With the releasing of Vernon Hargreaves and the Christmas holiday coming up, I wanted Buccaneer nation to remember the 2016 draft and where they currently reside. Some have stayed in the NFL for a few seasons; others may have open applications for the new XFL league. Today we will step into the world of the ghost of Jason Licht’s past draft.
Round 1: CB Vernon Hargreaves
Hargreaves was predicted as the best corner in the draft and was a hometown kid that was coached by his father Vernon Hargreaves Sr. and also played his college football at Florida with the Gators. The Gator fans in Tampa Bay could not have been happier to see one of their own coming home to play in their own back yard at Raymond James.
Hargreaves’ Achilles heel coming out of the college was that he has great quickness and first step but did not have the recovery speed that most top tier corners had in the NFL. Hargreaves was also undersized and was never known as a shutdown corner in college. Licht should have paid attention to all the signs showing that Hargreaves wasn’t the corner the buccaneers needed.
Hargreaves could not defeat his demons. The writing has been on the wall for Hargreaves for quite some time starting from him getting kicked out of practice early in the year when Bruce Arians and his staff started evaluating players. His lack of focus has been questioned several times in his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hargreaves has been speculated by fans and media for being soft and having a lack of hustle. He could never play as aggressive as he should because he is too concerned about getting beat deep.
Hargreaves will have another opportunity in Houston with the Texans as he was claimed rather quickly off waivers.
Star players selected after Hargreaves: CB Xavien Howard, DT Chris Jones, LB Jaylon Smith, LB Myles Jack, DT Sheldon Rankins, OT Larry Tunsil, DT Kenny Clark
Round 2: DE Noah Spence
Noah Spence was considered the best defensive end coming out of Eastern Kentucky. Spence had blazing speed coming off the edge out of college and looked to be a terror for opposing NFL tackles. He had Buccaneers fans and media excited about his upside after finishing the 2016 season with 5.5 sacks. Sadly, he went from hero to zero after only finishing with only one total sack in his remaining years in Tampa and was cut in the 2019 offseason and claimed by the Washington Redskins were he currently has one sack.
In Spence’s case, he could not develop the way the Buccaneers wanted. He did not develop other moves besides his speed rush off the edge where tackles would just escort him around the QB and hold him there.
Star players selected after Spence: RB Derrick Henry, WR Mike Thomas, DB Kevin Byard
Round 2 (second pick): K Roberto Aguayo
Tampa Bay Buccaneers have traded up in the 2016 draft to pick one of the best kickers in the NCAAF history in Roberto Aguayo. His story started as fast as it ended. Aguayo was loved by many fans but he just simply could not get out of his own way. Being a kicker in the NFL takes a short memory and consistency; two traits that Aguayo did not have. He finished his 2016 season going 22-31 total, 5/5 20-29, 13/15 30-39, 4/10 40-49, 0/1 50+.
Star player selected after Robert Aguayo: DE Yanick Ngakoue
Round 4: DB Ryan Smith
Ryan Smith is the lone survivor of the Buccaneers 2016 NFL draft. Smith was a very talented DB out of a very successful college program at North Carolina Central. He has been in the NFL for four years and only has one interception. He was also beaten badly by Christian Kirk last Sunday against the Cardinals. In his time with Tampa Bay, he was suspended for violation of PED policy. Smith is already walking on thin ice but Smith will get more chances to play with the release of Vernon Hargreaves.
Round 5: OL Caleb Benenoch
Caleb Benenoch was at one time known as the replacement for Demar Dotson but the dream has died for quite some time now after Benenoch’s underperforming 2018 season. His release came after camp this offseason and has since been on the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers.
Star players drafted after Caleb Benenoch: QB Dak Prescott, WR Tyreek Hill
Round 6: LB Devante Bond
Devante Bond has been hurt or injured every year since been being drafted in 2016. He never lived up to the expectations of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bond’s failure could be labeled under two things: 1. Lack of coaching and player development and 2. Just couldn’t stay healthy long enough to develop.
Round 6: FB Dan Vitale
Dan Vitale was once known as the “power back” coming out of college. Vitale offered good blocking and receiving ability out of the fullback position. Sadly his time was short in Tampa and he did not last a full season. He spent two seasons in Cleveland and the other two in Green Bay. Vitale’s story has yet to written and he could salvage something out of his career.
This is the draft that will always haunt Licht’s career. This draft class was an utter disappointment and should be erased from Buccaneers fans’ minds. Since then, he was given a contract extension and has done very well with trades and free agency whether its been undrafted players or veterans. Licht is going to have to make the fans of Tampa Bay believe in him again and continue to find diamonds in the rough.
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