At halftime of their Week 13 matchup with the Chargers, the Buccaneers found themselves short-handed at wide receiver to say the least. Earlier this year, Tampa Bay lost Vincent Jackson and Louis Murphy to injured reserve, and Murphy was ultimately released. In the first half against San Diego, both Adam Humphries and Cecil Shorts were sidelined with injuries.
In their absence, two former undrafted players – tight end Cameron Brate and wide receiver Freddie Martino – combined for 10 catches, 142 yards and a touchdown.
The Bucs have had similar success on the defensive side of the ball. The team selected Noah Spence in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft expecting him to play almost exclusively on passing downs, but Spence has evolved into an every-down defensive end, playing more than half of the Bucs' snaps a week ago.
The depth provided by the team's front office hasn't gone unnoticed. On Monday, NFL Network's Peter Schrager made his pick for the NFL's top executive this year, and it was none other than the Buccaneers' General Manager, Jason Licht.
"Jason Licht, the General Manager, has to be up for Executive of the Year for what they are doing," NFL Network's Peter Schrager said during a segment on Good Morning Football. "Noah Spence as a second-round pick who nobody wanted to touch because of off-the-field issues and he had 45 snaps (against the Chargers in Week 13) and was all over the field. Vernon Hargreaves, their first-round pick, is a lockdown corner right out of the gate. And then you've got guys like Cameron Brate who no one knew of, you've got guys like Adam Humphries and Freddie Martino."
](http://www.buccaneers.com/news/article-1/Winston-Up-for-Clutch-Performer-of-the-Week/544bb16f-3c37-421e-8e6e-6fa5a1e0317b)The Bucs' top five picks in this year's draft – Hargreaves, Spence, Roberto Aguayo, Ryan Smith and Caleb Benenoch - have all contributed in their rookie seasons. Hargreaves, Spence, Aguayo and Benenoch have all started at least one game this season while Smith has been utilized as the team's kick returner. The same could be said for Tampa Bay's 2015 class. Their top four pick – Jameis Winston, Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet and Kwon Alexander – are all starters.
When Jacquizz Rodgers was an unclaimed free agent, Licht and the Bucs signed him and were able to get back-to-back 100-yard rushing games from him in Weeks 5 and 6.
Licht's work is paying dividends as the final month of the season is under way. The depth that he and the rest of the Bucs' front office have provided the coaching staff will be as important as ever as Tampa Bay makes a push toward the NFC South title.
"Jason Licht, right now... if I have to make a pick for Executive of the Year Jason Licht is my guy because he has built this year into not only a competitor, but one that can go into your building and beat (teams like the Chargers and) Philip Rivers."