The Buccaneers got the guy everyone thought they’d take in round one of the 2016 draft, after they were able to trade down two spots to acquire cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III. It was in the second round that things got more interesting.
With their original second-round pick, the Bucs rolled the dice on pass rusher Noah Spence, who has first-round talent but who slid due to off-field issues. Then, the Bucs moved back into the second round to take a guy that most would say lacks second-round talent because of the position he plays: Kicker.
Appearing on Thursday’s PFT Live, Buccaneers G.M. Jason Licht addressed both of his round two decisions.
Asked how comfortable the Buccaneers were that Spence’s well-documented drug issues are behind him, Licht said this: “Well you can never guarantee anything in this league but we were as comfortable as we could get with him after meeting with him. Having my director of security . . . meet with him several times and also our area scout, national scouts, everybody involved in the process. Like you said, he owned up to his mistakes. We thought he made some immature decisions and we feel like we have a very strong locker room. Especially on defense with Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David, some of those guys. We thought he was immature at one point and he’s owned up to them and now he’s looking to move forward. He loves football . . . . We think if a guy loves football and it’s taken away from him, he learned a lesson and he doesn’t want that to happen again.”
With Roberto Aguayo, it wasn’t a matter of how much Aguayo loves football but how much the Buccaneers love Aguayo.
“I was very excited along with my staff and coaches about Roberto for a very long time,” Licht said. “It’s not often that you go into draft meetings or into a school visit and you come back and in fact I remember coming back. I made a visit to Florida State along with several other schools this year, like we always do, but came back and my wife she always asks, ‘Who did you like?’ And I said, ‘I like this Aguayo guy.’ And she was shocked. Because I had never talked about a kicker before. . . .
“He’s the best kicker I’ve ever seen coming out of college. So we got the extra fourth-round pick [in the trade down from No. 9 to No. 11] with plans of moving up, because I just wanted to ensure we got him. With the importance of special teams in this league is paramount and we talk about that all the time. So why not take who you think is the best kicker you’ve ever seen just to sure that up?”
Licht said that the permanent conversion of the extra point to a 33-yard field goal “had something to do” with the decision, but that the move primarily was driven by the team’s belief that Aguayo is “a weapon as a field goal kicker, a weapon as a kickoff specialist, and a weapon just all the way around.”
“He’s super consistent,” Licht said. “He’s never missed inside the 40 in his career, which is rare. And he’s the best and most accurate kicker in college history.”
The move nevertheless is a gutsy one, because the reality is that multiple players taken after Aguayo will become extremely valuable, productive members of the NFL. And unless Aguayo quickly becomes the best kicker in the NFL, the Buccaneers will be reminded at some point of all the great players they left on the board.