The selection process of 2015 NFL draft is officially over as teams now shift their focus to undrafted players, those whom they’ll try to bring in for rookie mini camp. But before the frenzy began, Buccaneer’s general manager Jason Licht took the podium for the third time since selecting Jameis Winston No. 1 overall on Thursday. Tampa Bay drafted four players on Saturday, starting with LSU linebacker Kwon Alexander in the fourth round. Tampa Bay then added a pair of wide receivers in Nebraska’s Kenny Bell and Utah’s Kaelin Clay in the fifth and sixth round, respectively. The latter is also expected to compete as the team’s kick return specialist. The seventh round ended with a running back, selecting Hawaii’s Joey Iosefa, the third Hawaii product the Bucs have drafted in team history. Moments after their seventh round selection, Licht spoke to members of the media. Here’s the transcript of Saturday’s press conference.
(Licht’s opening statement) “Our staff did an unbelievable job this year, I just have to say that. This was probably, and you never know how things are going to go but I’m probably more excited about this draft than I ever have been on any staff. Today we started off, moved up, wanted to make sure we got a guy that we had ranked as one of the top outside backers in the draft. And we were surprised and obviously excited that he was there for us. We moved up, we thought we had to, just to ensure a little bit of getting Kwon Alexander, an explosive, fast player that’s going to get a shot at starting outside for us. The next pick was an easy one, because it was Kenny Bell and I’m a Nebraska guy and while we were sitting in the draft room my dad texted me and I showed it to Lovie and he said we have to draft Kenny Bell, so that was easy, we turned the card in right then. My Dad Ron, he’s had season tickets there since 1962 so I get all the Nebraska intel that I need. But he’s a fast player, ran a 4.34 (40) for us, he’s 6-foot-plus, almost 20 pounds, one of the best receivers ever to come out of there in a long time, the most productive and he’s also a kick returner, a team leader, captain, all that. Really excited to get him and have him compete for a role in the rotation and hopefully a starter eventually.
“And then we need a returner on this team and with Kaelin Clay he was a guy that we targeted early. We were hoping to get him right about where we did, so it worked out for us. Another fast, explosive guy. Great background in terms of his speed and his production but he was I think third place in California in the 100 meters. They have fast guys, and that’s pretty fast. So right now it’s his job to lose probably, combo punt and kickoff returner. He’s got value on offense as well. And then we finished up with Joey Iosefa out in Hawaii. Big running back, big thick kid, runs well for his size, 240-pound-plus guy, has really good hands, a really good athlete, we’re going to give him a shot at the starting fullback role, he’ll compete for that, and we’re excited for him, too. Now the eighth round comes around and it looks like a trading floor up there right now, getting ready to start calling guys and hustle guys from other teams. So this is the fun time until we crack open the cooler for some beverages.”
(Licht on the plan being to get more athletic up front)
“It was. We talked about it for a long time this year, during the year, Lovie and I. One of the things we needed to do was get faster, more athletic up front, but we also needed to get tougher, we needed to get more physical and we needed to get more mature guys. And we accomplished that, that’s for sure.”
(Licht on if the team is better now)
“Tremendously better, remarkably better, starting with the hire of Dirk Koetter. That alone made us a lot better. And we have been able to add pieces as we’ve gone here that we’re excited about, to say the least with the quarterback we added the other day.”
(Licht on sixth round pick, Kaelin Clay)
“It helps our offense, helps our defense, helps our entire team. He’s going to be a fun guy to watch here in training camp and OTAs. He’s a guy that, you know, you have a chance every time he gets it in his hands.”
(Licht on not drafting a defensive end, plan to surround and protect Winston)
“By the time we addressed some of the needs. And we had them where we picked them, it wasn’t like we just drafted for need, but by the time we addressed that, for lack of a better cliché, the well had dried up on the guys that we thought could really make an impact. We can’t solve everything, we know that. But we do know that we can compete, we can compete for this division with what we’ve got and we’ll continue to add those pieces here incrementally, but as we’re seeing some of these guys get drafted that we liked in the later rounds at any position we also know we’ll get the first shot at them when their team lets them go.”
(Licht on how he sees fifth rounder, Kenny Bell, fitting in the receiving corps)
“His best skill-set is for outside. He can stretch the field; he also has experience playing inside. We see him really making a push for contributing and playing a big role for us this year, but he’s got upside to be a starter as well.”
(Licht on fourth round pick, Kwon Alexander, having a chance at strong side linebacker)
“Well he’s certainly not going to beat out Lavonte.”
(Licht on Alexander competing for strong side, what does it mean for Danny Lansanah)
“We’ll do what’s best and I’m sure that Leslie and Lovie will, obviously, and Hardy will find the best fit out there, the pieces to the puzzle. Whatever works out best. And we’re excited that we have Danny, too. Danny’s certainly in that competition as well.”
(Licht on Alexander having the speed for special teams)
“He does, he plays very fast. He’s a very serious guy; he loves football. We really enjoyed our interviews with him. He mentioned in one of our interviews how he prepares. He’s very diligent about everything and he just loves football. How he’ll just pack his suitcase on Monday for the weekend road trip. I mean he’s an interesting guy and fun to talk to; it’s just all business. That’s what this football team needs.”
(Licht on if Alexander can block kicks, experience off the edge?)
“He’s got experience on special teams. If he can block kicks that’s even better.”
(Licht on if there are still weaknesses that need to be addressed)
“We do see some areas where we still need to get better. We’re always looking for pass rushers. And if I were a guy that doesn’t get drafted, that can rush the passer, I would certainly want to come here. We could certainly use depth at linebacker, and we can use some completion in the secondary, all areas. We could use depth and guys that want to push and compete.”
(Licht on how he feels about the running back situation)
“Feel good. We like Doug, we like Bobby; we haven’t come off Charles by any means. He came on strong towards the end of the year and he’s going to be even healthier now. Mike James is going to compete in there, too. We feel good; we feel a lot better because we feel like we got a lot better up front. And like I said, Dirk Koetter, he’s a very good coach.
(Licht on possible outside interest in Mike Glennon, calls from teams?)
“Did not, mostly because of the combine when we start talking to other teams, we let it be known that Mike Glennon is an important part of this football team.”
(Licht on if they’ve talked to Glennon since drafting Winston)
“We have. We’ve talked to Mike. He wants to do whatever he can to help this football team, but we’ll keep most of the context of that conversation between us. But he’s a team player.”
(Licht on approaching this draft as a way to grow around Winston, 2 OL and 2 WR)
“You can say that, and I said the other day, it really is true that you bring these guys in together. They’re young and they have each other’s backs. They just get used to the environment here together, and it will just be fun to watch them ascend. We’ve got some young players on that offensive side of the ball now. I think we’re going to prove to a lot of people that we’re a lot better than what we were last year.”
(Licht on Koetter being a big reason for hopeful turnaround)
“Dirk’s going to have a big presence, a big part of this team this year. It’s been great working with him every single day.”
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
PewterReport.com prides itself on being the most complete, comprehensive news source covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and delivering inside scoop on the team found nowhere else.