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29 April 2016

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2016 Day 2 NFL Draft Media Availability (4/29/16)

(On the team’s two second-round picks: defensive end Noah Spence and kicker Roberto Aguayo)
“First I’ll start with Noah [Spence], there with our first pick [in the second round]. We think we got – we felt like he was one of the, if not the, best pure pass rusher in the draft. We’ve scouted him all the way back to Ohio State, when he played there and had success there two years ago, three years ago, and then this year at Eastern Kentucky. He’s going to bring what we’ve missed here: an extra rusher, another rusher. We feel like he’s going to eventually make an impact for us there. And then, taking Roberto [Aguayo] – the importance of special teams is paramount. When you get a chance to get the best kicker in the history of college football, I didn’t want to risk it. I wanted to take him. I have a lot of confidence in him; I like the way he’s wired. I like the body of work that he’s put out there, obviously. A great kicker can be the difference in several games. I’ve been around some great ones: Adam Vinatieri, [Stephen] Gostkowski. Those guys are invaluable. We obviously took him, we used a pick to go up and get him, so we feel very confident about it. We needed to be bold there and we were.”
(On if he ‘had an inkling’ that another team might have been looking at Aguayo)
“Like I said before, we do a lot of research and there’s a reason why we do everything.”
(On if the job of a general manager is to maneuver picks to get the players they believe in)
“Yeah, it is. Dirk and I talk about it, we’ve talked about it’s like him on gameday calling plays. You have a script, you have things that you want to try to do, different scenarios for different players, you value different players differently – these are players that we would move up for, these are players we think we can sit and wait on, like Noah, and get at great value for us. So, yeah, you have to have a feel. You have to rely on your staff – we have a great one – that gives you information that helps you put together that script.”
(On whether a General Manager needs to have conviction in his picks)
“If you love a player, you have to go up and get him. We had the extra pick that we gained yesterday, so we thought it was a great opportunity to do that based on the information that we had.”
(On believing in Spence)
“We’ve done a lot of work on him. We’ve had him here, we’ve gone to visit him a couple times, and, yeah, we feel good. We feel good about him. He’s excited, we’re excited.”
(On examining players with issues in their pasts and determining if someone is a ‘bad person or an immature person’ and what else goes into those decisions)
“You have to feel comfortable with the person. You can’t just make a quick decision on whether or not he falls into one of those categories. You have to spend time, you have to do your research, you have to go back into his life and you have to sit down with him, obviously, and talk with him. But if you feel comfortable and you feel good about it, then you can’t sentence a guy for life for some mistakes that he’s made in the past.”
(On whether he saw a passion for football in Spence)
“We did. The guy was very emotional when we called him. He’s a football junkie.”
(On whether he believes Spence can play three downs)
“Yeah, I think so. I think the best thing he does is rush the passer.”
(On what taking a kicker in the second round says about his confidence in the current roster)
“It says we’ve got some confidence in our roster, but it also says that if you get a chance to get a kicker that you think is going to be as good as we feel [Aguayo will be], that that position is very important, extremely important. It’s considered a starter. More so than that, if he turns out the way that we think he’s going to be.”
(On if the Aguayo pick was based more on the player’s talent or the increased emphasis on kicking in the NFL)
“A little of both, but I would say I lean toward his talent.”
(On quarterback Jameis Winston having been a vocal fan of both Spence and Aguayo)
“We use our resources here [laughter]. Players can be great resources. When we are looking at players from whatever school they’re from, one of the things we do is we go to the player on our roster that knows him, has played with him or has a relationship with him and it’s a precious resource. So Jameis’ opinion of those [players] helped, but I’m not ready to name him assistant GM slash quarterback yet. Not yet [laughter].”
(Opening statement)
“We really feel like we got two excellent players. Feel like we got the best pass rusher in the draft and the best kicker in the draft, so we still feel like the draft’s going great and looking forward to tomorrow.”
(On the decision to draft kicker Robert Aguayo in the second round)
“Well, we had him targeted all along and if you really think about what happened, is we really just picked the kicker in the third round. The extra pick we got in the fourth, we gave it back up, used that same third round pick we were going to use in the first place to take the kicker. That’s exactly what happened, so if we would’ve just taken him in the third round the first time and there would’ve been no trades yesterday or today then we wouldn’t even be talking about the rest of that.”
(On what he thinks of General Manager Jason Licht’s draft thus far)
“It’s been educational for me because I’ve never been in this position before and to watch him work – and when you see the pressure those guys are under when there’s trades moving around and you’re on a time clock and the world’s watching, I know as a play-caller you’ve got what your gameplan is but when the pressure’s on and the clock’s running, it’s easy to abandon your script. Jason stayed true to the script, stayed true to what we wanted. I don’t think anyone can be too disappointed in Jason’s track record as a drafter so far. Certainly not me.”
(On if he was surprised that they had a kicker rated that high, ‘even though he was the best in college football history’)
“Well everybody’s going to have their own opinion of that. I wouldn’t say surprised, I mean, I just think that’s a unique situation because, to quote you, ‘The best kicker in college football history’ doesn’t come around very often. So it’s a unique situation, to say the least, and this is a situation that we know is going to be criticized on some fronts, but it’s going to play itself out over time. It’s no different, really, than picking [quarterback] Jameis [Winston] first last year. I mean, we were going to sink or swim with that guy and we chose to swim.”
(On what defensive end Noah Spence needed to say or do to convince Koetter that his problems were behind him)
“Most of that stuff was handled by Jason and his guys. On the coaching side, we were convinced that he was the best of all these rushers. Of all the people who talk pre-draft before we get involved, this was a draft filled with a lot of excellent rushers. Now, everybody’s going to have their own opinion of that. Our opinion was that he was the best of those rushers and we did meet with him at the combine and we had him in and everything. Definitely a guy that had some immaturity in his life and, by his own admission made mistakes, but in the end, with all the research done – and again, I mentioned this yesterday – there’s so much more that goes on behind the scenes that the naked eye doesn’t get to see, we felt like this was the best way to go and when we talked to him on the phone tonight, the emotion in his voice was very real. But, once again, time will tell. We’ve got very high expectations and hopefully they’ll be met.”
(On how much adding a cornerback and defensive end in the draft “has gone to script” to compliment “bridge players” such as free agent additions Brent Grimes and Robert Ayers, Jr.)
“I think it’s a good match. Really, we’re trying to just get the best football team, the best players, and coach them up to be the best team we can be right now. The fact that we do have a bridge with some vets to some young guys – again, it’s been no secret after the last two years drafting all but one offensive player we needed to draft defense. We said that last night. Feel like we added two really good defensive players and an outstanding kicker. So, four more tomorrow.”
(On if filling needs early in the draft allows the team to be more flexible the rest of the draft)
“We still have needs. We have needs at various positions and we’ve still got plenty of guys on our board in there that we’re hoping are there when we pick. We’ll see how this third round shakes out and who’s left. We still have a good pick coming up in the fourth round and we hope to get another top flight player. I said in some earlier press conference we were going to be hard pressed to get four starters out of the draft like we did last year and we might still be able to pull it off.”
(On how a talented kicker can help a head coach)
“I think there’s a couple ways to look at that. First off, with this whole kickoff rule, I doubt if it’s changed for the last time, but the great thing about Roberto is – I’ve watched a bunch of kickoffs and trust me, I never thought I’d be sitting in my office watching one kickoff after another and watching the combine kickoff tape – but this guy can kick it out of the end zone pretty much when he wants to. Florida State last year did a lot of ‘mortar’ kicks where they tried to pin teams inside the 20 and he was excellent at that. I don’t think that rule’s going to change. I don’t think the PAT rule is going back to the 2-yard line in the NFL. I think that’s going to stay as it is. Look at this guy’s numbers, PAT-field goals, he’s never missed a kick inside of 40 yards and then he’s got range up to 60 yards. Sure, he’s missed some, and then you look at the number of games that are decided by one score or less. Obviously, just like everything else, we’ll want to see it with our own eyes when we get out there in practice. We always like to say when we get to a certain yard line we’ve got three in the bank, and then it just depends on what we’re going to do from there.”
(On how he feels being drafted)
“Man, it’s just doesn’t feel real. It’s a blessing tonight. I don’t even know what to think. I just want to thank God and it’s just a great feeling.”
(On if he felt disappointed falling into the second round)
“No, I’m just blessed to be able to be taken in the draft. I’m about to do as much as I can to make this team great."
(On sending his last 20 drug tests to every NFL team)
“I just wanted to prove to everybody that I was past the past mistakes that I had and wanted to show everybody that I was on the straight and narrow path and I can do all I can with football.”
(On when he realized he needed to change his lifestyle)
“When I hit rock bottom and I felt like I had nothing else left, when I lost football, I knew I had to turn my life around. I knew I had to realize what I love and I know I love is the game, so I had to do what I had to be able to have it.”
(On what he would say to [general manager] Jason Licht and [head coach] Dirk Koetter to convince them he has moved on from his past)
“Football is my life and I don’t ever want to feel what it felt like to have it taken away from me again. You don’t have to worry about me doing anything that would hinder that or have that happen.”
(On his interaction with the Buccaneers before the draft)
“I [liked] all of the coaches a lot. I feel like I had a great feel with them. It felt like family when I walked around the facilities and stuff like that. When I was with [defensive line] Coach Jay [Hayes], we went out to eat and everything and I just felt like – I don’t know – he just reminded me a lot of my dad. He’s a real big part of my life, so it felt like almost a home away from home. That’s just how it felt.”
(On if he’s anxious to move past the attention to his past)
“I know that’s not going to come until I start making plays, so we’re going to see. It might be a little while, but I’m anxious for that.”
(On his time spent in a rehabilitation program)
“Honestly, it all led back to me partying too much. It was where I was going and the party scene and what I was doing. It wasn’t me being addicted to drugs, it was me being addicted to that scene, what I wanted to do all the time, going out on the weekends, stuff like that. That was what I was more – I don’t want to say addicted to, but I liked more. Drugs just became a part of it.”
(On if he was a bad person or immature person in his past)
“I was immature. I’ve never been a bad person. I always respected people, I always respect my elders, try to be a good person off the field, but I just got caught up in some things that was immature of me and I paid the consequences.”
(On his relationship with quarterback Jameis Winston)
“We got to know each other during recruitment and then I went down there in high school – went to that Under Armour All-American game and we just became really good friends, stayed in contact throughout the whole college process, through my problems and then even now through the draft process, so yeah. He’s a good friend of mine.”
(On what are reasonable expectations for a rookie defensive end)
“I don’t know. Whatever I’m blessed to get. I’m going to work hard and I know I’m going to be able to get something good for myself.”
(On how he plans to provide consistent effort throughout a game)
“I mean, you’re never going to win every single rep, its football. You just have to keep going at it one hundred percent every play like you want to win every rep. If you get to the point where you feel like you’re losing – I mean, it’s always competition. You’ve always got to be feeling like you want to get to the quarterback. You’re never going to win every rep, but you always have to feel like you want to get there.”
(On if he felt he was the best pass rusher in the draft)
“I thought I was. I mean like, best pure pass rusher? I thought I was, but we’ll see after the season.”
(On being drafted by the Buccaneers)
“Oh my gosh. Honestly, it was where I wanted to go. They had the pick at 74, so I was just waiting it out and all of a sudden the call came in and I saw the Tampa area code and I was pumped. When they said I was going to be a part of the family, I was excited. I know a kicker doesn’t usually get taken this high, but I think my three years at Florida State on the field – I think it was the right pick and that’s what I was hearing. It’s just a surreal moment and I’m excited to be a Buccaneer and I’m ready to get working in Tampa.”
(On being reunited with former Florida State teammate Jameis Winston)
“It’s exciting. I’m a huge – since Jameis went there I’ve been a Buccaneer fan – I mean pretty much all of my life and now that I get to join him, you never know, you can talk Super Bowl. It’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be fun. You know, a familiar face back in the locker room. It’s just going to be exciting, good to be around him again and just have fun.”
(On what he was doing this evening when he was drafted)
“I had my family and my girlfriend with me and it was just relaxing. I tried not to think about it, not worry about it too much. I just said, ‘God has a plan wherever I go, it’s meant to be,’ and just praying about it. Wherever I went that was where I was meant to go and it came down to Tampa and I think our prayers were answered. I think it’s a really great fit for me and I think Tampa made the right decision.”
(On how he will adjust to longer extra points)
“I think there is no need to adjust. I think yes the extra point is moved back to the thirty-three yard line – it isn’t a tougher field goal. It’s the same kick. There isn’t any adjustment needed. You hit the ball the same way, you’re just a little further back, that’s all. It makes the room for error a lot higher and I think a lot of people were excited about me never missing inside of 40 yards so I think that was a big factor for Tampa or any team that would have drafted me, but I think I’m solid inside that area. Since I started training for the draft I’ve been working on that extra point and just getting familiar with that distance, seeing the goalpost from a little farther and just getting used to it, so I think I’ll be fine.”
(On his interaction with the Buccaneers during the pre-draft process)
“Honestly, the pro day was the first big time I talked to them, that I got to know all of them. They did contact one of my kicking coaches that I was training with before Billy Miller that used to work there with them. They asked if he was training with me, working with me and they asked if I was in prime position and hitting the ball well and he said, ’Yeah,’ so that was the first time. The second time really that they talked to me was at the pro day and calling my agent and stuff. They were very interested and I was very interested in them.”

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