SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE
On Fourth Round Selection Ryan Nassib:
(Ryan) Nassib, the highest player on our board, so we talked about it early this morning that if he was still there, there was no way we were going to pass him up again because he has too much value. We've been thinking about developing a quarterback behind Eli (Manning) for a while now and we think this is a perfect opportunity for us to get a young quarterback with a lot of talent – very smart, high test score, very productive, and again the value was too high for us to move on from. When (USC Quarterback Matt) Barkley went, we were like, 'Wow, this guy is not going to be there' and so we thought it was in our best interest to move up a few spots if we could and we made several calls and finally got somebody who wanted to make the trade and we did it.
Q: It's interesting that you pick a guy who is highly rated, but I assume you hope he doesn't ever really play for you?
A: Yeah, if he doesn't ever play, that would be great. That's a good problem to have. If he needs to play, we're hoping that whatever time that is that he'll be up and ready to go if it ever happens that way. With respect to how many quarterbacks we'll keep on the roster, we don't know. We used to keep three quarterbacks all the time and I think we went to two for the last several years and usually have a guy on the practice squad. We could very well keep three quarterbacks, so we'll make that decision when it's time. Right now we have four quarterbacks on the roster.
Q: Does he have special teams value?
A: No, he's just a quarterback. I don't think it's in our best interest to play him on special teams.
Q: You said that you have been trying to develop a young quarterback for years and you actively moved up to get this guy…
A: Well, the value was there. He was just too much value. To be honest, we thought the kid would probably get picked in the second round over there and we over here in the fourth round and he's still on the board so it just makes sense for us to take the value.
Q: Did you talk to him?
A: (Head) Coach (Tom) Coughlin talked to him.
Q: I imagine it was an unusual conversation?
A: Again, you can never be surprised during the draft. Anything can happen and they can happen quickly, so he may be a little bit surprised but I think he's very excited about coming over here.
Q: What grade did you have on him?
A: I can't tell you that. We had a good grade on him.
Q: Why do you think he dropped?
A: I'm not sure. You never know why guys drop but we think he has the skill set to be a starter at some point in the league. We think he could be a terrific backup but we'll see where it goes.
Q: Do you expect to take four quarterbacks to training camp?
A: We're not sure yet, we'll see. We'll see how the spring goes. We're not sure we'll take four quarterbacks to camp. I can't answer that right now.
Q: Would you have traded up to get USC quarterback Matt Barkley if he was available?
A: We didn't have Barkley rated as high.
Q: What is it that you like about his game?
A: He's got the arm strength. We like the accuracy about him. We like that "it" factor on him. When I first watched him he reminded me of the quarterback at Cincinnati (Andy Dalton) that played at TCU. He reminded me of Dalton in some ways when I first saw him, but our scouts liked him. Our coaches like him. Our quarterbacks coach (Sean Ryan) likes him. Too much value, we pick the highest guy on the board. He's the highest guy on the board, we picked him.
Q: Was he your highest rated quarterback?
A: He was not.
Q: How do you determine when the right time is to develop a quarterback?
A: Well, you never know. Again, you always think about we have Eli in the prime of his career and you actually hope this quarterback never plays. Again, what if something happens? We want to have a guy ready to go and this guy fits the pattern that we need.
Q: Do you think he can challenge David Carr for the backup job?
A: Well, it'll be some competition, there that's for sure. We like competition at every position.
Q: It's a different dynamic now in the QB room with a younger guy there…
A: Yeah, well I don't think that's a big deal one way or the other but it'll be competition for that number two spot, that's for sure.
Q: With Eli and Carr over 30 years old, was there some desire to get younger at backup quarterback?
A: We're just looking for a good player to be the backup quarterback and we're fortunate enough to secure this young guy and we'll see where it goes. Again, maybe he'll never play here. We hope Eli plays for long, long time and maybe this young man will never play but if he has to play, we think he has a good skill set to help us win football games.
I'll talk about the last 3 picks. Cooper Taylor from Richmond is a transfer from Georgia Tech – big size-speed safety that we think has a really nice upside. I can envision him honestly on special teams with that size and speed. I can envision him being that third safety in some the three-safety looks that (defensive coordinator) Perry Fewell likes to use sometimes. A big, tough guy, we like his skill set. He's got some redeeming qualities that we liked and he'll create some competition in the backfield with our safety group. Eric Herman, guard from Ohio, a big, tough, nasty guard. We really liked him. We'd been looking at him on the board for a while there and we were hoping that if he could get to the seventh row he'd be a nice pick for us at that spot. He'll create some competition at the guard position – tough, hard-nosed, big football player. Last pick we made was (Michael) Cox, the running back from UMass. We brought him in for one of our visits here and we really like him. I think their team is moving up a division and they were really kind of outmanned this year and you don't see a lot of production, but if you look closely and do what us scouts do, we're excited about him. We think he's got a chance. He's a big and powerful elusive guy with speed, so he's got a lot of things that we like about him.
Q: Is Cooper Taylor's heart condition a concern?A: Nothing significant for our trainers and doctors right now. They cleared him and they don't really have any real concerns.
Q: Did Michael Cox play much at the University of Michigan?A: Yeah, he's a transfer. I'm not sure what his background is from Michigan but I know he definitely transferred. Marc Ross could probably give you more information and background on that.
Q: How do feel about your draft?A: I feel good about it and obviously it's just part of the puzzle, the draft. Free agency is part of the puzzle and the draft is part of the puzzle. It might be the week before we line up to play Dallas before we have the roster ready because you'll have some 53-man cuts. There will be some people left and we'll continue to look for players to help our football team, but what we have right now, I like what we did in the draft. Obviously, we still have some work to do.
Q: Are you comfortable with your roster at the linebacker position?A: We're really not comfortable with any position, to be honest with you. We try to upgrade our positions until we get ready to play and that's a position we will look at just like other positions we'll look at.
**Time to get after the free agents; one stage to the next, that is the way this thing goes. The ongoing search to try to put together the best team you possibly can. The second day, you all know – you heard from Jerry. You know what happened. And you are sitting there watching it. We were pleased with the quarterback move. We thought we had to do that. The value was there beyond a doubt for us in that round. So we moved up to take him.
Cooper Taylor is the young safety who has the great, great numbers – 6-4 plus, 228. Really good test score – 44.5 range. He had four interceptions, 78 tackles this past year. We are hoping that he is going to come in and apply all of the tools that he has right away there in the secondary for us.
Eric Herman, a tough guy, another offensive lineman. He is a guy that will slug it out and battle with you. So a great spot for him right there.
Then Michael Cox, the good sized running back that puts together the size and the speed. He will come in here and battle and compete. And that is what we need is competition at that spot as well.
So there we are. We had eight (picks) going in, we came out with seven. So we are excited about that. What we had to do to get the quarterback was well worth the other pick.
Q: It sounds like some teams were interested in Taylor as a linebacker. Do you see him more as a safety?A: Well, he is a safety by trade but you drop him down in that three-safety package or whatever you want to do in terms of – you substitute a defense whether he plays an outside backer or whatever. That is all going to have to be determined when we get him in here.
Q: Jerry (Reese) talked about his heart condition. Are you guys confident that is not going to be an issue here?A: Yes. That was all discussed. We had our medical meetings and all that was indicated and discussed. The doctors gave us the green light.
Q: You have been a two-quarterback roster team. Is there room for three now? Do you want these veterans and rookie battling it out for the No. 2 job?A: That will be the best thing that we can get is the competition. And then we will make a decision as we go through camp in terms of whether we would want to be a two- or a three-quarterback operation. And that is all in front of us. But the competitiveness will be good for us in that regard. And I like the fact that we will go to camp, we will see where we are numbers-wise at that point in time.
*Q: You have had a stable quarterback situation. Does this change the dynamics at the quarterback position? *A: It is still very stable. Stable is a great word. It is probably even more stable. That is all we have done is bring a young guy to learn from our exceptional quarterback and that is where we are.
Q: You traded up for him?A: In the fourth round.
Q: Do you prefer two, if possible?A: Well, you do if you can save the roster spot. Sure, you do. But you always have to make that decision as you go forward. What is in the best interest of the team.
*Q: The first three guys you drafted were pretty young. Is Cox really going to be 25 in November? *A: What I have is 24 so it could be. He transferred so he went through that process. But I have 24.
Q: You lost a lot of players off last season's roster at linebacker. You didn't replace any with draft choices. Is that still a spot that is a concern for you or do you like what you have on the current roster?A: I think you are always concerned with trying to be the best – have the best players you can. We have a certain number. We will also have a projection for camp. How we go about doing that – we are hard at work trying to do the best we can with the free agency – the college free agency. But I'm sure there will be other looks at what is available out there prior to going to camp.
Q: What do you think you guys accomplished in this draft?A: Well, we went in with some pretty set ideas about what we wanted to accomplish going forward. We did go ahead and address our offensive and defensive lines with some competitiveness achieved with regard to that with some players that we think are. Certainly the first two day players are very, very competitive. They will give us great versatility there at those spots. It remains to be seen how we can use Moore and how many different ways and that type of thing. So we will work with that as we start camp. So that was good. The idea of the value in the quarterback was there. You are always looking to substantiate with speed. We weren't able to get the corner situation – it seemed like each time we picked we weren't in a position to do anything about that. But we have some outstanding corner prospects that are here – veteran and young. And we will continue to look at that. And so it is just as you always are. There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into this on the part of our personnel department and our staffs. And, of course, Jerry (Reese) does a great job; Marc (Ross) does a great job. The scouts do a superb job. The coaches get involved. There is a lot of work done. And it all culminates in - from the collegiate side of it in terms of the draft – but it is a year-round proposition trying to find the best players that we can. And all it does when the draft is over is to start another segment.
Q: You are a quarterback guy. What do you think of this quarterback – what is his upside?A: I like the kid. The kid was graded really basically right where we took him. He could have gone in the third round, I'm sure. We were worried about that. But he has got outstanding leadership qualities. And the way in which he directs and leads his team, the intangibles, he does have a strong arm. Those are the things that attract. He is a very, very intelligent young man. Of course, he went to a great school.
Q: At the same time right after that pick Jerry came in here and said that he hoped that he would never play. Is that how you see it?A: Well, maybe 10 years from now. I like the guy we have playing. That is what Jerry meant.
Q: What made you interested in him?A: I think it was value. I think it was the value of the player and where he sat. Timing is everything. There could be a year when you walk in and you need something desperately, but you can't arrange it. So by being able to – the philosophy that has always been practiced by the New York Giants is 'best player, best player, best player.' And that is what happened here.
Q: You have always had a backup that is older than Eli. Would it be interesting to you if you have a backup that is a rookie?A: Paul, I have said what I am saying about that. We will see what happens. We will see how that works out at camp. This is a great opportunity for Ryan because he is going to be in the classroom with Eli Manning. That is going to be a tremendous learning experience. There is no way you can put a value on that for him. Now on top of that, he is a really sharp kid. He will learn; he will grow. He will learn by watching Eli. And when he gets opportunities in camp he will take full advantage of that and we will go from there.
Q: Have you reached out to Eli today?A: No, I haven't talked with him. I'm sure I will, I will see him tomorrow when he comes in to work. He knows he is our guy – he is our quarterback. He will be that way for hopefully a long, long time. He is coming into his prime, maybe. Maybe in a couple of more years, he will be in his prime.
Q: I guess what I am asking – you are kind of asking him to take on a newer role.A: No. I'm asking him to win a world championship and take the rest of us with him – that kind of thing.
**Director of College Scouting Marc Ross
**Ryan Nassib, the quarterback, where we were picking, he was just too good of a value. We came in this morning and he was sticking out there and we talked about it, went over it, and just said if this guy is still around or close to our range, we should really consider something happening with him. The guy, when I look at quarterbacks, I don't look at arm strength and all that. That stuff is secondary to me. I look at guys who are leaders and winners and raise the level of their team and when they're on the field they have a presence about them and some moxie to them. Those are the attributes to me that stood out with him. I saw him play twice this year when USC played here and then up in the snow in the bowl game up in Yankee Stadium. Then at the Senior Bowl. This guy just has a presence about him around his team, and then at the Senior Bowl around guys he didn't know. Those are the winning attributes for me that I look for in quarterbacks.
Cooper Taylor, just at that point in the draft we think we got a hidden gem there. This guy is big, fast, smart, plays the game the right way. He does a lot of things for Richmond. They line him up at multiple positions. You'll see him in the box; you'll see him back deep. He covers the slot. Productive there. He transferred from Georgia Tech, but we think this guy has got a lot of upside. Sent our (secondary-safeties) coach (David) Merritt down there to work him out-a private workout and he was really impressed by him. We had him in for a visit. The kid is really smart. Loves football, so we think he has a ton of upside.
Eric Herman, from Ohio University, is just a tough, nasty brawler as a guard. I mean this guy is just physical. He likes contact. He plays hard. Not the most gifted athlete, but he's just a tough guy and he's big. A big, smart, tough guy and we think he'll bring a physical presence to the line.
Michael Cox, another guy we think is a little bit of an under the radar guy. If you look at his stats at UMass, they aren't that impressive but he gets the ball and there are two guys in the backfield, he's trying to make everything on his own there. Runs hard, he's got size, he's got really, really good hands, excellent hands, got a little burst to him. We had him in for a visit, real good kid. Our coaches were impressed with him so we were happy we're getting a big, fast guy who runs hard that late in the draft.
Q: Is Michael Cox 6'3" 214 pounds?A: He's all of that, yeah. He's around that 6'1 ½ , 6'2" range. He's big and strong.
Q: Did he play at all for Michigan?A: He was a backup there. He probably got about 19 carries while he was there.
Q: Do you think Ryan Nassib should have gone in the 1st or 2nd round?A: In our process, in our meetings, we obviously ranked the quarterbacks and kind of project where they're going to go and I was surprised he did not go higher than he did. I would not have thought that he would have lasted this long.
Q: Is it strange to draft someone that you hope doesn't play as in the case of Ryan Nassib?A: Of course, every draft pick you want to be a Hall of Famer even though that's not the reality, but with taking Ryan, there's nothing like having a security blanket like that where we think he can be an excellent backup with the ability to start in time. Whether that's here or for someone else, we don't know. I understand what Jerry (Reese) is saying. Of course you want an Eli Manning to play and stay healthy and be there, but we think Ryan has a starter upside and starter ability. Hopefully that flourishes while he's here.
Q: Do you adjust your priorities when you see a player like Ryan Nassib still available?A: Well, you don't adjust your priorities. Last night you're aware, you're looking at the board, then when you come in, you've got a good night's sleep, you're a little more focused, we get together, Jerry (Reese) and I get together, Coach (Tom Coughlin), John Mara, we get together and say 'alright, well, we can't ignore what we're seeing.' We go through this whole process of ranking guys and our scouts go on the road to get all this information and write reports and we do all this for a reason and it's not just to be grabbing because we think we need a person here or there but because this is who we think is the best player. It was obvious he was the best player by far that we had, so is he the most needed person? No, but if something happens to the guy that's starting, yeah, he was the highest priority in the draft for us.
Q: Is it fair to say that Ryan Nassib really didn't become a part of the conversation until you met this morning?A: Well, we just didn't really talk about it last night. It was just this morning we talked about it but last night was just let's close up shop and let's get home and get some rest.
Q: When you look at the whole draft do you say you took value at every pick, but did the value match the need in most cases?A: Yeah, we think this year we did a good job. We were fortunate it was a strong draft for offensive linemen. We got a couple offensive linemen so that helped. You could say (QB) Ryan (Nassib) wasn't a need. It was a good year for DB's and we think we got a good DB. It was a good year for defensive line; we got a good defensive lineman that we think will help, so I think it was a good blend, a good mix this year for us.
Q: When you start signing the undrafted free agents, there is only room to sign six players, correct? You can't go over 90 players?A: Yeah, you've got to hit that 90. That's what we are in the process of doing now, signing guys so we have a certain number that we need at a position. Our scouts are calling; coaches are calling the players, and the agents trying to recruit them up basically. If we have someone that we really like that we happen to sign, then we can swap out players on the team now.