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Where are they now? A look back at the historically bad 2016 Bucs’ draft class

(Photo by: Anthony Pugliese; Scrum Sports)

On Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers parted ways with 2016 first round pick, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III. The release comes just two days after Hargreaves was benched by Bucs’ head coach Bruce Arians for what he referred to as a ‘lack of hustle’ in Tampa Bay’s week 10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. With Hargreaves no longer on the roster, we take a look back to the disaster that was the 2016 NFL Draft for the Buccaneers.

Round 1, 11th overall pick – Vernon Hargreaves III, CB (Florida)

The Bucs originally held the 9th overall pick in the 2016 draft. A trade with the Chicago Bears on draft day saw them swap to the 11th position in exchange for an additional pick in the 4th round. The move did not seem to have an affect on Tampa Bay’s first round plans, however. Needing help in the secondary, the Bucs were thought to have been set on Hargreaves from the beginning.

Since 2016, Hargreaves appeared in 35 games for the Buccaneers. He recorded just 2 interceptions and 19 defended passes in those games combined. Through the first 8 games of this season, Hargreaves was targeted 73 times, allowing 615 yards and 4 touchdowns to opposing receivers. The lack of production combined with the recent effort concerns led the Buccaneers to release their former first round pick.

Round 2, 39th overall pick – Noah Spence, DE (Eastern Kentucky)

Spence started his college career at Ohio State and played 2 full seasons with the Buckeyes in 2012 and 2013. However, after multiple failed drug tests left him indefinitely suspended by the Big Ten Conference, Spence transferred to Eastern Kentucky for the 2015 season. After a very successful season at EKU, Spence opted to enter the 2016 NFL Draft and was selected in the 2nd round by the Bucs.

Spence made some noise in his rookie campaign. He appeared in all 16 games and recorded 5.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. However, a shoulder injury ended his 2017 season just 6 weeks in. In 2018, Spence was virtually held off the stat sheet while appearing in limited action in 12 games. Tampa Bay waived Spence prior to the start of the 2019 regular season and he was picked up by the Washington Redskins.

Round 2, 59th overall pick – Roberto Aguayo, K (Florida State)

The most questionable and controversial draft selection by Bucs’ GM Jason Licht to date remains Roberto Aguayo. After years of frustration and inconsistencies at the kicking position, Tampa Bay was looking for a long term solution. The Bucs traded their 3rd and 4th round picks to the Kansas City Chiefs to move back into the 2nd round. With the pick, Aguayo became the highest picked kicker since Mike Nugent was selected in the 2nd round by the New York Jets in 2005.

Aguayo finished his 3 year career at Florida State as one of the most accurate kickers in college football history. He converted 69 of 78 field goal attempts and was a perfect 198/198 in extra points. His 2013 freshman campaign earned him the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s top placekicker.

However, things quickly turned for Aguayo when he arrived in Tampa. During his rookie year in 2016, Aguayo had an NFL low 71% field goal percentage. In total, he was 22/31 in field goals and 32/34 in extra points. The highlight of his Bucs tenure in 2016 was kicking the game winning field goal in Carolina on a Monday Night against the Panthers. Realizing Aguayo’s struggles, the Buccaneers brought in Nick Folk in the 2017 preseason to compete with Aguayo. After 2 misses in the Bucs’ first preseason game, Aguayo was waived and claimed by the Chicago Bears. He has since spent time on the Carolina Panthers practice squad and spent the 2018 preseason with the Los Angeles Chargers. Today, Aguayo is not on an NFL roster.

Round 4, 108th overall pick – Ryan Smith, CB (North Carolina Central)

Drafted as a cornerback, the Buccaneers originally converted Smith to the safety position. He started the season as a backup free safety and recorded one tackle in 14 games played. Tampa Bay moved Smith back to corner in 2017 and he spent the next 2 seasons competing for playing time as the Bucs’ 3rd cornerback.

Smith was suspended for the first 4 games of the 2019 season for a performance enhancing substance violation. He has appeared in 5 games since being reinstated and has logged a forced fumble and 1 solo tackle. Smith is now the only player drafted by the Buccaneers in 2016 to still be on the roster.

Round 5, 148th overall pick – Caleb Benonoch, OT (UCLA)

Benonoch started a total of 22 games for Tampa Bay over 3 seasons at both guard and tackle. After the Bucs’ loss to the San Francisco 49ers in week 1, Benonoch was released and signed by the New England Patriots. He was released by the Patriots and claimed by the Panthers in October. Carolina released Benonoch on October 22nd and he is currently not on an NFL roster.

Round 6, 183rd overall pick – Devante Bond, LB (Oklahoma)

Bond missed all of the 2016 season after a a hamstring injury caused Tampa Bay to place him on injured reserve. The following year, Bond saw action in 14 games as a reserve linebacker, including 2 starts. After he was released in September of 2018 and resigned a month later, Bond appeared in 11 games for the Bucs’, recording 22 tackles. He appeared in Tampa Bay’s first 4 games of the 2019 season before being released on October 15th. Bond received a 4 week suspension 3 days later for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing substances. He is not currently on an NFL roster.

Round 7, 197th overall pick – Dan Vitale, FB (Northwestern)

Vitale, who now goes by “Danny,” did not make the Bucs’ 53 man roster out of camp in his rookie season. He spent the the start of 2016 on the Bucs’ practice squad until being claimed by the Cleveland Browns on October 14, 2016.  Today, Vitale is on the Green Bay Packers active roster and has 1 carry for 3 yards in his career.

By the numbers

7 total draft picks

  • 1 remains on Bucs’ roster
  • 4 are not currently on an NFL roster (including Hargreaves who was just released)
  • 2 on active NFL rosters

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