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Bucs open to drafting their quarterback of the future, but it has to be the right fit

General manager Jason Licht said picking Tom Brady’s eventual successor is “definitely something we would look at.”
Should the Bucs bite if a quarterback like Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts is available in the second or third round of this month's NFL draft? (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Should the Bucs bite if a quarterback like Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts is available in the second or third round of this month's NFL draft? (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) [ MARK J. TERRILL | AP ]
Published Apr. 10, 2020

TAMPA — The Bucs will have the best quarterback of all time under center for at least the next two years, but should they dip into this month’s draft to take Tom Brady’s potential successor?

It’s an interesting question, and one with merits to both sides.

Brady will be 43 when the season begins, and while there’s no sign of him slowing down, it would be irresponsible to not at least think about his replacement. And if the Bucs draft a developmental quarterback this year, what’s better for him than to spend two seasons learning under Brady?

However, with Brady in the fold, the Bucs are in “win-now” mode. And would they be better served using picks on players who can help them now — especially in areas where they need depth, like outside linebacker and defensive line — rather than on a quarterback who won’t see the field?

Related: Terry Bradshaw says Tom Brady isn’t the greatest quarterback of all time

Bucs general manager Jason Licht is open to drafting a quarterback but said it has to be the right player.

“We can afford to do it, I think,” Licht said. “And it’s definitely something we would look at. But it just depends on who that player is, where he’s available, what other players are in front of him. If we are sold on that player, it’s not as easy as just picking any quarterback and thinking, ‘OK, he’s the developmental guy.’"

The most current mock drafts predict that four quarterbacks — consensus No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow of LSU, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Oregon’s Justin Herbert and Utah State’s Jordan Love — will be selected in the first round, and some have the first three among the top 10 picks.

There’s a significant dropoff after that, but still some intriguing options.

Related: If technology fails in virtual draft, Bucs’ Jason Licht will phone it in

Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, who won a national championship at Alabama, Georgia’s Jake Fromm, a three-year starter with a career 36-7 record, and Washington’s Jacob Eason, could be available in the second or third rounds, with one or two possibly falling to the fourth round.

“They are hard to find,” Licht added. “They just don’t appear out of nowhere. A lot goes into it — their tape, their maturity level, their intelligence, all those types of things, so it just kind of depends on who the player is. If there’s a player who we like at the right place, I don’t think we would have a problem taking him.”

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.