Skip to main content

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

GM Jason Licht Dishes on Biggest Draft Needs

During his pre-draft press conference on Thursday, General Manager Jason Licht discussed the team’s greatest needs as the spectacle approaches

The 2024 NFL Draft is two weeks away and the Buccaneers' brass is finalizing the venerable draft board. Tampa Bay's personnel and personality will evolve with the infusion of youth in the draft. General Manager Jason Licht, along with the scouting department and Bucs' coaching staff, are working around the clock to build the team's future. While the overall pre-draft evaluation process is subjective and there is no fool-proof science to determining which prospects will be successful at the next level, the staff spends countless hours poring over film, administering interviews with prospects and conducting meetings to create a comprehensive overview of the NFL hopefuls. On draft night, each pick made creates seismic shifts, making it difficult to predict who will be available for a team picking in the back of the first round. The Buccaneers own the 26th pick on Day One and Licht disclosed the challenging variables that the late selection entails.

"I would say the biggest challenge, at least for me, is you are trying to target who might be there. We say this all the time and say it to all the prospects that are coming in and visiting in the top-30, that no one knows how this is going to go. So, if someone is telling you they know where they are going, then they are lying. Only one team knows right now who they are taking probably [Bears] … that is the hardest part about picking late."

Across the multitude of mock drafts that have monopolized the internet in recent weeks, the pundits have the Buccaneers linked to an edge rusher, an offensive lineman (interior) or a cornerback in the first round. Additionally, a few disputants have paired Tampa Bay with a receiver.

All of the aforementioned selections make logical sense. The Bucs released one of their most productive edge rushers, Shaquil Barrett, in March in a cap-related move. The club also traded cornerback Carlton Davis III to the Lions and both offensive linemen Aaron Stinnie and Nick Leverett signed with other teams.

"We have a lot [of needs] and that is ok to have a lot of needs," described Licht. "I think that is a good thing actually. We came very close to the NFC Championship game last year and still signed our guys back, and I think that shows that if you do it right over the next couple of years and even this year, we can compete. I always like the trenches and I think we need help in both trenches … If there is a great corner that is sitting there and he is staring us in the face and he is clearly a better player than what we have at certain positions, then it would be hard to resist."

On Friday night of the draft festivities, barring trades, Licht and company will make three more picks, at number 57 (second round) and at the 89th and 92nd slots in the third round. The second of the two third-round selections is what the Buccaneers received from the Lions in exchange for Carlton Davis. Licht found a diamond in the rough during the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft with Chris Godwin but otherwise, he has not used another second or third-rounder on a receiver in his nine other drafts.

This could be the year that the trend changes. The 2024 receiver class is loaded with talent, including Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze - all of which will likely come off the board in the top 10-15 picks, but there is plenty of depth beyond that heralded trio. LSU's Brian Thomas Jr. s also widely regarded as a first-round pick, and others that could slip into the back end on Thursday night include Florida State's Keon Coleman and Texas speedster Xavier Worthy. There will be many additional options on Day Two in an impressive receiver pool and the Bucs may opt to snag a pass-catcher to elevate the room. The team got a deal done with future Hall of Famer Mike Evans in March and Godwin, a zone-buster and RAC-threat, completes the prolific tandem in Tampa Bay. However, it is worth noting that the former is going into his 11th season and the latter is only under contract for one more season. In a pass-oriented league, depth at the receiver position is vital.

"It is another position that you really cannot have too many of those [receivers] and I think Liam [Coen] can find a way to use a lot of playmakers," said Licht. "We really Like Trey [Palmer] and we like what Rock [Rakim Jarrett] was showing before he got hurt last year, so it is another position I would consider a need. You cannot fill them all right now in the draft, but we would love to get one."

Related Content

Latest Headlines