During the scouting events leading up to the NFL Draft last year, Bucs general manager Jason Licht said on a radio program that the majority of draft misses are for reasons related to the neck up. In other words the pool of players is full of talent and athleticism, but in many ways it’s about separating the field from a mental standpoint and finding the guys who are ready to be professionals.

Bucs GM Jason Licht & HC Dirk Koetter - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs GM Jason Licht & HC Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Last Wednesday, Licht reiterated the value placed on character evaluations at the NFL Combine.

“You know, I would say 90 percent of the guys that the public deems – or we do – as ‘busts’ in the league, after you draft them, it all has to do with what goes on above the neck,” Licht said. “Whether it’s a character issue or a mental issue or football intelligence or just being passionate about football, those are things that we put a lot of resources in to find out about a player.”

Head coach Dirk Koetter would seem to agree with the GM’s assessment. Taking the podium moments earlier at Lucas Oil Stadium, Koetter stressed the importance of player interviews, of which each team is allotted 60 with 15 minutes per player.

“Maybe the No. 1 thing from a coaching standpoint we get out of the combine is a chance to talk to the players one on one,” Koetter said. “I think that’s real important. Its great to get those guys, not only at the train station with the coaches one on one, but also with the formal interviews with all the people from your club in there.”

Last season, as the Bucs were deciding between two quarterbacks with the No. 1 pick, Jameis Winston certainly helped his case during the formal sit-downs. While Koetter wasn’t as involved then as he is now, the former offensive coordinator remembered the strong impression Winston left on the coaches and front office members last February.

“Jameis was a great example of that,” Koetter said. “We weren’t the only team that were doing our homework on Jameis, so I think (interviews are) real important and Jameis did a great job.”

This can be a nerve-racking time for players, as much of the process is new to them. But the NFL Combine was also somewhat of a learning experience for Koetter, too. As a head coach, his responsibilities now extend beyond just evaluating offensive players, a challenge he’s excited about over the next week.

“Both sides (of the ball), just more players,” Koetter said. “I used to just sit in on the offensive weigh-ins, the offensive workouts, the offensive interviews and now it’s the whole thing. We have 60 interviews lined up over the next few days and I’ve been fortunate enough to watch some tape on all of those guys and I’m looking forward to meeting them.”

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: zshapiro12@gmail.com
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jme0151

Well I hope this process leaves Spence out of consideration. Lots of DE’s out there which offer good talent and much better character.

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georgehicks

This is why the scouts that Tampa has its evualable information.The Team is looking for players that will worked well in the bucs system.This year is a difference sistutation then in the past. Look at the pass three yrs and what Tampa did. Maybe the group of rookies that step up this year is very important. IF CB is our #1 goal so be it. but the DE and DT or NT is our no#2 goal and Three. I believe tyheir may be good qualied players in all rounds. So of the players that was on TB raydar.But other may… Read more »

Horse

I would have loved to be in the interview with Spence to see and hear if he was more humbled by his drug issue experience and had truely learned from it for his life after football. Right now my excuse for not picking Spence is he’s too small, his combine showed little of his quickness and burst if he really has those tools, and his answers to the media pertaining to him getting kicked off Ohio State and dealing with his attitude pertaining to drugs.

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drdneast

Horse, I agree with you totally about his size and weight. We have enough 6’2 250 to 260 guys with a lot of speed at the DE position as it is. As far as his drug problems are concerned, I don’t think that indicates he has poor character. That sounds like an ill formed ignorant opinion based on personal feelings. There have been plenty of people with good character who have suffered from drug and alcohol dependency. Substance abuse addiction is a chronic illness much like diabetes, tuberculosis, depression, etc. If you don’t believe me jme0151, go ask a qualified… Read more »