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
Defensive End Anthony Nelson (Fourth round, 107th overall)
Kicker Matt Gay (Fifth round, 145th overall)
General Manager Jason Licht
(On kicker Matthew Gay)
"He's a big guy with a big leg and he's also accurate, so those are a lot of good things that we like about him. He kicks in Utah, but he's also good at sea level. He can kick it far at sea level as well. We liked him as a person. We think he's a very confident guy and we've exhausted everything we can to try to find a kicker. We'll continue to, like every other position. We've drafted one, signed free agents, UFAs, street free agents, gone to Denmark, so we like this guy. Like I said, like all positions, we will continue to do what we can to try to find the guy we like."
(On Gay's accuracy from 40 plus yards)
"That's a big selling point and he's got a strong leg. Usually the strong-legged guys that can kick it from far distances usually have some accuracy issues. This guy has not so far."
(On the importance of being able to kick in high pressure moments)
"You'd like to see guys make big kicks in big moments, obviously. The kicker is a very important position. It's one of the most important positions on the team. Right now we have a coach who really believes in kickers and the importance of it and stresses it. He's got a kicking background with his son Jake who is a good friend of mine that was a kicker. When Bruce was hired, we had several discussions about what we were going to do to refine the ways that we do things in terms of finding a good kicker. We still like Cairo [Santos]. We think Cairo has been really improving so far in the offseason here and we hired [Specialist Coach] Chris Boniol. Chris is a very good 'swing doctor' in terms of his experience as a kicker and also as a coach in college and in the NFL. Keith Armstrong is an awesome special teams coach, as well as Amos Jones. Obviously I'm trying to tell you that we put a lot of stress into the importance of all special teams, but especially kicker."
(On whether any specific film on Gay stood out to him during the pre-draft process)
"We've watched every kick. Chris [Boniol], Keith [Armstong], Amos [Jones] - we've watched them all. It's just like we do with every position. We watch every game – there's a lot of different moments of every kick. He's had some misses, he's had a lot of makes, so we like him. We like his technique. We like everything about him, right now. He's been successful in college."
(On whether Gay will compete for kickoff duties)
"Right now, it is. You take any position in the fifth round, it's not an automatic – you're saying he's automatically made the team. We want to bring in great competition for Cairo. We will let them kick it out through the preseason. May the best man win, but if Matt happens to win it, we have [punter] Bradley [Pinion] who is an elite kickoff guy in the NFL. He has proven that. I don't see why we would stop using him in that role. It saves wear and tear on a kicker's leg when you have that."
(On whether he sees needs on the offensive line)
"Right, but when – sometimes the board, the way it is, you may not see someone that can do that. We drafted some other good players by the way."
(On defensive end Anthony Nelson)
"With Anthony, we had him ranked pretty high on our board. We've liked him for a while. [He's a] big, six-foot-seven, 275-pound guy with long arms and all that stuff and I've seen the comparison to Carl [Nassib]. No two players are exactly the same, so it's unfair to do that, but [Nelson is] in [Nassib's] mold in terms of his body type. He plays really hard, he's a good athlete, he bends very well. He has good speed to power, he's got really good instincts. He's a really, really smart guy and he's been really well coached by [Iowa Head Coach] Kirk Ferentz. Productive guy – one of the more productive guys in the draft and there's some versatility to him. We will probably play him a little bit in the outside linebacker role. We'll put a hand down and sub. We will see if he can rush inside. We'll have plenty of 4-3 looks in our defense. It's not just a base 3-4 all the time. So, we like the versatility and you have to be intelligent to do all those things with [Defensive Coordinator] Todd [Bowles], so he fits that mold."
(On if Nelson can play multiple positions on the defensive line)
"Absolutely, we'll see. We know that he can rush the passer. We know he can line up in a base 4-3. We think he's certainly athletic [enough] to do some of the things that we ask outside linebackers to do in a 3-4. That's the beauty of him. I think he fits – he's got a lot of versatility, like we keep saying."
(On wide receiver Scotty Miller)
"So Scotty, our scouts did a great job with him. Bowling Green didn't have a rated prospect going into the season, by any publication. When you go into a school that doesn't – you try to find a sleeper. Scouts weren't going through Bowling Green this year because of that. We did. I know some other teams did. You see a productive guy that's really fast, so you try to keep him under the radar as long as you can. I know we were in contact with him quite often during the spring here, making sure nobody else has talked to him. Then when we found out a couple of teams did and brought him in, we went there and worked him out, had a private workout with him. Our receivers coach (Kevin Garver) went there and spent time with him. We just felt very comfortable in going ahead and drafting him in the sixth round. He's very fast. To say he's Adam Humphries, it's tough to do that right now. He's got to fight to make the team. He's different. He's not as thick, he's not as big. He's more of a speed guy. In fact, he's very, very fast. I think he's one of the faster guys in the draft. It's going to be fun to have him out here and see what he can do."
(On if Miller is a deep threat)
"Anybody that runs 4.30 [40-yard dash] is probably a deep threat, so yeah, he's a deep threat."
(On if Miller has worked as a returner)
"Limited. Very limited experience returning kicks. We'll give him a shot though."
(On Miller's weight)
"He's in the 170s."
(On paying the draft picks with limited salary cap space)
"There's always ways."
(On having more success with undrafted players than with late round draft picks)
"That's a good question. A lot of those players that we sign and we give those signing bonus money to, they kind of come from the same pool as those late-draftable guys. You draft guys that are [on] your board obviously and the guys that we sign and we go after hard are still on our draft board. For whatever reason – maybe I should have drafted the guys that we signed as free agents and signed the guys that we drafted. They're basically this close to each other on the draft board."
(On if the team will have to make roster moves to create salary cap space)
"We don't have to."
(On Terry Beckner Jr.)
"So Terry went through some adversity there early in his career, with knee injuries, one on each side. Then he's played, I think, 26 consecutive games now, two years in a row. He's really tough. Love the kid. Love the grit that he has, where he's grown up in east St. Louis. It would be tough for me to walk a day in his shoes, some of the things that he's had to go through. He's an awesome kid – smart, instinctive player. Like I said, strong, like the way he plays. He's going to compete I know and he's got a good chance to make this football team if he plays the way he did at Missouri and the way we evaluated him."
(On if the team has added anyone who can work as a returner)
"We've got guys that hopefully don't get drafted – I don't know if it's over yet – that we're looking at. We also have guys on our team that we like, that we feel can return too. That will be an evolution here, if you will, over the next few months here, in training camp and OTAs and during the spring. We feel good about it. I know Scotty Miller is going to get an opportunity as well."
(On "standing pat" with the offensive line and if he plans to make any additions at those positions)
"Maybe stood pat so far – I say time and time again, we're not lining up tomorrow to play regular season week one so we still have time. We're working with these guys, I know the coaches are happy with the development of Alex [Cappa]. I know that Caleb [Benenoch] has been doing some good things and he has in the past for us lining up at tackle. These guys are young, they do have an opportunity to get better and we like the progress that they've made so far but we still have time to make some additions if we have to. You can't address every position, every position that you may have some concerns, whether they vary from big concern to small concern, you can't – it's just impossible to do it in a small amount of time during free agency or the draft. But, we have through August to do what we can."
(On if waiting until free agency to add kicker Matthew Gay might have lessened any pressure on him)
"Yeah, if he made it to free agency. I know he had a lot of interest. It's hard to say if he would have gone in the fifth round; there was another kicker taken. Maybe he went in the sixth, seventh – to me and to us and to Bruce it was a small price to pay to get a kicker. You wouldn't say the same thing for a receiver, if a receiver didn't work out a couple years ago that you took in the second round would you be afraid to take a receiver in the fifth round? No. This is a very, very important position."
(On how you evaluate the mental toughness at the kicker position)
"Well we spend a lot of time with them, we talk to everybody that they know, we watch their games. We have a lot of different things that we use in our scouting process to a lot of different people that we use, a lot of different tests to try to find the way to do it. There's no magic way to do that but we continue, just like every other team, to try to find that one resource or few resources or many resources that we can to measure things that, in a lot of cases, aren't measurable. We continue to try."
(On how versatility and speed seemed to be common characteristics throughout Tampa Bay's draft class)
"Versatility, you've heard us say that – [Bruce Arians] and I and a lot of different people, thousands of times I'm sure, but it really was something that he stresses, that we stress. We love speed. When I called Scotty [Miller] and told him we were going to pick him I said, 'We've got the need for speed and I've got the coach right here who wants to talk to you.' So, fast guys that can play on special teams – one way or another – is very important to us, but also guys like Devin [White] – you've seen Devin now, the way Devin carries himself, the way Sean [Bunting] carries himself, all of these guys that we have this year, one thing that we're just really excited about is their passion and their energy that they're going to infuse the locker room with. It's going to be a great thing, I think. "
(On how pleased he is with the draft)
"Extremely, extremely. Feel really, really good about this one."
(On how it was to work with Bruce Arians throughout this draft)
"It was awesome, it was great. This whole process with him has been fantastic. You know, we have our arguments but with Bruce, even the arguments are fun. Sometimes we can them off site and we settle them there. Bruce is just – you can see why people just follow him as coaches. He's a fantastic guy. It's fun to go head-to-head against him."
(On how involved Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles and Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich were in the draft process)
"We leaned on them very heavily. Todd's got a great way of communicating what he's going to do so you can picture the type of guy that he wants. He's also got a great sense of people, like what I've talked about Bruce. Todd has been around this a while, too. He can walk out of a room after five minutes with somebody and kind of say, 'This is my impression' and we'll say, 'Well, this is exactly what our impressions were that we had, too.' He's very quick with that. Byron is very excited about the opportunity here and he likes players that play hard, that play fast and are instinctive. Byron's not afraid to give you his opinion and I like that."
Defensive End Anthony Nelson
(On his interaction with the Buccaneers leading up to the draft)
"It's just so unpredictable, the draft. I had talked to them at the Senior Bowl and the Combine a couple times at each place and I had good conversations with them, but to see this coming is hard to say. I kind of sat around and didn't know what team would pick me. There's 15 teams that I thought could take me, but I'm just grateful for the opportunity and grateful to be a Buc now."
(On the advantage of playing at Iowa under Head Coach Kirk Ferentz)
"Yeah, Kirk Ferentz and the whole stuff, they just do such a great job getting guys ready to play, making them good college football players, but just the way he prepares and his attention to detail, the amount of work he puts in really prepares you for entering the NFL if that is something you end up doing. His approach and just the way he goes about it every day as a professional and he really passes it down to his staff and then to us."
(On the advantage of his height playing the defensive end position)
"Yeah, length is a big tool for me, long guy with long arms. It is just knowing how to use it and you have to use it to your advantage. It's one of my strengths and it's one of the things that I have to use just consistently getting leverage on guys and just using it the best I can to make plays."
Kicker Matt Gay
(On his expectations entering the draft)
"Honestly, kind of what I was seeing and what I felt was maybe sixth to seventh round, maybe even undrafted, so when I got the call, I looked at the board, it was a Tampa number and I looked at the board and saw that they were two picks away and was kind of like, 'No way, not right now.' Just kind of shocked and overcome with emotion. It was amazing honestly."
(On whether he had communication with the Buccaneers leading up to the draft)
"I hadn't talked to any of the head coaches or anything like that. A special teams assistant had reached out to me a few times and was kind of pretty vanilla about the situation saying, 'Hey, we like you and hopefully just know there's a good opportunity here.' That's kind of the extent and he just kind of checked up on me, but it didn't seem like there was extreme interest or communication between me and the Buccaneers."
(On having Specialists Coach Chris Boniol on staff)
"That's an amazing situation to have. For me especially, I haven't really worked with a coach ever, so to have that there, to have someone who knows how it is and can kind of be on the same page with how you're thinking, it's amazing and someone who is going to adapt little things to help my game, but also keep my same kicking style is going to be something that's going to really pay off and be something special I think."
(On what he can attribute his long-distance kicking success)
"I think just being comfortable with my leg strength. Being able to not have to stretch or put any extra into those long field goals. I feel comfortable with my leg swing from distances, so it's almost like a normal leg swing. It's not like I have to put any extra power behind it. It's a comfortable swing and I think that helps go along the lines of just what helps. There's no change in my technique or approach to those long field goals. It's just the same as any other kick and I've hit them in practice and situations, so I just kind of feel confident and comfortable with those long ones."
(On making kicks in high-pressure situations)
"I've never had any last-second game winners, but down the stretch with a few minutes left to put us ahead or tie the game, I've had quite a few. I feel like I handle pressure pretty well, I stay calm and am able to stay stable in those moments and be able to hit those to give my team a chance. I know my team trusts me and that helps my confidence to go out and make those because they have all the faith in me and so I'm just kind of confident in those moments. Again, I just feel comfortable in those pressure situations."
(On whether he expects to participate or compete in kickoffs)
"Definitely. That is something that I definitely want to compete for and have been working on this last season and then a lot in this pre-draft process from January on. I've improved in those and there's definitely more improvement to be done, but I feel like I'm at a good spot with my kickoffs and want to improve those, but feel like I'm hitting them well and can hit them pretty good."
(On the biggest difference between the 2017 season and the 2018 season)
"2017 I started off with 14 straight and kind of got rolling. In 2018, my first kick of the season was blocked and had to change some things with the field goal block protection and we changed guys around. I started off the season with two blocks early on and kind of had to – it wasn't just kicking with confidence. I had to deal with those stresses and the setbacks and be able to bounce back from those and then bounced back and then I think I went on and made 22 straight from that point. That was the biggest difference was being able to handle those setbacks early on and get back to kicking well rather than just kicking well the whole time and I feel like I got to a good point and was able to bounce back from those setbacks pretty easily and quick and get back rolling. Again, I didn't have as many opportunities early on in 2018, so that was also another difference."