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Reading into what the Bucs may really do on draft night

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There always is a hidden message in press conferences.

Florida State v Mississippi Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

There is one thing from Buccaneers’ general manager Jason Licht that you will always get. And that is how you can try to decrypt what he really is trying to say during his press conferences.

Teams always try to not tip their hands when it comes to potential moves they are looking to do. For this case, we’ll be looking Licht speaks on the draft.

With former head coach Lovie Smith, Licht spoke on how they viewed Johnny Maniel while Texas A&M. They hyped up the Manziel train and even discussed how “unconcerned” they were with Manziel’s off-the-field stuff.

But they drafted Manziel’s teammate, Mike Evans, after the majority of mock drafts had them penned to go in that direction.

Two offseasons ago, same thing. The Bucs made moves during free agency to help their defense that may have led some to believe they won’t go with a player on that side of the ball. Licht, then, downplayed the idea of drafting a defensive player, saying that just because they met with several defensive prospects that they won’t necessarily go that route.

But they drafted Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III after the majority of mock drafts had them penned to go in that direction.

Fast forward to last week. Licht spoke to the media during his yearly pre-draft presser. He was asked about Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and then Florida State safety Derwin James. He hyped one up, downplayed the other.

On Fitzpatrick:

“The thing about Minkah [Fitzpatrick] is that he’s played a lot of slot this year. He’s played outside corner and in that slot position, you can see some of the things that he would do at safety. He’s a really smart guy and versatility is a great asset of his. We had a great visit with him. He’s very professional. You can see why [Alabama] Coach [Nick] Saban speaks so highly of him. There’s a lot of versatility with him. We have a plan if he were the pick, what we’d do with it, what we’d do with him. We like the fact that he can do a lot of those things.”

On James:

“He’s a very good safety. Same thing with all of these players. He’s also a versatile guy but he’s more of a strong safety. But he can also drop down in your sub packages and play linebacker. He’s another good player.”

SB Nation compiled a list of the major mock drafts and among them all, to this point, the consensus is that the Bucs will be drafting James.

So are we back to where draft experts feel the Bucs will go a certain direction (that may be accurate) and the Buccaneers are trying to deter other teams away from the beliefs of said experts? It’s quite possible.

Licht could very well be playing coy when it comes to James for that very reason. They could have James high on their boards over Fitzpatrick and they don’t want a team to jump in front of them and snatch him.

It’s a good strategy, and one that we’ve seen work for Licht as noted previously. But if they have their sights on James, will this same plan work?

April 26 can’t get here fast enough.