GM JERRY REESE
Q: Is the draft process any different this year due to labor situation?
A: The process is the same as far as the preparation for the draft in meetings. It is a little strange not to have the free agency period before. That is a little bit strange. But everybody is in the same boat in that respect. So we will make the adjustment as we go.
Q: By this time, you have usually addressed some needs through free agency. Does the fact that you haven't been able to do that this year alter your approach to the draft?
A: As far as the draft goes we will do like we always do. We will try to pick the best players on the board. When free agency comes around we'll see what is available, what the money is, what we are working with, what the transition period is like. So there will be some quick adjustments and we will just have to hit the ground running. And like everybody else will do, everybody is in the same boat. So it is a little strange but we will make the adjustments.
Q: With the uncertainty as far as how much training camp and offseason these rookies will get, do you put more emphasis on players that could be plugged in immediately?
A: When you think about the draft, you wish there were a lot of guys that could play right away. But these kids are developmental. Most of the guys are developmental that you draft. You can get a couple of guys – you don't get those Randy Moss kind of rookies. You hardly ever get those kinds of guys. Most guys that you pick in the draft are developmental. And if you can get your first couple of picks, you want those guys to come in and contribute right away if you can – your first three picks. But after that, if you get a guy that plays a significant amount, this is really a bonus, because these kids are developmental; something is wrong with all of them. Most of them have strength issues when they come into the National Football League.
Q: Will draft choices be less ready due to lack of offseason?
A: The learning curve will be really quick for them. They will have to get them ready quickly because they are going to miss some time if we don't get things squared away quickly with the rookie mini camps and things like that. So when they come in there will be a …… for them to learn in a short time.
Re: moving up or down in the first round
A: We are willing to move up; we are willing to move up or down. If somebody loves our spot and we don't have our guy there, we will be more than happy to move down. If there is somebody up there that we really love and we think we can move up and not give away the farm, we are willing to move up as well. It is like I said, every year the draft changes after every pick. So it is always high drama on draft day.
Q: Because there are no players involved in trades this year, will we see more movement?
A: Maybe not. It will be interesting to see how --. You can trade picks; there are no players involved. But you can trade picks for the next couple of years. So I think there will still be some movement.
Q: Will it be more expensive dealing away futures?
A: Well, yeah, it may be more expensive. You may have to deal more picks to get where you want to go with your movements. So it could be more expensive.
Q: Any danger of over-evaluating due to fact you had more time to look at college players available this year?
A: Well, I don't think we over-evaluate. Some teams meet for a month. We meet for a couple of weeks. We scout during the fall. We get here – we really kind of put all of the information that we have from the all-star games and the Combine and try to put all of that together. But really the scouting part of it is over. We have had meetings since February already. So we are just kind of stacking our board right now and see where we want to place guys. So we try not to over-evaluate. That is a good point. I think you can over-analyze players. They are what they are. You try to accentuate what the good points – the good qualities – are because none of them are perfect. There are no perfect draft picks. So you accentuate what they can do. Why will they make this team? Why will they fail? Those are the kinds of things we are asking each other in our meetings right now.
Q: Have you had extra time this year to work on the draft?
A: No, it is the same preparation time – going to the pro days, our meetings. Actually I have been able to watch more players myself because the free agency period is not here. So I have been able to concentrate more on watching a few more players than I usually do during this time.
Re: Medical information on current players. And does the status of the three players who played center last year make that position more of a priority?
A: The players can still visit the doctors. And we get medical reports. But with the draft, we are just concentrating on getting the best player. It really doesn't matter what is going on that much with our current players. We pick the best players.
Re: draft before free agency
A: I think it is just flipped. Still, we will go into the draft looking for the best players available. Then after the draft when free agency starts, we will probably say, "Okay, let's fill some holes" where we think we need some help.
Q: Do you have a feel on how free agency will work?
A: That is still a toss up. It could go a lot of different ways. But we talk about scenarios because there are several ways that it could go. We have some different scenarios. But we will be ready to pounce when it starts.
Q: You always say, "The best player available," but would position be a tie breaker maybe?
A: Well, you always are cognizant of what your needs are. But still, if we need a running back and there is high value at defensive tackle, we are not going to take a running back just because we need a running back. We are going to take that high value defensive tackle or any other position.
RE: Barry Cofield expressing that he may ask to be traded rather than play under a tender for another season
A: He is a free agent. I can't really speak on that right now. That is not something that I can talk about right now.
Q: What happens with undrafted college players following the draft?
A: Right now there is nothing that you can do with those guys. When the draft is over there is no signing undrafted college free agents after that. So we will see what happens. As soon we have parameters after the draft when everything is settled and there is free agency going on, we will have the rules on how we can approach the players that we would normally try to sign right after the draft. But when the draft is over there is no signing of free agents.
Q: So the guys that you normally call during the seventh round…
A: That is against the rules; we don't do that. We can't call them.
Q: What type of contact can you have with players you have just drafted?
A: Once you have drafted them, there is no contact with those people as well.
Q: You can't even call and say congratulations?
A: Oh yes, you can call them and say congratulations. But after that there is no contact.
Q: This is your fifth draft. What have you learned? Has your philosophy changed?
A: Not really. It is the same. You go in here and you try to pick the best player available. You try not to reach. And again, you try not to panic when something happens, because it is pretty intense during draft time. You have to be ready for anything to happen. Strange things can happen on draft day. You just try to keep a cool head during draft time. And you hope sometimes you can move up; sometimes you can move down. Sometimes guys pick the guy right in front of you that you want. So you have to be ready to make a move in a different direction. So the best thing to do on draft day is not to panic.
Q: Can you send the drafted players a playbook; can you give them something to study?
RE: Pressing needs – have they changed?
A: Nothing has happened, so it is still really the same. Really nothing has happened. So it is pretty much the same.
Q: You mentioned that you were getting medical reports. How are Steve Smith and Mathias Kiwanuka progressing?
A: We really don't talk a lot about what our players' medical conditions are. But I can tell you that everybody is doing better. I will leave it at that. Everybody is doing better. But honestly I haven't had any contact with them. Our doctors say that everybody is progressing. That is really all I can comment on.
Q: Are you optimistic that those guys will be ready to go if training camp starts on time?
A: No, that is hard to say.
Q: Is it difficult to finalize your coaching staff?
A: If we had a coaching change, I think that could be difficult. But our coaching staff is intact pretty much except Thomas McGaughey went to LSU. So we are still short an assistant special teams coach. But our staff is intact. We have a good idea what we want to do and what we have right now.
Q: On being ready to pounce - Ahmad Bradshaw might or might not be a free agent. In being able to protect yourself, do you have to walk the high wire a little bit, you might not be prepared?
A: All we can do right now is to draft. We are going to try to pick the best players in the draft and we will make adjustments after the draft. That's really all you can do. Because you really don't know what is going to happen. Right now we can control the draft. We are going to try to pick the best players we can in the draft. And we will make the adjustment after the draft.
*Q: Along those lines, with your guys who are potentially free agents, were you able to have some discussion with them before the lockout with regard to their interest in coming back? *
A: I don't know. I don't know. It can go in a lot of different directions. Whatever the direction goes, we will be ready.
Q: RE: College quarterbacks and spread offense.
A: I think that is a hard position to evaluate more and more because most colleges now run the spread offense. Really it is a different animal than what we do in the NFL. I do think our league will start to evolve a little bit with some of that spread offense with some of these type players. So it is a hard position to evaluate in that respect. But you just have to see what the skill set is and what their mindset is. With quarterbacks – some guys can have a great skill set at quarterback, but they don't have the mindset that you would like for that position. The guy has to have the right mindset. He has to be the first guy to come in; he has to be the last guy to leave. But sometimes you can get a guy with a gigantic arm that can run and do those things but he doesn't have the mentality that you want your quarterback to have and the mindset you want – the mental makeup, I should say, instead of mind – the mental makeup that you would like for your quarterback to have. So each position – the puzzle you put together on them and things you like about them. Sometimes you can get a guy that you think is really kind of perfect – fits the puzzle perfectly – and then some guys can have part of the puzzle. But most of the time you don't get all of the pieces in the puzzle. And sometimes you get all of the pieces in the puzzle and he is still not what you really want.
Q: Less decision-making in the spread?
A: All offenses are different. Sometimes …..as far as protections – sometimes the offensive line just calls the protection. Sometimes the quarterback calls the protection. Sometimes they just have pre-determined protections. So everything is different. In this league the quarterback has to be able to throw the ball; he has to get the ball out quickly. He has to make quick decisions under duress all of the time. He has to take care of the football; those kinds of things. But you are going to see some of these quarterbacks – the Cam Newtons of the world – you are going to see more of these type quarterbacks coming into the League, and I think they are going to be successful as they come into the League.
RE: Having competition at different positions and signing players to future contracts before lockout.
A: All of it goes together. When we were doing our roster we try to create competition for those guys – everybody on our roster – we are trying to create more competition for those guys. If we can find a better guy before we go into this new season, the best guy is going to win the position. The best guy is going to win the position. We want competition at every position.
RE: evaluating draft eligible players from North Carolina that missed last season.
A: It is different. You have to go back to the '09 season to see them play. You see them run around at the Combine with their shorts on and you go to their pro days. And you interview them. It is what it is, because it is the same for everybody. It is a little bit different to evaluate guys because you want to see what they have done lately. But what they have done lately was in 2009. So you take what you can get and you evaluate it as best you can. And it really is not a lot different from the 2010 evaluations – they just didn't play. So you have a guy that didn't have snaps. When guys miss snaps – you have a chance to get better when you have snaps for an entire season. So it is the whole season that he probably could have gotten a little bit better.
Q: Does that throw up a red flag when drafting players from school like UNC?
A: A red flag on the school? I don't really think about that. That is really not my problem if they have guys that missed the season.
Re: more on Carolina
A: I just think that it is unfortunate. I just think that was unfortunate. I don't know what their business is there at North Carolina. We are just trying to evaluate the players for who they are. The situation that happened at the school – I don't want to make any comments on what happened there. But we just evaluate the players at the Combine and from their pro days and when we get a chance to interview them one of one.
Q: Have you personally been able to see more college players this year?
A: I haven't been out a lot. I went to a couple of pro days but I haven't been out a lot. I have been able to watch a lot more video tapes than I have in the past.
Q: Your thoughts on the offensive line in Round One.
A: There are good players on the offensive line we think. There are good players at every position, I think.
Q: Do you think you need to get a linebacker?
A: If there is a good one available at the time we need to pick, sure.
Q: Overall, do you think the offensive line needs to be strengthened?
A: We are trying to strengthen every position. Every position needs strengthening on our team, we are going to try to do that. It is just not linebacker – every position.
Q: RE: Phillip Dillard
A: We have a couple of guys that we really don't know a lot about. Phillip Dillard didn't play a lot and Adrian Tracy dislocated his elbow. Those two guys – we want to see what those guys can do. And Clint Sintim is a guy that we want to see what he can do. He hasn't played a lot and he got injured. So that has hampered our evaluation of him. But we picked him in the second round. We expect this guy to be an impact player for us. And right now he hasn't been able to do that yet. He flashed a little bit as a rookie. But last year he didn't get to play a lot because he was injured. So we are hoping that he can come back from his injury and look like a second round pick.
Q: You said when you drafted Sintim that he is the kind of player who can make people's teeth rattle. Do you still feel that way?
A: I think he can do all of that. I think it is about growing up for him. I think he needs to grow up and play like a second round player that we think he is and give us that value and step in there and show us that he can be a starter for us and play quality football for us.
Q: He said last year that he thought he had grown up a lot from his first year to his second year. Did you see that?
A: We didn't see it because he didn't play. He really didn't get a shot. We are hoping that.
Q: didn't get a shot?
A: It is what it is. You can say he had a shot but he wasn't out there. So I don't know if he had a shot or not.
Q: Is Ramses Barden is the same situation?
A: Ramses Barden is another guy that we think that has a tremendous skill set that we want to come in and contribute to our team. Those guys – we expect to play – Will Beatty – those kinds of guys. You spend high draft picks on guys, you expect them to play. And so we expect those kids to step up and play like the players we think they are.
Q: Regarding lockout questions, you answered, "I don't know." Is lack of information frustrating to you?
A: No. This league is about making adjustments. With personnel, you have to make adjustments – every week you have to make some adjustments. Your prime receiver is hurt and you are finding guys off the street to come in here and try and help you win the football game on Sunday. So it is all about making adjustments. And everybody is in the same boat with that respect. You have to make quick adjustments. Sometimes some of the adjustments you make are not popular, but you have to make adjustments. That is what we get paid for – make decisions and make adjustments.
Q: Will your team president be back here by the draft?
A: We expect him to be back by then. He has been around.
RE: Draft - Do you have a gauge of who is going to be there when you pick? Do you totally ignore what other teams might to?
A: We will try to look at everybody's roster and see where we think they are short. And we could be completely wrong. It is just our opinion. So we still try to do that. We still try to say, "Well, this team needs running backs. This team needs offensive linemen. This team needs defensive tackles." So we still have that part of our strategy.
Q: RE: Possible position switches for offensive line college players.
A: That is a good question. Tackles in the NFL – there are different kinds. You can have the athletic guys that can kind of dance and bear down on the corner for you. Your left tackle is your more athletic kind of tackle. Your right tackle is your big grunt guys that are on the right side. But you like a guy that can do both. Sometimes you can get a guy on the left side that is not a great athlete but he is big and he is long. He is hard to get around no matter what. If he just stands there – he is still hard to get around. So you can have different players at different positions. But sometimes if they don't do well in space out there, you try to move them inside to guard. And sometimes there are still – things happen fast inside, sometimes the center – depends on sometimes what his arm's length --- there is a lot that goes into it. You guys probably have no idea what we talk about up there in that meeting room. It is pretty fascinating.
Q: Because of the depth that you have at defensive line, would you consider drafting a defensive line player?
A: If a defensive lineman is there at 19, we will be deeper in our defensive line. If a good player, if he is the highest player on our board, we will be even deeper on the defensive line. We are going to pick the best player, guys.
Q: Where are you at this point on where the guys fall?
A: We think we have a pretty good idea of who could be in our window right now. We still have a few more meetings to go and try and finalize where we think guys will fall and how we are going to stack our rows. We think we have a good idea of which guys are in our window.
Q: RE: Three-day draft format.
A: It just makes it longer; that is all. The fans like it. It is a pretty good three days for the fans because they really love the draft.
Q: How do you feel about it?
A: I'm not crazy about it. I would like to just keep going. But the fans love it and it gives you guys more work to do.
Q: So you are handling the draft the same as you have in the past?
A: Really, we are doing the same thing that we have done in the past. I think we have – like I said – myself individually – I have had more time to evaluate more players on the video that I have had in the past. But the process is really the same for us.
Q: RE: Debate about changing philosophy?
A: No, really we don't want to make it harder than it is. We are not splitting the atom upstairs in the draft room. We are trying to figure out if these guys are going to be able to help our football team. So we don't try to overanalyze it or make it more difficult than it is. It is what it is.
Q: RE: Young offensive linemen that you like
A: Will Beatty is a guy that we picked in the second round. We expect second round players to play. We have Mitch Petrus – he played a little bit last year. We expect him to come in and battle for his spot. Adam Koets is coming off an injury but he still did a nice job for us when he was in there before he got hurt. So there are some young guys in our offensive line that we expect to continue to grow and battle for some spots.
Q: Do you still think those young linemen can step in and play for you?
A: Will Beatty – he did a fine job last year in there. Matter of fact, I think we won every game when he was in there. I'm not sure about that, but I know we won a bunch of games when he played left tackle for us in there. So we expect him to continue. I hope he is working out wherever he is. We expect him to ……….
Q: RE: Adam Koets
A: I think we were undefeated when he was here in there, too. I think we won every game when he was in there – him and Will. I think when those two guys were in there I think we won all of the games. You will have to check that, but I think they were pretty successful when they were in there. I think we ran the ball pretty good when they were in there as well.
Q: RE: Rule change regarding kick returns
A: If you have a great returner back there – you really don't like the rule because there is probably going to be more touchbacks. I think it may help us right now in our current situation - if our kicker has another five yards to try to get the ball into the end zone and do some different things with our coverage. So I think it helps us right now at this point with our team.
Q: Is John Mara usually involved in the draft meetings?
A: Yes. I wouldn't say that he is involved, but he really loves sitting in our meetings - kind of like his dad. Wellington Mara used to sit in on all of the meeting. John is so busy with so much going on around him. But he has been here for a couple of days this week and he always calls regarding what we are doing and what is going on and how it went today. So that is one of his favorite things to do is to sit in and listen to the players that talk about.
Q: Do you have any more input because you have seen more of the players this year?
A: We all do it together. Marc Ross still runs the meetings. But we all talk about it and we have some heated discussions about different players. And everybody has different opinions about them. We like for everybody to come to the final conclusion of the player – we want the consensus – the majority to rule on the guys. But, no I don't go in there and say, "We are going to pick this guy." I don't do that. I'm just an evaluator like everybody else. I have an opinion like everybody else. We value our scouts' opinions. Everybody's opinion – our coaches are part of the process. We value their opinion. But we all try to put our heads together and figure out what the guy is.
Q: Do you generally come to a consensus before Thursday?
A: Before the draft?
A: Oh yeah. No, we don't go in there on Thursday and start talking about what a guy is. The guys are what they are. There are no arguments on draft day. We go in there and we are ready to go. We are ready to pull the trigger on draft day