In the end, the final Bucs’ grades will be on Licht

by Gary Shelton on April 29, 2017 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Saturday, 4 a.m.



The day was only partially about safety Justin Evans, and only partially what you think of him.

The day was only somewhat about receiver Chris Godwin, and only somewhat about what you think of him.

This day, of all days, was about Jason Licht. This day, of all days, was about whether you have any trust in the Bucs' general manager or not. Did he pick the right safety? We'll see. Did he really need another receiver? We'll see.

Let's face it. Friday was tougher for a Bucs' fan. Thursday was easy, what with falling stars and new talent. But Evans and Godwin are sure to test your faith. An uninspiring safety? A marginal receiver? Sure, you'd love to believe, but there are all of these mock drafts out there. It is easy to doubt, is it not?

Oh, it could have been easier. If the point was to impress the national writers, and the mockers, then there was a way to do it. The Bucs could have merely bypassed Evans and taken UConn's Obi Melifonwu. The mockers would have driven to One Buc to pound Licht on the back. After all, Melifonwu would have represented the second straight player the team had taken after a dramatic fall. A's all around!

Then there is this: The Bucs liked Evans better. Period. Already, Sports Illustrated gave the Raiders' pick of Melifonwu (six slots later) an A-; Evans got a B. But the Bucs felt Evans was the better fit.

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There is this, too. The third-round selection of Chris Godwin was given a grade of B+. But the selection of Toledo running back Kareem Hunt two slots later earned an A.

Why? I'd say it's because of the previous perceptions of the two players. You didn't hear nearly as much about Evans as Melifonwu. Hunt was a sexier pick than Godwin. And the grades reflected it.

That's where trust comes in with Licht. Over his time in Tampa Bay, Licht has had his misses in free agency, but he's done fairly well in the draft, a trade-up for a kicker notwithstanding. He's drafted three stars (Jameis Winston, Mike Evans and Kwon Alexander). He's drafted a near-star in Ali Marpet. He's drafted a better-than-you-think he is tackle in Donovan Smith. He's got hopefuls in Vernon Hargreaves and Noah Spence.

Look, this is the draft. Who knows what you will think of Evans a year from now? Who knows whether Godwin can make the Bucs' offense even scarier? There are misses in the draft, of course. There always are.

But sometimes, you have believe that the general manager of the team, with all of his scouts and all of his reports, just might be in better shape to make a call than some mock draft guy who is copying the paper of another mock draft guy. Sometimes, you need to let things play out; you get to criticize later if Evans turns out to be Sabby Piscatelli and if Godwin turns out to be Dexter Jackson.

Remember that when you scan the team's draft grades today. The point isn't to make Mel Kiper and his 4,000 cousins applaud your pick. The purpose is to win games.

In concept, we will all agree that the Bucs needed safety help. The early part of last year, there were too many plays where the Bucs played chase. There simply weren't enough plays until the second half of the season.

Maybe Evans, a big hitter by reputation, will be the guy to fill that. Maybe he won't be an upgrade over Bradley McDougald.

“You look at yourself,” Evans said. “You always think very highly of yourself. Obviously, I would think I'd be a first-rounder. But first round, second round or further, skip to the third or fourth round. I'm going to have make the same plays than if I went in the first, second, third, four or fifth.”

Godwin is at least intriguing. He still has to get more precise in his routes, but flanked by Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, he's got a chance. Again, it gives Dirk Koetter more weapons, and more ways to get to the end zone. Remember all the waiver wire guys who played for Tampa Bay last season; that won't be the case this year.

In the end, you will grade Evans, and you will grade Godwin. As you do, you're passing a final grade onto Licht, too.

His team, his draft, his grades.

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