Bucs GM Jason Licht - Photo: Cliff Welch/PR
The Buccaneers have completed their 2016 NFL Draft, adding four defensive players, an offensive tackle, a fullback and a kicker to improve their roster heading into training camp. Following the final selection of Dan Vitale, a versitile fullback from Northwestern, general manager Jason Licht and head coach Dirk Koetter separately took the podium to formally close the three-day event for the Tampa Bay media.
Here’s a full transcript of Licht and Koetter’s closing statements on Saturday.
General Manager Jason Licht
“Alright, just finished our last pick and I don’t see up moving back into the seventh.”
(On Glennon sill a Buccaneer)
“He sure is.”
(On if he received calls about Glennon during the draft)
“No I didn’t. And, you know, Mike is a Buc and I’m glad he’s a Buc. So is Dirk and everybody here. The value of that backup quarterback – we’re lucky to have him. Hopefully he can be here for a while, but we know we have him this year.”
(On calls about Glennon prior to draft)
“We normally don’t talk about that, the calls that we get and things like that. But, you know, Mike is a Buc.”
(On addressing areas of need over the last three days)
“Yes, we did. Obviously, yesterday with the kicker and pass rusher, and then the secondary I think was an area that we needed to shore up, especially our depth and I think we did that. Not necessarily shored it up but added to it, so we feel pretty good about that.”
(On draftees from Saturday)
“Ryan Smith, from North Carolina Central, he’s fast. He’s a low 4.4 guy. We’re had him at times as high as the 4.3s. He’s an aggressive guy, he’ll hit you, he’s got a great mentality and he’s a super kid. He’s played safety and corner there. We see him as a possibility of being a safety. Versatility is always good, like that versatility here – there’s a theme to that.
Same with Caleb (Benenoch), from UCLA, he’s played guard and center. It’s kind of rare that you have an underclassman coming out who’s started 35 games. He’s got a lot of experience and good versatility. He’s tough, he’s athletic, he’s got a chance.
And then Dan Vitale, people were ready for a joke – Vitale – that we could have had Dick announce him. But Vitale, you know, tough Chicago kid. Playing fullback, he’s been productive there, particularly as a receiver at Northwestern. He’s smart.
And then Devante (Bond), Sam linebacker from Oklahoma, heavy-handed and athletic. Great kid. They’re all really good kids. They’re all athletic. I think they all have a really good chance of being Buccaneers for a while.”
(On if he sees future for Ryan Smith as a kick returner)
“I do, yeah. But we drafted him for his ability out there in the secondary. We didn’t draft a kick returner, so don’t worry we weren’t going to draft a long-snapper and a holder too – round out the special teams in this draft. He’s got value back there in the secondary. He has a lot of upside.”
(On Ryan Smith’s ability)
“He’s fast and physical and he’s a smart kid.”
(On what position Benenoch is suited for)
“It’ll be determined. We think that he has value at both (guard and tackle). I’ll let Dirk answer that. We’ve been talking about it and it’s a good thing when you’re fighting over where he should be playing. We’re not fighting over it, but I mean, when you’re wrestling it over in your head… we’ll put him somewhere.”
(On almost taking a WR)
“There were a couple times that it started to get a little intriguing. But then we kind of let the board come to us, where we were with the highest rated guy. It really fell perfectly to us today, where we took the guy who was rated the highest at all our picks. And it kind of filled a need, too, so we were happy about that.”
(On waiving players Friday because of draft)
“It had something to do with that. It gave those guys opportunities, and that’s not to say that we wouldn’t sign any of those guys back again, but as a scout – and also Dirk and the coaches feel this way, and scouting department – it’s time for the fresh blood.”
(On how improved the Bucs are after draft)
“Well obviously we feel really good right now. I have the same feeling now that I did last year. All these guys I think – for our needs and where we had them on the board and what we thought of them as players – I think they all have an excellent chance of making this football team.”
(On FB Dan Vitale’s versatility)
“He can catch the ball. He’s played tight end there, kind of hybrid guy. I know he’s going to be a really good special teamer and that’s hard to find, the fullback who can play special teams.”
(On counting on bigger reward than risk, specifically with Noah Spence)
“You first watch them as football player – and identify the good ones and where you grade them as a player only – then you have to dig into the background. And you keep them on the board until you find something where you’re uncomfortable. We never got to the point where we were uncomfortable. In fact, the more and more that we did, the more we liked him.”
(On league/ fan reaction to Aguayo)
“Well I’ve been buried in a bunker here. I’m probably not surprised, but that will all go away once he’s winning games for us. You know you cant… it’s just so hard to find a great kicker. They come around once a decade, guys like this, in my opinion. So we could do what we had to do, or we could wait another decade. I’d rather do it now.”
(On showing confidence in Louis Murphy return by not taking a WR)
“No, it’s just kind of the way it fell. We are comfortable with our group, but we’re always looking to upgrade. Just because the draft is over doesn’t mean that we’re not looking to upgrade certain spots, different positions. We’re always going to have our eye out for a solid receiver who we think could make our football team. Just like we’re always going to look for a defensive tackle, or a linebacker, or what have you. We still have tonight, with the scouts and coaches, they’re going to be working their tails off here. It’s like a trading floor on the undrafted free agents while I’m drinking beer (laughs). We’ll see what happens after that’s all said and done. I have full trust in them to get the good ones. Direct line over there (press box).”
(On what attracted them to Caleb Benenoch)
“Saw him workout in person at the Combine, but George – coach Warhop – went out there and spent a lot of time with him. I wasn’t able to make that workout, but we really trust George in all the things he does with these guys. He puts them through a pretty grueling workout and different things in the classroom. He came back and we feel comfortable with him.”
(On sacrificing a defensive tackle pick)
“I don’t know if we really sacrificed anything. It was a pretty deep group and they fell pretty quickly. There was a big run on them, particularly on the first day. That’s just how it is and you prepare for that too. That was a scenario that we came up with, too. We thought there were times when there might be an opportunity, but then the opportunity that we took, we were happier with.”
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
“He’s actually kind of a slash player, because there’s so few fullbacks that (play) how we want to use them, so Dan is kind of a slash, you know, some of those college use what they call and H-back. We’re going to use him as part fullback, part tight end and I’m excited to see what it looks like.”
“In Caleb’s case, he’s graduating early. He’s a young guy. But he’s got 35 starts, 31 of them as a right tackle. As Jason said, George went out there and spent a lot of time with him and we feel like he can be a guard or a tackle. That will sort itself out. But swing guys at this point are crucial, and he’s kind of in the mold of how we used Kevin Pamphile last year. So we’ll sort it out and see how it goes from there.”
(On keeping Glennon)
“If it would have been the best thing for the team, if the right situation was up for a trade that was in the best interest of the Bucs, then of course he would have had to go. We’ve been telling Mike that all along. But that opportunity wasn’t there and as I’ve said multiple times, I believe Mike Glennon is an NFL starting quarterback, and unfortunately for him, he’s going to have to wait. Fortunately for us, we’re going to have him as our No. 2. It’s a great position for us to be in. Hopefully nothing ever happens to Jameis where we need him, and Mike feels the same way, but if we ever did need to put a second quarterback in there, we’re capable of winning games with Mike Glennon at quarterback. We know we’re going to have that situation if there’s no injuries come up for this one year, and then Mike’s going to move on and hopefully have a chance to start somewhere else but for now that’s what it is and I can’t imagine there’s many teams that have a better 1-2 punch at quarterback that we do.”
(On four picks on the defensive side of the ball)
“We needed to. You guys know that. We needed to draft some defensive players. It’s been two years and only one pick in the prior two years. We needed to draft some players on defense, so between a cover guy, a pass rusher, I think Jason mentioned we’re going to start Ryan Smith at safety. He’s played two years at safety and two years at corner. That’s one of the things, besides his speed and his aggressiveness that we really liked was his versatility and getting Devante Bond as a linebacker, even though we added Daryl Smith in the offseason, our linebacker depth is thin. And Devante has played a lot of football at Oklahoma and that’s another good guy. And those are also the type of guys that bolster your special teams. So to add those guys on defense is something we needed to do.”
(On young core of players and winning with those guys)
“Experience is the best teacher and every young player is going to go through growing pains. But we also have some good vets to show them the way, guys like Vincent Jackson and Daryl Smith. We’re building this tam but we’re not saying we’re building it for three years from now. Heck, who knows what might happen then. We’re trying to be the best team we can be this season and these are the guys we’ve got. We’re going to add some free agents here at the end of the seventh round and continue to build. There’s always changes. Look at the two offensive lineman we added in training camp last year. There’s a bunch of guys with their dreams coming true this week but them when all these teams cut back from 90 to 53 in the fall, you do the math on how many guys are out there on the street and you’ll have some more opportunities for more at some point down the line.”
(On Aquayo and his mortar kicks)
“I think that’s the strategy part of that kickoff rule that you’re going to be seeing every team tinker with during the preseason. When the league put that rule in, they put that rule in thinking everybody was just going to kick it out and take the ball on the 25. The analytics say that the 20 to the 25, there’s a three-percent difference in scoring, two-percent touchdowns, one-percent field goals, all that stat stuff. But when you really think it through, who’s the return guy, how windy of a day is it, are you playing in a dome, do they have Devin Hester standing back there. Some teams don’t have as good a return guy standing back there. So I think what you’re going to see is a lot of people experimenting in preseason, but when the season comes along I’ll bet you more teams are trying to kick it out. And the great thing is, we have a guy that can do both. And I watched all of his kickoffs for the last two year, plus all of his kickoffs at the combine and this guy is impressive as a kickoff guy.”
(On recruiting UFAs)
“As needed, yeah, but we have an army of guys upstairs that have been working on this. This has been an ongoing process. It’s not something that just falls together. We have a huge list up there. Usually the way it works is, you have a position coach paired up with a scout, they’re working and they have a certain number of guys they’re trying to get. Obviously the final approval has to go through Jason and all of us upstairs have different contacts throughout college football. We’re relying on those where we can but you have the players involved, the coaches are involved. It’s kind of a free-for-all when free agency opens up here in a little bit.”
(On if Ryan Smith is an NFL caliber returner)
“That’s an added bonus as well. Now, he did have some nice returns at the level that he played at and since we don’t have a proven return guy coming back. We have an idea of the guys on our team who we’re going to try as returners, but he would certainly be a guy that we can add to that mix and he’ll have a great opportunity to try in preseason.”
(On possible kick returners for 2016)
“We’re going to look at Adam Humphries as a punt returner and we’re going to look at Kenny Bell and Charles Sims as kickoff returners. Donteea Dye will be in the mix there as well.”
(On regrets not adding a WR)
“Of course we would have loved to have added a wide receiver and we had wide receivers sprinkled throughout our board. But you’ve got to remember, when you’re trying to stay true to your board, in the rounds where we had a wide receiver there, it just didn’t work out. There were some that were relatively close. There were a couple where it was within one or two picks and Jason would have had to make a call, are we taking this guy or that guy. There were multiple wide receivers that we liked, but we can’t take a wide receiver to say we added one. You have to add one that you think is better than the guy we have and can help us based on where we’re picking and who else is available and your other needs. Would I have liked it to have fallen a certain way in some rounds where a certain wide receiver fell that way, that would have been great. But I would have been saying the same thing about that position as I am these guys. I mean, our team got better and I’m not nervous about the guys we have. You’re trying to improve your team in the draft and I think we did that.”
On any player that he had a special thing for)
“I can honestly say, I put in my time on everyone of these guys. I put in a lot of it. It’s funny how many of these guys we had in the big room for the formal interviews going back to the combine. Every guy here was on our list. So every guy has been through the list of Jason’s list or Jason’s order of guys that watch the coaching tape on the coaching staff, through the coordinators and through me. There’s nobody that just all of a sudden popped up today and we said, we got to go get that guy. We spent our time on these guys and time will tell if we were right and some of it’s on them and we have to coach them up.”
(On how many players he watch tape of)
“At least 100. More defensive guys than I ever watched in my life. My eyes are bleeding from watching D-linemen and DBs.
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: [email protected]
I feel about the same as I felt last year after the draft? I knew for sure we had a starter we selected in the 1st round which was Winston. I know in this draft we have a starter we selected and it is Aguayo. The rest we’ll see what pans out. I’m okay with the draft picks. Go Bucs!
Well Horse I agree with you again.I know where our GMwent about getting a kicker in Rd-2. I think that the Jags would take him before Tampa got back on the clock.The additional 4th round pick assured Tampa that they didn’t any ground on Tampa Needs. I can’t wait to see who Undrafted College FA Tampa picks up. But my draft was great when Tampa selected Hardgraves,Noah Spence and the Kicker from Fsu.That’s atleast 3 starters there.Go Bucs
Horse you were preaching for Aguayo long before the draft. Glad you got your man. I think he will be a big factor in the success of this team this year and for man seasons in the future.
I hope he won’t be too big a factor. We need touchdowns in the red zone.
Don’t forget the long PAT’s 76.
I think they have three starters from this draft. If the Bucs do that consistently, they are in great shape.
I feel good about VHIII as a long term contributor. I’m sure Aguayo will be our kicker for many years. I like Spence as our choice but I see more boom or bust there. Glad we eventually took a safety and I expect him to start soon…not because he’s all that (maybe he is, I honestly have no idea) but because it won’t take much to beat out Tandy-Conte-McDougald.
So. I guess if I look at it that way, there probably aren’t many teams that can say that much about their draft, and that must mean our draft was pretty good. Nobody that I’m super excited about – no Jaylon Smith present placed under our 2017 Christmas tree…but some solid picks that should make us better…and that’s got to count for something.
Just for you, georgehicks!
2016 BUCCANEER’s UDFAs
Tim Brown, TE, West Chester
Isaiah Johnson, FS, South Carolina
Peyton Barber, RB, Auburn
Cassanova McKinzy, OLB, Auburn
Davonte Lambert, DE, Auburn
Anthony Kelly, WR, KutzTown
Leonard Wester, OT, Missouri Western
Luke Rhodes, OLB, William & Mary
Dominique Robertson, OT, West Georgia
Elijah Shumate, FS, Notre Dame
Roman Namdar, WR, Mount Union
Dez Stewart, WR, Ohio Dominican
Kivon Cartwright, TE, Colorado State
Jontavius Morris, DT, UAB
Channing Ward, DE, Ole Miss
Traveon Henry, FS, Northwestern
Russell Hansbrough, RB, Missouri
Alan Cross, FB/TE, Memphis
Taylor Fallin, OT, Memphis
Tyson Coleman, OLB, Oregon
They had to do some scouting to dig up these guys. Where in the heck is KutzTown? Lol. I did my homework. It’s in Pennsylvania and Bills HOFer Andre Reed is from Kutztown!
Great stuff as usual macabee. Let’s see; we now have 2 Devonte’s and a Lavonte (sic) on the team?
Namdar could be a beast.
Jontavius Morris is out of a very deep class of DT’s so could be a sleeper.
The 2 safety’s cam from good programs that require smarts.
Johnson and Robertson have a chance because they are connected to insiders.
Gotta have a guy named Cassanova! Has to be mean:) Next a guy named Marque de.
TBT Bucs Beat has additional info on UDFAs.
Overall very good draft. Many on other Bucs’ site are severely downgrading this draft solely because of the Arguayo pick. While I too think it’s a terrible pick – due to 2nd round grade not the player and giving up a pick we could have used to “not necessarily shore(d) up (the team) but added to it”. Yes, he’s good but, over the long-term, Arguayo really won’t be that much better than a kicker we could have gotten at a lower round or as a FA. Now that that’s off my chest, I say he’s now a Buc so welcome aboard, kid. Now validate your pick! ALL ELSE ASIDE, I think we got four major contributors (perhaps five) with over half of those starting somewhere by the end of their second year (and that’s not counting the kicker). That is a damn good draft. Of course, time will tell but I feel hopeful about his draft which is more than I can say about SO many others in our past.
Mac, I have several friends who went to Kutztown, including my wife’s nephew. I’ve been on campus, it’s in Amish country. School’s know more for Lacrosse then football.
Here we criticize our original 3rd round (in reality) pick who will likely play a major role in every game for at least a few years. Yet, some folks are singing the praises of Jerry Jones and the Jags for having the balls to take a player in the 2nd round who may never play again. When will the media look negatively at the Cowboys for their Randy Gregory and Greg Hardy headline grabbing moves and bash Jerry Jones?
Absolutely Scu!!! Media just loves the cowboys…can’t do anything wrong and always have jerry jones front and center. Yet….what have they done lately?? As I stated before…10 years from now our kicker will have won a lot of games for us.
Scubog the answer is never. The Cowboys have done nothing in 20 years and are totally irrelevant, yet the star struck media continue to talk about them.
Overall I think this was a pretty good draft. The only pick that made my heart skip a beat (in a good way) when we made it was Aguayo. I told my wife when we made it, “We’re going to win a lot of football games with that guy”. I’d give this draft a solid “B” as a grade. I would have given it an “A” if we had used that 4th rounder to move up and get Ogbah instead of Spence and used our 5th rounder if need be to move up and get Aguayo.
We did well with Hargreaves and Spence. The rest I am more concerned about. I will hope for the best, but this class feels like a C.
Licht has taken a lot of heat over taking the kicker at No. 2 but as the old Arabic saying goes, “we shall see.”
A lot of critics point to the Jets taking mike Nugent at No. 2 as the guideline. Nugent lasted four years with the Jets and still kicks in the NFL but is considered a waste of a high draft selection.
They forget about the Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski who was drafted out of Florida St. No. 1 by Oakland who has been with the team for 16 years and is still considered one of the premier kickers in the league.
I have no idea which one this kicker will turn out to be no more than anyone else could tell you if many No. 1 draft picks would turn out to be stars or busts.
Drafts can only be judged four or five years down the line.
To do so the day after isn’t just foolish, it’s just plain stupid.
Thanks to Mac for the UDFA list and Surfer for the Kutztown enlightenment!
What about the Jags taking a LB who said himself he will probably have to have microsurgery on his knee.
The kid the Cowboys took probably wished Jerry Jones had minded his own business because the insurance policy her bought kept paying him more and more money for every pick and round he dropped.
Jerry Jones is an idiot.
He has more to do with the Cowboys being mired in mediocrity than anyone else in the organization.
If he was anyone elses GM he would have already been fired.
I agree Jones is a moron. Media loves his Elliot pick at 4 but nobody had Elliot rated that high. Too 10 maybe. They just got Morris at RV too. Apparently if they run the ball the defense doesn’t matter? Lol. Defense still wins championships. They have a below average one.
Romo gets hurt and they have no run game because the backup QBs suck so all teams just loaded the box to stop the run. Had little to do with losing Murray. If Romo goes down again they think now will run ball fine because they have Elliott? Stupid.
Also nobody had Elliott rated higher the Ramsey, and their defense is not good. He was a fool for passing him in favor of another RB. Pundits all I’ve this pick and taking a guy in 2nd that may never play. Media is biased for sure.
Time will tell if Bucs draft is as good as last years. I really hope so but I can’t help but be skeptical at this point. Go Bucs!
fredster, understand about your skeptisisn but many felt that way last year and look how it turned out.
There were questions, some serious, about the Bucs first four picks.
Winston: Character and maturity
Marpet: Small school competition
Alexander: Expeience in MLB position
Despite all those questions, they all turned out fine.
The one thing you cant fix is a permanent injury that has or will disable a player from his past performances.
Jacksonville and Dallas picking those two players may be a feel good story to pundits, but it’s like playing against the house in blackjack with a 6 deck card.
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