TAMPA, Fla. — Winning the Super Bowl usually leaves teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in an advantageous situation.
Just look back to the post-championship Kansas City Chiefs to see a recent example of it. They get to draft for want, instead of need, more often than not.
For Jason Licht and the Bucs, this team is in an even better situation entering the final few weeks before the 2021 NFL Draft because they’re returning every starter from their Super Bowl-winning roster. That's a feat not seen since 1979 and never in the NFL’s salary cap era.
Bruce Arians was visibly happy about the prospect of drafting the best available player in each round of this year’s selection meeting, but there’s always a chance the team won’t pick at all in some of the rounds as well.
Specifically, in the first round, there are some who would say trading out of the 32nd overall spot to gain draft picks including some in future drafts when the team may not have all of their starters returning.
While the idea certainly holds water, Tampa Bay’s general manager isn’t quite fixed into one specific strategy regarding the team’s first-round pick. From the sounds of it coming out of his media session on Thursday afternoon, he probably won’t dig into one single course of action until he gets his first turn on the clock, either.
“We're not going into this saying we've got to trade out of that pick, or that we're going to stick with the pick no matter what,” said Licht. “That will present itself as, you know, as the draft goes and we get closer to our pick. I think there's been several times, I think, every year in the draft when we've been picking high lately, but that when it gets down to the 32nd pick, I'm like, ‘Oh man, I wish we had a pick right here because I really like this guy here that we're going to take.' So, you know, picks one through 32, they all have a fifty-percent chance of being a player. So I think you know the chances of a guy being good, being a very good player, are just as good at 32 as they are at one.”
Not surprisingly, Licht knows what he’s talking about. Over the years, there have been some impressive careers launched from the 32nd pick in past NFL Drafts.
Recently retired New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was the 32nd pick in the 2001 NFL Draft, albeit the pick came in the second round that year because the Houston Texans weren’t an active franchise quite yet.
Current Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was also taken with the pick in 2014. Offensive linemen Ryan Ramczyk (Saints) and Logan Mankins (New England Patriots), who finished his career with the Buccaneers, were also selections at pick 32.
Oh, and the Bucs could also decide to move up as well.
No matter what Licht, Arians, and the team decide to do, they have some good options ahead of them. It's a good situation to be in, and perhaps one reason why Arians and Licht look a little more relaxed right about now, compared to some other NFL decision-makers across the league.
For more on this story and all things Tampa Bay Buccaneers, check out the Locked On Bucs Podcast.