Press Conference 4/20/15 transcript: GM Jason Licht

Opening statement:
“Hey guys, good morning. It’s a great day here. Just passing through and seeing guys here in the building and our players. Glancing out my window and seeing some guys participating in some drills and stuff outside. It’s fun to know that football is right around the corner. We have this big draft coming up. I thought I would wear a suit. Bigger draft than I’ve been a part of, so that makes it very exciting. In fact, I have a pocket square here and everything. Anyway with that said, the draft coming up, first I just want to tell you, you guys all know – but a lot of the public – how much work goes into this with our scouts. They’re away from their homes six months, staying in hotels all over the country and this thing wouldn’t work without them. They are the true lifeblood of this organization and this draft. The scouting assistants, everyone that is involved, they do an insurmountable amount of work. I just want to throw out an appreciation to them before I open this up.”

The burden of the No. 1 pick:
“No, never once did the word ‘burden’ come up at all. It’s always been excitement. After the hangover, the season gets over, you realize that we have a real opportunity now with this pick, whatever we do with it, to make this franchise better. I don’t think you will find anyone in this building that thinks of it as a burden. It’s exciting. You never want to have it again, unless we trade up for it, but it’s exciting to have.”

What the draft means for the organization:
“It’s huge. Personally, I think it’s probably the biggest draft in the history of the organization. We have a real chance to put us over the top and get us there. At least, get us to a level that we think we’re going to be at this year, which is competing for championships. It’s a great draft. It’s a great draft to have the number one pick, too.”

If a decision has been reached on the No. 1 draft pick:
“You know, going back all the way to [Indianapolis], we said we had a leader in the club house, we still do. If we had to pick today, we would feel very comfortable making the pick. With that said, we’ll wait. We’ll use the majority of our allotted time. There is always something that could pop-up that you wish you would’ve waited, talking about a scenario where somebody offers you something you can’t refuse. We’ll use the allotted time, but everyone in the organization feels very comfortable right now with where we are at.”

The role history plays when selecting No. 1 given that many first and second round picks do not work out:
“Well, yeah we look at history a lot. It’s kind of embedded in all scouts. You want to try and make comparisons and you want to see when you are building a team, how the championship teams did it – and the common denominator there, by the way, is building through the draft. But in terms of that, that doesn’t sway us from not taking a pick. I think it’s all an individual, case by case basis. And no, just because what you just said has happened in the past, wouldn’t sway us from making a decision for a quarterback.”

If they consider the possibility that one of the top picks could be a bust:
“If we are going to go with a quarterback, we are going to take the one we think, internally, that after much evaluation and a lot of work, that would put us in the best position to have success here in the future.”

Why there is such a 50/50 chance of quarterbacks being successful or not when selected at the top of the draft:
“Well, with any pick at any position, I think you are going to find a success rate or failure rate. I don’t think it’s just the quarterback position. Usually teams and scouts and GMs and coaches, if they make mistakes it’s not from talent, it’s from above the shoulders. So, you want to make sure you are getting the right person.”

The recent civil lawsuit filed against Jameis Winston and if that surprised him or if there was anything new learned that would change his mind:
“Yeah, no. To answer your first question, it didn’t surprise us. The information that came out with it was not a surprise to us. We’re very confident in the amount of work we have done. Maybe 25 years from now I’ll write a book, but we feel very confident in the amount of work we’ve done internally. We have had work done externally, third parties, on and on and on. So there have been no surprises.”

If he has talked to anyone in the state attorney’s office or on the accuser’s side about the accusations concerning Jameis Winston:
“Well, I’ll answer that this way: We’ve talked to a lot of people. ‘A lot’ is probably not a big enough word. But, we’re not going to publicly talk about who we talked to. That’s just what we decided internally. We are not going to talk about the process. All I’ll tell you is that the Glazer family, the head coach, the general manager, our staffs, we all couldn’t feel more confident about the process we have gone through so far.”

His comfort level with making Jameis Winston the face of the franchise:
“We still feel comfortable with the decision we are about to make, one way or the other.”

Whether the Glazers have signed off on the No. 1 pick:
“Once again, we all feel very comfortable where we are at right now. We are still going to use the majority of the allotted time before we go ahead and make the decision just because I think it makes for good business. There’s no benefit for a team to engage in contract negations right now or to get a player signed. There’s no benefit at all. You can’t get the player in here any earlier, he can’t start working out here any earlier, you can’t talk to him anymore than you can right now, and because of the new CBA, it’s not as difficult as it once was to sign a player, so the parameters are already pretty much there. We’re just going to wait and we’re going to use all of our allotted time. We’re still going to have some discussions internally, but we’re spending just as much time right now on pick 34, 65, 109 and so forth.”

His experience with doing an evaluation process with this much background work and if that in and of itself is unsettling:
“Yeah, no. I’ve been around some picks where we have done almost as much work. But, unsettling? I don’t want to say unsettling. Sometimes you find out more and more good as you go. So, it’s not unsettling that we are doing this much. It’s actually comforting that we are putting as much work into it as we are.”

Determining the difference between being a bad person or being immature and if he has come to a conclusion about Jameis Winston:
“You know, we are just not going to publicly talk about any more about what we feel about the players. I’ll say this, my feelings and our feelings haven’t changed since we had him in here and I made some comments at that point.”

Comparing the evaluation of Jameis Winston with that of Tyrann Mathieu:
“Very similar. Very similar. Talking to a lot of people and not just trying to talk to as many unbiased people around him and associates as well as people close to him. So, very similar. Found a guy there that [General Manager] Steve Keim, [Head Coach] Bruce Arians, [President] Michael Bidwill, they were all very comfortable with him as a person and knew how much football meant to him.”

Thoughts on Mike Glennon:
“Really like Mike Glennon. He’s a very valuable piece of this organization and this team.”

Seeing Jameis Winston at the Mike Alstott Family Foundation event:
“He was there. There were a lot of people there. We just kind of relaxed for one night, finally and just tried to have some fun. We really didn’t go into it as a tool to see what he is all about. Whatever we got was bonus, but we were mostly just trying to have some fun.”

Regarding Winston and Marcus Mariota’s private workouts:
“You know, we got a lot out of them. We were impressed with both of them. We’ll just leave it at that.”

How the draft fits the team’s needs:
“It matches up pretty good. We’ve got, it’s a good [offensive line] draft, pretty deep O-line draft. It’s good on the defensive side. There’s some good defensive line depth there too. In terms of that, it matches up pretty well, but there’s also, you know, we also still keep our eye on that best available player too. Because at the end of the day, those are the guys you are glad you have, you’re glad you picked. So we are not going to pigeonhole ourselves into necessarily always just picking for need. But we are aware of what this team needs.”

How Mariota and Winston compare to other quarterbacks over the last decade:
“You know, it’s right up there with them. I haven’t really had a chance to give that a lot of thought. Right now we are focusing on the players and those two are definitely two of them. Like I said, I think I answered that question when I said this is a good year to have the No. 1 pick.  Just like in past years with those players that you are thinking and referring to. It’s right up there with them. We are happy that we are in this position right now.”

Jameis Winston’s need for a support system off the field:
“I think no matter who you pick, especially at the quarterback, you have to put a support system together. You know, I have gotten the question a lot is this particular player, are you ready for him to be face of franchise? I think that term, ‘face of the franchise,’ that’s a title that is earned. I don’t think any player walks in here is the face of the franchise. Right now, Gerald McCoy is the face of the franchise. We have several faces of the franchise: Vincent Jackson, Logan Mankins is going to have a big part of this year and Mike Evans.  But to answer your question, it doesn’t matter who it is. The quarterback, if you have a young quarterback, you have to have a strong support system just to give yourself the best chance at success.”

No. 1 overall pick: team need or best player available?
“If we feel like – Lovie, myself, our staffs – you know, if everyone involved here feels the consensus is that he is a franchise-level player, no matter who it is, then I think that’s a case where it supersedes anything else. Now, that would also make him the best available player too.”

Other areas of interest to pursue in the draft)
“Really good players. You can’t win without really good players. That’s a study I did the other day. No offense to our analytics department. He does a great job, but that was an easy one.”

Regarding trading the No. 1 pick:
“It’s fair to assume someone is going to have to make a really good offer, yeah. And this time of year you get a lot of calls every day.  Not making offers, but just throwing, gauging your interest of if you would be open to it or not. And that will continue. But it would have to be an offer that makes this franchise, that sets this franchise even further ahead than what you thought you were going to with the decision you made.”

How free agency helped improve the defense:
“I think we made some big strides. We added a player at every position, I think, defensively. I think we had a really good plan this year that ownership really backed us on. We added some players that had some familiarity with the system or with Lovie [Smith] and we knew the player very well before we signed him as opposed to buying a player without really knowing what you are getting. And we ripped a couple band aids off and we added some players that we think are going to really help us.”

Not signing many players to multi-year deals:
“Yeah, we just wanted to be smart this year and I think we were very – we looked for value and we were smart with the way we did it and I think it’s going to pay off. I think we didn’t set out to copy any team, but if you look at what we did, it’s what the good teams do.”

Changes to the pre-draft process this year compared to last:
“Not really. The pre-draft process in terms of going back to the fall and fall scouting? Well, you know, I will say this: this year we worked out a heck of a lot more players [in] private workouts than we did in years past. I mean a lot more. We really amped that up with our coaches and our scouting department and they did a great job. They’re tired. They need a beer just as much as I do when this is all over. In that respect we did.”

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