Mark Dominik's opening statement:
“We've been very busy upstairs, wrapping up the rest of the draft with the college free agency. We're in the midst of signing maybe 10, probably closer to 15 or 16 players.
"To wrap up the draft, we started our fifth round with Najee Goode, a LB from West Virginia that we have a lot of expectations for. He's a guy we watched a throughout this whole process, a guy that we felt could play all three positions. He's physical, fast, I think he has one of he best use of hands of any LB in this draft. It's real exciting. He's going to have an opportunity to play all three and compete, whether we put him at Mike, Will, or Sam. A two-time captain at West Virginia, going along the same theme. Just the things we're looking for as a football team.
“Then we went in the 6th round with Keith Tandy, his teammate and, it turns out, his roommate. Sometimes you don't scout everything; you don't find out everything about the guys. But two quality guys out of one university, one program, another captain, a guy that's been able to play corner, also has the ability to play safety. We're going to give him a shot at corner and see how he does because that's what he did at West Virginia. Has really good ball skills, tough, physical, tackles well. So he's an exciting element to our team.
“We went to the top of the seventh, took Mr. Smith from Utah State. Michael. A running back that's really an explosive guy. He had a teammate, [Robert] Turbin, who went earlier in the day, who was a very productive back, and every time you watch the tape you end up seeing Michael. I think the best feeling about that draft pick is when you get a call from another GM, wanting to trade a round ahead just to pick the guy you just took. I've never had that happen before so that's one of the best things to have happen on draft day is when you know that you took somebody's guy. Here's a guy 5-8, 210 pounds, consistently runs in the 4.3’s –a very fast explosive guy – that can play some fullback. For the leverage and toughness that he has and can also catch the ball coming out if the backfield. He took over an All-Star game and really a productive player, averaged over 6.0 yards per carry, and a good addition to this football team to give us more speed on offense.
“Wrapped up the draft with Drake Dunsmore. His dad was a member of the '85 Bears, a TE for Northwestern. He is very smart, catches the ball well, runs excellent routes and a guy we really think can help us at that position. We thought we wanted another pass-catching TE because of the way the league has evolved and how important that position is. We felt like he was perfect addition to wrap up our whole draft. Again, another leader on this team another high-character man and a guy that we're really excited to add on."How unusual is it to get two players from the same apartment?
“Certainly coach knows those two players and is familiar with playing against them. But I also think they stand out like beacon lights at their university. They are really what they built West Virginia around and the toughness and the physicality that those two players play with… quite honestly I did not know they were roommates. But I am not surprised one iota that they are. They really stood at their university at their respective positions and as leaders on their team and I’m excited that we were able to grab both of them in this draft.” What were the objectives of this draft?
“Consistently, we were looking for tough, smart, character football players, guys that when you watch the tape you feel them. They’re able to either make plays with their speed or their precision or they are physical football players. We wanted to become a much more physical football team with this draft and I think we did that. That was a main concern. We wanted to become a smarter football team with this draft. And I think we did that. We wanted to create a lot of competition and we were aggressive moving around throughout the draft early on and then settling down in the final day and waiting and letting the draft come to us and selecting the players that come to us and we did.” Commenting on those who have given the Bucs good draft grades:
“You always feel great after the draft. I think every GM sits up here and say well, what a great day, but this feels like a really good draft because of the character of the men we took, the production they had, how they’re going to fit into this football team. We didn’t draft guys that are just going to be special teamers, we have guys that are going to have roles and I think the guys, all the way, one through seven, have a role on this football team and a chance to contribute, not just on fourth down, but on first, second and third, and I think that’s what makes this draft feel so much more powerful. And the other thing that’s going on upstairs is, the scouts have been working really hard with the coaches and recruiting well and putting together a heck of a college free agent class, too, and I’m really excited about releasing some of the names here shortly and letting you see that, so I’m really excited. There’s a lot of work as you know, there’s a lot of work that goes on with the coaching staff and working with Coach Schiano was really awesome. We had a great relationship. We sat there side by side, made tough decisions together and picked the guys that we thought would be great for our football team in the short and long run.” Can you go to 90 players on the roster now?
“We are able to go to 90. But unlike years before, in the past draft picks wouldn’t count against your 80-man roster. They do count now. Connor Barth counts against your 90. Any player counts against your 90. We probably won’t maximize that because we want to have a rookie tryout camp and we want those guys that don’t have contracts that earn one, get one, if that happens.” Will you still need to add some bodies in the offseason?
“I do think we will continue to look. With the draft wrapping up and the guys we’re looking to sign now, we’ll have at the end of the day, like I said, between 20-25 players added to the roster. We’ll still look to free agency a little bit and the opportunity, to add a couple more players if it makes sense. We won’t close our doors.” Greg Schiano’s opening statement:
“It was good. Good picks and then working hard on the free agents. Was up there trying to finish some of those off. Thought everybody did an awesome job and it was good to talk to all those guys that we took today. It seems like a while ago that we got started, but very excited about the type of players we were able to bring in. The whole class. The whole draft class. I mean there is a common thread. There are tough guys. There are leaders. There are guys who love the game of football. When you look Najee Goode, you know obviously I know a lot about both the West Virginia kids playing against them for four years. They were both a royal pain in the rear, so as I told them it is good to be on the same side now. Both of them you know Najee (Goode) a two time captain and Keith (Tandy) a captain his senior year and just the stuff the production on the field on both of them whether it is tackles, interceptions, and all those things. Truly run and hit guys and defensive coordinator there – and some of the defensive coaches there I am very close to from competing over the last eleven years – could not speak more highly about these two young guys. You know the scheme they play over at West Virginia is very, very complex. So I mean you have to be a smart, tough football player to play in that scheme and they certainly are that.
“Then Michael Smith from Utah State. Every time Mark and I would watch tape he would jump off the tape at you. Just a different kind of speed than everybody else on the field. How we utilize that is going to be our job. We got to make sure we find a way to utilize that speed and there are several different ways you can do it, but speed wins. This guy brings quite a bit of that as well as being a very athletic guy. Again, captain of his football team. Is that prerequisite? No. Are we going to have players here that aren’t captains? Absolutely, but it is nice when that leadership is something that have proven already at the collegiate level.
“Then Drake Dunsmore again a guy that we are very connected with. Coach Fitz and I are good friends and there are some other connections where you know this guy is a very productive player—consensus all big ten player. You know tight end catches a ton of passes, scores touchdowns. Again a clutch player and a leader. So very, very excited about the guys and I know Mark when through them, but just overall the class and then to be grinding away on free agents right before we came down and some guys that we really like as players that we think are going to end up coming here is exciting. We got better this weekend really.”What on field impressed you as coached against those guys?
“Well I love those two guys are football maniacs. I mean they love the game and they play it with such passion. You know, and Tandy has picked us off and hurt us in many ways over the years. I am glad to be looking out here and seeing him in a Buc uniform instead, but you know very heads players too. I mean guys that understand the game. That is one thing you don’t get-you know they make plays now. Are they just great athletes? Well yeah they are great athletes, but when you know their coaches and they tell you how hard they study and how hard they work at it. You know that’s great and they are really good friends too which is going to be cool.”Are you convinced Dunsmore is beyond those injury issues?
“Well, we are or we would not have taken him. Again relationships kind of give you that insight into what happens. Some guys you know how it is. You can be healthy all along and then all of a sudden you hit a stretch, but certainly the level of play that he can bring in our offense as a guy that can create some mismatches we really like that.”Do these picks make you a faster team?
“You always want speed. And I think we may be a little faster than maybe people think we are. Mark and I were talking – and I stand out there on the practice field and I can feel some speed out there. And this will be good. With Mike and the addition and Drake, those are going to be two good additions as far as some now speed.”
Where do you see Goode's position?
“You what we have to do? Just like when we were talking about Lavonte (David) – we have to figure out – Lavonte was either outside position. I think Najee could could play the Mike (middle) and I think he could play the Sam (strong side) too. I think we just have to figure out what the best combinations – with the guys we have – get a chance to work with these guys and we really get our hands on them and figure out what the best mix is. Cause I think especially when you go to nickel packages and you have two linebackers who are in the box, then it doesn’t really matter. You are either the bubble back or you are not the bubble back. It doesn’t really matter about Sam, Mike, Will and all that stuff. So I think there are a lot of different packages we will play. And if you have good linebackers, now you don’t have to play the same guy every play and can give them a rest in certain packages. And what they all bring – or better bring – is the ability to play on all four – the big four special teams – or at least a few of them. And when you guys that are intelligent football players and are bigger guys and can run, and enjoy contact, then that is the kind of the job description on special teams.”You said you are better? How much better are you than when you were hired?
“It is work in progress. I wish I had one of those thermometers that go up when you have a fundraiser. You won’t know until we hit the field and start competing with other teams. But I can feel a sense we are moving this thing forward with our team. I can’t wait to get these young guys down here Thursday and work with them and introduce them to what we are about. It is a process for sure. And that is the biggest thing. We will focus on the now. And we will get better now. And in the end it will add up.”Commenting on the rookie mini-camp
“You have all different levels of guys. You have guys that you know – if they aren’t in the starting lineup on opening day then I am going to be angry at myself, angry at them. Then you have guys you are bringing in for free agent tryouts. So you have such a spectrum there. I think the easy thing to do is just go out and run a practice. But I don’t think that is the best thing to do. I have spent a lot of time kind of thinking it through. But as a staff we really have to make sure –personnel, football coaching – what do we need to find out about these guys? Then put together workouts and things like that that give us the best decisions moving forward.”-Victoria Horchak contributed to this report
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