Buccaneers Combine Trends And What It Means For Their Draft


As the Buccaneers offseason rolls on the NFL combine rapidly approaches. This is one of the biggest events of the offseason as draft prospects will show what they can do from an athletic perspective. It’s also a chance for them to meet NFL personnel, such as general managers, coaches, and medical staff.

This is always an event that generates a lot of buzz. With over 300 prospects attending, ranging from sub division one to the national champions, most every prospect will have a chance to show their stuff. This process is incredibly valuable to every team including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Obviously, the Bucs will draft players from the combine. In fact, it’ll be hard for any team to draft a player not attending the combine. However, this will provide us tremendous insight on exactly what players the Bucs may target. This also includes what players the Buccaneers likely won’t draft.

Their trends under general manager Jason Licht’s leadership are undeniable. When you hold such a position for nearly a decade you can easily find these trends over time. Here is what we know about how Jason Licht will use the combine and what that means for this upcoming draft.

Athlete, Athlete, Athlete

Obviously, the things that will grab most people’s attention are the athletic tests. Whether it be the 40 yard dash, or the bench press, or the agility drills, everyone is always tuned in to see what prospects are the most athletic. NFL general managers are no exception.

This is something that Licht has made a top priority over the last decade when making his first pick of the draft. Athletes who score in the 90th percentile for their position are the only players that the Bucs have targeted early on. This is most easily tracked by their relative athletic score.

The relative athletic score (RAS) is a tool developed by Kent Lee Platte to gauge athletic testing scores. It factors in testing results relative to specific positions along with things like height and weight and gives a calculated score on a scale from 0.0 to 10.0. Think of the bottom (0.0) of this scale as what I would test in as and the top (10.0) as Calvin Johnson.

For seven consecutive years, the Bucs have used their first pick of the draft on a player who scores a 9.0 or higher with their RAS. The last player to break this trend was Vernon Hargreaves back in 2016. There is no reason for us to believe that this trend will break now.

Especially considering the success the Buccaneers have had with this approach. The likes of Vita Vea, Tristan Wirfs and Devin White were all key members of the Buccaneers most recent Super Bowl victory and four year streak of making the playoffs. Physical tools aren’t everything, but they are an important baseline for Licht and the Bucs front office. 

Formal Hellos

What’s nice about Licht is that he is a straight shooter. He isn’t one to play games, but rather tell you exactly what he wants and what he’s thinking. The draft is no exception to this approach.

Licht won’t just tell prospects that he’s interested in them, but he will also tell the world in many ways. He does this by sitting down and meeting with the players he has his eyes on. This is another trend that we have seen over time. 

Last year the Buccaneers met with four of their draft picks before they drafted them. The year before that they met with two of their first three picks. Back in 2020 they met with Tristian Wirfs before trading up to get him.

This won’t tell us everything about who Licht and the Bucs are interested in, but it could provide some clues. The team will meet with players they are interested in. Whether they draft them or not is out of their hands in many ways (having reported interest in the likes of Sam LaPorta last season). Just remember that if the Bucs are meeting with a player then they absolutely should be on the radar as in play for Tampa Bay.

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