With last three picks, Bucs close out draft with much more than expected

The Bucs' 2018 draft started with Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea on Thursday night, shown with coach Dirk Koetter and GM Jason Licht.(MONICA HERNDON | Times)
The Bucs' 2018 draft started with Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea on Thursday night, shown with coach Dirk Koetter and GM Jason Licht.(MONICA HERNDON | Times)
Published April 28 2018
Updated April 29 2018

TAMPA — After two days of trading and piling up draft picks, the Bucs had a lowkey Saturday, rounding out a promising class with three players who fit the mold of what general manager Jason Licht is trying to build.

"This year of finding that guy, that man that embodies what we're looking for on this football team … that are wired the specific way that we want guys to be wired … these guys that we picked, they certainly are in that category," Licht said.

On Saturday, that was Pittsburgh safety Jordan Whitehead in the fourth round, Penn receiver Justin Watson in the fifth and Wisconsin linebacker Jack Cichy in the sixth round, each with their own compelling storylines.

Whitehead, a cousin of former Bucs cornerback Darrelle Revis, went to his cousin's draft party 11 years ago and had Revis' mother at his in Aliquippa, Pa., on Saturday.

"He gave me a lot of advice going through this thing," Whitehead said. "Stay humble, anything could happen throughout this weekend … You can learn from the best right there, and he's right there in front of me. I take everything from him."

In 140 years of Penn football, Watson is the Quakers' career leader in catches, yards and touchdowns, topping 1,000 yards in each of the last three seasons. He boasts a 40-inch vertical and ran a 4.42 at his pro day, impressive for a 6-foot-3 receiver. Bucs receivers coach Skyler Fulton coached him in the Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, went to his pro day in Philadelphia and now has him joining a deep group of receivers.

The Bucs had success last year in drafting an injured linebacker in LSU's Kendell Beckwith, and they're hoping for the same in Cichy, who hasn't played since 2016. He missed the end of his junior year with a torn pectoral muscle, then missed all of last season with a knee injury.

"I'm right where I want to be right now and I'm confident going forward," said Cichy, who had 60 tackles in seven games before his injury in 2016. "I'm really a relentless competitor … I like to try and make it 100 miles per hour."

Those three join five Bucs draft picks who went in the first 94 selections, thanks to Licht trading down from No. 7 to No. 12, picking up two second-rounders, then trading down and moving up before he was done Friday.

The headliners were Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea in the first round and USC running back Ronald Jones in the second, but the Bucs were able to add a pair of cornerbacks in North Carolina's M.J. Stewart and Auburn's Carlton Davis, trading back up into the third to get guard Alex Cappa of Division II Humboldt State.

As a whole, the eight-player draft class will have a chance to fill significant roles on both sides of the ball as the Bucs work to bounce back from a 5-11 record last season.

"I was just talking with Dirk (Koetter), when we went into the first round, we thought we were going to have a hell of a lot more needs than we do right now, (more) holes on our roster," Licht said. "So we feel very good with the quality that we were able to get in the first two days, and today."

Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

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