Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht has been a part of NFL front offices for a long time. During those years when he had a position among the main decision makers, Licht was part of the process of deciding whether a player's overall talent would exceed that player's questionable character.
In 2008, then the Vice President of Player Personnel under Andy Reid with the Eagles, the decision was made to select the ultra-talented, but malcontent of Desean Jackson. As an executive in the Patriots front office from 2009-11, Licht was part of a front office that drafted Aaron Hernandez and Ryan Mallett. Before joining the Bucs, Licht was part of the Arizona Cardinals franchise that took a big risk on Tyrann Mathieu.
As a general manager, now with the Bucs, Licht may have taken his biggest gamble when he selected Jameis Winston with the first pick of the 2015 NFL Draft. We all know it worked out now, but in hindsight, it was actually a bit of baggage for someone even take in the first round.
Fast-forward to present day, Licht has more decisions to make.
To help with the decision-making process, players are brought in for visits each year leading up to the draft. These visits are first-hand views as to whether these players will be able to mesh with the current roster in both a physical and mental capacity. This year, two players in particular fit that billing; Noah Spence and Robert Nkemdiche.
“Well, I’m not going to talk about those two players in particular or any player in particular, but we have players that we say, ‘Hell yeah we’ll take him’ and we have players that we, you know, have some concerns over," Licht said at his pre-draft press conference. "So, they get adjusted accordingly on the board.”
There hasn't been any word as to how these visits went with the Buccaneers, but for a good look behind the scenes at the unique human being Robert Nkemdiche is, please read this.
The real determination Jason Licht needs to make is a phrase he used numerous times a year ago when discussing Jameis Winston.
“No, it’s across the board, but there’s different – it depends on what you view as character," Licht said when asked if he evaluates character different per position or if it's the same across the board. "We’re not going to drop a guy down because he has ten jaywalking tickets. We’ve all made mistakes growing up. It gets back to – and I’ve probably said it too many times – but there’s a difference between a bad guy and an immature guy.”
The Bucs could definitely use some attitude on defense, especially along the defensive line. Perhaps another one of Licht's gambles will be used again this year as well.
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