Buccaneers' GM Jason Licht & HC Bruce Arians Quotes 4.25.20
COURTESY OF TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS MEDIA RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
(On how pleased he was to select WR Tyler Johnson in the fifth round)
BA: "Oh man, I can't tell you how long I was waiting to see that. I was just shaking waiting on that one because I actually sat here and watched that game (2020 Outback Bowl) here in Tampa with my son. I said, 'I've got to get this guy.' We really wanted him, and we had a high grade [on him]. Guys were coming and going, and it was like, 'Phew, we finally got him.' I was really, really excited."
(On the first five selections all having played in the Big Ten at some point during their collegiate careers)
BA: "It's just one of those things, you know. The board was set – I thought Jason [Licht] did a great job with the board and we just kept coming down and guys were fitting needs and were right there to pick. I can't say enough about each and every guy. I think that, just like last year's draft, I think each and every one of these guys might have a role on our team."
(On if the team had planned to draft two running backs all along)
BA: "It was kind of the plan. It's just we like two different styles. One can kind of do everything (Ke'Shawn Vaughn) and the other one's (Raymond Calais) kind of a joystick. He's one of those guys – he runs 4.33 and he's a running back/receiver/kick returner. – just one of those guys I love to play with. I think both of those guys are going to find a role on our ball club."
(On if he felt like the board fell exactly how he had hoped)
BA: "It was really, really close. There was a guy or two, one for sure that I had my eye on that went in front us – that always happens. The last time that happened to me it was Ameer Abdullah and we ended up with David Johnson, so it's just the way the draft falls. But yeah, I thought our board was set up perfectly."
(On the team's assessment of the entire draft class as a whole)
BA: "I think one thing that stands out to me is that each and every one of these guys loves to play football, I mean they're ballers. They will play for free. They have fun, they are gym rats and they're smart, aggressive-type players. When you have that type of draft, I think each and every guy brings a redeeming quality that's going to give him a chance to make it."
JL: "I would just echo Bruce. I don't really have anything to add there. Just kind of the way we felt like we had the board set really well and the players that we got, they all have some redeeming qualities that we loved, and they really stood out. One thing that they all had in common is that they love football, they're ballers and they're very passionate about the game. That's one thing that we've been stressing here for a while now, especially with Bruce here. Bruce is a very passionate guy and so is his staff, so it's a good mix."
(On how not being able to spend as much time face-to-face with the prospects as usual altered the draft strategy)
JL: "I would say you can try to make this complicated, but really at the core, it's about watching tape and seeing which players stand out to you that you like and Bruce [Arians] and I, and the coaches and the scouts, getting together and talking about him. We did that. We were able to do that just like the way we're talking to you right now. We set the board that way and in a lot of ways it wasn't different. The only thing that was different was not getting out there and having a lot of boots on the ground, hitting Pro Days and having personal workouts and visits. But we were able to visit with all of these guys – our coaches and our scouts especially over the last few weeks. We felt like we got quite a bit out of it. At the end of the day, we took the players that we felt like were going to help us and it's based off of film work."
BA: "Yeah, I think our scouts and our coaches got tech-savvy real quick. We were able to do the interviews, you know, get a guy on Zoom or whatever for an hour, put him on the board [and] watch film. So, a lot of the stuff you would normally do face-to-face, we still got done. Hats off to all of our scouts and our coaches for putting in that extra time to get all of that done. They didn't get as many frequent flyer miles – that's the only bad part."
(On if the possibility of not having offseason workouts and/or training camp played a factor in drafting some of the players that they drafted)
BA: "Yes and no – Tristan [Wirfs] was a three-year starter, but they were all football-intelligent guys and played the game smartly, physically and fast. They just fit what we're looking for as players. It will set us back for these young guys if we have to go straight to camp and don't get at least a month of Phase 1-Phase 2 OTA-type work, which I think we'll still get."
(On what he likes about S Antoine Winfield and how he fits in Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles' defense)
BA: "Yeah again, he's an extremely bright football player that's got great bloodlines. He is so position flexible – half-field, deep-field, middle-field, nickel, dime, linebacker – he's got so many positions he can play. We love to mix it up with our safeties when they're interchangeable. He's part 'Honey Badger' (Tyrann Mathieu) and he's part Budda Baker – he's that style of player that we can use in a different type of role along with our other safeties, who are interchangeable."
(On not getting a developmental quarterback in the draft) BA: "I mean there were guys we were looking at today [but] they all got jumped on early. We're going to sign a free agent that I think has really good upside and see how that goes, but I love our quarterback room with 'Griff' (Ryan Griffin) and Blaine [Gabbert]. Blaine has won a lot of games for me. He's in this offense, finally, for the third time. He's never been in an offense more than twice in his career other than ours, so it will be a great help to Tom [Brady]. That room helping each other – really bright – guys can do projects for each other. People don't realize how much quarterbacks help quarterbacks in a week's process of getting ready for a ballgame. I love that room."
(On what he likes about Chapelle Russell)
JL: "Well, first of all he's an aggressive player. He has an aggressive mindset and he's an instinctive player. He's tough. He can run and he went to Temple. Bruce [Arians] and I have an arrangement that I was going to get a Nebraska guy and he would get a Temple guy. He let me go first since I hired him, but no. He was a guy we had targeted, fits what we're trying to do, and we're trying to bolster our special teams. We feel like that's what he can do first and foremost, but we do see a big upside in him."
(On an emphasis on rookies being self-motivated being in this current situation)
BA: "I mean it's one of the redeeming qualities we're always looking for. I love drafting captains, guys that coaches have to throw out of buildings. That's the type of guys we're looking for. We hit on that last year and I think we hit on it again this year. Now, they should be able to overcome whatever adversity hits them coming into learning processes, and the volume we throw at them. I think each and every one of them is mentally ready for it. They're tough enough, smart enough, and we'll deal with it. And we won't put them out there until they're ready."
(On if Bruce Arians found a David Johnson pass catching-type running back)
BA: "I think Ke'Shawn Vaughn is a guy that can play every down. I don't consider him a David Johnson. I think that Raymond [Calais] is a very smaller version, but much faster version of David Johnson. He's a heck of a little running back. I wouldn't say he's Tarik Cohen, but he's kind of that style guy, that joystick type guy that can go out and play wide receiver and be a mismatch. We also have T.J. Logan, who got hurt last year. They'll have a heck of a battle."
(On the high expectations on his team and if he likes them)
BA: "I love them. I embrace it. I want our guys to feel that we are a team to beat. Everybody that left our locker room in that last meeting knew we should have been playing in the playoffs, and we beat ourselves. And if we could correct the turnover ratio we'd have a chance. So, yeah, I think everybody that walks in our building is expecting to win."
(On Tom Brady expecting draft picks to be humble and if he thinks this group is humble)
JL: "Yeah, I think there's a lot of humility in these guys. But at the same time these guys have that confidence that we look for. They're good football players. They wanted to come to a place where they could win. They were confident that they can. They were all excited that they were coming here with the team that we have, the coach, the coaching staff that we have. I would say they do need to be humble because they do know they have to earn their spot; they have to earn their playing time – all those things. All of them seem to have that when we talked to them. Nobody came in and said, 'I'm doing to be your starter day one.' But I think they all have the confidence that they are going to be major contributors and that's what we look for."
(On if Khalil Davis running a 4.76 40-yard dash popped out to him)
JL: "Yeah, it sure did. I was sitting next to Bruce [Arians] when [Davis] pulled that off at the combine. We said, 'Whoa'. Made sure we watched a little bit more on him together. Bruce was looking for a punt returner (joking), so we felt he might be able to fill that role as well as playing d-line. He's a very athletic guy, not just in his 40 time, but all his other testing was very good. He's got a good upside, so we'll see how it goes with him. There in those late rounds you want to gamble – not gamble, but you want to take a flyer on guys that have traits like that – in addition to being a great kid and all that stuff. Being from Nebraska didn't hurt him."
(On what his interaction with Tom Brady has been and if they have been able to collaborate)
BA: "Well, he's a very bright guy, so the playbook is just learning a language. It's so similar to what he's been with the last 20 years. It's just what we call it. We have time to collaborate on, 'Alright, give me your 10 best', 'This is what our guys can do', 'This is what we'll call it' – so it's just names. That part of it will just take time. We've got plenty of time for that for him. Unlike these rookies who are hearing it for the first time. He can take a playbook and look at it – trips-right is trips-right. It's not that hard. Whether it's 62 Y choice or whatever. Those things he'll learn on his own. When we get together, it'll be easy. I'm really looking forward to being able to sit down right now and be able to collaborate in our building or on Zoom. We should be able to start that stuff on the 27th."