Q: Talk about Dillard…
A: Phillip is a high energy, fast kind of player. He is a little on the short side but the guy is 245 pounds. He's thick, and we expect him to play in the middle and compete for that job there. He's a smart kid and he's really been a tough worker there at Nebraska so we are excited about him.
Q: Did he play middle, weakside?
A: He played middle and WIL. He played both.
Q: He's an interesting guy. We asked him how much he was helped by having Suh in front of him and he said that his coach was telling scouts that he helped Suh out as well:
Any time you have Suh in front, you know. He did, he did help the kid. I'm glad Phil tried to take some but he was lining things up and made a lot of the calls. I'm sure that's what he was really referring to because he set the defense, called the fronts, and all that stuff.
Q: If he has to step in, is he capable of doing that here?
A: We have spoken to the defensive coordinator and everything. He's another kid we had on the visit and we put on the board. He did a great job with that.
Q: The punter…strong leg, weak leg? Obviously you guys think he has a strong leg:
A: Yeah, strong leg. When you see him, he's not a typical punter looking guy. He's muscular and 224 pounds. You'll think he's a safety when you see him walk up because he's real jacked up. He loves to lift with his other teammates and stuff, and he's an intense kid. He has a strong leg and we like those big guys. We don't want those scrawny punters that can't last a whole season so he has a lot of developmental qualities to him.
Q: Those reports that say he didn't have a strong leg?
A: He didn't have any of those. We didn't have any, maybe some other ones in the league. We thought the kid had a strong leg.
Q: It also said he doesn't mind going downfield and trying to make a tackle…
A: Yes. That's what I'm saying. It's the way the kid looks. He wants to be a football player. He kicks off and punts. So we love that. He wants to be a football player as either a kicker or punter.
Q: Where are you on this Tracy kid as far as how quickly you think he can adjust?
A: We are real excited because he is a smart kid, obviously, going to William and Mary. Another guy we had in here. We researched extensively down there and he was probably the best note taker we had when we put him on the board of all the guys we had up in our visit. Very conscientious kid. When we interviewed him, the guy shows he is very bright and we have no problems with that whatsoever. We think he'll pick it up really fast.
Q: How many of these guys would you say are more upside and raw than ready to come in right now? I hate to use the word project…
A: A lot of the guys who we took are very good players who still have upside. I think sometimes that gets misconstrued when we say people have upside is that they aren't very good players and we are hoping that they have good players with upside. These are guys we think are good or even outstanding players who still are going to get better where there is a different kind of player where they are going to be what they are, which could be very good still in the NFL. Take a guy like Petrus who, I think, is going to be the same guy now as he is 10 years from now: a tough, nasty, feisty, competitive guy. That's who he is going to be and that is going to be his calling card whereas a person like Tracy, who we are expecting a whole lot more, him moving positions and growing and learning and developing. So there is a difference there.
Q: Regarding Petrus jumping around – tight end, fullback – how much did that hurt his development?
A: It may have helped some, just having some versatility and having a different mindset with the different positions on the field. But he is a guy that is going to attack it from day one. When we called him he was excited. He is ready to go right now. If we told him to walk up here right now, he would be here ready to practice. So that is the kind of guy that he is.
Q: You mentioned yesterday that there is a gap from the top linebackers from the next group, was Dillard in the next group?
A: Yeah, we had him in that next group. We actually talked about him at three (third round) and there was some good discussion about it. We thought there was a chance that he'd be available and that Chad wouldn't be, so we decided to go that route and hold our breath, and we got him. It was a restless night's sleep but it was worth it.
Q: Was there then another guy? You were getting to the point where everyone thought you needed to take a middle linebacker at some point:
A: We had some other guys later, but not really at that range where we took him. We weren't going to force anything. We don't do that and I know we come down here and say it, but we're not going to force it. When you force players and you think it's a need and then you get burned, and then don't play anyway, then you have a bad pick. We were going to wait for the right person at the right time and we feel strongly that Phillip is that guy.
Q: Do you think that was the plan if you didn't get McClain, that Dillard was the next plan?
A: Yeah, he was in that group when we would meet and talk about those things and set up scenarios. He was part of that scenario where if we don't get a guy here in the top tier group then this guy will look good in that third and fourth round range.