Q: What did you like about him?
A: Chad is a young, versatile player. He is a safety who plays in the box, and they play him deep. He returns punts. I don't know if you guys know but he plays baseball, too. This kid has a nice, versatile skill set of things that he can do. He's a big kid…221 pounds, 6'2". He can run and he's strong. He plays baseball so he hasn't had a lot of offseason football training but we're looking forward to what he can do in full-time football.
Q: He sounds like a nickel back, does he have cover skills?
A: Yeah, the kid is an athlete. He may have some of the best pure hands in the draft, out of any position. You can really see this kid's baseball skills like hand-eye coordination catching the football. He can really catch it.
Q: I thought I saw that he was projected a little higher maybe…were you surprised he was still there?
A: I don't know, man. The mock drafts had that I'm sure but we thought there was a chance that he could go a little earlier because of his skills. We are happy to get him when we did.
Q: You talk about him returning punts…is that something he can do at this level?
A: Yes. The way he catches it. At LSU, they had a couple guys but when they needed a safe return, they put him back there to secure catches. He had a 93-yard touchdown against Mississippi State. He can move with it, too. Our special teams coaches are excited. He's done other things on special teams. He's been the gunner, he's been a personal protector on the punt so he has done other things on special teams.
Q: By not having full-time football training, is he missing some size and some strength?
A: He was 221 at the combine and was 225 at his pro day. He could be about 230 with some full time training. He is still not developed in his upper body and his chest. Obviously, with some baseball stuff, you don't want to get too bulky and big. He could probably carry 230 easily, he might not want to be that big. With weight training, he'll get more up there.
Q: He almost sounds linebacker size?
A: Yeah. The way they play linebackers nowadays, he is bigger than some of these linebackers who are barely six feet and 220 pounds.
Q: Is that something you guys thought about…moving him there?
A: Nah, he is strictly a safety.
Q: Strong or free safety?
A: He can do both. The way we use our guys, they have to be able to do a little bit of everything. And he fits right in with that. Because that is the way they used him there. You see him up in the box like a linebacker, sometimes you see him back deep playing cover two and single-high stuff.
Q: Sounds like he could be a good nickel linebacker?
A: He could be a good nickel safety, yeah.
Q: Are his cover skills as good as his tackling skills right now?
A: He shows you a little bit of everything. He is an explosive hitter. When he gets down in the box he is a big strong man, 221 pounds down in there. Sometimes during the year he played even higher than that. So he can do a little bit of both. I can't really say one instead of the other right now.
Q: How would you compare him to a guy like Taylor Mays?
A: Taylor is probably more straight-line fast. This kid is a little more instinctive and athletic in his change of direction. Ball skills – definitely this kid is much better.
Q: When you were looking at him over time, was there ever any question of whether he was going to choose football over baseball?
A: He pitched on – they won a national championship a couple of years ago and he pitched and he was an outfielder. And that is definitely a concern. You have to figure that out with all baseball players. But he is fully committed to football. He sees himself as a football player. He is passionate about football. I think he is one of those kids that that could really could play ping pong or pool, he has that kind of skill set that whatever he picks up he will be good at. And I think that is what it was with baseball.
Q: With the philosophy here being value/need, the first three rounds not picking a linebacker, was that because the need isn't what we perceive it to be – that you needed one in the first three rounds? Or was it more because value for linebackers was not there?
A: I'm sure Jerry and Coach answered that a lot. But when I set the board up I set it up by value and then we pick from there. Of course, if we have need picks in the same value range, then we talk about that. But what we have done so far is that we have value picks.
Q: This is the third guy that you have gotten that has come out of college early. Do you sort of have to tilt your equation in scouting a guy like that?
A: When you are scouting a junior?
Q: Yes, if he is coming out.
A: No, you may have to do a little more digging. You actually may do more work on juniors than the seniors because during the year with the seniors you have a few scouts that are in there. And then when the juniors come out you are almost more intensely going after the information and trying to find out just to make sure. But historically the juniors are the better players. You are identifying them. They are showing up on tape anyway so you are kind of looking at them throughout.
Q: The way your scouting system works, how many guys actually saw him play live?
A: Saw him play a live game or practice? Well, we have three scouts that do that area. I go down there. The coaches have seen him at the Combine.
Q: But in actual games does that mean that four of your saw him play?
A: I didn't actually see him in a game. I saw him in practice, his pro day. Games are good to see but practices sometimes are just as good as a game look. LSU is one of the better teams where they have intense practices and you can see all of the skills that you need to see in a practice setting. We watch tape of all of the games.
Q: How would you rate the middle linebacker class in this draft? Is it not that strong?
A: I wouldn't say that. Obviously McClain and then there may have been a big drop off. I don't want to say it was weak but for us we didn't have a lot of guys at high value there.
Q: For someone to excel in the SEC because that competition is so high it says a lot about his athletic ability.
A: Yeah, whenever you take a guy from the SEC you always – that is the best of the best. If you are good in the SEC, that is where the best athletes are and that is the way we look at it. So we are excited about that.
Q: Did you ever draft a closer?
Q: That said, how do you project a kid from a East Carolina or even South Florida when you know the best athletes come out of the SEC? How do you make that projection? How do you rate a kid in terms of that type of competition?
A: You try to watch them against a better competition. Doing this and getting a data base of what a powerful guy looks like compared to powerful guys in the SEC. Is this guy more powerful? His individual skill set comparing it to other people at his position which will carry over no matter who he is playing against – his speed, the quickness, the intelligence. Whatever their individual skill set is, you just try to compare it from doing this for so long.