General managers who are successful around the league make ballsy moves year-in and year-out. They can make decisions that make or break their careers and for Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht, Friday night’s third selection puts him in that category of general managers who take risks and later get rewarded for it.
The Buccaneers traded up into the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft to select the most accurate kicker in college football in Florida State’s Roberto Aguayo. It was the type of move that would create a buzz and boy did it ever.
In 2015, the Tampa Bay kicking was not very good. Connor Barth was the 25th rated kicker in the NFL with a kicking percentage of 82.1 percent accuracy. Just before he became the full time kicker, it was Kyle Brindza, who converted just 50 percent of his kicks and single-handedly lost the game against Houston going 1-for-4 and missing an extra point.
The decision to move up and select Aguayo caused a firestorm of mixed reactions. Many loved it, many hated it. The main reason for those that complained about the selection said the Bucs have “so many other needs” that there was no reason for moving up to draft the Florida State standout. News flash: Kicker was a need. Pat Murray, who was also on the roster, missed field goals and extra points in just a few attempts during last preseason. So again, there was a need at the position.
Tampa Bay does have needs elsewhere. There is no denying that. But people are forgetting the potential ability this new defensive coaching staff brings as actual coaches with a fresh scheme that the defensive players are already raving about. After the selection of Eastern Kentucky’s Noah Spence a few picks earlier, the Buccaneers are now a bit more comfortable across the defensive front as well as in the secondary after the selection of Florida’s cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III the night before.
And to address another complaint often mentioned with the “need” at safety, who is to say they feel their is a need there? The team liked what they saw in Chris Conte last season enough to bring him back. While many are still not content with the defensive backfield, what if the team has other plans? What if they want to perhaps move someone into the safety position like a Johnthan Banks? After all, defensive coordinator Mike Smith wants the best 11 on the field and Banks said the new defense puts him in different positions to make plays.
Bottom line, the Bucs addressed a need with the selection of Aguayo. They drafted a confident and very good player who can ultimately win them games as the game clock expires on Sundays. When general managers see a player they want, they go up and get him. That’s what Licht did.
They made one of the best decisions in the draft.