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Sunday, Aug 19, 2018
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2018 NFL draft countdown: Bucs GM Jason Licht speaks

We're a week away from the NFL draft in Dallas …

Bucs general manager Jason Licht will speak to the media at 11:30 a.m. today at One Buc Place in Tampa. He'll take questions for about 20 minutes and use a lot of words to say nothing.

That's the goal anyway. That's every general manager's goal. That's what they're trained to do. Before a general manager can become a general manager, he must first go to General Manager School. There, he studies the ancient art known as news conference subterfuge. Lesson No. 1: Thou shalt not reveal even the slightest of clues about thy draft plans.

Some examples from before the 2017 draft:

What he said: "You have to be prepared for a lot of different scenarios, so you have to really work at it a little bit more this time of year. (For example,) if this guy is available, we haven't talked much about him here in the last few weeks. All these players we've talked and spent many, many hours and days on, but this time of year, you don't want to get caught in a scenario where, 'Oh, shoot, we didn't know that he was going to be there.' So, you want to play out all of those scenarios with your staff."

What he meant: "We've done a lot of mock drafts."

What he said: "There have been drafts when I thought that it would be a draft that teams are going to be, your pick wherever you're at is going to be coveted because you think teams are going to move up, but it's just the opposite. … If you get your eyes set on one player, one position, a position in need, teams tend to go after it, which isn't a bad thing if you know what you want. If you want to go get it, go get it. So, I could see it going both ways."

What he meant: "I might move up. I might move down. I might move sideways. I might stay put. Even if I knew, I wouldn't tell you."

What he said: "I do talk to Jameis (Winston) about players at Florida State. He was recently there, so he's got a little feel for them. … Any kind of tidbit we can get from players that have a little bit of a better bead on the program than most, we'll take it. But Jameis can tell me as much as he wants that we should draft a certain player, but we're still going to make — Dirk and I and our staff — are going to make the best decisions for the Bucs."

What he meant: "I really want Dalvin Cook, too. But if, say, O.J. Howard falls to us, I'm taking him."

What he said: "I hate to sound vanilla here, but we're going to continually look to upgrade whether it's a starter or depth. We have a lot of places where we can do that, a lot of holes that we can fill. We could be coming off of a Super Bowl championship and we'd probably be saying the same thing."

What he meant: "Do I sound vanilla? I do? Good. I LOVE vanilla."

What he said: "We're in a position right now where we still can take the best player available. A lot of times you take the player that may look like, why are they taking him? They are loaded at that position or they have bigger needs at another position, but that player usually at some point, you look back and you say, 'I don't know where we would be without that player.' So, I'm not trying to tip our hat or anything."

What he meant: "So, I'm not trying to tip our hat or anything."

For updates, check back in at tampabay.com/sports this afternoon and follow @NFLSTROUD, @gregauman and @tometrics.

Mock draft roundup

NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah has the Bucs taking Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson in the first round.

"The Bucs need to add more pieces around Jameis Winston. Nelson would be a huge asset in both the running and passing game."

Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer projects Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Bucs at No. 7.

"Demar Dotson's injury puts Nelson in play. Derwin James is, too. But Fitzpatrick is safe/ideal for (defensive coordinator) Mike Smith."

Pro Football Focus' latest mock has Penn State running back Saquon Barkley falling to the Bucs.

"As enticing as an outside corner in Denzel Ward, a slot magician in Minkah Fitzpatrick or a space-eater against the run and pass in Maurice Hurst were here, there is no passing on Barkley at this point of the draft. Forget our history of drafting running backs in the first round, forgive the inherent risks of selecting a running back so high — Barkley has the tools to run between the tackles, around the edge, return kicks and punts while also being the best check-down receiver out of the backfield that Jameis Winston has seen in his career to date."

Speaking of Barkley, ESPN's Ian O'Connor wrote about Coplay, Pa.'s favorite son.

Contact Thomas Bassinger at [email protected] Follow @tometrics.

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