Jason Licht has seen it all as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager, at least when it comes to draft selections. He's owned the No. 1 pick in the draft before, and he'll make the 32nd selection this year after the Buccaneers won Super Bowl LV in February.
Not that football players wouldn't love to be selected with the first pick in the draft, or a high one at least, but there's a different feeling when you meet with a team that owned a bad enough record to pick in the top five compared to meeting with the reigning league champions.
Licht shared as much on Wednesday.
"One of the questions that we'll ask is, just to kind of get a gauge for their football passion is 'How many players can you name from our team?' And in the past, you know, they'd be able to name a few," Licht said about meeting with draft prospects.
"But it seemed like this year they could name the entire starting lineup, both sides of the ball. So, that comes from playing a lot of primetime games and it comes from playing in the Super Bowl," Licht continued. "So in terms of a little bit of juice, there was a little bit more. Players were sitting up a little bit more, a little bit more wide-eyed and a little bit more excited to talk about our team."
Licht admitted that he's lost track of how many prospects the team has Zoomed with, mentioning that he stopped counting after 50 meetings.
Picking at No. 32, Tampa Bay should greatly benefit from Zooming as many prospects as possible before the draft begins. Unlike in 2015, Tampa Bay isn't able to lock in their selection before the draft begins as the Buccaneers hold the final pick in the first round.
"We've done a lot of Zooms. We've got them going on every day," said Licht. "We're splitting up coaches and scouts and talking to as many of these guys as much as we can.
"When you go through all the scenarios of who could be there, you know, picking at five [there are] certainly less scenarios you had to go through. At 32 where it seems like there's 8,000 scenarios. It's a little bit more challenging but it's a good problem to have."
In fact, it's something that the team routinely prepares for. Licht provided insight into the Buccaneers' in-season draft meetings, sharing that his staff normally prepares for the possibility of a mid-to-late first-round selection when discussing the draft in November. In years like 2020, those talks eventually gear towards picking in the No. 30-32 range.
"You want to be picking at 32 and here we are at 32," said Licht. "So, I'm happy we're picking here and I want to pick here every year, obviously. But it does make it a little bit more challenging in terms of predicting what players will be there."