"It would be fantastic if we could do that every year, but I think that's unrealistic to say that we're going to get the same four (starters) like that every year," new Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter said, via the Tampa Bay Times. "To get Kwon Alexander, that type of player, in the fourth round? But the draft is still an inexact science. There are plenty of examples.
"I think we just did a tremendous job in the draft last year, and it's important every year. ... That's what's going to get us over the top as a football team, so it's very, very important, but I think it's probably unrealistic to think that we're going to be able to do that every year."
Koetter is right. Anyone who says a draft year is not important is sorely mistaken. But this might be even more crucial for the Bucs considering what is on the line. The bedrock created by the 2015 class has given the team support to compete in the NFC South much earlier than anyone expected. Another good class could lift Jameis Winston above and beyond expectations for a Year 2 quarterback. Another year of progression could justify the top dollar it took to keep former first-round pick Doug Martin in Tampa for the foreseeable future.
"We always strive for that," Licht said about drafting better every year. "I want to do better than we did last year, so does my staff. We're confident that we can do it. To get four starters out of a draft is pretty good. Hats off to those guys for everything they did. We strive every year to do better than we did the year before."
If Licht can somehow nail it, he'll be worth his weight in gold.
It made us think about general managers who have done it before and what can really quantify as a success in consecutive years. The Seahawks followed their historic 2010 class (Russell Okung, Golden Tate, Earl Thomas, Walter Thurmond, Kam Chancellor) with a pretty solid 2011 (Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell, Doug Baldwin, James Carpenter, K.J. Wright and Malcolm Smith). The Saints got Jermon Bushrod and Pierre Thomas a year after Reggie Bush, Roman Harper, Jahri Evans, Rob Ninkovich, Zach Strief and Marques Colston (wow).
Tampa Bay's Year 1 class isn't even there yet, but it's easy to see what this kind of personnel boon can do for a franchise.