Jason Licht Trading Up: Hit Or Miss


For the first time as General Manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, GM Jason Licht did not trade up in the draft.

The question is, did this strategy work?

2014 NFL Draft:
Let’s start at the beginning. The 2014 NFL Draft saw the Buccaneers trading back into the 5th round by trading their 7th round pick & one of the following year’s 5th rounders (The Bucs had two 5th round picks in the 2015 draft) to select Purdue University Tackle Kevin Pamphile. Pamphile appeared in 53 games for the Buccaneers, starting 33 before leaving Tampa as a free agent in 2018. The 6’5″ Pamphile struggled with the speed and pass rushing moves of NFL EDGE rushers. He was bounced inside for a brief time but could never solidify his role on the line. With Pamphile being projected as a 6th round pick and Jason Licht giving up a 5th and a 7th round pick for him I’m going to say this was a “miss” by the Buccaneers GM.

ARLINGTON, TX – DECEMBER 18: Kevin Pamphile (64) of the Buccaneers blocks for his quarterback during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 18, 2016 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Dallas beats Tampa Bay 26-20. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


2015 NFL Draft:
The 2015 NFL Draft saw Jason Licht trading up twice. He traded back into the 2nd round by sending their 3rd (65th) & 4th round (109th) picks to the Indianapolis Colts for their 2nd round (61st) & 4th rounder (128th) to select Hobart University Guard Ali Marpet. Marpet has been a force at guard for the Buccaneers and even played a season at center. Ali has started 56 games for the Buccaneers and recently signed a 5 year $55 million dollar extension with $27 million guaranteed. Safe to say this one was a “hit”.

NEW ORLEANS, LA – SEPTEMBER 9: Ali Marpet #74 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drops back to block during a game against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 9, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Buccaneers defeated the Saints 48-40. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Licht wasn’t done wheeling and dealing in the 2015 NFL Draft. Licht traded their 4th round pick (128th) & their 7th round pick (218th) to the Oakland Raiders for their 4th round pick (124th) to select Louisiana State’s ILB Kwon Alexander. Kwon Alexander played in 58 games, starting 46 for the Buccaneers. Alexander posted 380 combined tackles, 7 sacks and 6 INT’s during his 4 seasons with the Buccaneers. Alexander was selected to the PFWA All-Rookie Team and the Pro Bowl in 2017 and named a team captain. By all accounts this was a “hit” by Jason Licht.

TAMPA, FL – SEPTEMBER 24: Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander (58) celebrates a sack during the second half of an NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 24, 2018, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. The Steelers defeated the Bucs 30-27. (Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2016 NFL Draft:
The 2016 NFL Draft saw Licht continuing his wheeling & dealing when he traded their 3rd round pick (74th) & their 4th round pick (106th) to the Kansas City Chiefs for their 2nd round pick (59th) to select Florida State’s Kicker Roberto Aguayo. The highly touted kicker struggled from the beginning making only 71% of his FG attempts before being cut by the team before the 2017 NFL season. This is definitely a “miss”, and one of epic proportions.

GLENDALE, AZ – SEPTEMBER 18: Roberto Aguayo #19 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicks the ball off against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

2017 NFL Draft:
Licht continued his pattern of being the trade happy GM and sent the Buccaneers 4th round pick (125th) & their 6th round pick (204th) to the New York Jets for their 3rd round pick (107th) and selected Louisiana State’s LB Kendall Beckwith. Beckwith looked to be a promising young star for the Buccaneers recording 73 tackles and a sack his rookie season. During the offseason after his rookie year Beckwith was a passenger in an auto accident, where he suffered a severe ankle fracture and has not returned to the field since. While an off-field injury isn’t GM Jason Licht’s fault I’m still considering this a “miss” as it doesn’t appear Beckwith will be returning to the team anytime soon.. If ever.

TAMPA, FL – DECEMBER 18: Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons runs for a first down past middle linebacker Kendell Beckwith #51 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third quarter on December 18, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Licht was at it again in the later rounds of the draft when he sent the Buccaneers 7th round pick (237th) & 2018’s 7th round pick to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for their 7th round pick (223rd) and selected USC’s DT Stevie Tu’ikolovatu. Tu’ikolovatu has yet to record any stats and hasn’t really had any impact at all. This is definitely a “miss”

JACKSONVILLE, FL – AUG 17: Stevie Tu’ikolovatu (97) of the Bucs stands at the line of scrimmage between plays during the NFL Preseason game between the Buccaneers at Jaguars on AUG 17, 2017 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2018 NFL Draft:
Licht was looking to solidify the offensive line when he traded their 4th round pick (102nd) & their 6th round pick (180th) to the Minnesota Vikings 3rd round pick (94th) and selected Humboldt Stat’s Guard Alex Cappa. He played in 6 games his rookie season with mixed results. I can’t call him a “miss” or a “hit” at this point, so let’s go with a “undecided” for now.

TAMPA, FL – DEC 30: Alex Cappa (65) of the Bucs sets up to block during the regular season game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 30, 2018 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The scorecard for those of you playing along at home:
4 “misses”
2 ” hits”
1 “undecided”

So what’s it all mean?

Jason Licht has “spent” 12 draft picks via trades and has 2 bonafide “hits”. That, in my opinion, is an alarming failure. Yes the draft is a crap-shoot, yes trading up in a crap- shoot makes it even riskier. The crap-shoot that is the draft isn’t so just for the Buccaneers, but for every team. I think it’s safe to say crap-shooting or at least trading in a crap-shoot isn’t one of Jason Licht’s strong suits.