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Jason Licht may be the ultimate wildcard in the Bucs’ 2020 draft

Licht’s success with offensive linemen outside the first round could be a big bonus this year.

NFL: Combine
Jason Licht is entering his seventh season as the Bucs’ GM.
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

There’s one thing for sure with my headline: depending on the person, there are all kinds of thoughts, ideas, and/or emotions that arise as you read that line.

Because when it comes to Jason Licht’s job performance, reviews can range anywhere from total crap to very good. Whether that’s fair or not is a debate for another day, but just for fun, I think the man’s done a good job since arriving in Tampa Bay. Now let’s move on.

So, what do I mean by the fact that he could be “the ultimate wildcard” in the 2020 NFL Draft?

The Buccaneers need to draft an offensive lineman this year. Whether it be for a starting role, a backup role, or a developmental role - something needs to happen in that regard. That’s because the Bucs are a) likely going to need a new starting right tackle and b) lacked serious depth along the offensive line last year.

Let’s assume Demar Dotson doesn’t come back this year, which is plausible. And let’s assume the Bucs can’t land a starting vet or quality in depth in free agency for whatever reason.

This means the Bucs would have to look toward the draft when it comes to stocking the trenches on the offensive side ball, which is not a bad thing, whatsoever.

Licht has shown a propensity for selecting successive offensive lineman in rounds outside of the first round. To make things better, a couple of the offensive lineman have turned into contributors on the current roster.

Take a look at the offensive linemen Licht has drafted in Rounds 2-5 of the draft:

2014: Kevin Pamphile (5th round)
2015: Donovan Smith (2nd round), Ali Marpet (2nd round)
2016: Caleb Benenoch (5th round)
2018: Alex Cappa (3rd round)

Every single one of those players have started a NFL game. Pamphile battled for a starting spot with the Tennessee Titans last summer and Smith, Marpet, and Cappa all currently start for the Bucs. Marpet is a Pro Bowler and one of the best guards in the league, while Smith is a solid starter. Only Benenoch (who was a full-time starter in 2018, by the way) could really be considered an abject failure.

But the key is that the trio of Smith, Marpet, and Cappa are all quality starters who were found in the second and third rounds of the draft. There’s little reason to think that Licht wouldn’t be able to continue batting 1.000 when it comes to picking linemen in those rounds.

This is big for the Bucs because if Licht can find another quality starting lineman outside of the first round in the draft, then it would allow the Bucs to use high draft picks on other positions of need like EDGE, defensive line, safety, etc.

Plus, the Bucs would still find a quality starter on the offensive line and still find a way to build depth.

It’s a win-win for all if Licht can make it happen.