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
Cornerback Sean Bunting (Second round, 39th overall)
Cornerback Jamel Dean (Third round, 94th overall)
Safety Mark Edwards (Third round, 99th overall)
General Manager Jason Licht
(On drafting nine defensive backs since 2016)
"You're just always trying to get better and it's not really an indictment on the guys that are here. It's a long season and you guys have seen firsthand throughout the years – last couple years - when injuries start stacking up and our depth wasn't where we would like it to be. We needed to add and infuse some talent in the secondary. [I] wasn't real happy with the play of the secondary last year as whole just because of the lack of depth - and just the way the board fell. At this point, we still felt like we had guys who could eventually move into starting roles or have the talent to do it and competition is a beautiful thing in this league."
(On the decision to draft for the secondary versus the defensive line)
"Well I would just say that, it's just the way the board fell. We still have a day left in the draft and the draft isn't the only way to acquire players. We are – the new staff, [Defensive Coordinator] Todd [Bowles], [Head Coach] Bruce [Arians], myself – we love [defensive linemen] JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) and Carl Nassib. We signed Shaq (Shaquil) Barrett for a reason and Noah [Spence] has been really a pleasant surprise so far for the new staff and for us of what he's been showing. So, we are happy with Vita [Vea] and right now, I know there's always every team has areas where they would like to upgrade, but you can't necessarily always do it. The board fell the way it did and we're excited about the way it did."
(On whether starting offseason workouts earlier this year gave them an advantage when planning for the draft)
"Well it was great that – you know, you always take advantage of the fact that we could start a little bit earlier and we could see them out there. I wouldn't say it really affects the board that much. I mean, we have a pretty good resume on every player that we have that has been on our roster, but it certainly helps to a certain degree."
(On the versatility of newly acquired defensive backs Sean Bunting, Jamel Dean and Mike Edwards)
"Well with Bunting, what we liked about him – first of all, superb kid, locker room guy, teammate. We compared our meetins with him with that of Devin [White] in terms of just his infectious personality and I think he's got a lot of leadership qualities in him, but he can play outside, he can play inside. He's a tough guy, he's very smart, so he'll get his opportunities at all those places. Jamel is a big guy. Obviously, I know the talk is how he blew it up at the Combine, ran very fast, but he plays a physical game. He's a really good press guy, he's a really good tackler and he's a really sharp kid too as well. Then with Mike, Mike is a playmaker from the safety position. Now, he's moved around. He's played a little bit in the nickel position. We see him more as a safety for us. He, as well, has good speed, tough guy and just finds a way to get his hands on balls or intercept balls. Any Kentucky guy who we've talked to throughout this process, you ask, 'Who do you want to bring with you?' 'It's Mike Edwards. It's simple.'"
(On having players with multiple skill sets)
"The more versatility, like we just talked about, and the more sheer numbers of players helps with injuries and things like that. But, you know Todd runs a very multiple scheme. He's going to use a lot of different looks, and when you have guys like this with different skill sets it can put an offense off balance."
(On if it was a priority to add speed to the secondary)
"We didn't stack the board by speed, we stacked it by talent. But it just so happens that those guys are fast, and we did want fast guys that were good football players. Speed is - you can't coach and speed is something that is very important in the NFL."
(On cornerback Jamel Dean recovering from past injuries)
"Yeah, he had one in '13 and me in '16. There's a lot of players that come back from those now and obviously, we did our due diligence and we're okay with him and feel like he's 100% and we're fine with it."
(On if it was Licht's plan to add to the defense)
"Yeah, and it's one of the many things I love about Bruce. When he first came on board we both knew we needed to address that side of the ball and being an offensive guy that he is usually, I was a little afraid that he would say, 'screw it, let's go all offense.' But he really understands the concept of building the team. He's been around a long time and he knew that offense, special teams are things we really needed to upgrade."
(On what led them to trading pick no.70)
"We got an offer that we liked. We thought that we were going to be able to add an extra player in that round the way the board was falling. We had an offer with our first pick today, too, but thought that there was going to be a run of corners, and there was, and we were afraid of losing out on Sean [Bunting]. But we were able to pick up a couple extra picks and it worked out the way that we wanted it too that we were able to get players in the secondary that we liked."
(On a report that Coach Arians called a coach in Pittsburgh and said, 'You got my guy 'Drontae Johnson')
"Yeah, but we talk about that, like I'll call general managers after they take a guy and say, 'You got my guy.' It doesn't necessarily mean that it was the guy that we had. We all have our favorites that we watch thoughout the process, but you have to rank them the way they hope - by talent and how they're going to help our football team."
Cornerback Sean Bunting
(On his interaction with the Buccaneers during the draft process)
"I had a [top]-30 visit with the Bucs. It went really well. That was actually my first one and that was earlier during the month of March, so it went well. I stayed in contact obviously with their DB [defensive backs] coach (Kevin Ross). They kind of told me that they liked me and kind of told me good luck on the process and stuff like that, but they kept contact with my agent. Just being selected today, it was just a blessing honestly. I couldn't process the moment when it happened. I could only kind of just smile and just stare at the TV screen. I'm just truly blessed and honored and I'm just ready to work and ready to build the team back up and contribute in a positive way."
(On the importance of his 4.42 40-speed at the Combine)
"It was very important. I know a lot of coaches questioned by long speed and that was something that I took pride in and that was something I trained and worked hard to do. Just doing it at the Combine kind of proved that I could run with the length and the size that I do have and not a lot of guys can do that. For me, doing that was a big part of my game relies on being fast and being physical and being able to stay on top of guys and being able to run with guys, so again, that was just a blessing."
(On Buccaneers cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross)
"Coach, he's a great coach. Just the fundamentals of the way he teaches the game and how critical he is on you in order to make sure that you're doing the right thing - and that's on and off the field. Having a coach that can relate, like you said, playing in the NFL and being able to do things like that just makes it a big bonus to your game. Being able to take knowledge from that at any given time and just having help on any situation you need help, in whether it be on the field or off the field. It's nothing but positivity, honestly. Just straight positivity and he just wants you to be great and that's all you can ask for out of a coach. Somebody to push you and somebody that wants you to be the best player you can possibly be."
(On what he believes is his best attribute as a player)
"I would say my best attribute is being able to just take the ball out of the air. I'm a ball hawk. I consider myself a receiving defensive back, so that's just something I take pride in being able to take the ball away and get it back to the offense and also getting my hands on it, getting physical. A lot of corners don't get physical at the line of scrimmage. A lot of them kind of like to open up and run and that's the part of my game that I like to elevate more and more each year and that's going to make me elevate my game in every way possible."
(On his improvements from high school to being drafted in the second round)
"I honestly would say faith, hard work, dedication and just a positive spirit. I never really got down on myself. I've always worked to be the best and always compete with everyone. I'm a big competitor and I have been since I was a kid. I was a three-sport athlete. I played baseball, basketball, football. Travel baseball was a big thing of mine. It was just about competition, so every time I step on the field, every time I'm doing something in life, I'm always competing. I always want to win, so that's something that motivated me throughout my career to strive and be the best and outwork the man next to me and outwork the man across from me."
(On the mental aspect of playing at the cornerback position)
"As a corner - and especially in the NFL - you have to have a short memory. You can't linger on plays that you messed up on before because then it's going to cause you to have sadness or being down on yourself the rest of the game and they're going to keep targeting you and you're going to get frustrated. So, the way you play guys like that (Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones) is just kind of having a short memory and knowing that they're one of the best of the best. In the NFL, everyone is good. Everyone was the best at their college, everyone was the best at where they were and now you just have to elevate your game in a positive way. Elevate your game how you need to. So yeah, if Julio gets a pass caught on me, you just have to have a short memory and being able to bounce back and having a strong mentality and being able to go back up to the line and say, 'Ok, that's not happening again,' and you line back up, strap back up and do what you have to do."
(On if Bunting accredits his 41.5 inch vertical to basketball)
"Yeah, you can accredit that to basketball. I've always really been able to jump. A lot of it just came naturally, and a lot of it came from hard work. Just working hard in the weight room and things of that nature, but basketball definitely contributes a lot to that. But I would say it definitely elevates my game, being able to take the ball at the highest point in the air and already being over six-foot so it just makes things a lot easier for me when the ball is in the air. Just high-pointing the ball and getting turnovers, creating turnovers and getting the ball back to the offense."
(On who Bunting believes in the best receiver he faced in his college career)
"I would say the best person I faced would probably be either Corey Davis or Kenny Golladay. Kenny Golladay would be a bigger receiver, but he had all the tools - all the tools in the tool box and he was a hard guy to guard. Throughout the game he wasn't attached at my side, so I didn't actually have to go against him as far as seeing the ball being in the air. Nothing like that. Corey Davis was also another deep throw guy, big bodied guy, top five overall pick. He was kind of the same way, they used him vertical threat. They threw him one ball, kind of over thrown, but for the most part I held my own and it only got better from there from my freshman year. My freshman year only elevated from there, so throughout my career I played against some good receivers and I've been tested. I've been tested by the big school, like Michigan State and I've been tested by smaller schools like Eastern Michigan and every season I accomplished. I've always held my ground, I've always held my own. It only makes me elevate back more."
(On what it was like working with Cory Hall)
"That was truly a blessing. We lost our position coach that I was really close with before. We had a bunch of coaches come in and interview and I was fortunate enough to sit in some of those interviews with Coach Bona (John Bonamego) and just kind of hear some of the coaches perspective and the coaches' side. When Coach Hall came in it just kind of clicked. We actually went out to eat and from there he started to talk to me about football, it was really nothing more than football, faith and family. Every other night I was going over to his house, hanging out with his family and talking football with him and Xavier Crawford. Coach Hall only tried to prepare you for the NFL. He tried to make you the best possible off the field, but on the field, he wanted you to be a professional. He didn't let you take anything for granted, he didn't let you make mistakes often and not hear about it. He didn't let you not give 100% effort and so he did nothing but motivate me my whole junior season, so I was very grateful to be put in that position. I was very grateful for him to be able to give me the knowledge he knew from being in the NFL and it kind of just translated to my game and into my [mind] of how I want to do things."
(On if Bunting would be comfortable at nickle)
"Absolutely. I feel like nickle honestly has a little bit more responsibility as far as run game and things of that nature – pro drops, stuff like that. But, for the most part it's all football and if I have to go in the slot and cover a guy, then that's what I'm going to do. That's what I'm going to have to do and I'm willing to do whatever my team needs me to do."
Cornerback Jamel Dean
(On what it was like receiving the phone call from the Buccaneers)
"It was like everything that I worked hard for has finally just caught up [for] me. This is probably one of the best feelings of my life."
(On what he believes the biggest attribute to his game is)
"I've got the speed, I've got the IQ. I'm glad that Tampa Bay gave me this opportunity so now I can prove myself every more because I feel like a lot of teams slept on me, but Tampa really had faith in me."
(On his reaction when he was drafted)
"I cried. I had tears of joy."
(On who was with him when he received the phone call)
"It was me, my mom – [there were] a lot of relatives around me."
(On how much he thinks about the journey he's had of overcoming injuries)
"I think about it all the time because once – a guy told me that I had a five-percent chance of being successful in football and it's always been on my mind ever since I got to college."
(On cornerback Carlton Davis and what it will be like to play alongside him again after playing together at Auburn)
"Me and Carlton, we used to work with each other after practice all the time. We used to do recovery together, we did extra work together and then me and him being on the same team again, it really means a lot to me."
(On what his interaction was like with Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles leading up to the draft)
"He told me he liked me. I really felt a good connection with him. I liked his vibe. I feel like he's someone that I can relate to."
(On how important it is to be physical at the line of scrimmage at his position)
"It means a lot to me but at the same time, I know I've got to focus on my feet more and then the hands [are] the bonus. But if I can use my hands, I know that is really going to give me the upper hand in the reps."
(On what skills he wants to work on to take his game to the next level)
"Just working on my off coverage and then really understanding pass concepts to the 'T.' I understand it enough, but I want to understand it like an All-Pro cornerback should."
(On if he's more comfortable in off-coverage or press-coverage)
"Yeah, I'm more comfortable in press."
Safety Mark Edwards
(On his interaction with the Buccaneers during the draft process)
"I talked to them a lot during the process, during Combine, Senior Bowl, had meetings with them. I didn't have a [top]-30 visit to them, but they showed a lot of interest. I was just ready for my name to be called. It's kind of late in the third round – it wasn't surprising, just excitement to hear my name being called. Tampa Bay, there's no better place to get called than Tampa Bay. [Tampa] is a great city, I've heard a lot of great things about the team and I'm just happy to be part of the organization."
(On having to wait to hear his name called)
"I mean, you have to be patient. You think your name will be called sooner or whatever, but you've got to be patient. You know you're really excited and you've just got to be patient. That's how I was. I was just ready to have my name be called. Like I said, can't wait. There are more picks left in the draft tonight. It's an amazing feeling I had when I found out that I was coming to Tampa Bay."
(On the versatility of defensive backs in Todd Bowles' scheme)
"I love it. That's what I did at Kentucky. I did a lot of things. I played safety, corner, nickel – I played everything in the back end. I feel that I can help out the Bucs as soon as possible, any way possible. I feel like wherever they need me at, I can [play the position]. I can blitz, cover, play deep-middle – anything. I think I can fit into their scheme really well."
(On taking the ball away)
"It's important because I feel like I'm a ball guy. I love getting to the ball. I love taking away the ball, so that's what I harp on, taking it away, getting turnovers – if it's fumbles or interceptions, whatever it may be, I feel like that's what I do. I'm a playmaker, so I can definitely help the team out next year as far as taking the ball away, getting interceptions, getting forced fumbles, whatever it may be. I feel like I'm definitely a playmaker on the back end."
(On transitioning to the professional level and facing adversity)
"The best guys are the ones that get beat and don't think about it, just bounce back from it. Like you said, every DB – no matter who you are – is going to get beat at one point. You're going to face adversity, it's how you face that adversity. I feel like I'm one of the best guys at facing adversity. I've faced a lot of adversity through my whole entire life. Just bouncing back from those things. Like you said, safety and DB as a whole is a tough position to play. Especially in this league where they pass the ball a lot – almost every down. I feel like I'm ready for that challenge. I know there's a lot of great quarterbacks in the league right now, but I'm a great DB, I'm a great player. I don't underestimate myself, I'm ready for the task at hand."
(On his role as a leader at Kentucky)
"I was a great leader there. I started out being a lead-by-example type of guy and I've grown to be a more vocal leader in the past years. I was the only guy in [Mark] Stoops' history – in the six years that he's been there – to be a captain two years in a row, a two-year captain. That's a big part as far as that. Being a two-year captain, I just lead my team. We had one of the best seasons we ever had at Kentucky. I feel like I'm a great leader. I feel like I can come in, lead the team, lead Tampa Bay as soon as I get there. There's no law saying that a rookie can't lead a team. I feel like I can be one of those leaders that comes in and impacts as the game as soon as possible."
(On players he admires and molds his game after)
"Older guys I looked up to like Sean Taylor, Ed Reed, Champ Bailey, Charles Woodson, guys like that. More recent guys I like Tyrann Mathieu, Jamal Adams, Earl Thomas, guys like that. Those guys are like my fit for how I play the game. I'm just a ball guy, like I said. I just like making plays. I play bigger on the back end. They got a great player in me."