1. “I think overall, the whole offseason, if you count the draft and free agency, there’s some really solid depth at interior and ODLs, outside defensive linemen, edge, whatever you want to call them. Defense in general, that’s where most of the players are in this year’s free agency and draft. Not to say there aren’t offensive players but that’s where the league will see more of the movement come from.”
This is a deep class for defense and all you need to do is look at any mock draft (including the ones Scott and I do on Bucccaneers.com) to see it. It’s interesting to hear that the free agent market is that way, as well. You’d think it’d be more beneficial for have complementary strengths between free agency and the draft, but since it is so defense-heavy, maybe that drives down the price for certain linebackers that are coming off their rookie contract with the Buccaneers. Speaking of…
2. “Kwon, man I can’t say enough good things about him what he’s been to our team. If you ask most of the players, he’s the heartbeat to that defense. Super guy. Being a fourth-round pick, the organization has a lot of pride in the development that has taken place with him. We’ve had several talks throughout the course of this, dating back to last offseason. I think now, we’ll just have to see what the market is and take it from there. We certainly value him, though. I’m not trying to say we don’t value him. We do value him and we just have to see what that is and hopefully get something done.”
Alexander has proven his worth to this Bucs defense a hundred times over. When he went down with an ACL injury in Week Seven of last season, the air went out of the lungs of the defense after halftime when the team found out. Licht went on to say Alexander is doing great in his rehab and he hasn’t been shy with sharing his progress on social media either.
3. “We took care of guys from the 2014 draft, Mike and Cam. Now we’ve got four guys from the 2015 draft, including Humphries, too. The salary cap is set up for reasons, for teams to have a level playing field and it makes it a little challenging. We have a lot of conversations, a lot of meetings over it. It’s not easy but we have to see how it goes, the domino effect: one thing works out then the rest of them can maybe fit in there but we’re trying to keep as many good players as we can.”
Alexander is part of a very successful 2015 draft class that saw the Bucs draft Jameis Winston first overall. His fifth-year option was picked up. Ali Marpet was signed to a contract extension so he’s taken care of, too. Another 2015 draftee is due to be a free agent and that’s Donovan Smith. The left tackle has been a stalwart for the offensive line and has proved extremely durable over the past four years. Wide receiver Adam Humphries was an undrafted free agent that year but he’s now looking to command a hefty price tag on the open market after having a career year in the slot in 2018.
It’s worth noting how good of a problem this is to have, though. Licht and his staff have proved that they can find lasting talent and keep them. Alexander was a fourth-round pick. That return on investment is absolutely astronomical already. His case in particular proves that the Bucs are able to develop a lot of these players, as well.
4. “Well, when I pointed out O.J. to Bruce one of his first days in the office, O.J. was rehabbing on the field and Bruce’s eyes got about this big. I know he’s excited. He’s a big guy that can run, block, he can catch. He was averaging what? Seventeen, 18 yards a catch before he got hurt? If you draw up a tight end and what you want him to look like – it’s O.J. Howard, so I know Bruce is excited about that.”
If you’ve been able to see O.J. Howard in person and this also wasn’t your first reaction, you’re lying. Coach Arians’ track record shows a lower tight end incorporation than what the Bucs have been used to the past few years, but both Brate and Howard are special players at the position that would get any coach excited to work with them. Think of how fun they are to play and manipulate in Madden, for instance – and then imagine that in real life. See what I mean?
5. “Ronald is very young. He’s, I don’t want to say immature in the sense of being a problem, but he’s immature in the fact that he’s just young getting into the league at 20 years old. A lot of expectations on him. A lot of times throughout the preseason, every time we handed him the ball there was somebody in the backfield. I think Ronald needs a confidence boost and I know he’s going to get that. Todd McNair is extremely excited about working with him. Bruce Arians is as well. So is Byron. Our offensive line coaches. No one is giving up on Ronald Jones. I expect Ronald to have a big jump this year.”
Second-round pick Ronald Jones didn’t have the rookie season he would have liked in 2018. He was activated for the first time in the regular season in Week Four in Chicago, which is a game admittedly everyone would probably like to forget. Now that he knows a little more of what to expect and will have a full offseason training program to help develop him under a new system, Licht may be very right in seeing him make a big jump in 2019.