Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden fielded questions from the media shortly after the 2006 NFL Draft came to an end Sunday. Gruden touched on a number of topics, including the team’s second-day draft picks. You don’t want to miss what Gruden said on Sunday evening. The Q&A session was held inside the locker room at One Buccaneer Place and transcribed by the Bucs public relations staff.
Gruden on the seven players added to Tampa Bay’s team on the second day of the draft “This is last draft from One Buc Place. I’m sorry to announce that. We have had a long day, obviously. I was very excited about the first day of the draft. We started this morning with Alan Zemaitis, a cornerback out of Penn State. We talked about Alan the previous day. A very good football player, fits our scheme. He’s got size. A very productive player. A guy we’re really, really thrilled to have with us now. Julian Jenkins, a defensive lineman out of Stanford. They changed defenses this year at Stanford, they went to a 3-4 defense. We think he suits our scheme. High energy guy, big guy with the potential to play three positions. He’s got a great motor, a guy that we think can play inside and out. He has some pass rush, and a very hardworking player. Bruce Gradkowski, a quarterback out of Toledo. A sixth-round pick, a very productive player. He can really run. A very, very exciting guy for Paul Hackett and myself to work with and to add to the mix. His production, I think, speaks for itself. What he did his senior year of high school has never been done in the state of Pennsylvania. He took that with him to Toledo and really did a great job as a collegian. He fits our scheme and a guy who we think has some upside. We picked two tight ends. T.J. Williams from North Carolina State in the sixth round. We followed that up with Tim Massaquoi from Michigan. Massaquoi is a former All-Big 10 selection. Williams played in the Senior Bowl. Two guys that have size and versatility that fit what we like to do. They can line up on the line of scrimmage as conventional tight ends, we think they can catch the ball. They can line up as the fullback, we can move them around and do the things that we like to do. They will create some competition and some depth, and hopefully, allow us to do some things with Alex Smith that we want to do during this offseason. A cornerback we are really excited about is Justin Phinisee from Oregon. We got him in the seventh round. He is a great special teams player. He has a real knack for the football. He’s got size, he’s got quickness, he’s tough. This is an interesting guy. He doesn’t have the outright speed, I think, that some people are looking for. But this is one fine player that is very tough, that has some versatility that, once again, fits the way we like to play here on defense. The guy that we got from Clemson, Charles Bennett, he’s just the best looking guy in the draft. Of all our draft picks, this guy’s got the best-looking body in the draft. He’s got speed. He really came on, I believe, as a senior. He had some good games as a junior, and once he became a full-time starter. This guy can run to the ball. The one thing he has is size and speed, and he has flash play-making ability. To add another guy that has a potential rush and a potential sideline to sideline speed like Charles Bennett, we felt it was a bargain for us in the seventh round. I am sure every coach in the league is standing up here today telling you how great their picks are. All I’ll say is we drafted 10 men, guys we feel good about. We’ve added two or three free agents that we’re very excited about, that weren’t drafted. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but this is a good day for Tampa Bay, I do believe that.”
Gruden on what he thought about Alan Zemaitis recovering from the car accident in 2003 “Well that is a great story in itself. That’s how Alan is. He’s a guy that has one hat in his house. He’ll tell you the story, I’m sure. It’s a Buccaneer hat. He’s a leader of the Penn State football program. He’s a big reason that they turned it around. They’ll tell you that themselves there, I believe. His will, his determination, is one thing that is really the story here today. He’s a great kid. He’s going to add a lot to our football team. I’m counting on him to come in here and be a player for us, hopefully, for a few years to come.”
Gruden on QB Bruce Gradkowski’s workouts “I’m trying not to get too excited up here thinking about that. I really like Bruce. Paul Hackett likes Bruce. He was overshadowed, I think, by a lot of the other quarterbacks. He’s only 6-1. [He is] very similar to a couple of guys I worked with in the past. His mobility is an asset. He’s a 4.57 guy, what we clocked him as one of the faster pure quarterbacks in this draft. And his production, he’s the all-time completion percentage leader in NCAA history. He’s thrown for over 70 percent. This guy’s a man, now. He knows how to run a huddle. Competition doesn’t bother him. I believe he’s going to come in here and make this thing very interesting. He’s going to be a quick study. He’s going to be irritable. He’s going to be a hard guy for me to get out of the room here. He really loves football. He loves it, he really attacks it and I think this is a system that he’s going to like because it will utilize the things that he does well. He has a quick, accurate arm and he has functional mobility and he’s proven it.”
Gruden on how much Gradkowski can shake things up in terms of competition “We hope he can really shake it hard. He’s going to be in there battling with Tim Rattay, a guy that is a system quarterback. Rattay is, I believe, vastly underrated in terms of the kind of player he is when the game starts. Luke McCown is a flashy athlete and he is a guy that has made great progress. But to go to camp with Bruce, Luke, Tim Rattay, we feel better. Chris Simms is a young guy, as we all know, Luke McCown, a young guy, and now Bruce. We’ve got some young guys that are going to make this exciting and fun to come to work everyday.”
Gruden on whether DL Julian Jenkins will start as a defensive end or defensive tackle with the Bucs “That’s something we are going to talk about. Again, his value to us is versatility. We don’t play defense, we don’t play offense, conventionally like some other teams maybe. For Jenkins to be the player we need him to be, he’s going to have to play at right end, he’s going to have to go over there and take some snaps at left end. I’d like to see him as a three technique, honestly. I believe he’s got some one gap penetrating ability. He’s got the size, he’s got certainly the strength to hold up in there. We’ve got to learn about these players, and the best way to do that is to get them here. Once that process starts this weekend, we can better answer those questions.”
Gruden on why the Bucs didn’t draft a linebacker “We have good linebackers, okay? We’ve got good linebackers. Marquis Cooper was a third-round draft choice, Barrett Ruud was a second-round draft choice. Those two are waiting in the wings. We added Jamie Winborn, a guy we really like. As a matter of fact, we like a real lot. He’s healthy now. I do have the feeling that at the end of training camp, he’s going to become a real force around here. We like [Antoine] Cash, to be honest with you. And we added [Wesly] Mallard last year, who’s a very good special teams player. We feel like we’ve got eight very good linebackers here to go with Ryan Nece, who’s a very versatile guy and a leader on this team. We’ll probably add another linebacker before camp, but we didn’t see it as a priority today.”
Gruden on adding two tight ends through the draft on Sunday “Well, we obviously looked at tight ends starting in round one. We drafted a young guy last year we think had a magnificent rookie season, a guy we think can be a real force in the NFL in Alex Smith. Anthony Becht is a very good football player, underrated guy, team guy, physical player. We need tight ends, we use them to run it and throw it, and we need them. We thought about a tight end in every round, honestly, but we weren’t able to get one inked until the sixth round. But the guys we did get, I think, have a lot of the traits we are looking for. And we will put it on Ron Middleton, our tight end coach to get the best out of these guys.”
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