New Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman had a Q&A session with the local media shortly after being selected by the Bucs in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft on Saturday.
Tampa Bay traded the 19th overall pick and a sixth-round selection to Cleveland in exchange for the 17th overall pick in the draft, which it used to select Freeman, who believes he was the best signal caller in this draft.
Did you know the Bucs were going to draft you? "I knew if I was going to be around when Tampa Bay was picking that it would be a great fit. I always thought the relationship with Coach Morris was a good one. You never really know. Crazy stuff happens all the time on draft day. I'm just really happy I was able to go to a team I really wanted to go to."
Did the Bucs give you any indications they were going to draft you in conversation? "They just said they liked me a lot and hoped it all would work out. A team really can't tell you they're going to draft you because they don't know how the draft is going to go. I'm just really glad I got to go to this team. I'm looking forward to it."
Why were the other two quarterbacks taken before you in the first round? "I think it all comes down to the school I went to. I worked out with both those guys. I think they're really good. I'd take me over them, but I think it comes down to [Matt Stafford] going to Georgia, which is a good team in the SEC, and Mark Sanchez went to USC, which pretty much wins the Pac-10 every year. I think it came down to them going to better schools and winning more games. They're good quarterbacks and I don't take anything away from them. If I had to pick I'd pick myself."
Are you ready to play for the Bucs in the NFL right now or do you need time to develop? "That's a tough one to answer. I have no idea. I guess we'll find out throughout camp how quickly I get acclimated to the offense. Whoever is playing the best will play. I plan on coming in and competing. I don't think you play football unless you play to be the starter. As far as me being ready to play right now we'll have to wait and find out."
Who called you to tell you the Bucs were drafting you, and what did they say? "I think Mark Dominik tried to call me. I accidently hit the wrong button and then Raheem [Morris] called on my dad's phone and said he couldn't wait to get me to Tampa. I'm really excited about the opportunity I see in Tampa. It's a great feeling."
What did you think of Raheem Morris when you worked with him at K-State for one year? "He brought a lot o energy to the team. Everybody on the team loved him, but at the same time everyone respected him as a coach. I think the players respond better to a coach they respect. The energy he brings, and he's a young and smart guy. His energy and personality are two things that are going to make him successful."
What do you hope to accomplish in your NFL career? "When I'm done I wanted to be regarded as one of the best to have ever played in the game.
Do you have extra motivation dropping to 17, and being taken after Matt Stafford and Mark Sanchez? "Yeah definitely. I feel like I'm the better quarterback. They got more hype. I have the rest of my career to prove that I'm the best guy. I'm going to do everything in my power to make that so."
Does Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco's success make you believe that you can play well and lead a team as a rookie? "Yeah they showed that a rookie quarterback can come in and the team be successful. But they also raised the bar extremely high. Those two guys came in being the only two first-round guys and taking their teams to the playoffs is something that people are going to expect this class to emulate, and I'm ready for the challenge."
What makes you better than the other two QBs? "Obviously I know me. I feel like I have the best arm of the bunch. I feel like when it comes down to it my ability to make things happen and extend plays is the x-factor. I mean I'm a big guy, a strong guy, extremely hard to sack. My ability to avoid the sack and make something happen in the end is what I do better."
You went against [cornerback] Aqib Talib in college, have you spoken with him? "I have not talked to him. I know he picked me off a couple of times in college. I'm looking forward to actually meeting him."
When did you decide to come out early? "There wasn't that much thought to sticking around. Obviously when coach Snyder got the job, I pretty much all but announced that I was going to leave school, but I decided to give coach Snyder a chance and hear what he was talking about as far as playing for me in the next year. Ultimately I had to do what I thought was best for me and that was entering the draft."
When the Bucs signed Byron Leftwich, did you think that eliminated the Bucs drafting you? "I really had no idea that they signed Leftwich until I was already in Tampa, and I think I read it in a newspaper. That doesn't mean a whole lot to me. Obviously, Tampa was a place I wanted to play, if they were looking elsewhere screw them got to find a new favorite I guess, so I went in there we talked. I got to talk to Byron, and I'm looking forward to it."
Did the supporting cast hurt your numbers and win total? "Yeah, I'd say, I really don't want to bad mouth or bash any of my teammates," Freeman said. "They went out and worked hard, fought hard, and played to win even though there were many games when we were outmatched. I mean if you look at my numbers they were pretty similar to the guy that got taken first. He was just winning a lot more. I definitely think there were certain factors that played into my numbers, but that is all behind me, and I'm looking to go out and prove that I'm the best, and become the best."