Bucs GM: Team Has Front-Runner for NFL Draft, Mum on Pick

In this Feb. 21, 2015, file photo, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis. While 26 draft-eligible players have accepted invitations from the NFL to attend the proceedings later this month, Winston and Marcus Mariota are not among them. The two most recent Heisman Trophy winners and highest-profile players in this year's crop have opted to stay home with their families for the April 30-May 2 draft. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)
In this Feb. 21, 2015, file photo, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

FRED GOODALL, AP Sports Writer

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers reiterated that while “there is a leader in the clubhouse” about who they’ll take with the first overall pick in the NFL draft, they are in no hurry to say who that may be.

General manager Jason Licht said Monday that there’s no benefit to reveal whether the pick will be Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, or anyone else.

“Once again, we all feel very comfortable with where we’re at right now,” Licht said. He added the Bucs have spent weeks not only poring over game film and scouting reports, but doing extensive interviews to gather as much information as possible about the highest rated quarterbacks in the draft, as well as other prospects.

Without providing any clues about which way the team might be leaning, the GM stressed he, coach Lovie Smith and the Glazer family, which owns the club, “couldn’t feel more confident about the process we’ve gone through so far.”

That includes the vetting of Winston, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner who also generated headlines off the field while playing for Florida State, including being accused of — but never arrested or charged with — sexual assault.

The former Florida State student who said the quarterback assaulted her filed a civil lawsuit against the quarterback last week.

Licht said the team was neither surprised by the lawsuit, nor caught off guard by any information contained in the legal action.

“Maybe 25 years from now, I’ll write a book. But we feel very confident in the amount of work we’ve done Internally. We’ve had work done externally, third parties, on and on and on. There have been no surprises,” Licht said.

“We’ve talked to a lot of people. A lot probably is not a big enough word,” Licht added. “But we’re not going to publicly talk about who we talked to. That’s just what we decided internally. We’re not going to talk about the process.”

The Bucs are coming off a 2-14 season and have the top overall pick in the draft for the first time since 1987, when they selected Vinny Testaverde. Quarterback is a priority again after ranking 30th among 32 teams in total offense in 2014.

Winston and Mariota, the 2014 Heisman winner from Oregon, are regarded as the top players at their position in the draft.

“Going all the way back to (the scouting combine), we said we had a leader in the clubhouse. We still do. If we had to pick today, we’d feel very comfortable making the pick. With that said, we’ll wait, we’ll use the majority of our allotted time. There’s always something that could pop up that you wish you would have waited,” Licht said.

The Bucs have fielded some calls about the prospect of a trade.

“This time of year, you get a lot of calls every day — not making offers but at least gaging your interest if you would be open to it. And that will continue,” the general manager said. “But it would have to be an offer that sets this franchise even further ahead than what you thought you were going to with the decision that you made.”


AP NFL website: and

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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