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02 May 2015

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 2015 DAY 3 NFL DRAFT MEDIA AVAILABILITY: SATURDAY, MAY 2, 2015

GENERAL MANAGER JASON LICHT
 
(Opening Statement)
“Our staff did an unbelievable job this year, I have to just recognize them real quick. I never know how things are going to go, but I’m more excited about this draft than I’ve ever been on any staff. All the way, Rounds 1-7. Today we started off, we moved up, wanted to ensure we got a guy that a lot of us, including myself, had ranked as one of the top outside (linebackers) in the draft (Kwon Alexander). We were surprised and all of us (were) obviously excited that he was there for us. We moved up – we thought we had to a little bit, just to ensure to get him. Kwon Alexander: explosive, fast player that’s going to get a shot at starting outside for us.
 
“Next pick was an easy one because it was Kenny Bell and I’m a Nebraska guy. While we’re sitting in the draft room, my dad texted me – and I showed it to Lovie – (my dad) said we have to draft Kenny Bell. So that was easy, we turned the card in right then (laughs). My dad, Ron, he’s had season tickets there since 1962, so I get all the Nebraska intel that I need. But (Bell) is a fast player, ran a 4.34 (40-yard dash) for us. He’s 6-foot-plus, almost 200 pounds, one of the best receivers to ever come out of there, in a long time (and) one of the most productive. He’s also a kick returner. He’s a team leader, captain, he’s all of the above. Really excited to get him and have him compete for a role for heavy rotation or what have you – eventual starter, hopefully.
 
“Then, we need a returner, as everybody knows on this team. With Kaelin Clay, he was a guy that we targeted early. We were hoping to get him right about where we did, so it worked out for us. Another fast, explosive guy, (he’s) got a great background in terms of his speed and his production. He was I think third place in California coming out of high school in the 100-meter (dash). Out there, they have fast guys, so that’s pretty fast. Right now, it’s his job to lose, combo punt/kickoff returner. He’s got a little value on offense as well.
 
“We just finished it up with Joey Iosefa, out in Hawaii. Big running back, big thick kid, runs well for his size, 240-plus (pound) guy. He’s got great hands, he’s a really good athlete. We’re going to give him a shot for the starting fullback role and he’s going to compete for that. We’re excited for him too. Now the eighth-round comes around. It looks like a trading floor up there right now, getting ready to start calling guys and trying to hustle guys from other teams right now. This is the fun time, until we crack open the cooler for some beverages.”
 
(On if the team was trying to get more athletic and add speed during this draft)
“We talked about it for a long time this year, during the year, Lovie and I. It’s one of the things that we needed to do – get faster, more athletic up front, but also we needed to get tougher and we needed to get more physical and we needed to get mature guys and smart guys. We accomplished that, that’s for sure.”
 
(On how much better the football team is now, compared to last season)
“Remarkably better, starting with the hire of (offensive coordinator) Dirk Koetter. That alone made us a lot better. And then we’ve (been) able to add pieces as we’ve gone here that we’re excited about, to say the least – starting with the quarterback the other day.”
 
(On the impact that Kaelin Clay can have as a returner)
“It helps our offense, it helps our defense, it helps our entire team. He’s going to be a fun guy to watch here in training camp and OTAs. I think he’s a guy that you’ve got a chance every time he gets it in his hands.”
 
(On not adding a pass rusher in the 2015 draft class)
“By the time we addressed some of the needs – and we had them where we picked them, it wasn’t like we were just drafting for need – by the time we addressed that, for the lack of a better cliché, the well dried up on the guys that we thought could really make an impact. We can’t solve everything (in one draft), but we know that we can compete for this division with what we’ve got and we’ll continue to add those pieces here incrementally. As we’re seeing some of these guys get drafted that we liked in the later rounds at any position, we also know that we’ll get the first shot at them when their team lets them go. So we’ll have a chance at some of these guys again.”
 
(On Bell’s skillset and where he will fit on the team)
“His best skillset is for outside. He can stretch the field. He’s also got experience playing inside. We see him really making a push for contributing and playing a big role for us this year, but he’s got upside to be a starter, as well.”
 
(On whether Alexander will play strongside or weakside linebacker)
“Well, he certainly isn’t going to beat out (weakside linebacker) Lavonte (David), I don’t think. (Laughter). We’ll do what’s best. I’m sure that Leslie (Frazier) and Lovie (Smith) and Hardy (Nickerson) will find the best fit out there, the pieces of the puzzle, whatever works out best. We’re excited that we have Danny (Lansanah), too. Danny’s certainly in that competition (at strongside linebacker) as well.”
 
(On whether Alexander has the skillset for special teams contribution)
“He does. He plays very fast. He’s a very serious guy; he loves football. We really enjoyed our interviews with him. He mentioned in one of our interviews how he prepares. He’s very diligent about everything; he just loves football. He packs his suitcase on Monday already for the weekend road trip. So he’s an interesting guy. He’s fun to talk to; it’s just all business. That’s what this football team needs.”
 
(On whether Alexander could block kicks on special teams)
“He’s got experience on special teams, but if he can block kicks, that’s even better.”
 
(On any weaknesses on the team that still need to be addressed)
“We do see some areas that we still need to get better and, you know, we’re always looking for pass rushers. If I were a guy that doesn’t get drafted that can rush the passer, I would certainly want to come here. We could certainly use depth at linebacker and we could sure probably use some depth, some competition back there in the secondary. (In) all areas we could use depth and guys who want to push and compete.”
 
(On Tampa Bay’s running backs)
“I feel good. We like Doug (Martin). We like Bobby (Rainey). We haven’t fallen off Charles (Sims) by any means; he came on strong at the end of the year and he’s going to be even healthier now. Mike James is going to compete in there too, for a role. We feel good. We feel a lot better because we feel like we got better up front and, like I said, Dirk Koetter is a very good coach.”
 
(On whether the team received any interest in trading quarterback Mike Glennon)
“We did not. Probably mostly because, at the Combine, when we start talking to other teams and stuff, we let it be known that Mike Glennon is an important part of this football team.”
 
(On whether he has spoken to Glennon following the selection of Jameis Winston)
“We have talked to Mike. He wants to do whatever he can to help this football team. I’ll keep most of the context of that conversation between us, but he’s a team player.”
 
(On the theme of drafting young offensive components to grow around Winston)
“You could say that. I said it the other day and it really is true, that you bring these guys in together, they’re young, they have each other’s backs. They just get used to the environment here together. It will be fun to watch them ascend. We’ve got some young players on that offensive side of the ball now and I think we’re going to prove to a lot of people that we’re a lot better than we were last year.”
 
(On the role of Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter)
“Dirk is going to have a big presence. He’s a big part of this team this year. It’s been great working with him every single day.”
 
LINEBACKER KWON ALEXANDER
 
(On being drafted)
“I feel great. I can’t wait to get up there, have fun and do my job and get a championship with the Bucs.”
 
(On his style of play)
“I’m an aggressive linebacker. I love to hit. I’m a smart linebacker; play fast. I just love to play the game.”
 
(On what linebacker position he feels fits him best in the Tampa 2 scheme)
“It really doesn’t even matter. I’ll play whatever they want me to play.”
 
(On if Tampa Bay had given him any indication where he might play)
“Probably the weakside, but you never know.”
 
(On if he was nervous after not having been drafted on the second day of the draft)
“I was nervous, you know. But I put it all in God’s hands. He’s going to do everything right, so I was just waiting my turn. I was just patient.”
 
(On his familiarity with the Tampa Bay roster)
“No, I relaly didn’t even watch football like that. I really just played. I wasn’t really into watching it on TV or anything, so I don’t really know any of the players, except my former teammate (at LSU) who played wide receiver, (Russell) Shepard.”
 
(On his interaction with Tampa Bay during the draft process)
“They worked me out. I had a pretty good workout there.”
 
(On who from Tampa Bay was involved with his workout)
“The linebacker coach, he worked me out.”
 
(On entering the NFL Draft as a junior)
“I thought I had a pretty good year, I was just ready to go, just ready to go pursue my dream. I feel like I can get better up here in the NFL, learn more, and now the time is here.”
 
WIDE RECEIVER KENNY BELL
 
(On what pre-draft interaction he had with Tampa Bay)
“I had talked to the coaching staff at the combine. I loved everything about the Bucs staff. I’ve actually got a hometown friend, (tight ends) coach Jon Embree, who’s a close family friend of mine. There wasn’t much of an inkling, but I can’t really explain how excited I am to be a Buccaneer. It’s a dream come true, to say the least.”
 
(On if the thinks he will be able to contribute on special teams)
“Yeah, absolutely. I played a ton of special teams. I led the Big 10 in kickoff return my junior year at Nebraska. I love (special) teams, I led my team in (special teams) tackles at the gunner position on punts, so I think that’s something that’s definitely going to be expected of me and something that I’m really looking forward to. I love playing (special) teams. I love just getting out there and just getting the opportunity to play football. So I’m very excited.”
 
(On being able to play professional football, just like his father)
“My dad was out of the league by 1990, so it was before I was born, but I am familiar – he’s always around the Broncos facility, he’s got good friends that are Broncos, so I am familiar with guys that have been a part of the NFL, a part of that brotherhood. My earliest memories were of me when I started playing football, when I was six. It means everything to me to be able to follow in my dad’s footsteps. Obviously, I’m very excited to be a Buccaneer. To get to follow his footsteps into the NFL is something I have dreamed about since I was very, very young.”
 
(On being part of the Tampa Bay 2015 draft class alongside quarterback Jameis Winston)
“I actually got an opportunity to meet Jameis while I was at (the NFL Scouting) Combine. Love the dude. I couldn’t be more happy for him that he got chosen No. 1, that is fantastic. God bless him and his family. I’m very excited to get down there and go to work with him. He’s one heck of a player and I think he’s going to be one heck of a franchise quarterback. I’m just very excited to get the opportunity to play with him.”
 
(On reuniting with former Nebraska teammate and current Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David)
“I haven’t talked to Lavonte yet. My phone is kind of going nuts, so I’m sure he’s in there somewhere. I love ‘Te. I saw him not too long ago, but it’s been a while since I’ve gotten to talk to him. I’m really excited. He’s one of the best linebackers in the league, so to watch him really grow into the player that he’s grown (into) down there in Tampa Bay – I sound like a broken record, but I can’t really explain to you how excited I am to get down there and see that guy.”
 
(On Tampa Bay General Manager Jason Licht having played at Nebraska)
“It was really funny – I had received a few phone calls just asking me today, how the day was going and who was talking to me. But he called and he said ‘Hey, I don’t know if you knew I was a Husker, so I just wanted to talk to you about Husker football a little bit.’ I’m always excited to talk to a fellow Husker, that’s awesome. He was just pulling my chain a little bit – lightened the mood, made me laugh, so that was awesome. I’m really excited to get down there and meet him.”
 
(On getting to work with Tampa Bay wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans)
“Vincent Jackson in someone I’ve always looked up to as a wide receiver. He’s a tremendous talent, a tremendously hard worker and he’s a playmaker. I’m very excited to get down there and meet him and interact with him and pick his brain and start to learn. I love learning from guys that have done it before me and that do it very well and Vincent Jackson is one of them. I was a huge fan of Mike when he was at Texas A&M when he was with (quarterback) Johnny (Manziel). Like I said, words just can’t really describe how thankful and how excited I am to have this opportunity to play for a great organization.”
 
WIDE RECEIVER KAELIN CLAY
 
(On his pre-draft interaction with Tampa Bay)
“My whole experience with the draft was – I knew (the selection) would be late. I didn’t know how long it would be, but I knew with my situation that I would go later in the draft. But that wasn’t really a big deal for me. Basically, what I was told was that I was going to get drafted and just come in and help the team in whichever way that is. Whatever the team needs me to do, that’s what I’m going to do. Just help this organization grow and hopefully get us back to the top.”
 
(On playing a role in special teams)
“I feel that that’s a big part of my game. I really pride myself on special teams; you know, kick return, punt return. But also just the full aspect of being a special teams player, which means going down and making tackles, being a gunner, being on kickoffs, being on punt (coverage). I believe special teams is maybe the most important part because we can flip field positions. What our coaches asked us to do at Utah was to get a first down. If you get a first down on a kick return or a punt return, that’s 10 less yards that we have to go to get a touchdown. If you can flip the field and get better field position for the offense, we have a great chance of scoring and it also helps the defense as well.”
 
(On his path to being drafted)
“I’ve had a crazy journey. Out of high school I did go to the University of California Berkeley. Things didn’t work out the way I wanted them to work out there, and then I had to go to junior college as you said. I was there two years and just this past season I was at Utah. But I never had any doubt that I would make it, it would just be how I would make it. When it’s all said and done, I’m here now. This isn’t the end, there’s more work to do, a lot more growth for me, but I feel that this is just the first step in me getting where I want to get to.”
 
(On what he learned from his premature scoring celebration against Oregon last season)
“Going back to that play, it was actually probably my favorite play. I didn’t get to score on it, but, just that play in general, it’s helped me grow as a person, not even just as a football player. Things aren’t always going to go the way you want them to go. It’s how you get through adversity. With that play, I’ve become a better person. I’ve learned to not take things for granted, because not every day is promised. Things are going to happen, adversity is going to happen, but it’s how you get through it. How do you go through it? Do you let it bring you down or do you keep going forward and get through it? I feel like I’ve gotten through it. I’ve had a lot of support from my teammates, fans and my family. Like I said, it’s just making me a better person overall.”
 
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