Licht addresses decision to draft Noah Spence, Roberto Aguayo


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.

21 responses to “Licht addresses decision to draft Noah Spence, Roberto Aguayo

  1. Steelers lost 2 games last year due to kicker being out.
    How many games come down to last kick or lost on missed kicks/extra points some place in the game? If you can get the best kicker, and you already put out a #1 and #1 pick, I believe it is a great strategy. Especially if your current kicker is lame. Well done, Jason Licht, well done. Good that you don’t listen to the media. Neither does Bellichick.

  2. The entire draft is one big roll of the dice. Anyone judging this move now is just ignorant. Also, are we going to applaud Licht for not drafting the 100’s of busts that got drafted after the kicker this year?

  3. Licht is behaving like a novice fantasy football player, drafting a kicker early. It’s especially entertaining when you consider all of the unheralded and undrafted college kickers who went on to amazing NFL careers. It takes a special approach to spend a valuable draft pick on an expendable position.

  4. Actually, its the Vikings that should have traded up into the first round to secure Aguayo. And that assumes they would have gotten their pick in on time.

  5. Trading up and taking a kicker in the second is almost as foolish as taking a RB in the top 5 that’s not named, Sanders, Dickerson, AP…………….. (looking at you Jerrah) when you have an option for an elite DB which is a position of need.

  6. All I can say is, to take Roberto that early, he’d better end up being the best kicker in the league, otherwise it was a complete waste of a 3rd and 4th round pick. When I see we could’ve drafted Vonn Bell with that #59 pick….it makes me queasy. But I’m trying to have faith in Jason’s ability as a talent judge. Up to this point he’s got an A+ in my book. I just hope this doesn’t blow up in his face.

  7. Remind me again how many LB’s, DE’s or Safetys score 100 points or more a season for any team….

  8. “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.”


    While this statement is very true, it is also very true that more forgettable players were drafted at 59 overall than memorable ones. If the Bucs get a solid 10 year starter at this spot other than the typical career spot player/backup or flameout, who can blame them. Especially with their kicking issues the first three games of last year.

  9. Love the pick.
    Depending on how the chips fall in a given season, a kicker can win or lose 3-4 games for you.
    Licht took a shot at sustained greatness at a money position.

  10. Very poor decision, not justifiable by any stretch. I would fire him on the spot for that egregious a draft mistake. You simply don’t burn multiple picks in the deepest draft in a decade on a kicker… No debate…

  11. I remember the Bucs taking Sabby Piscetelli and Dexter Jackson in the second round and Gaines Adams and Josh Freeman in the first. That being said, who’s to say that these players picked after him will be better. Look at the 2013 draft first round. 13 players did not receive the 5th year option. It’s also obvious that the national media did not attend Buccaneer games the past few years where special teams have been neglected. We have lost as many if not more than our fair share of games by a touchdown or less or lost momentum because the offense moved the ball down field only to miss a field goal. Outstanding move. Nothing is guaranteed.

  12. Kickers don’t matter until they do. How many games are lost by less than 3 points?

    Not a Bucs fan, but he had a pick to burn. The entire draft is a gamble anyways.

  13. Licht was on Patriots personnel staff for a long time. He saw what having Vinitarri could do and than saw how Bellicheck replaced him with Gostkowski… A 3rd round pick.

    Does Brady win all those Super Bowl with Connor Barth as the Kicker? Seems to me the Pats won a lot of close games with last second kicks. Kickers are important.

  14. I certainly wouldn’t take a kicker that high, but I’m also not an NFL GM. Remember the previous most accurate kicker ever coming out of college? Alex Henery. Released by 2 teams in 4 years since being drafted in the 4th round & is currently a free agent.

  15. The timing of the pick is suspect, no doubt. But any Bucs fan can tell you about the pain of witnessing our kicking situation last year, and how many games we would have won if we had just made the extra points and field goals. Gutsy call that definitely addresses a need. I hope it works!

  16. Two great moves. Consistent, top kickers are hard to find and bad kickers bring the team down as they lose games.

    And Spence will probably be Rookie Of The Year– he is awesome.

  17. I actually love the Aguayo and Spence picks more than I do the Hargreaves pick. Vernon is not tall, not long and not fast. He better be insanely gifted.

    (In fairness, I didn’t watch the Gators at all last year.)

  18. Very poor decision, not justifiable by any stretch. I would fire him on the spot for that egregious a draft mistake.

    That’s like saying you would pull your QB after making one bad throw, despite the fact he’s been pretty good all game.

    I would question this more if Licht had a bad track record here but he doesn’t. Since arriving here 3 years ago Licht’s drafts (not counting this one because who yet knows) have been the best they have had in years. Last year’s draft appears exceptional (at least up to now).

  19. I want to be in Licht’s fantasy league…and worse yet, Aguayo is no more than an average kicker.

  20. Seems a lot of fans are assuming greatness from Aguayo when there is as much failure at the kicker position as any other position. But if failure does occur it will certainly sting a little worse with the significant investment by Licht,

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