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Whoever the Buccaneers draft will instantly be the face of the franchise

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will draft a quarterback with the number one overall pick, and it's likely to be Jameis Winston. And Winston will at that point be the face of the franchise -- he will represent the team in the minds of everyone who follows the NFL the instant he's drafted. But Jason Licht didn't agree in his press conference yesterday.

"I think that term 'face of the franchise,' that's a title that's earned. I don't think there's any player that walks in here that's the face of the franchise. Right now Gerald McCoy is the face of the franchise.'"

That's a nice sentiment. It's also incredibly naive. If you draft a quarterback number one overall, he instantly becomes the face of the franchise. He's the player everyone publicly will identify your team with. That's the player everyone knows, that's the player people will blame for losses and praise for wins, that's the player everyone will dissect and over-analyze, that's the player who will be the first thing anyone thinks of when they hear your team name.

When you said "Raiders" in 2009, everyone thought of Jamarcus Russell. When you talk about Washington now, everyone thinks of Robert Griffin III. Say "Falcons" and it's Matt Ryan. Talk about the Colts and Andrew Luck springs to mind. For the Jets, it was Mark Sanchez for years. For the Rams, it was Sam Bradford. And for the Bucs, it used to be Josh Freeman. Even when he was playing poorly. Even when he was three games away from being cut.

And that's what "face of the franchise" means. It's the player who most represents your franchise, for good or ill. The idea that a quarterback will have to "earn" that title is idealistic, but that's just not how the NFL works. And to think differently is, quite frankly, naive.