Prince – we've talked about him, fell to us. We try not to be surprised in a draft because funny things always happen in a draft, but the guy fell right in our lap. We're really pleased with that, that he could come in and start challenging for a spot, help us on special teams, play in the nickel, do a lot of stuff for us. We thought he was a top-ten talent.
Marvin Austin – well documented off-field issues. Did our homework on him, thought he was a top 15 talent. We think he'll be a terrific player on our defensive front in the rotation.
Jernigan – wide receiver, return specialist, returns punts and kicks, fast, explosive player, will play in the slot for us probably. Hopefully he can give our special teams, our return game, a boost along with some other guys that we have. This guy gives us another option. But he is an explosive player. We really like him. We had him rated pretty high up there and we think he'll do a good job for us.
Brewer – talked about him a little bit earlier today. Height, weight, speed, really kind of a common thread though of all of these guys. We try to upgrade our speed at every position. Most of these guys are height, weight, speed people. Jernigan is not a height, weight, speed, but he's what we call a G-type. He's small and fast. Brewer – height, weight, speed player. Has some developmental things that he can get better. A lot of technique stuff that he'll get better at as a pro. But this is a gigantic man with long arms. You get excited about these kinds of guys.
Greg Jones – linebacker, has been incredibly productive over his time at Michigan State. One of the things that the late Tom Boisture taught me is when you scout guys, you respect production. This guy has tons of production. This guy has sacks. He has tons and tons of tackles. He's played at a high level, very instinctive player. Another guy who's going to come in with a chip on his shoulder because I'm pretty sure he feels like he should've been picked a lot higher than where he got picked. He'll come in here with something to prove as well, along with Marvin Austin.
Tyler Sash – height, weight, speed safety, more of a strong safety. Played a high level of comp. Lots of interceptions, I think he had 13 interceptions in his career there. Smart player, he came in, he can line up the entire defense. He can put everybody on there and tell you what they should do. You love those kinds of guys. We think he will definitely come in and challenge for a spot back in our secondary, back at one of our safety positions.
Jacquian Williams – the linebacker from South Florida, fast, athletic. The guy will strike you, will give us some more speed on our special teams. Junior college kid, so he'll be behind a little bit with regard to high level of play. Came there late, to South Florida, but he got into the mix really quickly there and just took off. A lot of people probably didn't know him. Our scouts really did a good job digging this guy out. We think he can really give us a boost on special teams with his speed while he's learning how to play up here at this level.
Da'Rel Scott – we took a flyer on the guy because he is big and fast. He is fast, he had a terrific sophomore season. His production fell off, but late in the draft this is what you look for. You look for guys with some redeeming qualities. This guy is big and fast. We hope this guy will come over here and do a Willie Parker, one of those kinds of things. We're really pleased with our draft class. We look forward to having these guys in here and get going with it.
Q: You said you took a flyer on Scott, what needs to improve?
A: Again, his production fell off. As a sophomore, he rushed for over 1,100 yards, I believe. Then his production fell off for the last couple of seasons. The height, weight, speed, that's what you take in the seventh round. Most of these guys, something is wrong with most of them. Really, in the first round, something is wrong with most of them. But these late rounds, what are the redeeming qualities? This guy was big and he was fast and he has proven he can be productive at a high level of competition. We hope he can get back to form and be that guy.
Q: Why do you think his production fell off?
A: I'm not sure. I'm not sure why his production fell off. We'll see. David Meggett's son plays there. He was in the rotation with him, he's a good, little running back. Could be a combination of a lot of things. Regardless of why it did, it did. His production fell off, but we're hoping we can catch lightening in a bottle with this guy.
Q: Similar to when you took Ahmad Bradshaw late?
A: Again, yeah. We took Bradshaw late like that. Probably why he fell, he had some off-field issues that probably put him down there because we thought he was probably more like a middle round pick. His off-field issues pushed him and took what we call a flyer, took the flyer on him as well. That worked out pretty good for us.
Q: Is it strange for the draft to end and not have anyone to call?
A: It is a little strange. Everybody's up there looking at each other like what do we do now. It's kind of a controlled chaos upstairs after the draft with trying to sign free agents and get guys lined up. Right now, we're just waiting for the draft to end. We'll re-stack the board to see who the free agents are that we want to target when it's time, when we're permitted to do that. We'll just ride it out and see what happens, who gets taken off the board with these last few picks and get ready to go. When they say go, we'll be ready to go.
Q: Guys who weren't drafted are technically not NFL players. Can you contact them?
A: No. No contact at all. No contact. No phone calls after the draft saying, we'll talk to you later, you do this, we'll do that. None of that. No talking to players. When the draft's over, no phone calls.
Q: What do you need to improve on your roster?
A: We'll look at it. We'll take a deep breath and take a look at it. There are some positions that we still think we can improve and upgrade. But right now, I'll take the fifth on that and reserve my comments on that for right now
Q: Was it tempting to go away from plan and take someone to fill this position because not sure what's going to happen with free agency?
A: No, that's why you try to take the best player available. We always try to get value and need with our picks. We were able to do that quite a bit the last couple of days. I thought we were able to do that. Now free agency is coming and we have some business to do there as well, when free agency comes around.
Q: Guys you got in first and second rounds, best value you ever got?
A: We'll see. On paper it looks pretty good, but they have to get out there and do it. It's on paper right now. They have to get out there and show us that they're top 15 picks. Hopefully they will do that.
Q: Did you improve your team speed and special teams?
A: We try to do that. Jernigan, we got him, a fast player, a return specialist. Williams is a fast linebacker. Tyler Sash is a height, weight, speed safety. Da'Rel Scott, if he makes it as a third running back, he's incredibly fast. All of those guys will play on special teams. That's a little bit of the method to the madness up there. We try to get a lot out of every pick. Everything goes into consideration. How does this guy help us on special teams? That's one of the main issues with us – how does this guy help us on special teams?
Q: Was special teams a main issue this year because of last season?
A: You always want to upgrade. I don't think our special teams have been up to par like we want it to be. We flashed and have done some decent things special teams wise. But we definitely could improve that unit. We're trying to help, with personnel, improve that unit.
HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN
We came to work with basically the same objectives – to take the best player available. Of course, to be conscious to some of the need positions, to try do a good job throughout the entire draft with upgrading our speed and what have you on special teams. And I thought we were able to do that this afternoon.
With the Brewer pick you have a young offensive tackle. He was a five-year collegian but he only played one year of high school football. In high school he was a basketball player. He was an outstanding athlete. There are some aspects of, obviously, development in front of him. But he is talented and he is a massive size guy that can probably get even bigger.
Greg Jones, the highly productive linebacker from Michigan State, was our first pick in the sixth round. He is a three-time all Big 10 middle backer who has tremendous production and lots of tackles, any number of sacks over the course of his career as well. And so he was our first pick.
Tyler Sash, the second pick, the safety from Iowa who has an outstanding reputation for being a physical player – come on the …..kind of guy, and once again, an individual that can help us on teams.
Jacquian Williams, the linebacker from South Florida – we had him on the board. He is a little bit bigger than what you are going to see. He was 231 when we weighed him and he does have the outstanding speed. And he will be an outstanding contributor, once again, on special teams.
And Da'Rel Scott, who we just took in the seventh round, the running back from Maryland, who has outstanding speed. This guy is 5-11, his is 211 pounds. He has been clocked under 4.4. He had an extremely productive sophomore year at Maryland – not as much production in the final two years. There are a couple of reasons for that we believe. But at that point in the draft this was a outstanding pick in terms of the contribution of a running back and a very fast running back at that. So as you look at the draft, we drafted according to the most quality at each pick. We did not back off from that at any time. That is the way that we have perceived this and have continued along those lines. The two outstanding defensive players in the first and second round – the receiver and the return man in Jernigan and then as we discussed in the second half of the draft.
Q: The way it came out, is it what you thought it would be?A: You are better off if the idea philosophically is to take the best player who is on the board. That way you are not doing any reaching, you are not trying to make somebody up who doesn't belong there. And I think we have always done that. If you just take the first two picks in the draft, we have two guys in the first round. And I think that speaks highly of itself. Do you solve all of your problems? Of course not. But remember it is an inverted situation this year. We are talking about the college draft first and then free agency coming. And who knows what free agency will bring and what the rules of free agency are. So obviously there is more work to be done. But there is always more work to be done. And the very unusual and difficult thing about this draft – finishing this draft up -- is there is no college free agency. It has always been the mad scramble at the end of draft to go ahead and fill your roster in with the best available players that were not drafted. That won't happen here. That will get put on hold. So you will have that aspect of it. You will have the free agency period. And hopefully at some point in time have an opportunity to put all of these people together on the field before we have to get ready to go to training camp.
A: Do you feel you will be able to fill holes with free agency or is that an unknown?
A: Well, it is just like anything else. You always have contingency plans for everything that you do. The best example I can give you is that we have – I have personally done probably 15 different schedules for this offseason. You can imagine why. And it is the same kind of thing that we would do with personnel.
Q: So you have your plan ready for whatever the circumstances are?
Q: So you didn't draft for needs?
* *A: Well, it depends on - there are a lot of needs. Let's face it – it is not like you are shooting for one or two things. We have a lot of needs. The overall objective is to be the best football team you can possibly be. You never accomplish everything you want to accomplish in any one phase. You have a pretty good start here, I think and I feel. And as I said, we will be prepared for whenever and whatever comes down the road here with the next decision.
Q: Tyler Sash – Marc Ross said he is a smart guy, has nose for the ball, etc – is that a coach's dream?
A: He did all of those things. He had 13 career interceptions, was an outstanding physical player down in the box. He played at a very, very high level in a physical program; a program that does put a lot emphasis on the strength aspect of the game.
Q: Seems like the special teams coach should be smiling?
A: You know there was an awful lot of attention placed along those lines throughout the offseason. And in a calculated manner, we tried to address that. And I think we have made some progress.
Q: Do you think you added a return guy?
A: They will all be on special teams, yeah. But if you mention the return aspect, he doesn't have many. Now you probably would put that kind of a player just into the kickoff return aspect of it. And he would be given a chance, no doubt.
Q: At the Combine you said center was a concern for the draft – you didn't address that.
A: The reason I said that – we came out into the hallway and bang, you asked me that. I made a very quick response because of the injury factor. That and going forward here we have to assess that as well.
Q: Is it still a concern?
A: Oh it is a concern. Sure it is.
Q: Did you give these rookies any instructions?
A: Just the one player.
RE: Getting the other draft picks instructions/playbooks…
A: Well we really haven't thought about that. I'm not sure exactly where that is. The window was there and the window closed real quickly.
Q: You didn't talk to them?
A: We just talked to them.
Q: You didn't really tell these guys --- you just have to trust?
A: What I told them was exactly what I would tell you in that you had better be in great shape because when this whole thing is completed it will be very, very quickly back on the field and you had better be in shape to be able to come in here and have a camp.
RE: Options that Jerrel Jernigan gives you on offense.
A: He has a lot of options - high school quarterback, wildcat, wide receiver. I know you all looked at his numbers with numbers of catches the number – but let's face it, he was operating in a situation a little bit without a big arm at the quarterback position. And I think the type of routes that he ran were high percentage routes and not as many up the field routes. And of course, he does have that vertical speed.
Q: Would you consider wildcat with him?
A: That will remain to be seen. I have always been one – I don't want to take the ball out of the quarterback's hands.
Q: How much quicker is your team?
A: We are faster. We are faster.
Q: Do you think special teams will be faster?
A: Well, definitely just by this right here (pointing to the list of draft choices), we will benefit.
Q: You mentioned reasons for the drop in production for the running back.
A: Yeah, I won't go into it, but there was outstanding production early on. We had a very good workout with him. And he was very responsive. He worked his tail off; stayed extra, caught the ball well, shows you the kind of speed that he has. If you are even, he is gone. Let's face it. What I looked at, I believe there was a 71-yarder, a 91-yarder and 61-yarder. And that is limited, shared play time.
Q: Da'Rel Scott – people say he fumbles a lot, did you notice it?
A: I didn't overly notice it, but sometimes you see him carry the ball away from the side.
Q: Do you know anything about his wrist injury?
A: His medical was not an issue.
Q: Do you know what has been the issue, why was Scott not as productive in his junior and senior year.
A: Yeah, but I'm not going to tell you.
Q: What do you do now with the lockout back on?
Q: There hasn't been any sitting around. The natural question I get is "What are you guys doing?" The coaching staff is on the schedule like we are going to play tomorrow. We are exactly on schedule for all the work that we do throughout the offseason – the new opponents – the schedule – the game planning – all of that stuff. The research – it is all underway. Up to two days ago we had the rookie minicamp scheduled. And that is why the reams of paper that get thrown up the air. So we are trying to stay on that kind of schedule and hoping for more information.
DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING MARC ROSS
After the 6th Round
Q: You picked a bunch of Big 10 Players. Anything to that?
A: No, there was no specific plan to do that.
Q: Would you discuss your later picks starting with James Brewer.
A: James Brewer is a huge man. He is the same size as Kareem McKenzie. He was a former basketball player in high school. That is why he had the late development. He is real agile for a guy his size. He has to get stronger; get better with his fundamentals of football. But he has loads of talent. And I think, for us, the situation where we have some veteran guys, he will come in and learn and develop and won't get thrown into the fire. It is a perfect situation for him.
Greg Jones – production. To get a guy who is this productive, this late, three-time all-Big 10, tons of tackles, sacks, tackles for loss, instinctive, plays hard, gets to the football. He is short but he is compact and thickly built, just is a football player.
Tyler Sash, the same thing. This guy has good size, he runs good enough. He is not your top flight athlete, but the guy has a feel for the game, instinctive, excellent ball skills. He has 13 career interceptions in three years, which is phenomenal. He has more than top corners combined. The guy is good in the box. We hope he will play special teams for us. He has that kind of toughness about him; reckless with his body. So we really like that about him. To get a guy like that, 13 picks, this late, size…. We are happy about that.
And then Jacquian Williams is kind of an undercover guy who not many people have heard about him. He went to the same junior college as Jason Pierre-Paul and went to South Florida. This guy is almost 6-3, 235 pounds. He played about 220 or so because he has put on weight, growing into his body. He is fast. He ran 4.63 on grass at his pro day. He plays that way on the field. He plays with an edge, more of a run and chase kind of guy who plays hard, flies around and he likes to hit.
Q: Why do you think people don't know much about Williams?
A: It was his first year there where he really played. Like I said, he only played around 220. So if you went in there, you saw a 220 linebacker, you might say, "Okay, we won't look at him." But he jumps off the tape at you because of his speed and competitiveness. And he flies around. And since South Florida had about eight guys on defense that you have to look at, he was just under the radar because of him being a developer, and just not a high profile name.
Q: Sounds like the sixth round is an instant help on special teams.
A: Yes, you are definitely looking for – when you get this late in the draft there is a reason why these guys are around. You are not looking for instant starters. You are looking for, "What can these guys do to help us?" And the first thing is special teams. Right away these three guys jump out. Of course, we want to expect more and we hope there is more. But these guys have been productive; have temperament, speed and toughness to play special teams. That is the way they are going to have to make their mark at first.
Q: How is the awareness for Williams with regard to football?
A: As a football player he plays with good instincts. He is good in the classroom. He won't be one of the best, but on the field the guy plays with a good feel for the game.
Q: Still learning?
Q: Will Williams be much different than the guys you picked before him?
A: These guys played in the Big 10, started from Day 1 in the Big 10. They have been highly productive there. So a completely different set of circumstances – Sash and Greg Jones are more similar in their acumen and backgrounds as opposed to this kid.
Q: Is Williams more of a strong side/weak side?
A: He should be more in a weak side run and chase, nickel linebacker cover. That is the stuff that he does really well. Cover, get out in space, run - that is his deal.
Q: Sash seems like an in-the-box guy, but he has all of these interceptions.
* *A: Yeah, it is interesting. He just has a knack for getting around the football. At Iowa they play him everywhere. They play him back, they play him close, and they play him in the slot. And he can handle all of that. He calls the coverages. He will line up your whole defense for you. So those are the things that we really like about him, although his skill set for us may translate more to a box guy. There, they played him everywhere and he got to the football and he has excellent ball skills.
Q: Do you see him being used the same way you used Deon Grant last year?
A: We could, yeah, we could. He has that sort of same football mindset. That is how (Deon) survived was with the mind. And hopefully Tyler can do those to him.
Q: Do you see Greg Jones as an inside guy?
A: Yeah, we think he can play MIKE. He kind of played all three positions at Michigan State. But we see him as a MIKE, and the way he is built - compact, thick. And he plays best in there because he is so slippery; real quick laterally. And he has the instincts and vision to play inside.
Q: What did you think of the slip in his production from his junior year to his senior year?
A: It wasn't like he was bad, just a little bit off. Nothing really directly involved with his play or effort or anything like that. Like you said, you have to watch the tape and see the circumstances. But nothing that jumped out that would say, "Man, this guy is not doing the same thing that he was doing before." Pretty much he was the same player.
Q: Somebody mentioned that the guys in front of him weren't as good as his junior year.
A: I didn't say that.
Q: The circumstances surrounding it –
A: He did what he could do. He got to the football.
Q: He was the same player.
A: He got to the football. I don't know how those guys were. He got to the ball.
Q: Nick Saban said it after the bowl game.
A: I didn't hear that. I feel good now, though.
Q: How does Sash compare to Chad Jones?
A: They are completely different kinds of players; completely different skill set. Chad was a different physical specimen almost. This kid is more – maximizes the talent he has. So they are totally different.* *