On Monday, Tim Ruskell was announced as the Buccaneers' new director of player personnel, assuming the position vacated last week by Jerry Angelo, who is now the Chicago Bears' general manager. Ruskell, who had served as the team's director of college scouting for the past decade, was introduced along with his successor on the college side, Ruston Webster, at an afternoon press conference.
After the press conference, General Manager Rich McKay spoke in greater detail about Ruskell's qualifications and the Bucs' decision-making process on the promotions. The following Q&A is drawn from that talk.
Was there any thought to bringing in someone from the outside or was Ruskell the easy choice?
Rich McKay: "We've been through this before. As Jerry's gone down this path the last couple of years, I had always contemplated that Tim would be the natural move. I had talked to Tim about it before, because Tim's had some other opportunities, as Ruston just had another opportunity. We had always said that if this happened, if Jerry moved on, this is the way we'd like to reshuffle.
"It worked out very well for us, because it's obviously a great opportunity for Jerry – all the people that have dealt with Jerry know what a good guy he is, very deserving of the opportunity – but for us it's good, too. It gives us an opportunity to allow some guys who might have otherwise gone to other teams to grow through our organization. So that was always pretty well set."
What does the team like about Ruskell?
Rich McKay: "Tim is a nuts-and-bolts guy that has a tremendous ability to break down what some people treat as scientific and make it very common sense.
"Sometimes I hear how these super-scouts are able to come up with one guy because of the way he 'verticaled,' how he's going to be a better pro than the next guy. What Tim has done for us is eliminate a lot of that thought process and help us get back to the basics. He's very good at that, and I think he's helped us in trying to rate players, and rate them for the right reasons.
"We've used this phrase for a long time: 'Production over potential.' I think Tim was a big part of that movement. Let's take guys that were good college football players and they will be good pro players. We don't have to take the guy that runs the fastest, jumps the highest and has the greatest potential."
And you saw these qualities in Ruskell as he held the director of college scouting position?
Rich McKay: "When I started I didn't find the most organized approach to college scouting. The coaches were called upon to do a lot, then the scouts were called upon to supplement. What Tim has helped us do is really organize that side of the ball. I feel very comfortable that the system we now have in place works, and I think he's a big part of the reason it does."
Will Ruskell have to adjust to scouting pro players after spending so many years exclusively on the college side?
Rich McKay: "No, I don't think he'll have to adjust to evaluate anyone. I think he'll have to get familiar with it. There are a lot of guys that he saw in college that you now have to (look at again). Players do change, players get better. He's going to have to spend a little time during training camp going to preseason games of other teams and watching a lot of tape of other teams. On the pro side, you never try to evaluate every player on every other team. That's a waste of time. But you do need to be familiar, and I think that will take Tim some time.
"But I don't think the evaluation process will be a problem. We've always kept Tim involved in all of our meetings that we have with coaches on a weekly basis, so he's pretty familiar with how our coaches look at players."
Ruskell indicated he wanted to improve the technology of the scouting department. To what was he referring?
"I think he'll help us also from a computer standpoint. We want to go to the next generation now in how we categorize our pro information, and I think he'll help us do that."