The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have to figure out what's up with the top players in the draft, on the field and off the field. General manager Jason Licht talked about that process, and especially the off-field stuff, on 620 WDAE with T.J. Rives yesterday.
"We'll do everything we can to find about the player," Jason Licht said. "Because most misses in the draft and free agency are above the shoulder, so not the physical talent."
"This is a multi-million-dollar investment, so you want to find out as much as you can about these guys. And you want to find out as much as you can as early as possible too, because there becomes a point in the process where they become rehearsed and scripted and their agents teach them how to answer the questions the right way. So, you're constantly battling that, trying to figure out a way to ask the questions so they can't go to their script or their rehearsed answer."
"So you have to talk to a lot of people in these players' lives, just outside of their coaches. You have to talk to the equipment guys, the trainers, the high school coaches like you mentioned, people in their hometown. You hear the stories in the old days where a guy would go to the laundromat and ask the people that work at the laundromat at the college town he was in, what the kind of person he was. And that still goes on today."
All of that research doesn't mean they're looking for a perfectly clean sheet, though. They can handle some off-field issues, but they have to feel comfortable with that player and his commitment to football.
"We want to make sure that they're a good person, that they don't have a lot of skeletons in their closet in terms of criminal acts and things like that. But we're not looking for choir boys, either. I mean, we just want to make sure that these guys love football, are passionate about it and they wouldn't know how to exist without the game. Because that's the type of player we want, those are the types of players that are going to give 100% to learn the playbook, to give 100% on the practice field. Those are the types of players we want to be Bucs."
None of that is particularly surprising, of course. NFL teams always investigate backgrounds, and they certainly do so with quarterbacks and first overall draft picks. But it's still good to hear the Bucs' general manager talk about this.
On that note, you should probably go listen to the entire Jason Licht radio appearance. There was a lot of good information in there.