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ESPN's Mel Kiper re-graded the entire 2015 NFL draft . You know the one. That's the draft where the Bucs got four starters out of their first four picks. Unsurprisingly, he decided that his initial B- grade was too low and gave the Bucs an A instead.
Safe to say this draft looks a lot better. Not only did Jameis Winston make major strides and end up throwing for more than 4,000 yards -- the third-highest rookie total since the merger behind Cam Newton and Andrew Luck -- he showed he can be a locker room leader early on. Can he maintain that into the offseason? That's the question, but judging on what he did, Tampa's decision looks smart. Donovan Smith was a slight reach for me, but he came in and played left tackle. It wasn't always pretty, but what can you expect? Ali Marpet also started and was solid in the run game, and Kwon Alexander looks like one of the steals of the draft. It'd be one thing if this team played all these guys and was a train wreck, but they truly got better in 2015. So they deserve a major bump.
It really is somewhat amazing how well the Bucs did in last year's draft, at least at first glance. It's always possible this looks a lot worse in four years' time, as has somewhat consistently happened with the other seemingly terrific drafts the Bucs have had recently. Somehow, though, this one feels different -- and the only player who deserves some real skepticism is left tackle Donovan Smith, who improved toward the end of the year.
The best teams are always built through the draft. The Bucs have definitely improved in that area since Jason Licht started running the front office. Here's to hoping they can continue.