Bucs’ general manager Jason Licht  is entering his sixth draft as general manager of the team this year. What makes this one different is he’ll be working with Bruce Arians and his new coaching staff, which brings some differences in terms of needs for team evaluation. With the 2019 NFL Draft coming next week, Licht spoke to the media on Tuesday regarding the Bucs’ plans.

Here is a full transcript of Licht’s press confe

Opening Statement
“This is an exciting time of year, not only because the draft is coming up, but because you’re going year round on this. Bruce and I have been talking about the draft since the day we hired him, and the scuttle around the coaches and the scouts haven been non stop. So, a lot of communication about that, and being out here seeing the players and the extensive coaching staff on the field with them has been awesome, so a lot of communication out there, and a lot of energy. It’s awesome to build up to the draft and we’re all excited about it.”

On if there’s been any talks with other teams about trading Gerald McCoy
“I talked about Gerald at the combine, I talked about him and answered questions about him at the owner’s meetings, and there really hasn’t been any developments. I mean, Gerald’s on our football team, so, I was going to hopefully keep this to pre draft questions.”

Bucs DT Gerald McCoy and DL coach Brentson Buckner - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs DT Gerald McCoy and DL coach Brentson Buckner – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

On trading McCoy at the draft for draft picks
“That’s hypothetical. Right now we’re focused on the draft.”

On how his approach has altered after six drafts
“I don’t want to say I haven’t made any seismic shifts in the way that we do things. I will say that as you get more comfortable with your scouting staff and you can kind of pinpoint where people’s strengths are and utilize those more and more every year, it helps. When you have a new staff, they have different types of players that they can use better than others, so it shifts a little be when you have a new staff. We happen to have a staff here of coaches that really, they did in the past too, I mean Dirks’ staff loved the draft, but Bruce brings a lot of experience as an assistant, as a head coach, his staff as well with Todd Bowles, so them communicating to us exactly how are team is going to look, what we plan on doing, that really helps a lot.”

On if the involvement of the coach on draft night differs from guy to guy or stays the same
“It’s the same where the head coach and the general manager work together. I have a great relationship with Bruce, I’ve got a good feel for him, what he likes, we’ve had many, many meetings together, they’ve all been great. They’re very productive, it’s an open door, no walls between the scouting and the coaches, and we had that Arizona, and we have that here too. It stays the same, but I just have a great feel for Bruce and what he likes.”

On his first draft in Arizona and having three of those players that they selected now here with the Bucs
“Yeah, I remember that. Bruce is very passionate about certain players, we spent a lot of work with Tyraan Mathieu that year, and Bruce can feel and read a player more so than most coaches that I’ve worked with, and that’s not to put anybody else down. He’s willing to give second chances to guys, not everybody, but certain guys, and I remember in that draft that we had a first round pick, second round pick, but Tyraan was our third round pick, and just the amount of work we put into that. Bruce’s time with him, our time with him, Steve’s time, we got a really good player.”

On what he’s learned and how he’s grown as a talent evaluator
“It seem like I talk about it every year, and I do, but the talent part isn’t the most difficult part to evaluate, it’s what the player is all about and how willing he is to put the work in, what kind of teammate he’s going to be. You can kind of separate the guys that don’t have the talent to make it, the guys that do have it, you put them, you rank them how talented they are, but the tough part is reading the player. Bruce doesn’t live by a lot of mottos, ‘no risk it, no biscuit,’ but one thing that he does here too, that I took from him in Arizona is trust, loyalty, respect. Trust the team, trust the coaches, be loyal to everybody and respect everybody, so if you can get a guy that you know hits on all three of those things, then you got a really good chance.”

Bucs LB Kendell Beckwith - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs LB Kendell Beckwith – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

On if Kendell Beckwith is cleared to practice and how it affects his plans for the draft
“He is not cleared to practice. I know that I’ve been telling you guys that I’ll have an update for you, we’re just for a while now going through the final evaluations about that. Kendell’s been working with specialists around the country and we’re working toward an evaluation to give you an update here shortly. I don’t know if it totally affects the draft, if you don’t have a player like Kendell, if you don’t think he’s going to be ready, Kendell’s a very good player. I don’t know if it affects the drafts or not.”

On if he thinks Kyler Murray will first overall and how that affects Licht’s draft pick
“I can’t answer that, you never know what happens on draft day and that’s what makes it made for TV. I’ll keep that opinion to myself, he very well could, if he does or doesn’t, it affects what happens behind the number one pick, so we just have to be prepared for all the scenarios.”

On what type of player they will get with the fifth pick
“I think we’ll get a very good player at five. I think we’ll have a very good player, we have at least five players we think that if we stayed at our spot, that we’d be very happy with.”

On how far back in a trade does he think he could go in this draft
“We have a line drawn at a certain number, but it’s still a talented group, a good group. I would say after a number, which I won’t give, then they all kind of are together, it’s tougher than most years to really rank them to let’s just say top 50 players because of that. But the flip side is what makes this draft exciting is those players – let’s just pick a number out , 20 through 60 – are very good. So, I think this is a deep draft, I think we’re going to get good players in the second, third, fourth, fifth round. I have a certain number of players I want to put, I start with 1,000 players, we whittle it down to 300 on draft day, I take about half of that, and those are the players that we know or think have the best chance of making the team. This year was harder to come up with that because we could of expanded that more and more.”

On how he would assess this defensive line class
“I think it’s very good, especially the outside defensive linemen, defensive end, outside linebacker, 3-4. I think it’s very deep.”

Bucs DC Todd Bowles

Bucs DC Todd Bowles – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

On how the new coaching staff with a new defensive scheme affects the type of players to draft on defense
“Not as much as you think because of Todd’s system where it’s a little bit interchangeable. I’m sure we’ll get some base 4-3 looks, obviously some 3-4 looks, you play 70 percent as nickel, so that doesn’t change. He’s very good at fitting, if a player isn’t ideal at whatever position he is, he does a great job of changing things to where it becomes ideal for it. So, you probably look for a little bit of a different type of defensive end then you would in a 4-3, those traditional 4-3 ends become outside linebackers, not all of them can do it, but a lot of them can. It gives you more of a pool of players at outside linebacker than if you are in a 4-3, just because there’s more of those undersized guys in college then there are true prototype six foot five, 300 pound, 35 inch arm defensive ends in the 3-4.”

On how much he takes into about the perceived value a position at a certain number in regards to the Bucs looking for a middle linebacker at five
“Really you have to grade the players on how they are in terms of just a football player. That’s not perceived, but some years it just ends up being that. I don’t think a five foot ten quarterback has never gone in the top five, so it’s just different from year to year. I don’t think you can just take the preconceived notion that you shouldn’t take a certain player at a certain size or a certain position at a certain point. We’ll rank the players like we think how they can make an impact for us.”

On his emotions that he goes through on draft day
“I think the nervous time is leading up to the draft, and you go through 1,000 scenarios on what can happen. Then on draft day, we prepared last year for a tarde back scenario with every team behind us back to 32, didn’t know what we were going to ask for, what we’d probably get, what was too much to ask for, what was too little to take. Then on draft day, before our pick, we got a call from Buffalo and it was one of those scenarios that we worked out, so we’d kind of had it rehearsed. I think the stress and the nerves happen the week leading into the draft wondering what’s going to happen, but if you’re prepared for it then you remain being calm.”Jason Licht talked to the media on Thursday about the upcoming draft – Photo: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

On if he spent more time evaluating quarterbacks this year then in year’s past given Jameis Winston’s contract situation
“We evaluate the quarterbacks every year and we try to go into an exercise with if we didn’t have a quarterback, who would we want. We happen to have a quarterback that we all very much like right now, but we still evaluate the quarterbacks.”

On how Russell Wilson’s new contract changes the landscape for quarterback contracts
“Well, it’s gone up pretty high in the last couple of years, right, wrong, or indifferent. I think it’s probably going to continue to do that, it’s a very important position.”

On if linebackers that go in the top 10 of the draft have to be an elite talent like a Ray Lewis
“Well you’re saying that he’s going to be special and make an impact like Ray Lewis, I think that’s a little tough to say. The linebacker position is gaining some momentum in where they’re getting paid and how much they’re getting paid. No matter who you’re taking at five, you’re expecting him to be a great player at some point.”

On if he feels that he has gotten production from his rookies in their rookie years
“It’s tough to expect your rookie no matter where you take him to come out and just have an All-Pro, Pro Bowl year. I remember when my bosses always told me you got to give them three years and now it’s two. Everybody expects them by week two to be player of the week and making highlights and making top 10 on ESPN Sportscenter. Expectations are growing, and you do want them to contribute right away. I’m excited with what we’re doing here with Bruce, he wants to give these guys as many reps as possible, and you guys will see it with the two practices going on at the same time, which I saw in Arizona with Steve and MIchael there. Instead of a guy getting 10 reps a period, he’s going to get 65, and that player development phase, we wanted to make sure that we put an emphasis on, Bruce and I, that’s a very important part of the development of a player.”

On if he’s excited to have players like Vernon Hargreaves and Vita Vea playing in familiar schemes under Todd Bowles’ defense
“Yeah, I’m excited about Todd’s schemes, seeing them first hand and talking to him the day Bruce was hired. He’s got an attacking mentality, the defense is going to attack, it’s a pressured defense and those guys are better suited for that.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Bucs DT Vita Vea - Photo by: Getty Images

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Bucs DT Vita Vea – Photo by: Getty Images

On if the talent on this team is better now than it was at this point last year
“I’d like to think so. We think we have a talented team, but we know that we have some pieces that we need to add too. We need to add to it, we’re not a finished product yet. We have the draft coming up, moves that we can make all the way up to training camp, so got to keep that in mind too.”

On what was the most memorable moment for him so far in the draft that sticks with him
“I would say when moving up into the second when taking Ali Marpet and finding out that we have some people above me who had relatives at his draft party and had no idea. It was just kind of a cool thing in just how ironic that was.”

On what’s the key transition that edge rushers have to make from going to college to the NFL
“They have to know that when they’re going into the NFL that they’re going against a good player day in and day out, and then every week. You can’t get high on talent alone, you got your talented, athletic, pass rushers who really don’t give 100 percent effort, and just rely on talent, and those guys usually fade, especially if they don’t have any element of power to their rush, they’re strictly speed rushers. And then you got the quickly speed charging, try hard, full of effort guys that usually tend to make it just because of their effort, just because they’re tough to cut because you want that effort on your team, but they’re not necessarily talented, they still stick around. So if you have the guy that has talent and gives effort every play, then you got JPP.”

On why Bruce Arians told Gerald McCoy not to come to offseason workouts
“You’d have to ask Bruce.”

On how hard it is to continue evaluating McCoy if he’s not here
“There’s other ways to evaluate a player. Gerald’s not here, but there’s plenty of players in this league that aren’t at the voluntary part of the offseason. Gerald’s the last person I would worry about, he’s the consummate pro number one, and he’s always worked very hard.”

On if he’s talked with Gerald McCoy about taking a pay cut
“Any conversation we have with Gerald, I’m going to keep private.”

On what’s changed with him having Bruce Arians in how they evaluate with running back position
“Well you’re still looking for a guy that has talent, that has vision, that has quickness and speed and power, so none of that has changed. So Bruce feels very good about our running back situation, he’s gone on record talking about Peyton, and I would say that the guy probably right now we’re all collectively most impressed with is Rojo. His attitude, his willingness to do extra, and you can just see the confidence rising in him. So, I don’t know if anything’s changed in the the way we look at running backs, we might emphasize one thing over another, but nothing’s really changed.

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Pit of misery
2 years ago

So he basically said nothing lol

BUC-ASS-BOB
2 years ago

They do not know what to do with McCoy he is worth 7 mil tops to any team problem Bucs own him 13 he will hold firm and get his money

seat26
2 years ago

The worst kept secret is that Bucs are all in on Devin White. I love the guy but the strength of this Draft is on the Defensive Line. Bucs are wasting the 5th pick in the draft if they don’t get one of those elite Defensive Lineman. You can still find good Linebackers in 2nd and 3rd.

Billy
Reply to  seat26
2 years ago

That’s as backwards as you can get.
If the draft is DEEP at defensive line than there is talent in the 2nd and 3rd rounds.

There is NOONE that comes close to D White in the 2nd round.

We might get a round 2 DL guy who is better than a Top 10 pick. Happens every year!!!!

Guarantee you D White is the guy, so get over it!!!

seat26
2 years ago

He will never get 13 million on this team or any other. If he doesn’t agree to come down, he will get cut, and even if he does come down good chance he will get traded anyway. He had a great career, but it is time to make room for other players who are younger on that Defensive line. I could see Bucs taking more than one Defensive lineman in this draft.

Horse
2 years ago

Buc-Ass-Bob; Doubt he will get his money.

Horse
2 years ago

I have no problem with Licht trading down; my concern is when he trades those acquired picks and trading them in order to go back up.

seat26
2 years ago

Like Trading a 4th and 6th to get an offensive lineman from a small school that literally no one had rated as a 3rd pick?

Horse
2 years ago

Seat26, you’re right on that one; problem is it’s the only one.

DT25
2 years ago

seat26 after the Senior Bowl, Cappa was actually predicted to go somewhere late 3rd (where we got him), early 4th. His stock rose because of a good showing there, which tend to happen to a few players every year. Licht has shown he sometimes falls in love with Senior Bowl players…for better (Marpet, OJ) or for worse (Stewart, Cappa).

Theerealdiehl
2 years ago

For the love of God, do not let Licht trade down. His drafts are much better when he just takes the best player available. He tries to get cute and draft players no one expects or has ever heard of in order to look smart, but fails miserably. The fact that he admits his style hasn’t changed and that he hasn’t learned much from when he started, is a BAD sign.

DT25
2 years ago

Love hearing the praise for RoJo. Sounds like he’s heard the criticism loud and clear and has put in a ton of work this off-season. Think too many people are writing him off when we really struggled to run zone blocking schemes last season due to poor OL play. We ran power blocking schemes slightly better, which worked better for Barber’s running style…but even that didn’t amount to any significant production. Here’s to hoping we fix that gaping hole at RG this year and our RB’s, RoJo especially, back up a dump truck full of crow for everyone to feast… Read more »

drdneast
2 years ago

DT, good accurate posts on both Cappa and Rojo.
I hope what Licht is saying about Rojo is true and not just a bunch of smoke coming out disguising the fact he blew another vaulable second round pick.

EricNV
2 years ago

Seat26, “The worst kept secret is that Bucs are all in on Devin White.” Pre-draft news is always full of lies and deception. If you remember last year at this point, most people were of the opinion that we were going to draft Derwin James. Didn’t happen, and only a couple of draft boards had us taking Vita Vea. My opinion is that they’ll likely trade down 2-4 pick spots to pick up an extra player in the 2nd, and possibly an additional 3rd. There are several really talented DT and DE projected to go in the first round, plus… Read more »

surferdudes
2 years ago

The Bucs don’t just need a good player on defense, they need a leader. McCoy was never a good one, JPP is not that guy, and won’t be around forever. Same goes for David, who’s best days are past him, was never that alpha dog leader. Kwon was, but wasn’t considered great like Lewis, and he’s gone. Beckwith who? We desperately need a field general MLB, and as luck would have it one of the best to come along in awhile will be there for us. Arians, and Licht love those leadership intangibles White has, he will be the pick.… Read more »

Doctor_Berto
2 years ago

Only Bucs fans would want a MLB with a top 5 pick. Insane