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Draft Day Quotes: Day Three Recap

Posted May 10, 2014

The Giants discuss the third day of the Draft


GM Jerry Reese


I’ll just go over the new guys; we’ve already talked about the first three picks. Andre Williams, running back, Boston College – well-known, big back, a lot of production, power runner, can bang inside and has speed to take it for big runs if he breaks into the secondary. A very good value for us, gives us some more depth at our running back position, creates a lot of competition. We’re still hoping that David Wilson comes back and is able to go, but again, we said out of the gate that we weren’t’ going to count on that until the doctors say that he can practice full-contact and he hasn’t been released to do that. We think he’s going to be there but we couldn’t pass up the value of a running back like this, of this caliber, at this point in the draft.

Berhe is a safety from San Diego State. This guy is really productive, a tackling machine, a little bit undersized but you just can’t deny how this guy is a football player. We use the term ‘football player;’ this guy is one of those guys, a football player. He’s all over the place; he’ll play on all of your special teams. You expect guys like Andre Williams to play on special teams as well. Very productive, a really good football player.

Kennard, the linebacker from USC, we feel like he’s a versatile player. He’s a nine-sack guy, led the team in sacks. He played middle linebacker at one point for them and then they moved him outside with the coaching change so we think he can play all three positions for us. He can be a rusher, a situational pass rusher for us and obviously play on all of the special teams. A hard-nosed football player. A bunch of these guys, again, are captains as well. Captains, clean guys.

Jackson, cornerback from Notre Dame. Formerly a wide receiver, played a couple years at corner. We think he has some upside, has some intangibles that we like – height, weight, speed. I think we could hit on a guy like this. Again, he’s our kind of guy, he’s a captain, a leader, going to play on all of your special teams while he’s developing into a corner. I’ll take any questions.

Q: We talked last night about team captains and you picked, it looks like, three more. Was this a defined plan?
A: We’ve always tried to pick guys who are captains, in leadership roles for their teams. We feel like you can get quality players when you do that. When guys have leadership roles, we like those guys.

Q: Were you impressed with the way that Williams handled that workload at Boston College this year? That was a lot of carries but it seems like he came out…?
A: Yeah, he’s got a lot of carries under his belt and the thing about it, he comes through the line of scrimmage and 22 eyes are looking at him and he still rushes for 2,000 yards. We’re very impressed with that and, again, this is the kind of guy that if you want to pound the rock, this is the kind of guy you can pound the rock with. If you get up in a game and you’re trying to run the clock out in that four-minute drill at the end, this is the kind of guy that you can get the ball to over and over and over and he’ll get first downs for you.

Q: Is his blocking encouraging, too?
A: He’s not asked to block. He carries the ball most of the time but the few times you get to see him block, we think he can do that. Obviously he will have to learn technique and pass pro, those kinds of things, but he’s smart and tough so we think he could be a blocker.

Q: He hasn’t caught the ball much in his career, he said it wasn’t something he did much in high school or college. Is that something that you think he can do and just hasn’t had the opportunity or is it kind of raw there?
A: We think, we hope, he can develop and be able to catch. I don’t think we’re going to use him in that role. I’m not the coordinator, they’ll use him however they want to use him, but they really like his skill set. I think mostly he’ll be carrying the football instead of catching the football. All backs need to be able to catch the ball at some point in your offense. You’re right, he hasn’t caught a lot of balls but hopefully he’ll be able to do the few options they have for him as a receiver out of the backfield.

Q: I was going to ask pretty much the same kind of question about his pass catching ability?
A: If it’s a weak point, that’s what it is. They haven’t used him a lot as a receiver out of the backfield.

Q: You’re not going to put a running back on the field unless he can protect the quarterback.
A: Yeah, he has the size, he’s tough, he’s smart so we don’t think he’ll have any problems adjusting and picking up the blitzes and things like that. We expect him to be a guy who can come in and perform those duties.

Q: In past years we’ve seen you guys taking kind of some height, weight, speed guys like Cooper Taylor and Jacquian Williams. It seemed like this year a guy like Berhe is a little bit undersized.
A: He’s the only guy that’s not a height, weight, speed guy. He’s the only one.

Q: Like Andre Williams, he’s a height, weight, speed guy?
A: Absolutely.

Q: Where do you see Berhe kind of fitting in and playing? Free safety, strong safety, in the nickel, corner?
A: Wherever Perry Fewell wants to use him. Obviously, again, he’s one of those kids that’s a football player. He gets his uniform by playing on special teams first and I think he can back up and spot play at either one of the safety spots. How they used him at San Diego State, they used him close to the line of scrimmage.

Q: It seemed like he had a lot to do with calling the defense there at San Diego State?
A: Yeah, he’s smart, he’s a good leader. He’s kind of the patrol back there.

Q: Any of the four today that dropped into your lap that you were a little surprised?
A: We’re a little bit surprised by the BC running back because he had so much production coming out. He’s a big back, we were a little bit surprised that he was there. He was kind of sticking out. Last night when we looked at the board before we left he was kind of sticking out there.

Q: You have used the word ‘clean’ on almost every pick. There don’t seem to be a lot of off-the-field risks or anything in this class. Was that a point of emphasis?
A: We always want to try to get guys who we call ‘clean.’ It’s not always possible, sometimes you take some calculated risks on some guys who have some off-field issues, some checkered backgrounds. We always go into the draft looking for guys who don’t have a lot of off field issues that we have to deal with.

Q: But sometimes, as you said, you take that calculated risk. Not so much this year though?
A: We were fortunate enough that we were able to draft some guys who are, quote, clean. They’re all still young kids and all of them are probably going to make some bad decisions at some point. Hopefully not, but young kids make bad decisions sometimes.

Q: John Mara stood here at the end of last season and said maybe that you guys took too many risks. Did that play into it at all, the fact that that was sort of the owner’s belief that maybe you guys did do that too much in the past?
A: No. John is always on board with whoever we pick. He sits right in there and he looks and listens to everything we’re doing in there. He’s always 100% on whoever we take. Again, that’s part of the business. Sometimes you have to take risks on guys with the risk-reward factor. Sometimes you take some risks that don’t work out, sometimes you do and it works out for you. That’s the part of the business. You can’t be afraid to do those things.

Q: In retrospect, this was the first time you personally as a GM drafted at the top half of the draft. Talk a little bit about what it meant for you guys to be in the top half?
A: I’m not happy about it, I can tell you that. I don’t care about picking in the top half of the draft. I like picking at the bottom of the draft. It’s a privilege to pick down there but unfortunately we were 7-9. When you’re 7-9, you pick earlier. When you get a chance to pick earlier, you get a chance to pick some more quality-type players because if you’re picking last, if you’re picking late and last a lot, you’ve got to take guys in the front row, you’re taking a second-round pick most of the time. You hardly ever take a guy that you really think is a true blue goose first-round pick if you’re picking 32.

Q: I know we’ve got a ways to go but do you think this draft is going to help Eli Manning have a bounce-back year with what you brought in?
A: We’re trying like heck. I think we have a weapon with Odell on the outside. We think he’ll help in respect to that. We think we have a center who we think can help, so yeah. We’ve got a big running back you can hand the ball to. Hopefully those things can help him out and get him back on track.

Q: You didn’t draft a tight end, are you set with what you have there?
A: We’re always going to keep looking for players, but again, I said this a couple times already, we have a couple tight ends, young guys, who we want to stay healthy and we’ve tried to develop and it’s time for those guys to get out there and help us.

Q: You’re always keeping your options open but would you be content with the guys that are there now?
A: In personnel, sometimes you can’t get everything. You can’t just waive a magic wand and a tight end will show up. We’ve had tight ends that we’ve been able to develop in the past. Again, we go way back to the kid, (Kevin) Boss. You can go back to Boss, he’s coming from a tiny school, Western Oregon or something like that. Did anybody think this kid was going to be starting in the Super Bowl his rookie year and make some plays? You have to put them out there and you have to develop guys at some point. It would be great if you could have guys ready-made that could come in and just line up and be fantastic blockers and fantastic receivers but sometimes it doesn’t work that way. Whatever the skill set is, you’ve got to bring them in and work to their skill set and you have to play the hand you’re dealt and win with it. That’s just part of the business.

Q: How much did not getting a tight end at all in the draft have to do with the actual tight end class that was coming out this year? Maybe it wasn’t as strong.
A: That probably has something to do with it. It just didn’t fall our way for a tight end. If there was a tight end that we liked in our window, we would have picked him but it just didn’t fall our way this time in the draft.

Q: Before the draft started you had said you still had some work to do on the offensive line. Did you expect that after you took Richburg that maybe you would have added a couple more and things just didn’t fall?
A: We stay true to our board. There were some more offensive linemen we talked about at different times that were taken off the board around us, around the pick that we were making at the time. We were happy with being able to get Richburg. Again, we did a lot of work with the offensive line in the offseason with free agency and we’ll continue to look. We feel like we have more depth at this point and hopefully it will be able to hold up as we go through the season.

Q: Are these next few hours with undrafted free agency almost just as important?
A: Absolutely. We’re working hard upstairs. Our scouts, Marc Ross, they’re stacking our free agent board with the players that are left. Obviously some of those guys will get picked as the end of the sixth round and seventh round go. Whoever the guys are that are left, we’ll get on the phone and try to call them right away and see if we can secure a few guys.

Q: You’re not having your usual rookie camp where the tryout guys come in. Do you do anything different to take a broader look at some guys or do you just stick with the free agents?
A: We’re just going to stick with the free agents for now. We’ll bring in some guys after the draft, we’ll bring some guys in shortly right after the draft and look at some guys and have a group of workout guys.

Q: Ideally how many guys would you like to sign?
A: We’ll fill out the 90. Whatever’s left from the draft picks, we’ll fill it out all the way and there could be some guys that if we feel like we can exchange, we’ll swap out. If we feel like there are some free agents that are better, more quality than some of the players we have on our roster right now, we might look to exchange some guys.


VP of Player Eval. Marc Ross

Andre Williams, I am sure you have seen or heard that this guy is a big, strong, downhill violent runner. He is going to break tackles and pound out yards. He is going to be physical. [Nat Berhe] is a football player. This guy is a team captain. He plays a hybrid role as a safety, corner and linebacker role where he is all over the place. Different defenses call it something different, but this guy knows multiple positions and again it is a guy that plays hard and has a high motor. He is very instinctive and physical for a small guy, but that is his trait. He is very physical. [Devon] Kennard has great blood lines. He is another guy that is physical and tough. He has played outside backer in the 3-4. He’s played middle backer in a 4-3 under a couple different defensive coordinators. We had him in here on a visit. This guy is one of the sharpest guys that we have had in terms of football knowledge. Another captain. Face of the program. Leader of the team. Bennett Jackson: Another captain, size, speed corner who is still kind of developing into his position. He is a former wide receiver. We think he has a lot of upside, one of these guys late in the draft. These big corners that have been taken that can run and you work with, you hit on. making their way on teams for a couple years and then you got a player.

Q: Were you surprised [Andre] Williams was there where he was in the 4th round?
A: A little bit. We were kind of worried he would get taken right before us in the fourth, especially when a couple backs got taken. And then seeing some teams up there that might have needed a back. With his skill set, we think it transfers well up here, and we thought somebody might take him there.

Q: Did you have a 2nd round grade on him?
A: We had a good grade on him. A real good grade. Second or third-ish kind of grade.

Q: In other years would [Andre Williams] be valued higher?
A: It is hard to say. Each year, there have been no first round backs the past two years. Why? I don’t know. Is it just that there aren’t any more great backs or they are getting devalued or is it both? Who knows? We will see what happens in two years, what the trend is and maybe they come back in value if teams start running the ball. You just never know.

Q: You did not get a tight end in the draft. How much of the decision to not pick a tight end was the class not being as talented as in the past years?
A: We need a tight end or we need this or we need that. You get seven picks, and you can’t take everything you need. You can’t have first round picks at every pick that you want and things that you think you need. The tight end position wasn’t a class we felt was very strong. Even with a couple of the guys there are things that to the outside eye you don’t know about some of these guys that devalue them even more. For us we are comfortable with the players we took in our spots and we weren’t going to force any players or overvalue anybody or push them up because people may think we need a tight end. It is just not the way we operate. We take the best player and the window where we had those players we took the guys who we felt were the best.

Q: Over the next few hours into free agency, is it just an extension of the draft board you have already created?
A: What we will do now is, well it is good we picked in the bottom of the sixth [round] because when you pick in the seventh round, you are still tuned into what is going on and you have to make your pick. Now we have all this time. It is actually kind of a gift and a curse because now we have this time where we put guys on our free agent board who we like, but they keep getting picked off. We are just focusing on targeting free agents we want to sign so that when the draft is over, we can pounce on those guys.

Q: Without the traditional rookie minicamp and tryouts, does that make it easier or harder for you…..?
A: As far as the free agent process… It is a little easier you just don’t have to sign as many. You can just target guys and go after them as opposed to getting 50 bodies in here.

Q: With Devon [Kennard] how much does his experience at defensive end kind of help him move back to outside linebacker and was that a factor in selecting him?
A: Sure, you always like versatile players, and just the fact that he was able to do that and transition to those positions easily each year shows you his football sense and IQ and that was one of the most intriguing things when we had him here was his ability to communicate about all positions up on the front. It was very impressive. Hopefully going forward when we get him here, he is a guy that in the middle of a game, middle of a week, whatever, we can say go here, go here, go there and he will be able to do it very easily.  

Q: Do you think Andre Williams can play right away?
A: He can run the ball so we can just turn around and hand him the ball. He can do that. He has done that pretty well. Of course all these college guys have to learn to pass block. It is rare nowadays where a guy is ready-made to pass block. Throughout camp and pre-season… he is willing, he is a big body and the times he does [pass block] he likes to do it. He should transition to that fairly easily.

Q: When you look at this draft and how it unfolded, how do you compare it to past years in regards to how you felt the draft unfolded for you?
A: Each year I feel good afterwards. I trust our process and believe in our scouts. I believe in our coaches and the process we go through. Whether we are right or wrong or whatever happens, the process we go through, we feel we are doing the right things and we make the decisions that we feel are best at the time. We are not batting 1.000, but nobody is. Each year I come out feeling like we did the right thing.

Q: How does the Aztec position that Nat Berhe plays, how does that transition to how you would use him here?
A: Well, you can compare it to the third safety role, that Deon Grant role as we’ve called it. That would be the most natural fit. This is what [Berhe] did and this is what that role was. Whatever Perry [Fewell] wants to do, if he wants to play him high, if he wants to play him at wherever, it is up to them. We like that he is just a player.

Q: Is the [Aztec] position becoming more of an actual position that players are specializing in?
A: Yes, I think so. You are seeing more hybrid positions at all positions. With the nature of these offenses, the spread offenses, you are seeing defensive ends who are smaller and are linebacker size, and linebackers who are smaller, more DB size, and safeties and corners that are interchangeable because of the nature of being spread out. It is basketball-on-grass kind of deal that is going on now.

Q: Is that what you see [Devon] Kennard as, a hybrid type of guy?
A: He can rush the passer from the edge and he has been in the middle so we are going to throw him in there and see if he can play middle backer, outside backer, SAM and put his hand down sometimes, too. It is up to Perry [Fewell] how he wants to use him, but he has done all three and we feel like he definitely right away can be thrown in at middle [linebacker] and then go from there.

Coach Tom Coughlin

Here we are, wherever we are in the sixth round. Our draft is completed as you all know and I think we came into the second day and we had Andre Williams in a good spot and we were hoping that we would have a chance to draft him and it did work out. There are so many, they seem to go on runs. There was a run on running backs and he made it through that so he got to us. You’ve already recognized that five of these guys are captains, which is a good thing, weaving through the character, the leadership, the responsibility, the accountability weaving through this group is a good thing.

Kennard, we had a guy that when he came and visited with us he made a great impression. He’s played multiple positions. He’s a tough, hard-nosed football player. He was great on the board, he did an excellent job of that. He really convinced the coaches that he was a really sharp football player, a multiple position guy, a guy that would come in here and play the linebacker position for us, which is what he’ll do. So we’re excited about that.

The safety is an all-around football player that we think can come in and right away be a backup and help us on special teams. He is a throw-your-body-around kind of guy, really sharp, loves football, the whole deal. He was a guy that stood out on the board and would be used in that capacity.

Bennett Jackson is also a captain who is a guy who had played the wide receiver position, he’s a defensive corner and will help us on special teams. He’s long, he’s very fast, he’s played at the highest level of competition so we’re very pleased with that.

We’ve obviously addressed some needs. There are still some things that have to be done here. Hopefully at the conclusion of the draft, although it’s difficult as you sit there and watch all of these picks that are going to come off, including all of the compensatory at the bottom of seven, you’re looking at these things saying, ‘Man, are we ever going to get to where we can feel like we have some ability to maneuver in free agency and help us in some areas that we need to fulfill with some competitive athletes?’ That’s where we stand.

Q: In other years, I would think a Heisman Trophy finalist and the leading rusher in the country would not have been a fourth-round pick. The way that running backs are, does he look like a fourth-round pick to you?
A: No, not at all. Quite frankly, we had him in at least the second. Some guys had first-round grades on him. You kind of start to accept what is the common verbiage out there, we didn’t have a running back go in the first round. It looked like they were all going to bunch up there in the second round and there were good players, don’t get me wrong. But we had this young man graded high and we were fortunate to be able to get him.

Q: You said at the combine that you had to maintain your commitment to the run. How important is bringing in a guy like Andre to do that?
A: Very, very important. Along with what we currently have here, this is a big, powerful guy, basically a first and second down runner, can run the zone scheme. When you stop and think about what Boston College was able to accomplish this year, I don’t know how much tape you guys have seen, but they would come out sometimes in two or three tight ends, which would bring the entire defense down and actually have the offensive formation contained almost hash mark to hash mark in college football. And yet this kid still rushed for (2,100) plus yards. He’s able to break tackles, he’s fast enough that when he gets in the open he can go all the way. He’s demonstrated that. He runs outside, he runs inside, he’s run the counter game, the gap scheme stuff, the power and he breaks arm tackles, he runs through people, he’s strong, he’s not big, strong legs that allow him to drive through people and fall forward, which is another nice thing. Yes, that does give us a chance. I think that also makes our offensive linemen realize that… you wouldn’t take a guy like that unless you were committed to the run. We’ve got to get going up front again and be the dominating force up front, which can move the defense.

Q: Are you concerned at all that the kid had 355 carries?
A: It’s only one year. That gets talked about. But that was only the one year, I think he had 170 something maybe the year before. That gets discussed, there’s no doubt he’s taken a lot of hits but he’s dished out a lot of hits, too.

Q: So many new faces with free agency and now with this draft, are you excited about what you’ve done and what the competitive level of this…?
A: I am, I really am. I’m excited about this whole concept of, whether it be free agency, whether it be now the college free agency of being able to bring players, recognize and then get players in here that we want and then put the young men that are working hard right now in this offseason program together with this new group and let’s get this thing going, let’s get the mesh going, let’s get this camaraderie thing going, let’s get out on the field and be smart about it. Compete, we’d like to be able to match up all of the positions with some competitiveness because that’s how you get better. So I’m excited about that part of it.

Q: Does it feel like a different team already to you?
A: I don’t know that it does. I look around the room and I’ve got a lot of familiar faces still. We certainly recognize the new players that are here, but to be honest with you, the new guys in free agency have come in and just gone right to work and they seem to be clicking very well together. I’m sure this group will come in and do the same thing.

Q: This was the first time that you guys had a war room camera, did that change anything or disrupt anything?
A: Some more ties were in the room than usual, I think. That’s all.

Q: I know there was a rumor, I don’t know if it was true, that you guys would be a candidate for Hard Knocks. Would that be something that you would ever consider?
A: No. Do you think it has anything to do with whether I say yes or no? First of all, realize that I would have absolutely no say in this, but if it came down to me, absolutely not. They would be disappointed.

Q: Why?
A: Because you wouldn’t get what you normally associate with that show. I’d go the other way, and they’d fire us in a minute. Cancelled, nobody watches.

Q: At the league meeting, you talked about the tight end position and said that you need to do some work there. Since that time I think you added one guy, Kellen Davis. Are you concerned at all with that position? Is that still a worry moving forward at all or do you feel confident with what you have?
A: I will say this, it is worrisome when you look at the draft and like, for example, you go to the combine and you see all these numbers at all these different positions and then the tight end numbers are (not there). That’s a little bit scary. Where are those guys? Where did they go? What are they doing? Are they playing defensive end? What are they doing right now?

Q: I assume that was a big part of the reason that you guys weren’t able to draft one?
A: Well, there were some quality positions there, don’t get me wrong. It has to work out for you and all of a sudden, bang, a couple guys were gone in that second round and you say, ‘wait a minute, how deep is that position and then who?’ Two of them are gone. Yeah it’s a concern, it’s a concern in a lot of ways but we’ve got, as has been said, we’ve got a couple young guys here that, ‘Fellas, if you can’t see your way to the field now…’

Q: Coming in, did you think that in the second round that you could possibly get a guy there?
A: I wouldn’t say that that ended up being the way that it paired out for us in terms of just the guys that we were talking about. It just didn’t fall that way. We would have had to do some other things to get him in that spot.

Q: We obviously don’t know Ben McAdoo’s offense yet, how critical is the tight end spot?
A: If you look at the different styles around the league, tell me one that doesn’t feature a tight end that either is used more on the pass than the run or the other way around. Our guys are still blockers and kind of Supermen kind of people. They have to block, they have to be able to release off the line, they have to catch the football, they have to be people that you’re looking for in that green zone area, get the ball up high.

Q: At this point, would you consider singing another guy, somebody like Jermichael Finley, who has yet to be cleared?
A: We have to, we’ll be doing some more. That’s not enough numbers for camp. We need some numbers, yeah. I hope we can find some numbers, to be honest.

Q: If you stand pat, how much pressure would that put on a guy like Adrien Robinson? This is his third year now.
A: Adrien is very sharp and is able to count. He’s on the field with four guys. And he’s handles everything very well to this point.

Q: With young running backs, you usually nurture them a little bit before you throw them in. The way I hear you talking about Williams, are you expecting him to come in and contribute right away?
A: I said last night or two nights ago that I expect everybody to contribute right away. This is not one of those deals. We need people to come in and play, that’s why we’ve done a good job of selecting them. If there are five captains here, then there is some maturity here. If there’s maturity here, hopefully they can make the adjustment. Sure, it’s new. Yeah, it’s different. Yes, it is a life-long dream. Yes, I have to get over that part of it. I’ve got to realize that it’s hard work, get back to it, but if that’s the case then we’ll have some guys that will be a little bit ahead of the curve.

Q: Have you had this many quarterbacks on a roster before?
A: I once had seven or eight of them at Boston College, I think. Seriously.

Q: Jerry used the word ‘clean’ about almost every pick. Was that concept important to you?
A: It was, it was important.

Q: Moreso than in any other years?
A: No. It’s always been something very, very important. There have been times when people are reached for at the right situation and circumstance. You don’t know how they were graded, I can’t tell you exactly how things… a specific example, I’m not going to do that. It’s always something of very, very primary importance here. This year it was very important.

Q: We heard Eli talk about making progress, how do you see his progress going so far? Jerry said we probably wouldn’t see him this spring and he hopes to be on the field soon. Where do you stand on that?
A: He’s an amazing guy. We’ve got about a dozen medical eyes watching him and he’s just getting better and better. I expect after three days rest, he’ll come in on Monday and be doing jumping jacks.

Q: Are you going to have trouble keeping him off the field?
A: We haven’t kept him off the field. To be honest with you, he’s taken a snap here or there. He’s going to continue. As long as he’s feeling good and there is no setback, then, in moderation, he’s allowed to practice. 


RB Andre Williams


Q: Thoughts on joining the Giants?

A: Honestly, I’m just elated right now. Honestly, the Giants are just the team from the beginning that I really resonated the most with. I had a great interview at the combine with coach Coughlin and everybody, the whole staff there. We really just had a good vibe flowing in the room. I just had a feeling from the moment that this would be the team that would end up picking me up. It’s right in an area that I’m really familiar with in the northeast, so I’m just glad that it worked out this way.  

Q: Were you surprised that you didn’t go yesterday? A lot of people were saying that you were possibly a second or third round pick. What was it like waiting yesterday to today?
A: It’s not necessarily when I got picked up, it’s where I got picked up. Like I said, from the start I had a feeling it was going to be the Giants and it really ended up turning out that way. I’m really just glad that it turned out that way. Patience is a really valuable thing. It worked out the best possible way it could, no matter what round it ended up being. Whether it was after the fourth round had I came to the Giants, I would have been just as happy. The round doesn’t really bother me at all.

Q: What do you think it says about the value of running backs in the draft that you led the nation in rushing and were a Heisman finalist and there were 110 guys picked before you?
A: I think the running back position is such a versatile position in the league. The trend might be for them to go later on in the draft but I think they’re just as valuable to an offense. There’s no other position that’s called upon to protect the quarterback, convert downs in hard situations and control the clock. I think the running back is just as valuable as it was back in the day even though the trend is for running backs to go later on in the rounds.

Q:  I noticed you didn’t have any receptions last year, I guess, because of the increase in carries. Did you also do a lot of pass protection for the quarterback?
A: I did do a lot of pass protection last year and in years past. I’ve been through about five different offensive coordinators, different offenses I was called upon to do different things. This year I was just called upon to run the ball and we had a lot of success with that. I think I am solid in pass protection.

Q: You only caught 10 passes in your career, how much was it that you weren’t given the opportunity and how much did teams, when they worked you out, asked you about that and tested you on that?
A: Catching the ball has not been my strong point in my career. I wasn’t called upon to do it a lot in high school or in college just because I was such a great runner but it is something that I’ve continued to work on throughout the years and especially in the last offseason a lot. It’s something that I’m continuing to get better at.

Q: When you met with the Giants and had their interviews, did they give you any indication how they might use you if they picked you or what they expected of you?
A: I don’t think the interview really went that in depth.

Q: Do you compare yourself to any running backs? Did you have a running back that you looked up to growing up?
A: I don’t compare myself to any running backs but growing up I did really watch Adrian Peterson a lot. I drew a lot of inspiration from him in high school and in college. Marshawn Lynch as well.

Q: What do you think you bring to the team?
A: I think I’m going to bring consistency to a team, competitiveness on every down. When I get the ball I’m going to have the potential for a big play every time just because of my size and speed. I’m just going to be a great team player.

Q: You carried the ball 355 times last year; I guess that shows a lot about your durability. Did that take anything out of you? Or do you feel like you’ll be ready to perform here at this level with the same type of durability?
A: I did take a lot of carries this year but the last three years that I played before that I didn’t take nearly as many carries. I think it was good for me to take that many carries, to be so close to the professional level at that time, it was good to get that many carries and show that I could be durable, I could take a lot of carries. My body is built for it. I’m 230 pounds. It doesn’t really faze me to take that many carries. It was a lot of fun doing it this year.

Q: The thing that keeps rookie running backs off the field a lot is pass protection. That seems to be one of your strengths. Do you think you can come in and contribute right away?
A: Absolutely. I’m just going to come in this offseason and compete and work as hard as I can and push everyone around me and have everyone push me as well. If that translates for me getting on the field early, then I’m welcome to that idea.

Q: Have you already worked on plans of getting down here, when you’re going to be down? Do you expect to be able to jump right into the program?
A: I’m really excited. I’m really excited to jump into the program. It’s funny because I’m at my house right now, everybody is looking at this moment as the biggest moment in my career, but really I’m more focused on what’s coming after because I know that the work starts here. I’m just really excited to get up there and meet everybody and get into the program and have some stability in my life over the next four years and however long my career with the Giants will last, just ingrain myself in the program.


Safety Nat Berhe

Q: What are your immediate thoughts on coming to the Giants? Did you have much interaction with them throughout the process?
A: Not really. I got a phone call from them a week ago. They asked for my phone number. They wanted to make sure it was the right phone number to reach me on draft day. I knew they needed safeties, but that was about it.

Q: What would you say your greatest quality is to come in here and have a chance to contribute?
A: My instincts. I have great eyes. You watch my film, and I am able to dissect plays and get to the ball. I led the team in tackles two years in a row. Getting to the ball and being very disruptive on the defensive side of the ball are what I do really well.

Q: Are you more of a strong safety? A free safety? Can you play both?
A: I can play both. At San Diego State, I played the Aztec position. The Aztec position plays linebacker and blitzes off the edge. I played a little bit of free safety and kind of did it all. I am very comfortable playing either role.

Q: What’s the Aztec position? Give us a little background on that and how it is different from a natural safety or a natural linebacker?
A: The Aztec position used to be called the Lobo, and was played by Brian Urlacher at New Mexico. His coaching staff came over to San Diego State and we implemented it there, and called it the Aztec. It basically is a hybrid linebacker/safety. It can be used in different ways, such as blitzing off the edge or being brought down in the box as an extra linebacker. He can play deep pass or safety or line up in the slot and play guys man-to-man. The position makes a lot of the adjustments on defense as well. He has to be a smart guy.

Q: What have teams told you about where you will play, how you kind of transition to the pro level position wise? Do they view you as a free safety or a strong safety?
A: I’ve heard multiple things. I’ve heard strong safety. I’ve heard nickel. I’ve heard free safety. I have heard it all, honestly.

Q: Your bio said you had a lot of experience on special teams. Was that by design? Was that something that you wanted to do?
A: I think that was by design. At my school I played a lot of special teams in my freshman and sophomore years. My junior and senior years not so much. I think that is just how the coaches wanted it to be done. I played almost every snap both years. It was kind of a thing that just happened.

Q: What were your expectations here in the draft? What were you being told about where you thought you would be going?
A: You hear multiple things from different teams. I heard from the Steelers that if I was available in the third round they would get me in the third or the fourth. I heard fourth of fifth. It was all in the same area. I mostly heard fourth or fifth.

Q: I saw some of your tweets right after you got picked; it seemed like you had a bit of a chip on your shoulder. Do you play like that?
A: Absolutely, if you look at my film, I try to be the biggest and baddest dude out there every time. It is just the way I play. It was the way I was taught to play. I just play with a lot of emotion and anger and I try to take people’s heads off, it’s what I do. I think that is how the safety position is supposed to be played.

Q: Obviously you’re not the biggest guy in the world, do you compensate for your lack of size with aggression and intensity?
A: When you talk about my size, what are you exactly talking about? If you look at some of the guys out there, like Earl Thomas, he’s 5-10. Devin McCourtney is 5-11. If you look at some of the safeties that are starting in the NFL, they are 5-10 or 5-11. I have actually put on weight. I now weigh 200-201 [pounds].

Q: Is that weight where you’d like to play at or do you want to put on even more weight than that?
A: During the season I played at 202 [pounds]. I mean it just varies on what the coaching staff wants me to do.

Q: Were you a team captain at San Diego State?
A: Yes, sir.

Q: What does that mean do you think? What does it show teams when you’re a team captain?
A: It shows them that you are a leader. You are a guy willing to stay after and get extra reps in, whether it is in the film room or the weight room. To be a great leader, what I have found out is that you have to be willing to serve. I did stuff like setting up team barbeques and paying with my own money. You have to be willing to get the guys together and willing to give your time.

Q: Do you already have your travel plans? When you’re planning on heading here?
A: Yes, I am going to make sure I have everything correct. [The Giants] said they are going to fly me out tomorrow. I will get there and then Monday I will start working out with the team. I will double-check that and make sure.


LB Devon Kennard

Q: Did you have any high expectations coming into the draft and where you might fall? What is your reaction about coming to the Giants?
A: I didn’t really come into the draft with any high expectations, I just wanted an opportunity; the earlier, the better, of course. I just wanted to go to a good fit and a great opportunity. That’s what the Giants have given me. I couldn’t be happier. I had a great visit when I visited them and I really connected with the coaching staff. I’m very excited to go contribute and help win.

Q: What was the motivation behind your move from defensive end to outside linebacker? Do you prefer playing in either spot? Do you think you’re a better fit in either spot?
A: I definitely feel like I have the ability to do both, but I feel very comfortable at the outside linebacker spot. Being able to drop into coverage and blitz at times and do different things like that is something that I feel very comfortable with and it provides me more versatility. I think I’m a smart player, so I feel like I could bring something on that aspect to the Giants organization.

Q: What kind of defensive front have you played in your college career, a 3-4 or 4-3?
A: I played in both, but for the majority of my career it was a 4-3, and I played a lot of different positions. I came in as a defensive end and then I played SAM linebacker in a 4-3 and then defensive end in a 4-3, middle linebacker in a 4-3 and then this past season I played outside linebacker in a 3-4. I feel very well-versed doing a lot of different things.

Q: What kind of feedback did you get back from teams that run a 4-3 a a position for you?
A: Pretty much every team, including the Giants, saw me as a SAM, a SAM in a 3-4 or a 4-3 team. That’s what I definitely feel most comfortable with, that’s what I feel like my athleticism and versatility allow me to do. I think it’s a very good fit for me.

Q: When did you come in for a visit and who did you meet with? What was that like?
A: It was a couple weeks ago. I came in, got to meet the whole coaching staff, the head coach, the GM, everybody, the linebackers coach and it was a great experience. We had some great conversations and I got to show them my football knowledge. I feel like, with all of the different things I’ve done in college, I really have a good understanding of football and defenses and understanding concepts. I was able to kind of really express that message in some of the meetings.

Q: Where else did you visit, and when you left here, did you feel it was a strong possibility?
A: I definitely felt like the conversations were great. Everyone kind of keeps what they do in the draft close to their vests so it was hard to tell but I knew the conversations went great and I felt like I had a great relationship with the linebackers coach and the coordinator and the head coach. I think I left them with a good impression, too. When my name came across I definitely wasn’t surprised it was them, but I was very grateful.

Q: You had some injuries throughout your career. Did you sense teams were taking an extra look at you because of that and did you need to prove anything to them health-wise?
A: I’ve had a few injuries, like you said, but they were all unfortunate deals. If you play this game long enough, you’re going to get a few injuries. I think it’s more important to look at how I responded to all of those injuries. I’ve had a couple of injuries and I’ve only missed one college season and it was because I tore my pec right before the season. All of the other injuries, I came back and played from right away. If you go and talk to anyone at USC, they’ll tell you about my work ethic and the kind of person and the kind of character and intensity I bring every day. I think those are the things you really have to look at.

General Manager Jerry Reese

Post-Draft, May 10, 2014

 

I’ll just go over the new guys; we’ve already talked about the first three picks. Andre Williams, running back, Boston College – well-known, big back, a lot of production, power runner, can bang inside and has speed to take it for big runs if he breaks into the secondary. A very good value for us, gives us some more depth at our running back position, creates a lot of competition. We’re still hoping that David Wilson comes back and is able to go, but again, we said out of the gate that we weren’t’ going to count on that until the doctors say that he can practice full-contact and he hasn’t been released to do that. We think he’s going to be there but we couldn’t pass up the value of a running back like this, of this caliber, at this point in the draft.

Berhe is a safety from San Diego State. This guy is really productive, a tackling machine, a little bit undersized but you just can’t deny how this guy is a football player. We use the term ‘football player;’ this guy is one of those guys, a football player. He’s all over the place; he’ll play on all of your special teams. You expect guys like Andre Williams to play on special teams as well. Very productive, a really good football player.

Kennard, the linebacker from USC, we feel like he’s a versatile player. He’s a nine-sack guy, led the team in sacks. He played middle linebacker at one point for them and then they moved him outside with the coaching change so we think he can play all three positions for us. He can be a rusher, a situational pass rusher for us and obviously play on all of the special teams. A hard-nosed football player. A bunch of these guys, again, are captains as well. Captains, clean guys.

Jackson, cornerback from Notre Dame. Formerly a wide receiver, played a couple years at corner. We think he has some upside, has some intangibles that we like – height, weight, speed. I think we could hit on a guy like this. Again, he’s our kind of guy, he’s a captain, a leader, going to play on all of your special teams while he’s developing into a corner. I’ll take any questions.

 

Q: We talked last night about team captains and you picked, it looks like, three more. Was this a defined plan?

A: We’ve always tried to pick guys who are captains, in leadership roles for their teams. We feel like you can get quality players when you do that. When guys have leadership roles, we like those guys.

 

Q: Were you impressed with the way that Williams handled that workload at Boston College this year? That was a lot of carries but it seems like he came out…?

A: Yeah, he’s got a lot of carries under his belt and the thing about it, he comes through the line of scrimmage and 22 eyes are looking at him and he still rushes for 2,000 yards. We’re very impressed with that and, again, this is the kind of guy that if you want to pound the rock, this is the kind of guy you can pound the rock with. If you get up in a game and you’re trying to run the clock out in that four-minute drill at the end, this is the kind of guy that you can get the ball to over and over and over and he’ll get first downs for you.

 

Q: Is his blocking encouraging, too?

A: He’s not asked to block. He carries the ball most of the time but the few times you get to see him block, we think he can do that. Obviously he will have to learn technique and pass pro, those kinds of things, but he’s smart and tough so we think he could be a blocker.

 

Q: He hasn’t caught the ball much in his career, he said it wasn’t something he did much in high school or college. Is that something that you think he can do and just hasn’t had the opportunity or is it kind of raw there?

A: We think, we hope, he can develop and be able to catch. I don’t think we’re going to use him in that role. I’m not the coordinator, they’ll use him however they want to use him, but they really like his skill set. I think mostly he’ll be carrying the football instead of catching the football. All backs need to be able to catch the ball at some point in your offense. You’re right, he hasn’t caught a lot of balls but hopefully he’ll be able to do the few options they have for him as a receiver out of the backfield.

 

Q: I was going to ask pretty much the same kind of question about his pass catching ability?

A: If it’s a weak point, that’s what it is. They haven’t used him a lot as a receiver out of the backfield.

 

Q: You’re not going to put a running back on the field unless he can protect the quarterback.

A: Yeah, he has the size, he’s tough, he’s smart so we don’t think he’ll have any problems adjusting and picking up the blitzes and things like that. We expect him to be a guy who can come in and perform those duties.

 

Q: In past years we’ve seen you guys taking kind of some height, weight, speed guys like Cooper Taylor and Jacquian Williams. It seemed like this year a guy like Berhe is a little bit undersized.

A: He’s the only guy that’s not a height, weight, speed guy. He’s the only one.

 

Q: Like Andre Williams, he’s a height, weight, speed guy?

A: Absolutely.

 

Q: Where do you see Berhe kind of fitting in and playing? Free safety, strong safety, in the nickel, corner?

A: Wherever Perry Fewell wants to use him. Obviously, again, he’s one of those kids that’s a football player. He gets his uniform by playing on special teams first and I think he can back up and spot play at either one of the safety spots. How they used him at San Diego State, they used him close to the line of scrimmage.

 

Q: It seemed like he had a lot to do with calling the defense there at San Diego State?

A: Yeah, he’s smart, he’s a good leader. He’s kind of the patrol back there.

 

Q: Any of the four today that dropped into your lap that you were a little surprised?
A: We’re a little bit surprised by the BC running back because he had so much production coming out. He’s a big back, we were a little bit surprised that he was there. He was kind of sticking out. Last night when we looked at the board before we left he was kind of sticking out there.

 

Q: You have used the word ‘clean’ on almost every pick. There don’t seem to be a lot of off-the-field risks or anything in this class. Was that a point of emphasis?

A: We always want to try to get guys who we call ‘clean.’ It’s not always possible, sometimes you take some calculated risks on some guys who have some off-field issues, some checkered backgrounds. We always go into the draft looking for guys who don’t have a lot of off field issues that we have to deal with.

 

Q: But sometimes, as you said, you take that calculated risk. Not so much this year though?

A: We were fortunate enough that we were able to draft some guys who are, quote, clean. They’re all still young kids and all of them are probably going to make some bad decisions at some point. Hopefully not, but young kids make bad decisions sometimes.

 

Q: John Mara stood here at the end of last season and said maybe that you guys took too many risks. Did that play into it at all, the fact that that was sort of the owner’s belief that maybe you guys did do that too much in the past?
A: No. John is always on board with whoever we pick. He sits right in there and he looks and listens to everything we’re doing in there. He’s always 100% on whoever we take. Again, that’s part of the business. Sometimes you have to take risks on guys with the risk-reward factor. Sometimes you take some risks that don’t work out, sometimes you do and it works out for you. That’s the part of the business. You can’t be afraid to do those things.

 

Q: In retrospect, this was the first time you personally as a GM drafted at the top half of the draft. Talk a little bit about what it meant for you guys to be in the top half?

A: I’m not happy about it, I can tell you that. I don’t care about picking in the top half of the draft. I like picking at the bottom of the draft. It’s a privilege to pick down there but unfortunately we were 7-9. When you’re 7-9, you pick earlier. When you get a chance to pick earlier, you get a chance to pick some more quality-type players because if you’re picking last, if you’re picking late and last a lot, you’ve got to take guys in the front row, you’re taking a second-round pick most of the time. You hardly ever take a guy that you really think is a true blue goose first-round pick if you’re picking 32.

 

Q: I know we’ve got a ways to go but do you think this draft is going to help Eli Manning have a bounce-back year with what you brought in?

A: We’re trying like heck. I think we have a weapon with Odell on the outside. We think he’ll help in respect to that. We think we have a center who we think can help, so yeah. We’ve got a big running back you can hand the ball to. Hopefully those things can help him out and get him back on track.

 

Q: You didn’t draft a tight end, are you set with what you have there?

A: We’re always going to keep looking for players, but again, I said this a couple times already, we have a couple tight ends, young guys, who we want to stay healthy and we’ve tried to develop and it’s time for those guys to get out there and help us.

 

Q: You’re always keeping your options open but would you be content with the guys that are there now?
A: In personnel, sometimes you can’t get everything. You can’t just waive a magic wand and a tight end will show up. We’ve had tight ends that we’ve been able to develop in the past. Again, we go way back to the kid, (Kevin) Boss. You can go back to Boss, he’s coming from a tiny school, Western Oregon or something like that. Did anybody think this kid was going to be starting in the Super Bowl his rookie year and make some plays? You have to put them out there and you have to develop guys at some point. It would be great if you could have guys ready-made that could come in and just line up and be fantastic blockers and fantastic receivers but sometimes it doesn’t work that way. Whatever the skill set is, you’ve got to bring them in and work to their skill set and you have to play the hand you’re dealt and win with it. That’s just part of the business.

 

Q: How much did not getting a tight end at all in the draft have to do with the actual tight end class that was coming out this year? Maybe it wasn’t as strong.

A: That probably has something to do with it. It just didn’t fall our way for a tight end. If there was a tight end that we liked in our window, we would have picked him but it just didn’t fall our way this time in the draft.

 

Q: Before the draft started you had said you still had some work to do on the offensive line. Did you expect that after you took Richburg that maybe you would have added a couple more and things just didn’t fall?

A: We stay true to our board. There were some more offensive linemen we talked about at different times that were taken off the board around us, around the pick that we were making at the time. We were happy with being able to get Richburg. Again, we did a lot of work with the offensive line in the offseason with free agency and we’ll continue to look. We feel like we have more depth at this point and hopefully it will be able to hold up as we go through the season.

 

Q: Are these next few hours with undrafted free agency almost just as important?

A: Absolutely. We’re working hard upstairs. Our scouts, Marc Ross, they’re stacking our free agent board with the players that are left. Obviously some of those guys will get picked as the end of the sixth round and seventh round go. Whoever the guys are that are left, we’ll get on the phone and try to call them right away and see if we can secure a few guys.

 

Q: You’re not having your usual rookie camp where the tryout guys come in. Do you do anything different to take a broader look at some guys or do you just stick with the free agents?

A: We’re just going to stick with the free agents for now. We’ll bring in some guys after the draft, we’ll bring some guys in shortly right after the draft and look at some guys and have a group of workout guys.

 

Q: Ideally how many guys would you like to sign?
A: We’ll fill out the 90. Whatever’s left from the draft picks, we’ll fill it out all the way and there could be some guys that if we feel like we can exchange, we’ll swap out. If we feel like there are some free agents that are better, more quality than some of the players we have on our roster right now, we might look to exchange some guys.