Deep Dive Into Tampa Bay’s Late Round Draft Picks in the Jason Licht Era

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Day three of the NFL draft is where teams try to find the next hidden gem. From Tom Brady to Kam Chancellor, rounds four through seven are where a general manager can take a team from wild card consideration to the Super Bowl, so ultimately the late-round picks ca make or break your franchise.

 

In this article, we will take a thorough analysis into the Buccaneers’ late-round selections to see just how they have fared. Since the NFL draft has been developing for years, we will look at the Jason Licht era, dating back to 2014.

Let’s jump in.

Criteria

The criteria for a “hit and “miss” are fairly subjective. I don’t have any baseline stats to consider, rather, I will take into consideration playing time, awards, and general counting stats. Remember, day three picks are essentially seen as special teams and depth players, so if they crack a starting lineup at all is a feat in itself.

Second, we need to know how successful other teams are at drafting day three prospects. I will use data collected by an article written in the Arrowhead Pride, back in 2015. If you want to read the entire article, you can do so here;
What the stats tell us about drafting positions by round

Essentially, the author broke down players by position group that started at least half of their NFL career, from 2005 to 2014. The hit rate percentages are as follows;

Quarterback
4th – 8%
5th – 0%
6th – 0%
7th – 6%
Average – 3.5%

Running Back
4th – 11%
5th – 9%
6th – 6%
7th – 0%
Average – 6.5%

Wide Receiver
4th – 12%
5th – 16%
6th – 9%
7th – 5%
Average – 10.5%

Tight End
4th – 33%
5th – 32%
6th – 26%
7th – 0%
Average – 22.75%

Offensive Line
4th – 29%
5th – 16%
6th – 16%
7th – 9%
Average – 17.5%

Defensive Line
4th – 37%
5th – 13%
6th – 13%
7th – 3%
Average – 16.5%

Linebacker
4th – 16%
5th – 4%
6th – 5%
7th – 2%
Average – 6.75%

Defensive Back
4th – 11%
5th – 17%
6th – 8%
7th – 11%
Average – 11.75%

Total
4th – 20%
5th – 13%
6th – 10%
7th – 4.5%
Average – 12%

As you can see, hitting on late-round players is difficult. The tight end had the largest percentage of average hit rates while the quarterback was the lowest. This could be because blocking tight ends are outliers in these criteria, but no model you use will be perfect.

Now let’s look at Jason Licht’s day three picks and see just how well he has performed compared to the rest of the league.

2014 Draft

5th: Kadeem Edwards
6th: Kevin Pamphile
7th: Robert Herron

Right off the bat, we have one hit in Kevin Pamphile, who started for most of the 2016 and 2017 season. Pamphile wasn’t the greatest player to man the offensive line, but using the above criteria, linemen have a 16% hit rate in the 6th round.

Kadeem Edwards and Robert Herron never panned out, starting a whopping zero games in the NFL. Still, Jason Licht has a 33% hit rate after his first NFL draft, let’s move into 2015.

2015 Draft

4th: Kwon Alexander
5th: Kenny Bell
6th: Kaelin Clay
7th: Joey Iosefa

Besides Kwon Alexander, no other player panned out in the 2015 draft. Kenny Bell was invisible when the pads came on, Kaelin Clay bounced around to a few teams, and Joey Iosefa was a head-scratcher from the start.

Still, Alexander cashed in with San Francisco, and linebacker hit rates are a low 16% in the fourth round. Out of seven total picks, Jason Licht has hit on 28.5%, well over the 12% average.

2016 Draft

4th: Ryan Smith
5th: Caleb Benenoch
6th: Devante Bond
6th: Danny Vitale

The 2016 draft is regarded as Jason Licht’s worst over his six-year tenure. Ryan Smith is the only player still on the roster, and even he is only a special teams player. While he is an ace in his role, Smith has only started in one game over four years.

This entire draft class is so bad, Licht failed to hit on any of his picks, never mind day three. Our total takes us to 11 players with two hits, or 18%, still above our 12% average.

2017 Draft

5th: Jeremy McNichols
7th: Steve Tu’ikolovatu

Licht started off well but is quickly regressing to the mean. Neither McNichols nor Tu’ikolovatu panned out in the NFL. Both jumped around on pre-season rosters, but both failed to make much of an impact in the regular season. Our total falls to 13 total selections with two hits or 15%. Still over our 12% average.

Conclusion

You might wonder why the 2018 or 2019 drafts are not on the list. This is because I believe you need to give prospects at least three seasons to develop.

But if we look back at Licht’s first four draft classes, we can see that he has a slightly above average hit rate at 15% in the later rounds. He started off strong but struggled to maintain his pace, which isn’t surprising in a statistical sense.

The late-round selections of the 2017 and 2018 draft have some solid talent and will be relied on to take this team over the top. Jason Licht has drafted better on day three than most fans would expect, but do you think he has built a Super Bowl winning roster?

 

 

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