Below is a transcript from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' media availability on day one of the 2019 NFL Draft. Full video of press conferences can be found on Buccaneers.com.
General Manger Jason Licht
Linebacker Devin White
General Manager Jason Licht
"We're extremely excited about Devin [White] and have been for a long time. He is a very fast player. That is not the reason we took him alone. He is a physical guy, he can pressure with his ability to blitz. He is one of the better blitzing linebackers we have seen in a long time. He can also cover and last, but not least, he is a tremendous person, leader, very smart and you'll feel his energy right away when you guys meet him. I'll take questions now."
(On whether players such as defensive end Josh Allen and defensive tackle Ed Oliver being availability created any 'pause' in choosing White)
"Devin White was our guy. There were some good players still, but Devin White. We went through that exercise for the last however long, many weeks that if this scenario came up that we were still going to take Devin."
(On how difficult it was to pass up on a pass rusher)
"Like I said, we went through a lot of exercises. We have talked about these guys over and over. We have watched every play they've ever played in college and we felt very comfortable that we made the right decision. Devin's a linebacker, but he is also an attacking player, he's a pressure-type linebacker. He can get to the quarterback as well."
(On whether it was easier to pass on a defensive lineman knowing that this is a deep draft class for them)
"That goes into it too. Yeah, sure."
(On White's character)
"We've got a lot of resources at LSU from over the years taking some players, especially linebackers. We've got a lot of great relationships there, so we've been doing our vetting on him for a long time. When you meet with him, just his focus, his will to win, his plan. He's a very thoughtful person in terms of what he's going to do to come in here and become the starter, be the leader, be a quarterback of the defense. You talk to any of his teammates, they believe that he is the best player on their team. He's been the unquestioned leader for two years there. I could go on and on. It's pretty inspiring just being around him."
(On whether he will play at inside linebacker)
"Well, yeah. He will be an inside linebacker for us, yeah."
(On whether there is a possibility of him playing on the outside)
"He'd be an outside linebacker in a 4-3. He could, I mean, he could be. We see him as our – in a base 3-4, he's an inside linebacker along with Lavonte [David], which we feel, we are very excited about that combination."
(On what stood out from White's pre-draft visit)
"When he was here, he said it just felt right, here in Tampa. He had a brother who was a big Bucs fan, I'll let you talk about that with Devin. He had a Bucs jersey as a kid and he wore that all the time from what I remember him talking about that. I remember sitting around with him with a bunch of the guys upstairs talking about, 'Hey, we just want an impact guy that can come in here and turn this around' and he said, 'Turn what around? We're all undefeated right now. There is no reason why we can't get to the Super Bowl.' He just has that mindset."
(On the impact he can bring to the inside linebacker position)
"We felt so. That's why we took him where we did. We felt he was one of the better inside linebackers we've seen in a long time coming out of college. Now, I don't want to – he's still got to line up and play in the NFL but coming out of college. His speed, like I said, all the traits that I told you about are very exciting to watch."
(On the importance of White's ability to play hard downhill with strong cover skills)
"Very important. You have linebackers that can cover, but don't play the run that great. You have guys that can play the run that are stuffers that can't cover that great. He can do both exceptionally well in addition to blitzing, which is an art in itself. You can have a super athletic guy that can run, but he just doesn't have that knack of getting to the quarterback and he has it."
(On whether many mock drafts having White as the Buccaneers pick made him nervous)
"There's always a lot of uncertainty. I was a little nervous for a while, not necessarily from seeing it in the mocks. I know that we weren't letting that out. It just seemed like a good fit I think from a lot of people. But, to be honest, you're always a little bit nervous. We knew we were going to end up with a good player one way or another. We're just happy it ended up being Devin."
(On if the Buccaneers' needs matched White)
"[They] did, but I can't say that it was necessarily just because of the need. It was just kind of a perfect marriage for us this year. We have needs. We have needs on defense, we have some needs on offense. It just so happened it was a perfect union."
(On if White would have been a great fit in the 3-4 or 4-3)
"I think Devin would've been a great fit in the 3-4 or the 4-3, but it is – the fact that he can play downhill the way he does and get after the quarterback, that fits Todd [Bowles], so I'm excited about that, that's for sure."
(On how White draws respect in the locker room)
"He's a very mature person and he's very focused, very mature and he's got an energy about him. When he walks in the room you feel him. We've talked to a lot of players, whether it's at the Combine, or here, or Pro Day, or private workout and he definitely leaves an impression that doesn't leave you."
(On if White is big enough to cover a tight end and fast enough to cover a running back)
(On if he can name any of White's horses)
"What was it, something Mae. Daisy Mae, there we go. I can't remember the other one. I'm sure I'll get to know that."
(On if a certain game or highlight of White's that solidified his pick)
"A lot. Just his effort plays - and there are a lot of those. Patrolling sideline-to-sideline as fast as he does and playing to the whistle no matter the score of the game. Making big plays in big moments. I can't think of any one particular one that stands out right now, but there's a lot of them. That's a mark of a good player when you can't just say 'There's this one play at Texas A&M', but there's a lot of them."
(On how pairing White next to someone like Lavonte David)
"I think it's awesome. I think Lavonte is going to take him under his wing. I think Lavonte is a true pro. I don't think Devin needs to learn how to be a true pro, but he needs to learn how to maneuver through the NFL, the training camp, the toll that it puts on your body, things like that, and I think Lavonte is the perfect guy. I couldn't think of a better person to be his big brother here."
(On the Buccaneers drafting linebackers from LSU)
"I think they're well coached. I think they recruit very well and there's something in the water there in Louisiana."
(Onif it's hard to find a linebacker that can play in coverage and against the run)
"It's hard to find one that can and that's why you see a lot of defenses moving a safety to linebacker and playing a lot of dime instead of nickle. It's because it's hard to find a linebacker that can cover these speedy tight-ends and even some big receivers and running backs – these third-down backs. We think Devin can, so that's really what was a big draw to him."
(On what he thinks White will need to work on to be successful)
"I only want to talk about Devin's good qualities right now. None that come to mind right now. Every player has deficiencies. No player is perfect. Devin has to line up here and come out through OTAs and rookie mini-camp and play in the pre-season and then play in the regular season before I'm going to start being critical of him right now."
(On if it takes a special kind of person to be a leader at 21-years old)
"Absolutely. It's a special trait you don't see very often, and I know at LSU, Coach [Ed] Orgeron, they don't just hand [captaincy] out and you've got to be able to trust the player that he's going to have a handle on the entire team, which he did, and they met often. It's like an extra coach there."
(On how important players that have played in major college football conferences are)
"Well, you know the SEC, Big Ten, these major conferences when you have players you feel have exceptional talent and are producing and are productive at a high level, you tend to want those players more than you would seeing a guy dominate at a small level, so very important, especially in the SEC. It's where a majority of the first round of the draft comes from."
Linebacker Devin White
(On the impression the Buccaneers made on White during his pre-draft visit with the team)
"You know, when I was on my top-30 visit, when I sat down with [Jason] Licht, we had a heart-to-heart conversation. He really got to know me as a person. We really didn't talk ball. That speaks volumes of a GM, [when] he wants to know about that. Then when I got into the meeting with Coach Bruce [Arians], he did the same exact thing and he was telling me how around Tampa Bay, they're really big on children – they know I've got a real soft heart for kids. I was like, 'Man, it's just crazy – I just know.' Then Coach Bruce told me, 'D, you're a hell of a player. You're in play to be taken really, really early. If you're there at five, then I want you on my team. I want to help develop you.' When he said that, he was a man of his word. I was there at five and I knew the call was coming in, I just didn't know when – how deep into the countdown it was going to come in. But it came in at the perfect time and I'm very thankful and I'm very honored to be a Tampa Bay Buccaneer."
(On which inside linebackers he watched while growing up)
"I always watched a lot of linebackers growing up. Patrick Willis is my favorite. I watched Ray Lewis as well. It's just a blessing to be able to see those guys and see the work they put in, just to be able to say, 'Hey, I can take this from his game,' or, 'He did it this way, let me do it this way.' Those two guys are at the top of my list."
(On playing in Death Valley on a Saturday night)
"I don't think [anything] compares to Death Valley on a Saturday night, especially when we're playing a top-ranked opponent and everybody is filled in with 103,000. Those fans are amazing. They'll always be amazing. They really love me, so the Buccaneers have new fans that love LSU. LSU loves their players unconditionally, so I just brought a lot of Tiger fans to the state of Florida."
(On his relationship with former Buccaneers and LSU linebacker Kwon Alexander and what he learned from Alexander)
"I never played with Kwon, but we've always been active – fellow Tigers, NFL, LSU. But we always talk. He'll give me little pointers [like], 'Just be yourself. What got you here will keep you here. Keep getting better at your craft.' Me taking over the role of Kwon, I don't really look at it like that. It's me coming to the role of Devin White. It's Devin White's role. I don't really feel like his departure made a big deal – I feel like it was just destined for me. I'm just excited to be a Tampa Bay Buccaneer."
(On being a two-time team captain at LSU and what make players want to follow him)
"The thing about me that helped me be a two-time team captain at a young age at LSU was just – I've always been in that spotlight. Growing up in my small neighborhood, I was always the best and kids gravitated towards me very easily. When I got to LSU, I became a captain by showing my hard work and determination for the Tigers. Everybody respected that, so it was an easy transition. Then when I was able to get on the field more, I started making more and more plays. I was just looked upon as the captain. It was a role that I wanted and it was a role that I accepted. I embraced it and I want to continue that role because at the end of the day I want to see everybody around me get better and I want them to make me better as well."
(On what he sees in Tampa Bay's defense)
"I see a lot of things that I did at LSU in that defense. Coach Todd [Bowles] told me, 'Devin, getting you would be like getting a new, shiny, pretty car. I'm going to use you and drive you to the fullest.' And I'm ready for it. I've been put in this situation for a reason. I'm ready to show everybody that I'm the guy for the middle of that defense, alongside the other linebackers. I know they're going to help me and they're going to mold me into a great NFL player."
(On the Buccaneers drafting him with the fifth pick despite the perception that inside linebackers aren't typically selected that high in the draft)
"I mean it really speaks a lot. I knew my worth and I knew that I should be taken very high because I know what I bring to the table. Everybody knows what I bring to the table from a playing standpoint and an overall young man standpoint. My character speaks for itself. The Bucs have seen it in me and I'm glad they [saw] it in me."
(On being an every-down linebacker)
"I'm looking to be an every-down linebacker. I'm going to player pass coverage, I'm going to play downhill, I'm going to play side-to-side. I'm going to cover everybody. If they need me to cover a tight end, a running back, I can go out there and play a little quarters. Whatever they want me to do, I'm going to do it. If I'm not good at it, I know Coach [Mike] Caldwell, he played for 11 years. He's going to help me get to that stage."
(On if he will bring his horses to Tampa)
"Daisy Mae is coming, Overdrive is coming and Taylor Mae is coming. My three babies. We'll be there, we'll be ready to roll. Tampa Bay Bucs [have] all my time. They're going to have everything – I'm going to give them everything I've got and I'm going to tend to my family as well, such as my horses that I'm talking about. It's going to be a great time."
(On if he consulted with former LSU and current Buccaneers linebacker Kendell Beckwith about bringing horses to Tampa)
"No, I haven't consulted with [anybody]. It's something that I've got to do. I've got to focus on coming in and being the best teammate I can be and then the horses will take care of themselves. They're in great hands in Louisiana. They can stay there as long as I need them. First I've got to get a great relationship with my coaches and my new teammates. We can get this show on the road, then the horses can come next."
(On the quality of LSU linebackers)
"I mean, I just feel like we get coached right and we translate to the NFL right. We do big things once we get into the NFL. It's just a blessed feeling. I'm going to continue that path and do what Devin White [does] and that's just be productive and be a great person off the field."