*I'll just run through the list with you really quick. Jason Pierre-Paul, we talked about him. We think he can be a dynamic defensive end for us. Huge upside and we think he can be a really good player. Linval Joseph is a big, powerful, point of attack defensive tackle. He gives us a big anchor inside and we talked about him. I think Marc Ross talked to you guys about Chad Jones. Athletic, big safety who gives us some depth at the safety position. He has some special teams ability. We think he has a big upside as well. The new guy is Phillip Dillard, middle linebacker from Nebraska. Phillip is a rugged inside linebacker, tough, instinctive, smart, hard-hitting inside middle linebacker. We had him targeted for a while and we are happy he was still up there in the fourth round for us. We talked about him a little bit earlier but there were some more guys up there who we thought had the value that, at the time, was better. So, we rolled the dice and we came out with the guy we wanted at middle linebacker. We feel like he can come in and start competing right away for that job with some of the guys we already have. Mitch Petrus is the guard from Arkansas: tough, rugged, in-your-face guard. That's what this guy is. He is hardnosed, aggressive. He can pull and do all the things we ask our guards to do. This guy has a vicious nature about him, and we like his skill set for what we do with our guards. Adrian Tracy is from William & Mary, we are going to play him at outside linebacker on the strong side. He's a projection. He was a defensive end and he had a bunch of sacks out there. We worked him out as a SAM linebacker and we think he can project to a SAM. He is a really good athlete, really smart kid and big kid. We think he has upside to project to a SAM linebacker and give us some depth at that position as well. The last guy we just drafted was Matt Dodge, a punter from East Carolina. Big legged, powerful, I mean this guy can hit some moon shots. There are some inconsistencies which most young punters have that we feel like he can come in and our special teams coaches can get him on the right track. I think he can be a good punter for us. He will be in the mix competing for that job, and I think the first question that you guys will have is that 'you guys just signed Feagles.' Jeff's really not sure, he had a conversation with Tom last week I believe it was, and he's not sure that physically he is going to be able to do it. He has been working out really hard in the offseason trying to get himself ready to go because I think in his mind he really wants to do it but I don't think he's sure that his body can do it. We are trying to protect ourselves in that respect. We will address that middle of next week sometime, so we will see which way that's going to go. I'm open for questions. * Q: Did something happen with Jeff, like a setback or something?
A: Well, he had a conversation with Tom, and you can speak to Tom about the conversation. Physically, he wasn't sure that he would be able to give us what we need at that position. We're trying to protect ourselves in that respect. We have Jy Bond, who is the Aussie kicker, who we have in as well. We will try to grow two guys, and if Jeff is not in the mix, we will try to groom these guys to get us ready for our season. I think, New Orleans I think, had a young punter punting for them so it can be done. We need to get going right away with these guys, that's very important to me. We need to get going right away.
Q: When you say "by next week" is Jeff going to make a decision next week?
A: Hopefully he will make a decision by then. Hopefully Jeff will come in and let us know one way or another what is going to happen. I think he'll make a decision by then.
Q: How close were you to taking Dillard in the third round?
A: Well, we considered him but there are a couple of guys we considered in that spot. We talked about him, so we were close enough to talk about him.
Q: Was it ultimately because you liked Jones more or you thought Dillard would drop into the next round?
A: Probably a combination of both of what you just said there. Probably a combination of both of that. We try to weigh what can happen and who needs what. It's kind of crazy what you try and do in there but it's a combination of everything you said.
Q: Dillard's not the biggest linebacker, but is he big side-to-side?
A: Well yeah, he's rangy and he's smart. He can play in coverage. He is 6 foot 245 pounds. He's not tall but he's 245 pounds so right now he is probably the biggest linebacker on the team besides Sintim, just trying to think of our linebackers here. Maybe Jon Goff, he's probably a little bit bigger. Heavier, I should say.
Q: I heard he played weakside…
A: He played in the middle. Middle linebacker.
Q: I thought he started at weakside…
A: He might have played some weakside but most of the time, he played in the middle.
Q: What makes you think this fourth rounder can come in and compete for the starting job as a rookie?
A: Well, we are going to put him in there and give him a chance with the rest of the guys. That's what makes me think that. He's going to have to earn the job just like the other guys we have here. We have some unproven guys so we are going to throw them all in the till and see who gives us the best shot to win games.
Q: Did you talk to the Pelini's and his linebacker coach? Did he give you some type of advice or frame of reference?
A: We talk to all of their coaches. Our scouts have good relationships and they go in there in the fall all the time. They endorsed this guy and they think he is going to be a really good player. We brought him in for one of the visits we had with them and our linebackers coach really liked on the board what he saw and brought to the table. He thought that he could be a smart, tough inside linebacker that we've been looking for, and we'll see.
Q: He butted heads with some of the staff there, do you have concerns about that?
A: Well, we researched all that as well. Again, that happens sometimes with players and staffs, and he did everything to get back in their good graces. They endorse him to the fullest right now, so we don't have any problems with that.
Q: At middle linebacker, obviously Goff and you mentioned Wilkinson, Blackburn; are any other guys in the mix like Kehl, Boley or Sintim?
A: All of our guys are in the mix as far as I'm concerned. We just look for the best combination of guys. We think Sintim is a SAM linebacker and the kid we just drafted is a SAM linebacker. We think Wilkinson could do some things in the middle because he has played there before. Phillip Dillard, he's in the middle. Of course Goff, Chase can play all three, Mike on the WILL, Kehl will probably be used on the WILL but he can probably play some middle as well so everyone is in the mix as far as I'm concerned. We just want three linebackers on the field that can help us win a game.
Q: Do you think this group is it for the competition in training camp or might you add another one in between now and then?
A: I wouldn't count that out that we might add somebody else to the mix. I wouldn't discount that.
Q: Any thought about trading for Morrison?
A: Isn't Morrison signed on somebody's team right now? I'm not going to talk about someone else's player.
Q: Was there any talk of trading for anybody?
A: There is always talk of trading and drafting. There is always some talk about that still. Always.
Q: With Dodge, can he kick off, too?
A: Dodge can kick off, but I wouldn't call him a kickoff guy now. Our coaches think he can get better as a kickoff guy so we end up having some versatility in that way. He is not a holder though, so that's something he would have to learn. He does not hold for his college team. He does have some experience as a kickoff man.
Q: If you lose Jeff, who are your holder options?
A: I think we have some options between the quarterbacks. Bomar and Sorgi, yes. Those two guys would probably be the holders.
Q: With Tracy, wondering if he adjusted well to linebacker drills, did you see that?
A: Yeah, that's one of the things that was, because they are guys who are projections. He had his hand on the ground most of the time when he was at school there. At his workout, there were a lot of people at his workout. One of our scouts was there and he really worked out well at his workout as a linebacker. The movement skills that you have to have at that position. He did a good job and we think he can project. If you think back, he kind of has a body type like Reggie Torbor, who we had here for a few years back. We think he is a little bit better athlete than Reggie Torbor was. Reggie was a defensive end at Auburn, too.
Q: What do you think and/or hope you've accomplished with this draft?
A: Well, we think we have drafted good players to add to our team. We hope to accomplish that these guys, with our first two or three picks, that you can get some contributions from them right away. Hopefully, you might get a starter or two out of those picks. We think we have added some depth to this team, number one. We have some athletes who can help us on special teams. We have some versatile people. So, we think we have helped our defense. Obviously, we have drafted a lot of defensive guys. Offensively, we think that the guard can go in and compete right away because he has a vicious nature about him. He wants to come in and compete right away. He's a strong, strong kid. We think we have improved defensively, and the guard will create competition at the guard spot.
Q: How is the field of undrafted free agents?
A: Really, we're up there doing that right now. Obviously, the draft is still going on but we are getting our ducks in a row to try and target some undrafted free agents. We think there are some good players that we can target as free agents and get some bodies in here to look at.
Congratulations Vinny. Thanks guys.
COACH TOM COUGHLIN
Vinny, congratulations on your longevity; unbelievable.
Jerry has been in and obviously we went defense with most of the picks. And I can tell you that some years when you are obviously interested in solving some issues, it doesn't work out that way. You don't get the match between the quality, the way the player is evaluated and his grade, what you needs are; it just doesn't work out. This year, for the most part, it did work out and that is kind of the way our draft went. Jerry has indicated to you a little bit about my conversations with Jeff Feagles. And that let us make the pick in the seventh round. Jeff is going to come in and we are going to continue to talk further. Jeff called me last week, came in to see me and then called me again and we talked about where he was in terms of what his thinking was and his considerations about perhaps retiring. So we felt like that we would go ahead and not pass on this punter who was one of the two people that we felt were draft-worthy in this particular draft.
(Mitch) Petrus, the offensive guard – powerful, the guy that set the stage with the outstanding number of reps out at Indianapolis; a strong, physical player; a guy who gives us some added depth inside. He was the right pick at that time for us as well. And Adrian Tracy – we just had people that continued to speak about how highly they felt about his ability. Even though he played with his hand on the ground a great deal of the time, the projection was to linebacker. He played linebacker in the all star games and there wasn't any question on the part of the scouts that had seen him play that he could play from a standup position and be a linebacker at this level. So that is how that came about.
Phillip Dillard is a linebacker that really fit a need and had the grade at that particular time in the fourth round for us to take him. The scouts were very impressed. There were some outstanding conversations. Jim Herrmann talked to the coaches at Nebraska. The scouts had an opportunity to watch the career of Dillard there and the way that he performed in his last year in terms of being an outstanding special teams player – a guy who had the ability to play coverage but also was physical, has the size, weighs about 245 pounds. So we feel like he can stand in there against the run. So we look forward to bringing him in as well.
Q: Were you surprised by Feagles approaching you to discuss that?
A: I was surprised. I wouldn't tell you any different. Jeff was trying to do the right thing, okay. By letting us know with the draft in front of us rather than behind us. So he did the honorable thing, as he always would do, having the best interest of our team at heart. Whether we were going to do anything about it or not, that obviously was up to us. So he is coming in this week and we will see what the final status of this is. But obviously we felt it was important enough to act.
Q: Is he hurt at all or is he just tired from working out?
A: No, he is 44 years old. He worked very hard for approximately a month right after the season just to try to tell himself again that he could do this and wanted to be able to do it. And then ran into some – as we went on and started the offseason program – ran into some of the physical tests that you have to go through as you continue to advance almost on a weekly basis. He has a program which is unique to himself, but he is having some physical issues. And so he has decided to deal with them.
Q: Is going to punt at all when he comes in next week?
Q: Is this a hard deadline that you wanted a yes or a no?
A: No, it is coming from him. This is coming from Jeff. It is not coming from us.
Q: Has he said he would give you a definite yes or no?
A: Oh, I think he will, yeah.
Q: If he says, "I think I can do it," will you see how it works out with other guys in the summer?
A: If that is the case, yes.
Q: One of the things that Jerry mentioned was the holder. Have either Bomar or Sorgi done it before?
A: Sorgi has done it.
Q: So he would be ---
A: He is the guy that is starting – as of last week – to do that.
Q: Adding Dillard to the mix, are you pretty comfortable with the guys that you have in the mix for middle linebacker?
A: I don't think that is a very good word as we have discussed before. That word ("comfortable") - I don't really like that word. We are going to go forward to find out. This is why we drafted Dillard. We do have some guys that you know have played in there and they are going to get themselves back in there again. So we will start there to determine who is going to have that job – at least at the very beginning – and how successful we are after that.
Q: Jerry said that he wouldn't rule out bringing in another veteran.
A: I don't think you rule anything out right now. Because there is time here to test some things out. But obviously we are not going to be banging into anybody for awhile. So until that takes place and the ability to do that on a daily basis that will come in camp. But whether we add or subtract or whatever, we will see. A lot will depend on the player that is available.
Q: Is there any frustration or disappointment – because obviously there is a need at that position for linebacker – you want value and need to match – was this the best match possible or was it the best match you could get – that was available but not quite what you wanted?
A: Well, you have asked a lot of questions. I think that – you have to deal with the circumstances as they are. And that is exactly what it was. Did we have our eye on this guy? Yes. Did we have our eye on this guy at this point in the draft? Yes. Did we think that if there was any other move before that it would have been the right thing to do? Obviously not. We didn't think he would go any further, either.
Q: Based on what you and Jeff have said to each other, would you be surprised if he came in next week and said he wanted to continue?
Q: Do you think by drafting another punter it might influence that decision?
A: No. Jeff Feagles – if he decided that he wanted to do this and could – I think the question is 'could do this,' okay. I think it is at that point for him. (If he) could continue at the highest level to do this, it wouldn't matter who he had to compete against. That wouldn't be a factor. He has done this before.
Q: What have you seen from Jy Bond in the couple of weeks that he has been here?
A: "Mate." "Mate." "How are you doing, Mate?" He has been involved in the program. There has been no getting outside. He has worked with Tom (Quinn) and Thomas (McGaughey) but I haven't made an appearance in those things just yet. I am his 'mate.' I passed that test.
Q: When you look at your team now after this draft how do you feel about what you guys have? What is your overall outlook for your team this year?
A: I feel good. I feel good about the players that were selected and the way that they will add to our team, what we have done in the offseason. I didn't mention (Deon) Grant a few minutes ago, but Grant is there as a veteran safety as well. So I do feel good about this. I think that this is exactly what is necessary for us. It gives us competitiveness at a lot of spots. And some depth at the same time and reinforces our numbers at some positions where there are some questions. So I feel good about that and let's get going – let's get it going.