“Today we had the ability to add to what we’ve done as far as establishing our responsibility and establishing our team. We got bigger and faster today. We had the ability to go out and get some character guys that our community can rally around and that you guys will be proud of. That’s what the goal was in the draft and we accomplished that.”
How much better do you think you got in this draft?
“What I really thought we did over this weekend was establish our upfront rush. That’s where it all starts at – up front. We were able to establish our push. We were able to do that yesterday. We were able to get faster and get some speed receivers on the outside. We were able to get a couple guys that can run around for us and play a long time. We have guys here that we want to re-sign, guys that we want to get back and keep here in this building and make you feel proud of us. I feel like we accomplished some big-time things today and over the last couple of days.”
Do you have any concerns about the red flags around Mike Williams?
“No. I’d be telling you a story if I told you we didn’t have any concerns. We brought him in and did our due diligence – our work. We were able to see him at the combine and our facility. We were able to take him out and meet him and have dinner with him. We sat down and talked with a bunch of people that he knows that he’s close to. We went through all our due diligence and work and how we would feel about him. At the end of the day we were very comfortable taking Mike and he’s going to come here and make you guys proud. He has another opportunity and he has a fresh start around a lot of big, young people. We’ll get him acclimated with how we do things and how we operate.”
The Bucs didn’t draft a defensive end. Are you comfortable with your outside pass rush?
“We established the push in this draft – there’s no doubt about that – the push inside, the push in the middle. We have Stylez White on the outside and go out and get a hustle man like Eric Lorig and a guy that plays as hard as he does. There are some young guys right now in the hopper that are going to shock us as well. Going out and getting Kyle Moore last year, and he’s really blossomed. He’s really come on to where he’s looking great in workouts. We stole Tim Crowder last year. He was a former second-round pick. We stole him last year. We’re going to go out and let these guys compete and hopefully get to the quarterback. The guys in the middle with that push are going to help [the defensive ends] get better. Those three guys in the middle are going to establish everything for this defense. They are going to make everybody around them and behind them better.”
Who is stacked behind Stylez G. White at right defensive end?
“We have Kyle Moore over there as well. He can do swing duties. Maurice Evans, who we got from the Giants last year. You heard a little bit about him and how upset they were when we stole him from their practice squad last year. It was a great job by our scouting department. Tim Crowder also goes over there with part-time duties. He’s been over there before. We might have the opportunity to put Lorig over there, too. He’s rushed off both sides at Stanford. We’ll see what he can do.”
Is there any chance that Dekoda Watson will play safety in Tampa Bay?
“No. Dekoda played a bunch of linebacker [at Florida State]. He’s 6-foot-1, 240 pounds. He’s like a clone of Quincy [Black]. He has put his hand down and rushed off the edge. He’s a potential speed rusher as well. All the different packages we can put can get some faster guys outside along with that push inside. We won’t put him at safety. I like him as a rusher. I like him as a safety. I like him in the box for sure. I might have a package where he’ll be in an acting role as a safety, but he’ll be a linebacker.”
Discuss signing undrafted free agents.
“We’re trying to build as much as we can through the draft. There is no secret that you can’t get everything you want in this draft. If that were the case, it would be called recruiting. Right now we’re doing a little bit of recruiting. Hopefully we’ll get some people we liked because of the depth of this draft. This year all of the sixth-rounder were really fifth-rounders. All the seventh-rounders were really sixth-rounders. All the second-rounders were really first-rounders. The list goes on and on. There are some free agents out there that could have been drafted in any other year.”
Because the draft was so defensive in nature, will Tampa Bay target offensive players in free agency?
“No question. That has to be one of key things to establish [after the draft].”
Can you explain the decision to draft a punter in the sixth round over a running back like Jonathan Dwyer or LeGarrette Blount?
“That’s easy. When you talk about getting a punter and establishing field position and that guy being the main cog for your defense and getting you out of trouble. We played a bunch of teams this year that were able to kick the ball out of there and re-establish field position. That’s a weapon if used right. A lot of people don’t like to give punters or kickers credit until they don’t do their job. We value that highly. We think it’s a great pick for us and we can’t wait to get him in here and kicking the ball for us and changing the field position for us.”
What did you like about Brent Bowden?
“You are talking about a guy with a strong leg who can punt the ball and change the field position for us. He has the ability for direction and all those things. He showed us some explosive moments and things like that that will help us out on special teams. I’ve got a great special teams coach and we lost some core special teams players last year due to injury or free agency or whatever the case may be. We were able to fill some of those roles today with some of the guys we were able to pick up. We probably play more starters than any other team on special teams. That punter is key for us. He’s vital. He’s a core element of the success we’ve had on special teams. When you talk about [special teams coordinator] Rich Bisaccia, you are talking about one of the best.”
Was the team fortunate that Dekoda Watson slid into the seventh round?
“He’s a fast, speed guy. I compare him more to Quincy Black. You’re talking about a 6-foot-1, 240 pound guy. You’re talking about a guy that runs and hits. You talk about a guy that’s excited about football. You talk about these kinds of people that have great character. You’re talking about a heck of a leader down at Florida State. You do your homework on those guys too, and find out how great of leaders they are and what they kind of drive their team on. You ask a bunch of people and they’ll tell you he kind of became that Bobby Bowden-like voice. I thank Florida State. Those are the kinds of people you want to add to your program.”â€¨
Is Cody Grimm as a linebacker or a safety?
“They play a 4-2-4 [scheme] at Virginia Tech. He plays the outside position, which for most NFL football teams translates over to a safety position. So for us, he’s going to be a safety. He may be a box guy, he may be a guy that plays some deep coverage, he certainly has the athleticism, he certainly has the toughness, and he certainly has the pedigree. We were really fired up about getting him, and I’m laughing now because I’m thinking about how excited he was on the phone. We called and talked to him, and he’s excited about coming down here in Tampa to be a part of this. Those are the kinds of people you want to be around. From all my phone conversations from today and yesterday and continuing to go into free agency right now, it’s often positive. It’s about bringing this town together and bringing this team together. Uniting, going over there and taking those pictures in front of those fans and having people you guys can rally around, grow with, and develop [is what it is about].”
On if the team got better on special teams today.
“No question. You never want to limit anybody and say that they’re a special teams guy, you never want to say that, but for us, like I mentioned before, we play starters on special teams. Quincy Black plays the four phases of special teams and he’s our starting Sam [linebacker]. It’s no different than when you get a Dekoda Watson, who has the ability to run down on a kickoff, the ability to block a punt and do all those different things. It’s the same thing with a Cody Grimm. He brings that excitement. We lost a great leader last year in Will Allen to free agency, the guy was injured throughout the season and then went on IR. You pick up a guy like Cody Grimm with that type of character, that type of pedigree, that type of hunger and desire, and you’re excited about that and all the guys we picked throughout the draft. The Myron Lewises of the world, who is a big, long hold-up guy. They will all be expected to play special teams. Rich, he’ll beat down my door if I we put a sign in his room and tell him who not to play, so I don’t think you ever have to worry about that.”
On how excited was Josh Freeman about the wide receivers selected in the draft.
“Josh is an excited, young man. Josh is excited about whatever we do. He’s very confident, and he got a lot better. He got some more bodies, some more guys to run around for him, some more guys to catch balls, some more guys to make him look better when they catch the ball and make plays, and as a quarterback, that’s what you look at. His father is probably more excited than Josh. I got more texts from Ron Freeman then I did from Josh Freeman, so that’s all the excitement as well. It’s a family environment. It’s kind of like college right now, where I see all these 20-year olds in the building. It’s a good feeling.”
On if the influx of youth will affect any of the veteran players and what the veteran players should do.
“If you’re a veteran, you have the chance to establish your leadership role out there and lead these young men and go win Super Bowls. That’s what you’ve got to do like all these young football teams. The Saints were a young football team last year and they won the Super Bowl, but the veterans, the Drew Breeses of the world, the Marques Colstons of the world – those guys all stood up and helped the young guys. The Tracy Porters of the world went out there and made plays in the biggest games and that’s what you have to do right now.”
On if there may be writing on the wall for some of the positions that the team doubled up on in the draft.
“The problem with our league is when you start talking about writing on the wall, you’re already in trouble. We’re building competition. This is a competition-driven league and it will always be competitively driven. Every year, next year, the guys we drafted today, there’ll be another 250 players in the draft that are going to be competitive. People are going to double up at positions and you’ve got to fight them off. We call the term, 'You have to take them out to the deep water and try to drown them' – and somebody’s not going to come back. That’s basically the life we live in. There are coaches stacked up behind me on the board. That’s the nature of our game. That’s the nature of the beast. Fortunately, most of the time, veterans, they understand that. That’s how you understand how to prepare. That’s how you understand how to come to work. That’s why you understand the importance of everything you do. You talk about from the offseason, you talk about from the meeting rooms, the classrooms and all those types of things. I don’t want to give you a bunch of lists of what’s important, but that’s the thing you have to do."
Andrew Scavelli contributed to this story.