The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a massive mistake in drafting Roberto Aguayo. That mistake was obvious from the moment they made the pick: highly drafted kickers bust about half the time, and spending a pick that high on a kicker is really only a good value proposition if it succeeds 100% of the time—and that’s not something you can know.
But general manager Jason Licht, instead, thinks the problem is that he made a “bold move” that backfired, the general manager told The MMQB. Even more baffling is the fact that he blames Aguayo’s struggles on the pressure on the kicker, and then suggests that bringing in competition in his rookie year would have lessened that pressure.
What did I learn from this? I’ve said this before, but when we took him, we essentially anointed him. If I could do it again, I would have gone back and brought in competition to challenge him. I look back on that a lot. Roberto is a great kid, but the magnitude of that position, and the pressure on a 21-year-old—his performance is affecting the lives of men who have families to support. That got tough.”
What? How? How is someone gunning for your job going to make you feel less pressure? What is up with this line of reasoning? Why can’t Licht just admit that drafting kicking highly is a terrible value proposition because there is no such thing as a safe pick.
Licht basically admitted that he so desperately wanted to get a kicker, that he just threw all concerns about getting the right value and balancing risk and reward out the window. “At the time, I was bound and determined to get the best kicker we possibly could,” he said.
But getting a good kicker doesn’t require you to draft anyone that high. In fact, almost every team in the league has a kicker they’re satisfied with, and none of those kickers were high draft picks for them. If you want a good kicker, you just get a couple in free agency and let them kick it out—and if you get unlucky, you don’t panic and spend a lot of valuable draft capital on getting one the next year.
Judging by what he told The MMQB, Licht would make this pick again. And that’s really concerning, because it suggests that he hasn’t grasped one basic rule of drafting: get value. Bill Belichick has success in the draft because he makes shrewd trades, tries to stockpile picks, and doesn’t allow need to override value.
Why Jason Licht didn’t do that with Aguayo is a mystery, in part because he’s actually pretty good about that in the rest of his draft picks. So why can’t he just admit that drafting Aguayo was a terrible idea from the start?
I like what LIcht has done with the Bucs overall. It’s hard not to given the talent and the results so far. But the mistake of drafting Aguayo and then refusing to learn the right lessons from it suggests that that may have been more luck than wisdom. Which makes sense: there’s a lot of evidence that ‘winning’ the draft is just a case of getting lucky.