If history is any indicator, quarterback Mike Glennon probably won’t be replaced by a first-round, rookie quarterback in 2014.
Licht, who brings nearly two decades of scouting and player personnel experience to the Buccaneers' front office, has spent the last 15 years evaluating personnel and coordinating scouting efforts for the Cardinals (2008, 2012-13), New England Patriots (1999-2002, 2009-11) and Philadelphia Eagles (2003-07).
In Licht’s 15 years as a professional scout or front office executive, not to mention his three prior years as an assistant or quality control coach, no staff he’s ever been a part of has used a first-round draft pick on a quarterback. That’s not to say Licht has never been a part of a draft-day success story at quarterback.
In 2000 Licht was a college scout with the New England Patriots when they drafted quarterback Tom Brady in the sixth round. That was obviously a win for the organization.
Licht was in Philadelphia in 2007 when the Eagles drafted quarterback Kevin Kolb in the second round. He was in Arizona when the Cardinals drafted John Skelton in the fifth round in 2010 and Ryan Lindley in the sixth round in 2012. Kolb, Skelton and Lindley haven’t turned out to be wins like Brady, but each has started in the NFL.
|Starting NFL QB's from Jason Licht's Draft Classes|
|Tom Brady, Patriots||191||148-43||49,149||359|
|Kevin Kolb, Eagles||21||9-12||5,206||28|
|John Skelton, Cardinals||17||8-9||3,707||15|
|Ryan Lindley, Cardinals||4||1-3||752||0|
|Pro Football Reference|
Forget about the success rate of the quarterbacks that have been drafted by teams where Licht was employed. Look at the tendencies of when they were drafted.
Never has a team where Licht worked ever drafted a quarterback higher than the second round. And that’s only happened once (Kolb in 2007). Licht has been involved with eight quarterbacks being drafted. Kolb and Kevin O’Connell (New England, 2008) were earlier picks—the second and third rounds, respectively. The other six quarterbacks came later: one in the fourth round, one in the fifth, three in the sixth and one in the seventh).
|QB's Drafted Under Jason Licht's Tenure|
|Michael Bishop||New England||1999||7th|
|Tom Brady||New England||2000||6th|
|Rohan Davey||New England||2002||4th|
|Kevin O' Connell||New England||2008||3rd|
|Pro Football Reference|
It’s important to note that Licht has never been completely in charge of a team’s war room, but it’s safe to say he’s learned a lot in his 18 NFL years. And for the most part he’s learned not to draft quarterbacks early, or at all. Licht’s teams have only drafted quarterbacks eight times in his 18 NFL seasons.
A big reason for that has to do with veteran quarterbacks already in place. New England had Drew Bledsoe at quarterback from 1993 to 2001, when he was hurt two games into the season. Philadelphia had Donovan McNabb from 2000 to 2009.
It’s only been during his recent years in Arizona where there’s been little quarterback continuity. The Cardinals tried to fix that via free agency and trade.
In 2010 the Cardinals signed Derek Anderson to fill the void left under center when Kurt Warner retired. In 2011 the team traded for Kolb (a name from Licht’s past) when Anderson and Skelton weren’t cutting it. Arizona traded for Carson Palmer in April of 2013 to help stop the revolving door of Cardinals quarterbacks.
The last thing Tampa Bay wants is a continuation of its revolving door at quarterback that started when Josh Freeman left the team and Glennon took over. In a perfect world Glennon materializes into a top-notch passer.
But if Glennon doesn’t work out, the Buccaneers are going to have to have a Plan B. That means bringing someone in soon. And Licht, while his background is perfect for this decision, won’t have final say.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, there is a clause in head coach Lovie Smith’s contract that gives him final say over “personnel matters on the 53-man roster.” Expect Smith and Licht to attempt to work together to assemble the right talent.
Figuring out whether or not Glennon is the correct long-term answer for the Bucs at quarterback is the first thing Smith, Licht and new offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford have to decide. In the early days of Smith’s and Tedford’s tenure with the Bucs, neither has anointed Glennon starter nor thrown him under the bus.
That decision won’t come until Licht makes his first move. Possibly not for some time after.
When Licht does make a move at quarterback, expect it to be a veteran to come in and compete with Glennon, not automatically take his job. That’s good news for Glennon because it not only gives him a fighting chance; it means he won’t be burdened with the obvious questions that would surround the team if Licht drafted a quarterback early.
If Tampa Bay used its first-round pick (No. 7 overall) on a quarterback, there would be pressure to use him immediately. If the team could get past not starting this first-rounder immediately, Glennon would constantly be looking over his shoulder, waiting for the inevitable moment when the younger quarterback took over.
That didn’t work in Tampa Bay in 2013 and shouldn’t be the method to push Glennon in 2014. Look for Licht to solve this matter like many of the teams he’s worked for in the past.
Expect the Buccaneers to acquire a veteran quarterback via trade or free agency and use a mid- to late-round draft pick on another. Glennon and the veteran will compete for the starting job while Tedford develops Glennon and the draft pick.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and statements were obtained firsthand.