Bucs head coach Jon Gruden's quotes courtesy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers public relations staff.
Opening Statement “To recap our draft, we started this morning and drafted S Tanard Jackson, who was a three-year starter at corner at Syracuse. We project him as a safety. We coached him at the Senior Bowl. We’re excited to get him at the top of the fourth round. Later, in the fifth round we took DT Greg Peterson, a young man from North Carolina Central, who will be slated to play the under tackle position. He’s a big guy that we liked a lot. We realize he’s from a small college but he does have a lot of traits that fit our scheme. He’s big, athletic, he’s got a real big upside, he’s got good energy. He’s healthy and he’s a guy we like. In the sixth round we took Adam Hayward, who was one of the guys I was really fired up to have. He’s from Portland State, this guy is extremely athletic and a versatile player, much like Quincy Black. He’s very athletic, he can rush a passer, he’s an outstanding linebacker. Not a real experienced one, he’s played a lot of different positions, but he’s got some real flash playmaking ability. We were really happy to get him in the sixth round. We finished the seventh round with three good selections from good programs. Chris Denman, a big tackle who played at Fresno State. I think Pat Hill is one of the best coaches in football in college or any level, particularly in the offensive line. Denman is a big guy that will go over to the right side and has some versatility to go inside and he has a physical presence that we like. We finished the seventh round with two players, CB Marcus Hamilton, one of the only two-time captains, I believe, in Virginia Cavalier history. He worked out at his school tremendously, running under 4.5 with a 36-inch vertical. He’s a guy that makes plays. I think that he had 12 picks in the last two seasons. He’s a great kid and he’s a good football player. RB Ken Darby is the number two rusher in Alabama history. He took a step backwards in his senior year for a lot of reasons: the death of his father, he had some nagging injuries. But as a junior, he was brilliant at times as a runner. To get a guy with that kind of production at the end of the seventh round is something we are excited about. We took a defensive player in every round. I think that is the first time in Buccaneers history. So we have that going for us this year in this draft. We feel like we’ve added good players and now we have to see where they are and you’ll get a chance to see that for yourself this week.”
Gruden o if he is surprised that the Buccaneers drafted so many defensive players “No, not really. We didn’t go into this draft saying, ‘defense, defense, defense.’ We need players on both sides of the ball. We were able, I think, to add three offensive players, starting with [Arron] Sears, who’s an excellent player. We realize also that we needed to do some things defensively, not just with starting players, but with the overall depth at each position. We needed to get younger at some places, certainly. We added some depth and some competition and some playmakers. We added guys that run around and hit. I do know Quincy Black and Hayward will run around and hit and I know these two safeties will run around and hit and that is what we wanted to do, find guys that can run and can hit and make plays.”
Gruden on filling the team’s needs “We feel that this is going to be an ongoing process. We are going to use free agency as a vehicle to get better, the draft is another tool and then post-draft decision making sometimes is the winning edge to your offseason. There are going to be some players cut and released by other teams in this league after the draft. There always are, and two or three acquisitions before training camp or sometime around late May or June sometimes can really turn your offseason around. So, we are not done looking for players, we’ll continue to do that.”
Gruden on the effort to rebuild the defense “There has been some criticism, maybe some justifiable for taking three offensive linemen early in the last few years. But Kenyatta Walker is not here, Cosey Coleman is not here, Jeff Christy retired, Kerry Jenkins left and Roman Oben has been gone for a while. That was our starting lineup at the Super Bowl, so we had to address every position on the offensive line. Sometimes the best was to do that is in the draft. Steinbach just got $18 million to become a guard for the Cleveland Browns. Just going into free agency and accumulating linemen is not as easy as it appears. We had some players on defense enjoy tremendous injury-free careers and we won 11 games two years ago and played extremely well defensively in many areas. We think we have some guys that can return and play great again. However, we also realize we need to add players. We added two safeties, two big defensive linemen and we also added a corner and a couple of linebackers that we think have the traits to be excellent players in any defense that we call and we just have to prove that.”
Gruden on getting players after the draft “That’s important, there’s going to be some guys that we sign after the draft, Anthony Davis, Ryan Nece, Jeff Gooch, a lot of players over the years that had not even been drafted that come in and start. Brad Johnson was a ninth-round pick, they don’t even have the ninth round anymore. The draft is for organization, the draft has become one of the big money makers in pro football. It lasted 12 hours, I think, the first round. There’s a commercial, I think next year they’re going to give us an hour to pick in each round. They have an analyst in every locker room. It’s really something. We were rumored to trade all our draft picks up to take an offensive player and we picked a defensive player in each round. That’s what some of the analysts have to explain today, just like I had to explain why I went 4-12 last year (laughing).”
Gruden on evaluating the defense and what needed to be done “Ranked 17th is yards. When you measure defenses, number one defense, number four defense, number 30 defense, you are talking yards. That is a disgraceful way, I think, of evaluating how you are doing. You have to knock the other quarterback down. You have to create turnovers, three and outs and establish field position on defense. We were last in the league in sacks, I don’t believe we generated an interception for four, five or six weeks in succession, which is totally uncharacteristic of this defense. Total yardage is a statistic. Turnovers, sacks, impact plays that turn a football game around; that’s what some of us are after also. In the process you want to eliminate explosive plays. We don’t want to give up a lot of yards, we don’t want to give up 20-yard gains. We have to get the ball back fast and in good field position to win. That’s modern-day football as I know it and hopefully Gaines Adams will help us do that. Hopefully we will get a couple of safeties that can create some plays and opportunistic situations for us.”
Gruden on adding depth at middle linebacker “We drafted Barrett Ruud a few years ago to become a middle linebacker. It was the fifth pick in the second round. We’re going to continue to look for guys that can become back up ‘Mike’ linebackers. Hopefully we can have a football team that has that versatility. Not a lot of guys draft exclusively for a backup middle linebacker. We want our guys to play ‘Will’ and if they can play ‘Will’ they can play ‘Mike’ and they can play ‘Sam.’ To draft a guy just to be a run stopper, middle linebacker; that’s not how we do business here. We think Quincy Black, Hayward, Ryan Nece, a lot of guys here can be a ‘Mike’ linebacker, personally. Shelton Quarles didn’t play ‘Mike’ until I got here. He had never played the position and he did quite well.”
Gruden on the defensive line “Most defensive linemen playing in the league are tall. There’s not a lot of 6-footers playing in the league, that’s a fact. That’s just the way it is. Teams that are throwing the ball quick against the blitz and creating five step drops, tip passes are a real problem. You can ask me all about that. We’ve seen a lot of those ourselves. That sometimes the best pass defense is a deflection and guys that are 6-5. Kevin Carter has had a history and a knack for batting balls down. You can ask Sam Madison, some of the former Dolphin cornerbacks that were recipients of interceptions on deflections. We would like to create more pass disruption from our front as well as our coverage.”
Gruden on relying on recent offensive draft picks to “step up” “They are. They are becoming veterans. It’s not really fair to judge your second-day picks or your draft class as rookies. I don’t care if I’m right or wrong, this has just been my opinion over 15-20 years in the NFL – if four or five rookies start for you, you’re not very good. That’s just the bottom line. We had four rookies start for us last year. It starts at quarterback. We had a rookie start 11 or 12 games at quarterback, [Maurice] Stovall started, [Jeremy] Trueblood started, [Davin] Joseph started. The year before that, it was [Dan] Buenning, I think we had a guy named Cadillac, Alex Smith. We have a lot of young guys playing and they better be getting better. I hope they’re hearing what I have to say – you better be ready to roll because it’s your time now. Hopefully this experience has helped them and I’m excited about where we are and some of the growing pains that we have had. You have to also realize the competition is intense.
Gruden on Dan Buenning’s health “He’s not ready to go yet, but he’ll be ready to go in training camp. I think the addition of Denman and Sears, the addition of Luke Petitgout will really give us legitimate competition with NFL players and that usually brings out the best in them. Hopefully it does. We didn’t play very good last year in my opinion. I take a lot of responsibility, but I’m not taking all of it. We’re going to share it amongst ourselves. It just wasn’t good enough last year and we have a long way to go to get it where it needs to be.”
Gruden on what he liked about T Chris Denman “It starts with Fresno State. I have a lot of respect for Pat Hill and that program. I know how they coach those guys. They’re detail workers, they’re hard workers. It’s a hard program – it’s not for everybody. They play anybody. They’ll play at LSU, they’ll play us, if we’d play them, they’d play us. That’s what I like about Fresno State. I’m not kidding you, they would play us or anybody. But, he’s a strong guy. He struggled pass protecting this year. He gained a lot of weight to try to become a player he wanted to be instead of being the player he is. He’s a strong, tough guy that has training and background and versatility having played for Pat Hill.”
Gruden on which tackle position Chris Denman would play “Well, Petitgout is going to be the left tackle. Anthony Davis is going to compete at left tackle and left guard, Sears is going to compete on the left side. I think Denman’s natural position is going to be right tackle. We project him to be also a right guard candidate.”
Gruden on late round picks helping on special teams “That’s the area we got better at, there’s no question about that. We’re a lot better on special teams. If there’s one guy who’s happy with our draft, it’s Rich Bisaccia. Our special teams coach is happy. We got a good kicker here, we got a good punter. We added Chad Owens, a return man that we really liked two years ago out of Hawaii. He is thick and quick and he has a knack for making plays. He and Mark Jones will battle for that role and one of those guys has to step up and become the punt and kickoff returner. We can’t have a guy return punts, and kickoffs, and a long snapper, and a nickel back, and a fourth receiver. Somebody has to become more sophisticated and become all-purpose. We’re going to have competition there and it’s going to be interesting. Special teams got better because I know Quincy and Tanard Jackson and Hayward, I know they’re going to be coverage guys, and Piscitelli’s been outstanding; ‘Piscapo’ as I call him is an outstanding special teams man.”
Gruden on whether LB Adam Hayward is strictly a linebacker “He played safety in his background. He started off at Colorado State, transferred to Portland State. Had some experience playing wide receiver, defensive end. You have to start the guy somewhere, and we’ll start him at linebacker. I think there will be some situations where he might be standing up as a defensive end rushing the passer, much like some of the third-down specialists do. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ nickel rushers have been outside linebackers for the last five or six years. You don’t have to bring in a defensive end to rush the passer. We might go to a smaller lineup, double the lineup just like the Major League Baseball managers do. Create different size-speed matchups for the opponent.”
Gruden on the speed of the linebackers “I think instincts are hard to acquire. Natural football instincts are hard to acquire. I wanted to look for guys that we felt had instincts. Speed was a priority, it’s always a priority. You can’t coach it. You can’t find a strength coach or a speed coach that can improve speed with these guys that are 22 or 23 years old. Some will say they can and some might do it, those guys I’m sure will send me their resumes tonight. We wanted to get faster. We were looking for instinct, speed, certainly. Guys that will hit, guys that like to hit. That’s what we needed. We need to knock the ball loose. I think the guys we got can do that.”
Gruden on his expectations of mini-camp “This mini-camp is always an interesting camp. You aren’t allowed to have any vested NFL players there, so there’s only going to be six or seven men from our roster that will participate in this camp. I don’t agree with that, there are a lot of guys that haven’t taken a snap in the league that, I think, should be at this camp. They need the work. We’ll accumulate as many players as we can to formulate some teamwork where we can take a look at our draft choices and maybe find a player or two from the voluntary camp or the tryout camp that can possibly earn a right to go to training camp.”
Gruden on the quarterback situation “We’re not done at quarterback. There are going to be some things that I’m sure we’ll continue to work at. But we will bring in another quarterback, and we’ve got to improve at that position also.”
Gruden on if he was surprised Florida QB Chris Leak was undrafted “Yes. He wasn’t – not to my knowledge. I left with several picks left in the seventh round. There’s a lot of talk during the draft about quarterbacks under six feet who don’t play in the NFL. And once you hear that and you realize that you weigh in at the combine – I think it’s 5-11, or whatever it was – you probably don’t get a real good feeling. Troy Smith, I think, lasted until the middle of the fifth round. I just try to explain to these guys that the draft isn’t always right. There are plenty of holes in the draft. And if you get a shot, the good guys always find a way to play.”
Gruden on if Leak is a guy the Buccaneers might look at “He’s a guy I would consider bringing in. Obviously, he’s a guy I met at the Senior Bowl. He’s an impressive guy; he’s a winner. And he’s mastered a couple of sophisticated offenses and performed well in both of them.”
Gruden on WR David Boston’s progress “I don’t want to jinx anything because usually when you start throwing out comments or compliments to guys, you screw it up. He’s really doing well. And all I can do is give him a lot of credit. This guy has been through a lot. He’s a young guy. And if it does come back, I just warn people – if it all comes back – we’ve got a heck of a receiver. And that’s what we’re after. We’re after doing the right thing and trying to get his body back to where it was because we all know where it was before it went awry. And he’s on his way back, and that’s exciting for us.”
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 2007 NFL DRAFT CLASS Round 1 (4th overall) – DE Gaines Adams Round 2a (35th overall) – OT Arron Sears Round 2b (64th overall) – SS Sabby Piscitelli Round 3 (68th overall) – LB Quincy Black Round 4 (106th overall) – S Tanard Jackson Round 5 (141st overall) – DE Greg Peterson Round 6 (182nd overall) – LB Adam Hayward Round 7 (214th overall) – OT Chris Denman Round 7 (245th overall) – CB Marcus Hamilton Round 7 (246th overall) – RB Kenneth Darby Â
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