FAB 4. What Could Have Been Instead Of Aguayo

It’s always easy to second-guess drafts, as no general manager and head coach is perfect when it comes to selecting players. That includes Bucs general manager Jason Licht and head coach Dirk Koetter.

As I pointed out in my column on Saturday about Licht’s draft track record, he’s done a very good job of adding talent to Tampa Bay’s roster since his arrival in 2014 and has built a playoff-caliber team through the draft and free agency and has re-signed the likes of Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David, in addition to running back Doug Martin and right tackle Demar Dotson.

But there is no doubt that Licht’s biggest draft mistake was trading up to select Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round in 2016. It was a well-intentioned gamble that was roundly criticized and ultimately didn’t pan out.

Ex-Bucs K Roberto Aguayo - Photo by: Getty Images
Ex-Bucs K Roberto Aguayo – Photo by: Getty Images

Hindsight is always 20-20 and there’s no doubt that the Bucs would have been better off drafting another player last year. But it’s not just switching out a different player in 2016 for Aguayo.

The selection of Aguayo had a chain reaction effect into the 2017 draft, too. For example, if the Bucs had selected a safety in the second round in 2016 they likely wouldn’t have drafted Justin Evans in the second round this year.

The Bucs drafted Auburn running back Cadillac Williams with the fifth overall pick in 2005 instead of Troy defensive end DeMarcus Ware, who went 11th overall to Dallas. Both players were at the Senior Bowl that year when the Bucs were coaching the South squad. Former Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin loved Ware.

Because the Bucs got their running back in 2005, but still needed a defensive end, they made the mistake of chasing the need and selecting Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams with the fourth overall pick and passed on Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson, who went to Minnesota with the seventh selection in the first round.

The Bucs missed on some notable players in the second round when they opted to select Aguayo, ignoring some needs at safety and defensive end among other positions. Here are a couple of scenarios that could have transpired if the Bucs had picked another player instead of the league’s worst kicker.

Because there are dozens of scenarios that we could concoct with what may have happened if the Bucs had kept both third-round picks. Let’s just say Licht still trades both third-rounders to Kansas City to move up to the 59th overall selection to make the selection.

OSU S Von Bell - Photo by: Getty Images
OSU S Von Bell – Photo by: Getty Images

Tampa Bay could have drafted Ohio State safety Vonn Bell, who was New Orleans second-round pick in 2016. He played in 16 games and posted 87 tackles, four pass breakups, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one sack.

Or the Bucs could have drafted Maryland defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who had eight sacks to lead the Jaguars last year as their third-round pick, selected 69th overall. Pair Ngakoue with Spence and the Bucs could pile up the sacks by the dozens.

Or Tampa Bay could have selected North Carolina offensive lineman Joe Thuney, a third-round pick by New England that became a starter for the Patriots and gave up two sacks in their Super Bowl championship run.

How about one more? The Bucs could have selected Minnesota strongside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, who was Atlanta’s fourth-round pick. The speedy Campbell helped the Falcons get to the Super Bowl with 48 tackles, seven passes defensed, one forced fumble and one interception.

If the Bucs had picked Bell in 2016, the team could have selected Colorado cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, Ohio State linebacker Raekwon Miller, Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham instead of safety Justin Evans. Any of those players could have been drafted in addition to Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara, Kansas State defensive end Jordan Willis, who recorded a sack against Tampa Bay last week, or Toledo running back Kareem Hunt. Kamara, Willis and Hunt were third-round draft picks.

Had the Bucs drafted Thuney, it would have given the team another starting-caliber guard to compete with J.R. Sweezy and Kevin Pamphile, who is entering a contract year. Tampa Bay likes Pamphile, and his versatility to play tackle, but won’t be cheap to re-sign. Without another player capable of filling in for Pamphile for the long haul at left guard the Bucs will likely have to pay big money to keep him in the offseason. Thuney would have given Tampa Bay greater leverage.

USF RB Marlon Mack - Photo by: Getty Images
USF RB Marlon Mack – Photo by: Getty Images

If the Bucs had drafted Campbell instead of Aguayo last year it would have negated the need for Tampa Bay to trade up into the third round to select LSU linebacker Kendell Beckwith. It’s not that Beckwith is a bad player, but Campbell is faster, more athletic and better in coverage, and would have freed Tampa Bay to select a running back that was perhaps faster and better than Jeremy McNichols, who was drafted in the fifth round this year.

Instead of Beckwith, the Bucs could have chosen USF’s Marlon Mack, Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine or Utah’s Joe Williams, or could have drafted Auburn defensive end Carl Lawson or Oklahoma wide receiver-return specialist Dede Westbrook, who had six catches for 131 yards against Tampa Bay on Thursday night. Mack, Perine, Williams, Lawson and Westbrook were all fourth-round draft picks.

Missing on Aguayo not only cost the Bucs a positional player that could have been drafted in the second round in 2016. It also could have eliminated a need heading into 2017 that could have made this year’s draft a bit more fruitful.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 24th 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 line coach for his son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

12 COMMENTS

  1. The Bucs looked quite solid last night. I was impressed with the O-line in the first quarter with the amount of time Jameis had time to throw. The trick for Koetter/Bajakian will be to clear up that gray area in JW’s mindset when to give up on a play. I love JW’s scrap, but that INT illustrates the biggest weakness in JW’s game. I love everything else that he’s doing though. Watching MY team with the scary franchise QB that is going to win a lot of games for our team is truly a joy to behold. Other than that, I thought Doug was impressive and I hope that he stays on track.

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  2. So far I didn’t see a whole lot out of our defensive line rush except for McCoy. Chris Baker looked fat and slow. Ayers and Goldston looked like last year. McCoy was the only one who stood out as to our starters on the line. We’re talking so much about the offense all the time maybe we should start paying more attention to our defensive posture.

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  3. After watching last night’s preseason game, a couple of observations made. I re-watched the game today to be sure. Neither OT Caleb Benenoch nor Leonard Wester is ready to step in for RT Demar Dotson if he has to miss time due to injury. And we’ve seen the back-up QB play with Griffin out. The O-Line must now protect Winston like a Faberge’ Egg. If he goes down we’re doomed!

    The Bucs have lots of cap space even if they want to extend WR Evans sooner rather than later. The Bucs have made no attempts to bolster the O-Line at the tackle position. If Kevin Pamphile slides over, then we have a gap at left guard. I would find no comfort in seeing G/C Evan Smith moved there. There were moments in last night’s game where LT Donovan was having difficulty. Benenoch really struggled with Jags starting pass rusher Dante Fowler. He gave up at least one sack, had a costly penalty and a few other QB pressures.

    Jameis will be deadly when he has time to go through his progressions. But if we have to lose him for 2 or 3 games, we can forget about any playoffs because QB Fitzpatrick is not the guy to put this team on his back and pull it through.

    The Bucs FO is not acting like a team gearing up to make a playoff run. Other NFC teams Atlanta/Carolina/New Orleans are all attempting to bolster their O-Lines – it starts up front. I have no idea what the Bucs will do should such a scenario arise. I can only pray that we never have to face that situation. Go Bucs!

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    • Unlike me, Mac is (literally) nearly always right but I completely agree on OL, have been saying that for two years while PR was parroting (and gloating about it) the coaches’ positivity about the players they have to work with – what did you expect the coaches to say?

      We have no quality depth. Fingers crossed on Sweezy but he’s an unknown at this point and Marpet is our only OL that you’d actually draft If you started from a blank sheet of paper. If Smith can’t make the next step this year we will have over-drafted in the second round, again, and need to draft a LT next year when everyone else will be OL shopping in a supposedly deep year at those positions.

      Licht has done some very good things in mid-late rounds but the early rounds have been killing fields for him beyond the ‘obvious easy’ high first round decisions like taking the best WR and one of the two best QBs, and hopefully also the best TE (VH3 still TBD). After 2-3rd round picks like ASJ, Sims, Roberto and Smith, next year I propose that JL excuse himself from the draft room after the first round and come back at the top of the 4th 😀

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  4. I like seeing young guys redeem themselves from last week (Ryan Smith, Beckwith). But I was disappointed in the play of other young players (eg J. Evans, Moxey, VH3, etc).

    All in all this is still a young team so you are going to see up and down play. Pre season game 3 will be interesting though because none of the backup Dlineman have stood out so far.

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  5. Just a few observations: Jameis looked good and consistent. He seems to be cutting down on the eratic mistakes, with of course the one huge exception. I am sure many thought my rant on the one huge brain fart meant that I was a Jameis hater, actually he is by far my favorite player. If you are winning 30 to nothing take a shot, but at that stage in the game with the score margin what it was, cooler heads prevail. It shows he still needs to work on on “Patience,” and I doubt after several conversations with Koetter the last few days we won’t be seeing a repeat of that calamity. The Defense looked good. If a good OT gets cut at the last minute I would not have a problem paying for him. The Dotson injury concerns me and certainly reinforces the need for depth. Finally I see a significant drop off between the starters and back-up. By midway through the season I see a rotational approach to several positions. I realize for preseason play calling is vanilla so I am looking forward to a deeper playbook. One other thing that Jameis needs is work on the long ball. DJAX is going to need better accuracy to be affective.

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  6. Hey Scott, just read that Jaguars signed K Patrick Murray. He beat out Conor Barth and played really well for us a couple years ago before getting hurt – why didn’t go after him?

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  7. Nice Fab 4 SR.

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  8. If the Bucs have really screwed one thing last few years up it’s been the FG kicker. Not having anyone good since 2011 really says it all. It’s not just been one coach or regime getting it wrong either which is kind of crazy to me. Anyways finding a solid, not stellar kicker is just not that hard! It’s like come on man.
    Anyways back on topic of the Jags game. The game was good. I really enjoyed it. Jameis has improved his accuracy thus far. Really want to see him connect on some deep balls to Jackson. The TD Evans dropped was pretty long through with good touch I thought.
    I was disappointed that Sims and Rodgers didn’t play well like last week. Other than that not too many dissapointments on offense.
    It’s already been said but Jameis absolutely needs to learn to give up on a play. At 23 that should only get better with maturity. Koetter chewed his ass pretty good and he needs that. It’s pre-season yes but still don’t throw damn ball up for grabs when going down to the ground that’s just not acceptable and no pro QB does that that’s any good. Other than that nothing too terrbile on offense stood out to me.
    On defense there were lot mistakes and guys wide open. Lucky for us the balls kept getting dropped or thrown too short (Bortles).
    Lots work to do still but you have to be happy with the run defense. Of course we were playing a bad offense with no run game…..
    Still lot to be optimistic about. Hope Folk can give us a solid year until we find a better option. My gut says he can hit 85% or so ok just really have doubts about longer ones like 45-55 yards. He has two more games to get little streak going and get his head right.
    Go Bucs!!!!!

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  9. Having watched the preseason games to date I see the talent that has so many so excited. Unfortunately, as of yet the skill and talent of the players has not yet shown up in games. I know it is preseason but the passing of that period will soon be at hand. Here’s hoping repeated errors will become much more frequent than they are now. Perhaps the cuts will help get the team to that level.

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  10. Thanks for showing all Buc’s Fans how much better off we could have been if Licht had not made so many bone headed mistakes, Scott. If you had been the GM the same time we have had Licht, we would already have been to the playoffs and gone a long way. I watched the Titans last Preseason Game today and it is clear our former head Scout who was made the Titan’s GM already built up the Titans better than Licht has the whole time he has been here with the Bucs.

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  11. The Bengals have two excellent kickers while the Bucs have none. The Bucs should trade a sixth or seventh rounder next year for one of the Bengals kickers.

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