5 Things We Learned from Bruce Arians' Combine Press Conference
The NFL Combine is the first real NFL event since the Super Bowl, and for most teams like the Buccaneers, its's the first real check-in since early January.
Head coach Bruce Arians is in attendance and gave a press conference, covering topics from Jameis Winston to his tactics during prospect interviews during the combine. As usual, the Bucs head coach was candid on pretty much every topic he discussed.
Here are five things to take away from Bruce Arians' combine presser:
The Bucs aren't ready to commit to Jameis Winston
Arians began the press on the topic of Jameis Winston, and he was less than effusive about the pending free agent (via the Athletic's Greg Auman):
It's certainly not a definitive statement on Winston, who threw 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions during Arians' first year as Bucs head coach. Arians expressed disappointment with Winston's performance in December, during which Winston threw 10 picks.
Arians said the team would be exploring its options at quarterback, including the possibility of signing free agents. He mentioned Tom Brady as an example of a potential upgrade over Winston.
Still, Arians did not shut the door on Winston by any means. Though he called the quarterback "an unknown quantity," he did say the Bucs could win with Winston.
Defense is the priority in free agency
Arians didn't really mince words about what the Bucs' focus would be in free agency: re-signing their defensive free agents (via Pewter Report):
Several Bucs on defense are headed to the open market, including Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamukong Suh, Beau Allen, and Carl Nassib. They comprise a significant share of production for the Bucs' much-improved defense in 2019.
The Bucs want Shaq Barrett back
If Arians was coy about Jameis Winston, he was very much the opposite regarding Bucs linebacker Shaq Barrett (via Buccaneers.com's Scott Smith):
Arians also dismissed concerns whether Barrett is a one-hit wonder after hitting double-digit sacks for the first time in his NFL career in 2019. The near-unequivocal nature of Arians' enthusiasm for Barrett was a stark contrast to the murkiness with which he addressed Winston's future in Tampa Bay.
Arians likes what he sees in the wide receiver class
Team officials are typically careful not to tip their hands with their strategy heading into the draft, but that doesn't mean they won't show their enthusiasm for prospects. In particular this year, the wide receiver class is widely considered to be overstuffed with quality prospects and Bruce Arians was quick to recognize it (via Auman):
Arians also indicated he would be comfortable letting WR Breshad Perriman, who recorded 36 catches for 645 yards and six touchdowns last season, sign elsewhere given the diversity of talent in this year's receiver class. Though the Bucs are unlikely to take a receiver with an early pick, Arians' enthusiasm suggests Tampa Bay could still take one at some point during the draft.
Arians doesn't care what your 40-time is, but he will ask you the tough questions
Bruce Arians does not sound like he's much fun to for draft prospects at the draft to come across, especially if he's asking very direct questions about drug use during interviews (via Auman):
He does not even care if you test well, dismissing 40-yard dash times (via Auman):
Arians says he does not learn much from watching players move in shorts, which is not something that will ever happen on a game day. Instead, he says he likes following the college all-star games as he can watch players move in pads.
These statements beg the question why Arians even comes to the combine, except to watch the prospects sweat?