numbers, the Bucs had an extra 306 points from where they started the weekend – and didn’t give up any picks in future years. If you look at that number on the chart, that’s like getting an extra late second-round pick of value for nothing more than playing the trade game correctly, moving the pieces and getting the maximum value from another team.

It’s not just who you get but how you got them that ultimately goes into the final evaluation of a good draft. As for 2018, Licht and his staff were true gamers, and played their annual game to a tee.

24 COMMENTS

  1. I think you have to count Dotson as more of a question mark then a 16 game starter. We could use new blood at both right guard, and right tackle. Cappa has to nail down one of those spots, and I believe Licht hopes Benenoch will fill the other. I don’t have faith in Sweezy, or Dotson health wise moving forward.

  2. The hope is that Cappa will pass Sweezy on the depth chart and be right guard. Hopefully this happens week 1, due to him being the best option. Then he can only improve from there. If not week 1, it is likely a matter of time until he starts (if the hype is for real).

    I am good with Dotson. Granted he is an injury question mark, he is a good starter. Benenoch will have to back him up.

  3. Well..it all looks so wonderful…on paper. But we’ve looked good on paper before. I’ll remain..cautiously optimistic with my Bucs. All the hype over the yrs have lead to disappointment. So..I’ll wait for the final product to produce on the field. It remains to be seen if this class is what we say it is. I know we got 3 real good players. The rest we shall see. And Sweezy needs to be cut. I said last yr he would never recover from his back injury. Play yes. But he’ll never be beyond 75%. This is the NFL..not college. The mans collecting a paycheck for nothin. Talk about easy money……..

  4. And watching the draft with you guys just made it infinitely more fun, with Licht making all the right moves (except for, of course, MJ Stewart. 😉 I hope I’m proven wrong). Thanks again, Trevor, SR, and Admiral Grumpy for doing that!

  5. I hope Sweezy comes back healthy and takes the rt guard job. I’m not a Benenoch fan, gets blown up inside and speed beats him on the outside. I watched some of the Senior bowl practices and the game and you could see Caapa is not nearly as comfortable on the Rt side of the line. I’m sure with the practices and pre season he wiil continue to get better, but I hope Sweezy can hold onto it. He was a very good run blocker with Seattle and I think he still can be. Looking forward to seeing the Tackle that was picked up from Tennessee play, hopefully is better than Wester. As far as the draft. I would have preferred the DE from UTSA Davenport. He’s raw but the defense needs edge rushers more than another 350lb tackle IMO. The rest of the draft looks good but I would have liked a bigger back late.

  6. Trevor,

    Great article this week. Once again you knocked it out of the park.

    The question is, who plays right guard? Sweezy? Benenoch? Cappa? To this question I am going to say Cappa. I mean it’s been 2 years and Sweezy has not impressed anyone. He is injury prone and when he played he stunk. He was missing blocks in all phases. I would be really surprised if Sweezy is on this roster come September. He would have to have a stellar training camp. With Bennenoch the team must choose where they want him to play RT of RG. I think they should let him develop at RT and be the apparent heir to Dotson. Let Cappa play guard and guard only. I see the point in versatility but gosh playing musical chairs with the Oline is hurting this OL in all phases. That whole Evan-Smith and Pamphile thing last year was a shit show. Let your starting 5 have chemistry and then have a Wester or whomever be that versatile player in case of injury. Its like the whole rotation of safeties doesn’t make sense but that is a story for another day.

    And pertaining to the first page of the Cover 3, what did you think of Licht’s maneuvers in the 2018 NFL Draft? Has he done enough in the last two drafts and in the way he’s handled them to make up for some of the draft mistakes earlier in his general manager career? Licht could not have maneuvered better in this draft it was truly a work of art seeing it. He has drafted well over the years yes he has made mistakes but all GMs do. Not one GM in the league will bat .1000 most of them don’t even bat .500. All this heat that Licht gets is unwarranted and undeserving. Licht drafted better than Dominick, Allen and maybe better than Rich McKay. The knock on McKay was he did not handle the salary cap well and I think Licht has shown that he has.

    Lastly, the front 5 should be D.Smith, Marpet, Jensen, Cappa and Dotson. Having E.Smith as a backup to both G positions and Bennenoch backup the RT position.

    -Chris

  7. Why is Smith still with this team? He spends as much time getting pushed into the backfield as he does jumping offside. The offense always looked better when Joe Hawley was in the game. Smith did more to lose the Packer game last year and it was Winston who took all the blame for trying to do too much. If he loves Green Bay so much then maybe he should ride that kid’s bike back to Wisconsin.

    Why do we keep trying to force square pegs into round holes. We do a great job drafting and developing a premier right guard and then ask him to play center and left guard. If Cappa is more comfortable on the left than right then put him on the left and put Marpet on the right. If we are worried about Dotson’s health then get or develop a right tackle.

    Flexibility is desirable for back ups but our starters need to be highly skilled specialists.

    Also, what happened to Pamphile last year. I can only assume that the constant position changes ruined him.

  8. With Turnstyle Smith allowing DEs to blindside Jameis and knock the ball out of his hands or throwing him hard to the ground and injuring his shoulder or pressuring him and sacking him causing interceptions or tipping the ball, that is the key to Jameis’ turnovers and how many times did the rest of our poor OL cause Jameis to run for his life last year and force bad throws? This won’t change much this year until we put Cappa at LT and move Smith to LG where he will be a star as a road grader. But a good OLC would have already moved Smith inside but we have incompetent WarFLOP who tells everyone Smith is a Top 3 LT. Ridiculous! If that one change is forced and Dotson stays healthy you will see Jameis as an Elite QB this year. Benenoch is a very lousy RT but a much better backup RG to Marpet at RG. I am not big on Wester as a backup Tackle either. If we trade off DJax to save money for salaries next year we may be able to pickup a good backup RT. DJax failed to show for the voluntary OTAs. Godwin is a better deep threat than DJax and Watson and Shepard (we need to sign him) will be adequate WR backups.

  9. Thanks Trevor. I suspect it will be Sweezy, but I hope we give Cappa a chance before long.

    The issue with the Johnson Draft Chart has long been that Jimmy used his intuition to derive a probability weighted value system. He had a great idea, but he should have used math instead of intuition to derive the point values. I hope the Bucs have made their own chart and used math!

  10. Not sure how anyone can pick a starter now at right guard and tackle. I want the team to stop all this cross training nonsense and let guys play their positions as much as possible. I know why they do it but i think they bad outweighs the good on this one. Let the best 5 start the preseason then keep the lineup the same all 4 weeks unless someone else steps up and takes a spot.

  11. 1st:
    Smith – Marpet – Jensen – Benenoch – Dotson

    2nd:
    Wester – Liedtke – Smith – Cappa – Seaton

    Pick 2 For Practice Squad:
    Adam Gettis (G)
    Givens Price (G)
    Cole Gardner (T)
    Ruben Holcomb (T)
    Cole Boozer (T)

    Cut:
    Sweezy

  12. OL should start off with

    D. Smith, Marpet, Jensen, Sweezy, and Dotson

    backed up by

    Wester, E Smith, Cappa, and Benenoch

    Give Cappa as much playing time as possible in the preseason and watch his development. Once he’s ready, he can supplant Sweezy but we shouldn’t rush him in there too early and stunt his growth.

    I’m assuming the point of playing Marpet at LG instead of RG is to give D Smith help on that side. That said, if Cappa is as capable as we seem to think, I’d say put him at LG and let Marpet get back to his future All-Pro position of RG.

    Dotson and Sweezy are both injury prone and hard to count on. While on the field though, Dotson is still very good…which we can’t say about Sweezy. As soon as his cap hit is gone we should move on from Sweezy and find another backup. If Cappa doesn’t develop quick enough, he will be a decent place holder until a better option comes available.

    As far as Licht, I’ve said many times that I am a big fan of his drafts. Sure, he’s had some colossal mishaps (Aguayo) but he’s had some later round and under the radar hits to offset those (Alexander, Marpet, Godwin, and hopefully Cappa and Watson) His movement around the board this year showed his maturation as a draft manager. Despite what happens with our record and coaching staff, I would like to see Licht stick around.

  13. I loved your post-draft analysis. Good insight!

    I see Licht as having learned and grown as a General Manager. I believe he has moved up to the next tier as a GM/Decision Maker in the NFL.

    We all expect to see players learn and grow into mature NFL starters and stars. No matter what the age the gentlemen are, coaches and management should continue to improve from year to year too.

    I see the Buccaneer organization as having made great progress since their post-2017 season self-examination. Let’s us see how our coaches do from this point on. The big question for me is whether we will see significant improvement in game management by Koetter and staff in our next 16 games played.

    If so, I predict that we will find ourselves in the playoffs come January.
    _________
    Go Bucs!!!

  14. Licht did well to trade down with Buffalo with Josh Allen on the board, but let’s not get cute here.

    Licht didn’t need to use mind control to get a GM of a QB-needy team like Buffalo to see that one of the ‘Top 4’ QB’s was available for the taking if they were willing to go up and pay for it. That’s a benefit of the circumstances, do you proclaim John Elway a genius for taking Bradley Chubb at 5 because the Browns do Browns things every year? Of course not. Elway was fortunate to reap the rewards of their stupidity, as was Licht.

    Getting players Licht wants isn’t the issue. The guy gave JR Sweezy a 5 year 32.5 million dollar deal. He gave LT Anthony Collins a 5 year 30 million dollar deal. He traded a 3rd and a 4th for Roberto Aguayo. He traded a 5th for the right to give George Johnson a 7 million dollar deal and never record a sack.

    Just because Licht gets a player he covets doesn’t in any way guarantee that the player will be any good. The Bucs aren’t 22-42 under Licht because he’s shown to be a hall-of-fame evaluator of talent.

  15. Thanks for the Cover 3 Trevor. One question: Has Jensen been to these offseason sessions? I probably still don’t recognize him too well, but I do not remember seeing him in the pictures posted. Or can we at least be sure that he is healthy? I remember there was some hype about signing Sweezy and then he missed his whole first year, and his subpar performance last year was probably due to that. It would suck to go through the same with Jensen.
    I hope Sweezy can come back early enough to attend OTAs and show his value.
    I am hoping Cappa will be the steal that most are hoping him to be, and I think that having productive seasons from Sweezy and Dotson will help Cappa ease into the NFL. Marpet didn’t need that cushion, but I don’t see how it could hurt Cappa.
    So I would love to see the starting line being: I am not going to repeat the obvious choices at the left side and Center, Sweezy and Dotson. With Benenoch and Cappa getting considerable snaps here and there.