Print Friendly Version Convert to PDF Convert to RTF Related Assets
28 April 2018

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Day 2 NFL Draft Media Availability (4/27/18)

Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
General Manager Jason Licht
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
Running Back Ronald Jones (Second round, 38th overall)
Cornerback M.J. Stewart (Second round, 53rd overall)
Cornerback Carlton Davis (Second round, 63rd overall)
Offensive Lineman Alex Cappa (Third round, 94th overall)
(Opening statement)
“Sorry to keep you guys waiting. You know, I couldn’t help myself there.”
(On having five picks in the first three rounds of the draft)
“It’s great. Because of the trade yesterday, we were able to get five picks in the top 94. I can’t remember a draft that I’ve been a part of with that many, which is awesome, it’s great. I think we’re getting five guys that can help us either in the immediate future or at some point down the road. Adding them, especially at positions that we felt – today it’s commonly known as the need round – getting some guys that we needed, guys to compete against the guys we already have or compete for a starting job. Competition always brings out the best so we’re excited about all of these guys.”
(On which position the team envisions M.J. Stewart playing)
“We love M.J.’s versatility. I’ll just say on tape that we liked him at nickel. We liked him at corner. He does has a skill set that could play safety but we’ll probably focus on the first two right now.”
(On what impressed him about running back Ronald Jones)
“Ronald is a guy that, he’s a real explosive runner. He’s a lot faster than the times that are out there in the public. This guy ran a 10.3 [second] 100-meter at one point in high school. A couple 10.5’s. Not that we’re out there timing 100-meter dashes on him but you can see it on the tape. He makes a lot of plays with his speed, his burst, his quickness and for a 208-pound guy, he runs very hard and escapes tackles. He can run through tackles. He’s just a violent runner. He’s a playmaker. He’s been a starter for a year-and-a-half but he’s rushed for 2,500 yards in the last two years roughly in a rotation there which says something about him. He’s a kid that’s very tough and our kind of guy. We just liked him on tape and liked him after all the work we did on him.”
(On if Jones could become a feature back for the Buccaneers)
“Fortunately we have Peyton [Barber] as well. This is nothing to do with Peyton. We feel like it’ll be a good complement to begin with and we’ll see how it goes.”
(On what he likes about cornerbacks M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis)
“With Stewart, the versatility, he’s a really smart guy. He can play multiple roles. He has played nickel and outside. He’s very tough. A very instinctive guy. Carlton is an outside corner that is really good in press. He’s really tough. He can run. He’s a big corner that can run and play in press. He’s actually a very good athlete as well. You mentioned the lack of production maybe on interceptions but between the two of them, they had 10 career interceptions. It’s just maybe in the last year that they didn’t have any. But there’s been corners drafted high that didn’t have any career interceptions. So, I’m not too caught up in that. [Quarterbacks] didn’t throw the ball their way. Or they broke up the ball. There’s a reason that the guys that have all of the production, that have all of the athleticism that these guys have that go in the top-10. Nobody’s perfect.”
(On where the staff is going to place Stewart and Davis in the secondary)
“We’re going to utilize these players the best with what their skill sets are.”
(On offensive lineman Alex Cappa’s toughness)
“I love that dude. I think Mike Mayock called him a bouncer or something like that. Those are some words that have been used when we talked about him through this process. He’s a great guy, our kind of guy. We feel he’s a versatile guy. We’re going to have him compete there at guard and eventually train him to play, we feel like he can play all five spots at some point. He’s a small school guy, D-II. You have to drive through some Redwood trees like Tony Kinkela, our west coast scout had to do to get there. It’s a long way from San Francisco but it was worth the trip for him.”
(On similarities between Cappa and Buccaneers offensive guard Ali Marpet)
“Every player is different. I guess they’re similar that we moved up to take him and Marpet was second round. He’s third round. They went to small schools. Alex is a bigger, longer guy. They have different types of athleticism, different types of traits that we like about both of them. It’s hard to say, it’s tough to say that somebody is going to be as good as Marpet because Marpet has been very, very good for us. But, if he’s half of what Marpet is, we’re going to be happy with the pick.”
(On Davis saying he thinks he is the best cornerback in this draft)
“You’d rather have him say that than, ‘I think I’m the 14th-best corner.’ So, it’s something that we love about Carlton, and it shows on the tape. He’s a very competitive guy, a very tough guy.”

(On the process of ending up with five picks in the first three rounds of the draft)
“We had about 80,000 different scenarios that we thought could happen. I’m exaggerating there but it felt that way. One of them was to move back to a team that was probably going to move up to take a quarterback and try to pick up some extra picks if the board fell a certain way, which it did. We were able to capitalize on that. To get give picks in the first two days because of it, we’re going to take advantage of it. To pick up the players we did, it feels like it’s a bonus, bonus hour. Right now we have confidence that all of these guys are going to help us but you do the numbers, some of them may not. Right now we have confidence that they’re all going to make it.”
(On if he feels that serious areas of need have been addressed)
“We do. We feel great about it. Any time I’ve walked out of day one and day two without addressing as many needs as we have and definitely feel a lot better right now that we have. I’m not always going to take a player just because it fills a need. You want to follow the board. You want to trust the board, let the board work for you and it did for us.”

(On if big name players being taken off the board during the beginning of the second round altered his team’s plans)
“Not that much. I felt like it pretty much went to plan what we thought was going to happen. We picked up another opportunity to trade back again and pick up another fourth-round pick today because we felt like we could get the player, Calrton, where we did. So, we felt like, I’m not going to say it went exactly – nobody can predict exactly how everybody is going to go, but I felt like it worked out for us.”
(On trading with the Vikings for the third-round pick to secure Cappa)
“Once it got to a point where on our board, where another offensive lineman went before him, that we just didn’t want to risk it. We wanted to take him. We have a little intel and we still don’t know if that’s actually going to come to fruition. But, I felt like, ‘Why risk it?’ and go ahead and go get him. I feel good about it.”
(On what he gave up for the third round pick)
“I gave up a sixth round pick.”
(On if he thinks the staff made as much of this draft as possible)
“I feel great about what our staff did. I feel great about what we did. Could we have gotten more, I don’t know. At some point, you don’t want to start collecting picks just to collect picks. You want to start picking your players. When you like them, you have to go get them.”
(On what he likes about Stewart)
“We just loved the person. We liked him on tape, loved the person. It’s our kind of guy. We had him in here and we’re not going to pick a player just because he’s a great guy but it sure helps when it matches up with what you see on tape.”
(On Stewart’s maturity)
“He’s a very mature guy that has learned some lessons and is really, you can really tell that he has matured over the years. You feel like you’re talking to a 10-year veteran when you’re talking to him, for a young guy. I just feel like he’s going to be good for that room and obviously on the field too.”
(On how quickly he sees rookies starting)
“I feel it’d be successful if they all contributed and contributed to a winning season.”
(On the competition at defensive line after drafting defensive tackle Vita Vea yesterday)
“We’ll see how it goes. Competition is awesome. It’s awesome to have a couple of different lines there. I’m going to make a hockey reference. It’s good to look at that depth chart right now, Dirk and I and our staffs, and feel pretty dang good about it. We’ll see how it goes. We have a long way to go. Injuries always have a major impact on everybody’s season so you can’t have too many.”
(On if he likes having depth at defensive line)
“I do, it’s a good feeling. I also like picking up another offensive lineman. I guess I like that trench warfare.”
(On Davis’ speed)
“He’s a big corner. He’s 6’1”, 200 pounds and we actually timed him faster than that [4.53 seconds] so I don’t know what time you have. We have pro days. We’ve had our own scout’s watches on him at the combine, too. For a 6’1”, 200-[pound]-plus guy that ran a 4.49, that’s plenty fast for us. He plays fast on the field. That’s what counts.”
(On adding four players on Day 2 of the NFL Draft)
“We thought we were going to get three good football players and we got four. Jason did an awesome job of working the trades – yesterday and today. To go into the draft with a first, a second and no third and come out with a first, three seconds and a third – that’s pretty darn good. We’re real happy with the guys we got. We addressed our needs [and] we didn’t have to give up much. We just had to give up a sixth to move back up to get [Alex] Cappa. Fired up about it.”
(On running back Ronald Jones)
“You know, when you study all of those backs – and this was a good draft class for backs – all of those guys averaged between 6.1-6.3 [yards per] carry and they all had a ton of carries. It wasn’t a small sample size of like 100 carries. Both of the Georgia guys, the LSU guy, the San Diego State guy, Ronald Jones – they all had a ton of carries, just a bunch, and they all averaged over six yards per carry. [Jones] is explosive, he’s got track [speed], the guy ran a 10.3 [second] 100-meter [dash], multiple 10.5 [second 100-meter dashes], ran on [USC’s] 4x100 a couple of times in the relays. He did a good job from two years ago to 2017, breaking more tackles this year. He runs hard. He’s not as big as some of those other guys that are in the 230 [pound] range, he’s in the 210-209 – that’s what Maurice Jones-Drew was. When we had him in Jacksonville, 209 was when he played his best. Jones is explosive and he’s going to help. You need four runners. Four backs are going to be up for you on gameday. And then you’re always going to have some guys get banged up, so he’s going to bring something to our group.”
(On evaluating running backs in the 2017 NFL Draft that translated to this year’s draft)
“I think you’re always learning. Evaluating players is an ongoing process. I’ve been doing it for most of my life – you still don’t have it down. You mentioned Alvin Kamara. Every team passed on him. Every team passed on him twice. I think if we could rewind it, if Alvin Kamara was on the board tonight and we all knew, I think he would be a pretty high pick. This is not an exact science. That’s why you see teams take guys that other people don’t think they’re going to go in that spot. It’s because you’re evaluating them. We have a whole group of men upstairs – scouting staff and coaching staff – who spend a whole lot of time on this and obviously you’ll be judged by it, but we’re happy as we sit here tonight.”
(On Jones’ receiving skills)
“They didn’t throw him the ball very much. I think that’s a part of his game he’s going to need to improve on. His main thing, if you just watch his screen tape – they threw a lot of screens to him, a lot of slow screens and he did a nice job in that respect – but he’s not a guy that in their offense, they didn’t move him around that much. It was just basic running back routes. But I think with maybe one or two exceptions, that was across the board in this draft class.”
(On if there are any players that are similar to Jones)
“I don’t like to do that, to compare players like that. I don’t know. We have a thing on our draft board that has comparable players, but I rarely look at that. I think that would be unfair.”
(On if it is satisfying to address so many needs in the draft)
“Absolutely. When you throw free agency in there and you look at what Jason has done, the defensive line has been totally rebuilt around Gerald [McCoy]. The offensive line, with a huge piece in the middle (Ryan Jensen), lets us move Ali [Marpet] back to guard. [Alex] Cappa is a versatile player. We went from being thin at corner to now we have eight corners on our roster. That creates competition. One of the things that we wanted to do was – we wanted to get a guy that could play nickel, play inside and outside. We got that in M.J. [Stewart]. We’ve been known for having smaller corners. We play in a division with big receivers. We wanted to get a bigger corner. That’s why Jason went back-to-back with M.J. and Carlton [Davis].”
(On if offensive lineman Alex Cappa is one of the ‘meanest’ players in the draft)
“The thing on Cappa is going to be the step up in competition. He was the four-time Lineman of the Year in his conference – never missed a game, a start, in college. I used to coach in that division. Humboldt State, that was – me and Andy Reid made that drive up to Humboldt for the might San Francisco Gators to take on Humboldt State in a torrential downpour. That’s a different level of football. Alex, he definitely has the right makeup. Right when his season was over, he goes down to Phoenix and works out at an O-line place down there with a bunch of NFL guys. Again, he’s the right kind of guy, but there’s definitely going to be a little transition. To show him on there, that was cool to see him throwing those guys around in Division II and everything, but that’s not like he was playing in the SEC or anything. But he is the right kind of guy. We already saw a guy like Ali make that transition. I’m not saying he’s Ali or anything like that, but it can be done.”
(On cornerback M.J. Stewart)
“We like his versatility. Jason mentioned that earlier. Right now, if you just looked at our team last year, the only guy that we had – Vernon has played some nickel, but we wanted a guy that had played a lot of nickel. We wanted a guy that had played that nickel corner spot, but then also played outside and also had a body that maybe could play safety if we needed. And he’s a punt return guy. I’m not saying he’s going to beat out Adam Humphries as our punt returner, because Adam Humphries is a good returner. [Stewart] is a versatile player, he’s a smart player and he’s spent time in the slot. Once again, we did a lot of behind the scenes work. We talked with him at the combine, we brought him in here, spent time with him on one of our 30 visits. We’ll see how it works out. It’s only April. We don’t get these guys – we moved our rookie mini-camp back a week. These guys will be coming in and they’ll get to spend the last week of Phase II and then the four weeks of OTAs with us. We don’t have to make a final decision tonight on how all of these guys are going to play. We’ve really increased our competition, we’ve increased our depth and we’ve added some good players.”
(On the safeties currently on the roster)
“I feel great about them. I always feel good about our players – you know that. We’ll see how this thing works out. We’ve still got tomorrow too. It’s not all over. There’s still safeties available out there.”
(On cornerback Carlton Davis)
“I think there were maybe three corners in the draft that were six-foot and above. He was one of them. This was a deep draft for corners, we knew that going in, but there were a bunch of 5’-10” guys, there were three guys six feet or taller. We wanted to add some size. He’s played in a great league, he’s played against great competition. He’s a tough guy, he can run and he’s long. He’s got some things he needs to get better at. He’s good in press [coverage]. You watch him when some of the bigger receivers that we have to go against, how do people try to shut down our big receivers [like] Mike [Evans]? They try to stop them at the line of scrimmage. Brent Grimes, for as fantastic of a player as he is, Brent Grimes is not going to get up there and press some of these big receivers too often. He likes to play off and have vision on the quarterbacks. We’ve added a guy that can get up there and play physical with them.”
(On how deep the team investigates draft prospects)
“We go deep on everybody. We go deep on all of our guys. Again, Jason does a great job with that. There’s multiple layers to how we vet players and I’ll just tell you, we’re not ever going to draft a guy here that Jason and myself aren’t comfortable with. The Glazer family wouldn’t stand for that and so we definitely did our homework.”
(On the season opener against New Orleans in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome)
“That’s a tough place to play. There’s no way around that. That’s one of the hardest places to play in the NFL. We know we’re in a very tough division, but we also know that when they were playing to win the division at the end, when we played them across the street over here [at Raymond James Stadium], we did pretty well against them. We did not play our best down there last year. Jameis’ rookie year, we beat them in the dome.”
(On the Buccaneers’ defensive line)
“We’ve gotten better up front. We’ve gotten bigger, we’ve gotten more physical, we’ve gotten deeper, we’ve added a couple of speed rushers. Somebody was doing a presser yesterday – or maybe it was on one of the networks or something – last year this time, everybody was talking about Noah Spence getting 15 sacks. Yesterday I heard somebody rattle off seven D-linemen and they didn’t even mention Noah Spence. What’s that tell you? Maybe we’re a little deeper.”
(On his draft process with the Bucs)
“Man, it was great. Ever since they came to my first pro day and at the Combine, I thought all of those visits went well. When I took that visit, it felt like it did when I went to USC. It just felt like home. I’m glad I got the call. It still hasn’t hit me yet, but it’s crazy, man. I’m a Buccaneer.”
(On his catching ability)
“My hands are really good. I just didn’t get that many opportunities at USC but catching out of the backfield is something that I do. I feel like it comes naturally, it’s my second sense.”
(On if he considers himself a three-down back)
“Most definitely I consider myself a three-down back. Obviously there are areas for improvement technique-wise and getting back to the fundamentals. I’m eager to get to work. Let’s get it.”
(On the inspiration he pulls from his late father)
“I think about him every day. I have him tattooed on my arm. I looked at his picture right before I walked in and got the call. I’m just trying to carry on the legacy and take the Bucs to the Super Bowl. That’s the goal I’ve had ever since I was a little boy playing this game, to make it to the NFL. I have one [goal] down so I have to get the other one for my dad and for myself and my organization.”
(On the greatest piece of advice his father gave him)
“He told me that everything that glitters is not gold and to never forget who I am. He always said to, ‘Stay true to yourself.’ I also have that tattooed on me. So those words from my father, I’ll never forget. They’re always echoing in my mind and this moment is just so thrilling and I’m just so blessed to have this opportunity.”
(On running backs in the NFL that remind him of himself)
“I would say Jamal [Lewis], Chris Johnson back when he was playing. I try to embody a little bit LeSean McCoy. I love his game. Todd Gurley, I like his game too. So, those are my top guys I watch.”
(On his big play potential)
“I think I bring it. [Since first grade], I could score from anywhere on the field. I’ve always been that home run [threat] and I look forward to that transition in the NFL.”
(On the status of his hamstring)
“I’m pretty much 100%. With rookie minicamp starting I’ve been rehabbing and getting healthy. I’m ready to go now.”
(On if he will have limitations when rookie minicamp starts)
“No ma’am, I’m not expecting any. It’s full throttle now.”
(On his power as a runner)
“I’m really tough, gritty. [I had] 25, 30+ carry games back at USC. Obviously it’s a different level but once I can get my stripes and earn my reps, I’ll be able to carry the load for the team if they need me to.”
(On if takes him a lot of carries to get momentum)
“I split carries, back in my early days in high school and even at USC my first two years. I can score on five, eight touches so it just depends on how the coach wants to use me. But I also, if they keep giving it to me, I’m going to score again. That’s just kind of how that goes.”
(On if he’s spent time in Florida)
“That visit was my first time going to. I played in the All-American game in Orlando. I don’t know how far that is [from Tampa]. But, I haven’t spent much time in Florida. I was born in Georgia if that counts. I trained out there too, in Atlanta. So, pretty close by.”
(On if he was surprised that the Bucs took him in the second round)
“I was surprised. They contacted me prior, about two picks prior and I was just ecstatic. I’m still at a loss for words right now. This is a childhood dream, man. It’s finally [here]. I get a chance to be a Buccaneer and compete with the best. I’m on top of the world right now.”
(On where the Bucs see him lining up in the secondary)
“I think they said more inside in the safety [position] but my ceiling is so high that I feel like I could play all three positions.”
(On playing against Deshaun Watson and practicing against teammate Mitch Trubisky)
“It helped me a lot. Those are two NFL quarterbacks who I faced. Mitch Trubisky, I faced him every day in practice, an NFL-style quarterback. He’s with the Bears doing really well for himself. I saw that every day at practice so you know, going against him and locking the receivers up and making some plays where he was out there giving me even more encouragement about the next level.”
(On which round he expected to be drafted)
“I heard everything from second to fourth, so my ears were pinned back and I was just waiting. I tried to stay mellow, not try to guess where I was going, just wait for the call. It was a few times, I’ll be honest, that some of my friends called me and my heart dropped until I saw who it was. I had to end the call because I had to keep my phone line clear. But when Tampa Bay called, my heart really sunk and it was a dream come true.”
(On his versatility and competiveness)
“I feel like I’m very versatile. That’s one of my big strengths. Also being a physical competitor. I feel like that’s one of my biggest strengths. That competitive nature I have I feel is unlike a lot of people in the country. I don’t want to be last, I don’t want to be second. I want to be first at everything. I want to win all the time. I don’t like losing and I want to compete every day. I think that’s probably my best attribute, my competitive nature.”
(On when he thinks it will sink in that he’s been drafted)
“[Laughs] I feel like I’m in a dream. It really hasn’t sunk in yet. Hopefully it will sink in in a few hours, maybe a month, maybe right now. But still, I’m still on cloud nine. It’s a dream come true. I can’t believe it, really.”
(On why he totaled six interceptions his first two seasons at North Carolina and none his last two)
“I feel like teams really scouted against me and me moving inside, they tried to use more picks and leverage matchups to try to beat me. I feel like that’s why I didn’t have as much success as I did my first two years. Me knowing me, I still have to make plays. Having zero interceptions in two years, that’s not my M.O., that’s not me. I’m ready to start this new chapter and start off with some picks.”
(On the struggles that come with playing against quarterbacks who don’t target him)
“It just taught me to always be on your toes, always be ready, never take a play off because that come play that you take off is the play that’s coming at you. So, I always have the mindset every time I’m on the field, even if I have zero targets that game, the next play is always coming to me, it’s always coming to me. I feel like I had a lot of success and my incompletion rate was very high because of that.”
(On what his suspension in college taught him)
“It really matured me as a man. It taught me a few lessons. One was that athletes are under such a microscope that anything you do or say will be out there quickly. You need to be a role model for your community and your team because you don’t only represent yourself but you represent your family and the football team that you play for.”
(On his interaction with the Buccaneers prior to the draft)
“I know I met with them at the Combine and I met with them, had a top 30 visit with them. Both went really well. I love Coach [Jon] Hoke, man. That’s my dude. I didn’t really know where I would land, but I’m glad to be in Tampa.”
(On if he styles his play after other NFL defensive backs)
“I try to take a little bit from everybody. I want to be the best M.J. Stewart I can be. I’m not afraid to learn from somebody else. I try to take a little bit from everybody and incorporate it into my game so that I can try to be a better player.”
(On what he likes about Coach Hoke)
“Coach Hoke is just a people person. Ever since I first met him, he was cracking jokes and that’s what I love about him because I’m a jokester too. I love having fun. I love being happy. That’s the kind of guy he is, so that gravitated me towards him.”
(On how much interaction he had with Tampa Bay and how much he expected to be drafted by the Buccaneers)
“I never [saw] it coming. They talked to me after the combine, they talked to me during the draft. I didn’t know what was coming but it happened how it happened. It was already written. I’m just blessed to be in this position.”
(On if he is prefers playing in coverage or playing down in the box)
“It doesn’t matter to me. I’m going to come there and I’m going to make plays. I’m going to do whatever I’ve got to do to make this team win.  I’m going to do whatever I’ve got to do to get this team to a Super Bowl, to get this team to have a winning season. I’m going to whatever I have to do. I’m going to pledge my loyalty and I’m going to give it my all. Whatever it is. Whether it’s coverage, whether it’s in the box, whether it’s on special teams. I’m going to whatever I have to do.”
(On if he thought he was a first-round pick)
“I definitely thought I was a first-rounder. I thought I was the best corner in this draft but it fell out however it fell out. It is what it is. I have no control over the teams and where they pick. But the main thing is that it’s all God’s plan. I’m a firm believer in what God’s plan is for you as an individual and I believe that I am supposed to be in Tampa Bay. I believe that I was supposed to be here in Tampa Bay to make a difference. That’s what I’m going to go in there and do. However it happened is however it happened.  I can’t control that but I’m just happy with this decision, I’m happy to stay in Florida. I’m happy to be a part of the Buccaneers, the Buccaneers team.”
(On how his height has been an asset at cornerback)
“It’s been a great asset for me. It’s not about the size, it’s about how you use your size. Many players have my size…the length…but it’s about what you do with it. It’s about your mind frame and how you control it. I think I do my best at using my length, my best at using my size. Furthermore, an intimidating player and actually living up to what I can be. My size is everything. My feet are everyting. Everything I bring to the table is because I know what I can do with my body.”
(On joining former Auburn teammate Peyton Barber and DaVonte Lambert with the Buccaneers)
“I’m very happy for that. I could have been with any of the 32 teams but I’m there in Tampa with two familiar faces so I will always have guys I can go to about questions and stuff. Guys I can go to when I need emotional support, physical support, mental support. Those guys, I grinded with them in college and they understand where I come from. They understand what we’ve been through. So, I’m really happy about that.”
(On how he reacts to plays where he gets beaten by a receiver)
“I came in at Auburn as a true freshman. I didn’t come in early, I didn’t have workouts early. I didn’t come in in January. I came in in the Summer and I came in and I played. I played 13 games. Every game I played in I started in; 12 of them, 11 of them. I’m a player that comes in and that buys into the system. I’m a player that comes in and listens and learns quickly. You can count on that, I’ll be playing in that first snap. You can count on me to be on that field, somehow, someway. Whether it’s special teams, whatever they need me to do, I’ll be on that field because I’ll do anything for it. My history shows it.”
(On the mentality required to play cornerback)
“It is one of the most difficult positons on the field, but that’s why need guys like me who have been doing it for a long time, who have been playing man-to-man [coverage] for a long time, who has played in the SEC and looked at receives like Laquon Treadwell, Calvin Ridley – different receivers that have the body and size, that have speed. They have that versatility from the SEC that brings any type of athletes to the table. I’ve been able to see a lot of different type of receivers and I’ve been able to adjust to a lot of different type of receivers. I plan on bringing that to the table when I go to Tampa Bay.”
(On where his energy comes from)
“It’s all natural. It’s all about my passion for the game. I love the game. It’s done so much for me. This game has been in my life since I was about four years old since my father introduced it to me. To be honest with you, it’s a great day for me. Coming from what I come from and being from a single-parent home where we had four boys and we had to search for scraps to eat and now being able to be a second-round pick in the NFL. I’m just so grateful for the opportunity and humbled by the opportunity. Even though I was projected to be something greater than this, it’s all about upgrading and moving up. As long as I can get a chance to perform in this city and I get a chance to prove myself, that’s all that matters to me. I could have been picked in the third round or the fourth round. What matters to me is that I get a chance. I’m so happy that I’m able to share this opportunity with the Buccaneers and be able to give them a player like myself. This energy comes from passion and it comes from experience. It comes from days where I understood that football could be my outlet, it could be my way out from the type of lifestyle that I lived. I’m just really grateful for this opportunity. For a team to take a chance on me – to see how the draft was going where I was slipping – and for a team to pick me up is really just a humbling experience. It allows me to understand that life can go anyway. You don’t really know how it goes but you just roll with it and you play with the cards that you’re dealt and you make the most out of it. That’s what I’m going to do and I’m just happy to have this opportunity.”
(On receiving the draft call from the Buccaneers)
“When I got that phone call, I was actually in a negative state where I understood that my value was slipping in the NFL but when I got that call, it changed everything. I understood that I was getting an opportunity. I understood that I would stay in Florida. I understood that this organization took a chance on a player that they didn’t fully understand. I have so much more to offer than what I show. I have so much more to offer than what they think and I know that for a fact and I’m willing to prove that.”
(On his confidence)
“It goes to the work ethic. Confidence doesn’t come from arrogance. Those are two different things. Confidence comes from work. When you’re working hard and you’re doing what you need to do and you work at it every day, it builds confidence in you. Arrogance is when you speak on something that you haven’t worked for, something that you don’t deserve. You chose the right words, it’s confidence. I’m going to work my ass off and that’s just who I am. It’s just who I am. It’s in my DNA. I’m going to do whatever it takes.”
(On if playing against the high caliber NFC South quarterbacks gets his competiveness flowing)
“Of course. I picked Auburn because they are in the SEC West. I was committed to Ohio State for almost a year but I picked Auburn because of the competition, because of the chances that I would have to play in the huge games that nobody got a chance to play in. To be able to play against great quarterbacks in this conference, it means the world to me. It’s something I look forward to, something that I dream about. It’s truly an honor and I’m happy to be a part of this organization. I’m happy to be a part of this conference and being able to play and display my talent.”
(On what type of interaction he had with Tampa Bay leading up to the draft and if he was surprised to be selected by the Buccaneers)
“Yeah, I was pretty surprised. I had a good meeting with them at the combine and everything went well there, but it hasn’t been too much so I was surprised but definitely excited.”
(On his performance at the Senior Bowl and what type of feedback he received from NFL teams)
“I think the feedback was just that it looked like I belonged, which is really what I wanted to show and show that I could play at a high level no matter who I’m playing against and that I’m ready for the next level. So, I thought I was able to show that.”
(On how he ended up at Humboldt State and if he ever doubted that he can play in the NFL)
“First of all, I have no doubts. I think I’m very prepared, I’m confident, I’m excited. I’m ready to put in the work that it takes. And how I got to Humboldt? Simple answer is it was my only offer. I was like 240 pounds, had one offer and I took it.”
(On his versatility as an offensive lineman and playing guard and tackle during the Senior Bowl)
“It was definitely good to show that I could do it at Mobile and I was actually able to play both guards and both tackles in that game, which was awesome to show that I’m able to play multiple positions. I’m sure I’ll be asked to do that and I’m ready for it.”
(On making the leap from a small school to the NFL and seeing other players like Buccaneers G Ali Marpet making that transition)
“Yeah, definitely. I mean, you can look around – there are guys who have done it and guys are able to play at a high level no matter where they come from. It’s really about the work you put in and how you’re going to prepare yourself. I think that’s a guy who has done it well.”
(On having pride in how he tries to play the game)
“Yeah, I always try to finish. I feel like football is meant to be played like that and I just try to play it the right way. That’s really how I think about it.”
(On which offensive linemen he has admired or modeled his game after)
“I like guys that finish. I definitely learned a lot from another Humboldt State guy, Taylor Boggs. I think he’s a guy that’s bounced around in the league, has played the right way. And then I just love watching guys who finish, so really I just love watching offensive line. Everybody who plays a physical game, that’s how I try to model myself.”

< back