JOE SCHOEN AND BRIAN DABOLL
JOE SCHOEN: First start off, we're ecstatic with the two players we got, obviously getting Kayvon Thibodeaux, a really good pass rusher at five, we are excited about that. Thought of getting him there with Azeez on the other side and the pass rush is important to us, so two young pass rushers on the team now that we are definitely excited about.
Evan Neal, again, I'm sure it will come up, but starting off we'll be putting him at right tackle. Obviously, we really like his versatility, 40 career starts in three different spots in the SEC, only missed one game in his career with COVID. So both 21 years old, young players, both still have upside to develop.
But, you know, it worked out great. We are happy with both of the players that we were able to procure tonight.
So open up for questions.
Q. Joe, what was it like sitting at five, three tackles, you obviously love Kayvon, how much decision-making, not just the players but the order?
JOE SCHOEN: We have been through these scenarios a million times. We had seven or eight cards, and we just kept switching them back and forth based on different scenarios, and this is a scenario we went over. And if there were tackles on board and the pass rusher, we were going pass rusher knowing we could get a tackle at 7. We were ecstatic when that scenario came up.
Q. Did you say Neal would be starting at right tackle?
JOE SCHOEN: I'm not saying starting. Yeah, we are going to -- we are going to work him at right tackle, yes, knowing he has versatility to play left or play guard, which was attractive to us.
Q. Kayvon at the Combine said you gave him a hard time in interviews to see if he could handle it. What has been your impression of him?
JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, we spent a lot of time with him. We met with him at the Combine, I flew out there for his pro day along with a couple other individuals, and we had him in here for a visit.
He's a very outgoing individual. He's got a lot of personality. I'm sure you guys will enjoy your time with him meeting him, but a really good kid, likeable kid, works hard.
We had a good -- Brian and I had several conversations with some of his coaches the last couple of days. We FaceTimed him last weekend and we got to know the kid maybe more than any player in this draft. Liked the personality and liked the player.
Q. You say you got to know him more than any other player in the draft. Is that because there was more you needed to know about him and how that personality would fit here?
JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, and it worked out that way, too, that I was able to get to his pro day and go to dinner with him. You can only do with so many players during that time, he was one of the players I was able to go to dinner with at a pro day, plus spend time with him here, plus at a Combine. There's a lot of players and only so much amount of time.
Evan Neal is the same way. Had dinner with him here. I wasn't able to go to pro day because of the owners meetings, but we had him in the room at the Combine too. A lot of very good interactions with both prospects.
Q. The physical traits that stood out to you about Kayvon and about Evan, what stood out?
BRIAN DABOLL: They both have good size, good length. Kayvon is quick off the ball. I think he has a wide variety of pass rush moves, but he can also set an edge for us on our defense, and it's no secret we play multiple schemes with Wink as our defensive coordinator, and we envision Kayvon being able to do a lot of different things for us. He's going to have to come in here and earn it, but a productive player the time he's been at Oregon.
Evan has played multiple positions. He's long -- it takes a guy the long route to go to the quarterback. He's got long arms. He's a big, massive man, played multiple positions, had a lot of people down at Alabama that I trust and had a lot confidence in him and had a lot of good things to say about him and along with Bobby Johnson and Tony Sparano, the guys that have looked at him, we thought very highly of him.
Again, this situation that came up, Joe and I, we've been meeting the last three or four nights going through as many different scenarios as we can. He carries these magnets in his pockets and pulls them out. He had them in the draft room and moving them around and all that, and we did as many different scenarios as we could. I thought we were well-prepared for tonight, and when it fell the way it fell, we already had that in the plan.
Q. Brian, people think that the Giants stepped into pretty much the best-case scenario. How would you describe how the top of the Draft went?
BRIAN DABOLL: I credit Joe and his staff, along with the coaches, everyone putting so much time and effort. Even till last week, we were watching some guys in my office, Joe and myself and about eight other people for seemed like 12 hours a day, we just watched three guys.
We're excited about what we have. Again, a lot of work to do with these guys. There always is when you draft young guys and come into your program, but certainly excited with their talent and also the type of people that they are.
Q. Joe, how many conversations did you have today about possibly making a trade back, and at what point did you realize you weren't going to do that?
JOE SCHOEN: We had probably three teams that had talked about potentially moving up, and it was more to seven -- there weren't a lot of calls -- actually, there weren't any calls on anybody coming up to five. We had some conversations in a scenario where it was really six guys we coveted, and if one of them weren't there, if all six went, then we would have probably considered moving back. But any scenario where two of the six guys we liked were there, we were going to stay. That would have been really the only chance we would have moved back in that scenario.
Q. In general, were teams low balling and reluctant to pay too much to move up just in this draft just in general talking to people?
JOE SCHOEN: I wouldn't say that. You know, the two trades I had in place, it was like, hey let's prepare, so if we're on the clock, it's already done, no haggling. With the two teams I talked to, it was fair. We both agreed it was fair. One of the teams actually called me and said, hey, we are out because a certain position was depleted that they were going to come up for.
We also had a contingency plan if our six guys that we liked were gone, we had a seventh, and if we had to make a pick and we couldn't move back, we were prepared for that.
Brian is not kidding around. We had every possible scenario based on how the top of the Draft went, and it was really a unique draft. Typically you have an idea of who is going to be first and second, and there were rumors of it and rumors of who was going to go third, but you didn't really know. Everybody was kind of speculating on that. So we were prepared for a lot of different scenarios.
Q. What would you say were differentiator when you had your choice of a couple tackles? And also, at some point, a hip injury or something, some people had mentioned that with regards to Neal -- did you guys have a look at that, and would that factor in at all?
JOE SCHOEN: What he's talking about, us sitting in an office and watching multiple players, multiple times. And I think if you asked around the league how everybody saw those tackles, you'd get a bunch of different opinions.
We did a lot of work on those guys, but after the pass rusher, after Thibodeaux, there was quite a drop. We like the tackles very similarly, so we thought it was best to let it play out and get the pass rusher first.
On the medical, a lot of times teams share medical grades, and, you know, I think it was 52 percent of the league, there was only 8 percent that had issues with anything with Evan. And circling up with that, I think that was a rumor that was out there, but the majority of the teams in the league, again, he started 40 career games; he missed one game because of COVID.
Q. Did you have to look into that again?
JOE SCHOEN: Our medical staff did a great job. They were on it. Before any of that came out, we went through all that and they mentioned what some teams had concerns with, and our doctors looked at it and they were fine with everything. His play history backs that up.
Q. How does not getting a corner impact James Bradberry?
JOE SCHOEN: That doesn't affect James at all. I've said it all along, there are contingency plans. We still have three picks tomorrow night, a fourth, two fifths and a sixth. There are plenty of picks to be had.
Q. Joe, would you say even though the tackles were very close, would you say Neal was your No. 1 tackle?
JOE SCHOEN: They were very close, yeah. We had them side-by-side.
Q. So why did you pick him?
JOE SCHOEN: Because Ickey was gone at six.
Q. In terms of the other tackles --
JOE SCHOEN: We thought there was a drop off in pass rushers, and those two were still there, so it played itself out.
Q. There was a report earlier today that you guys were not going to pick up the fifth year on Daniel Jones. Is that true?
JOE SCHOEN: Yes, we exercised Dexter's fifth-year option, and then we did not do Daniels.
Q. How does that affect the Draft? Are you looking for a quarterback now?
JOE SCHOEN: We are always open to all positions, but that doesn't really affect our draft status. We met on it today, and it really doesn't affect what we think about Daniel. We really like Daniel and the work he's been putting in. And we are excited where he is, and we are excited to work with him. It was a decision we thought was best for the New York Giants at this time.
Q. What did Wink say? Have you spoken to him yet?
BRIAN DABOLL: Yeah, he gave me a fist pound back. Yeah, look, the Draft is an inexact deal, and you go through as many scenarios as you can and you prepare yourself. I'm not going to say it's like preparing yourself for a game as a play caller.
We felt very comfortable yesterday. The defensive guys went out golfing today, and the offensive staff went out and did another thing. We felt comfortable. Credit to Joe and the scouting staff. They put the time in, along with the coaches. It was a team effort. Feel like we have two good players to help us, and now it's going to be their job to come in here, work hard, learn how we do things, and help them develop.
JOE SCHOEN: Can I ask a question? I haven't seen Wink, what is he wearing?
BRIAN DABOLL: Not a hat surprisingly. He's got like a golf shirt on. Business casual for coaches tonight. First time I've seen them in normal clothes since I've been here.
Q. Your first time in the hot seat, what was the experience like for you in the war room?
JOE SCHOEN: Daboll was talking about it before. It was like when you go call a game, you're at ease because you have all your third and five calls. If it's third and plus 10, here are my calls we practiced all week, and we got it.
So when you're up there, you're calling a game. We had been through so many scenarios, the exact scenario that played out, we've been through it probably 15 times this week. We would stay in my office and move stuff around, what do we do here, what do we could here. We had a couple rhymes in place for different scenarios. It was very seamless. It was easy because where we were at five and seven, it was easy to plan for that and narrow your focus.
Tomorrow and Saturday may be a little bit different. You've got to look at our picks further down in the third round. Tomorrow might be easy for the first pick because we know if there's four players that we like, and we are going to get one of those four if we stay where we are.
So overall it was good. Again, preparation, we have been through the draft process together, Dabs and I. Their taff did a phenomenal job like he said. They were very helpful and put in a lot of time and effort not just watching the film but Zooms. These guys were on Zooms with these prospects for like an hour, and we had a process in place and a test in place at each position that the coaches were given of these kids.
We took that into account when we talked about how they did on the football test they were giving them, how they learn, how they pick up information, how they communicate that information. It was a pretty extensive process, from the medical to the coaches to the psychological on all these guys, and I think our process will lead us to the best decisions ultimately.
Q. Do you think that the offensive line is finally fixed?
JOE SCHOEN: We haven't been in pads yet. I hope so, but again, there's going to be competition across all positions, and I feel like we've upgraded it from where I was here and we had four or five offensive linemen when you got here, and we've added some veteran guys we like, Jamil Douglas, Garcia, Feliciano, Glowinski. We are happy with those guys, Gono. And then now adding Evan Neal, I think it's an interesting group and there's some interior depth. And Matt Peart, when he comes back, all of a sudden, I think we could potentially be operating from a position of strength at that position.
Q. Did you recruit Evan and did the guys at Alabama help you in the process?
BRIAN DABOLL: No, didn't recruit them, but certainly you have relationships in this business, whether it's from team to team in the NFL or in this case, college teams. Obviously I know a lot of people down there. So they were very helpful. They are big proponents of Evan, rightfully so. He's a good player, but you're also trying to get to know the person and how does he treat the GAs and how is he in the cafeteria and the type of people that we want to build our program with, and he fit it to a T. And on top of that, you have to be a good football player and have some talent and love the game and love to compete.
We are happy he's in our program, but now he's got a lot of work to do.
Q. When you were on the clock, was there any conversation in the room about where to go?
BRIAN DABOLL: I'll jump ahead of Joe. No, I told you he was prepared. There was not a lot of talking at all. It was calm, composed. And I think you can be that way when you're prepared, when you put the time in and you have the conversations before they happen.
Again, I can't tell you how many different scenarios we went through the past week, so we felt however it was going to unfold, that, you know, we would be ready for whatever decisions we had to make.
Q. Kayvon said on the TV when they were interviewing him on stage that before he got on the plane to go to Vegas, someone from the Giants FaceTimed him. Was it you?
BRIAN DABOLL: Yeah, Joe and I talked to him, again, just to say hello and wish him the best of luck in the draft process. We had good meetings with him. Good player. Just wanted to wish him luck.
Q. Can you talk about work ethic, his motivation, affinity for his brand, some people were concerned about that. Was there anything that eased your mind, something that you felt the need to look into or saw anything like that?
BRIAN DABOLL: I think you look into everything, but we sat down with the young man. He came up here on a visit, at the Combine. Joe did a Zoom. Did another Zoom with him. We felt very comfortable with him, his approach, both as a young football player and as a young man.
Q. Do you like coaching guys with big personalities, and how do you handle that?
BRIAN DABOLL: I like coaching good guys. Everybody has a different personality. When you're coaching in the National Football League for 22 years, you come across a lot of different characters, and as long as they love football and they are a pro on and off the field. I have six kids, and they all have different personalities. And that's the job of a coach, too, to learn your players, what makes them tick, how to push them when they need pushed, how to hug them when they need a hug. Felt very comfortable with him.
JOE SCHOEN: And these athletes are changing. The NIL stuff, these kids are making a lot of money in college. Freshmen in college, some are making $100,000, $200,000. It's a different athlete and a different experience as a college football player, and we have to evolve and understand that kids are going to evolve, and what they have been exposed to when they were in college is going to be a little bit different.
Also with Kayvon, he had a serious ankle injury. And a lot of people, with his draft status and draft stock, could have hung it up and said, we'll call it a season and I'm not going to play anymore. He fought back. And we talked to several people at the school, and he worked his way back and practiced, and a lot of people -- he didn't necessarily need to do that.
Q. Of the top tackles, Evan is the only one who played extensively at right tackle, how much did that come into play knowing you wanted to put him at right tackle?
JOE SCHOEN: It helps when you're going to draft a player at number 7 and you get to see him do what you're going to ask him to do. That makes you feel good. We definitely went back, we studied his tape from last season when he was at right tackle and even watched some of the stuff at guard. His versatility is important. One guy goes down in a game, it helps the eight guys you take on game day. If a guy can move around like that and help you out, that's an added plus, too.
Q. Joe, you went to dinner with Kayvon. Before his pro day?
JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, Korean barbecue place. You have to ask him about it. I had never been to a Korean barbecue place before. It was a lot of fun.
Q. We see one side, one personality. Is he the same personality-wise in a different setting with you, or did you see a different side of him that appealed to you?
JOE SCHOEN: One-on-one, when Dabs and I just met with him on his visit, yeah, he's very calm, cool, collect. And when I had one-on-one experiences with him, and when he's out and about in front of you guys, you might see a little bit more personality on him. But all in all, a really good kid and got to like him throughout the process.
Re: Sam Prince announcing the selection at No. 5
SCHOEN: How about my man Sam?
DABOLL: We gotta mention Sam. You talk about juice.
SCHOEN: That's the type of juice we're looking for.
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Thank you, it's been a blessing.
Q. You had said on stage that you were getting on a plane and you got a FaceTime from the Giants, what was that like and was that kind of the sign for you that something was happening?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: They were surprised that I answered. But you know me I'm always authentic with it, so just being able to have that last minute conversation gave me that idea that yeah, they really care.
Q. Why are you made for New York? Why is New York the perfect landing spot for you?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Because I'm hungry. I'm really competitive and hungry and I feel like New York is the pinnacle of a dog-eat-dog world.
Q. Did you spend more time with the Giants than other teams or did you spend a lot of time with a lot of teams?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I spent the most time with the Giants, definitely.
Q. What did you think about getting to know (General Manager) Joe Schoen, (Head Coach) Brian Daboll and (Defensive Coordinator) Wink (Martindale) and the other guys here?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: It was really dope because we really got to build a foundation, I don't want to say relationship, but we built a foundation, and now I have a real understanding because when I get there, I can go to them for anything.
Q. What did you think you had to prove to them or were there any questions you felt like they needed answered when you kept going through the process and meeting them at different points?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I don't necessarily know if there was anything specific that they needed answers, but I answered all of the questions without them asking. I was able to lay it all out on the line and I think they respected my delivery.
Q. There has been much said about Wink's defense being multiple. How do you fit into that?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I'm a smart guy. I feel like his multiple defense is really going to give me the opportunity to be versatile and kind of just show everything I bring to the team.
Q. What's your relationship like with (Former New York Giants Defensive End) Michael Strahan?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: He literally is one of my mentors and he's been talking to me throughout this process. He actually came to visit me when I was on my visit with the team, so seeing him out there that was really dope because he's given me wisdom and he even was able to speak on my behalf because we have built a relationship over the year.
Q. How valuable will it be to have that resource when you get here do you think?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: It's really dope because he has literally walked in my footsteps and can show me the ropes on the field and off the field.
Q. What are the Giants getting as a player out of you?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: They are getting a leader, they are getting a competitor and they are getting a guy who wants to win at any means.
Q. Did you think there were any misconceptions about you in this Draft process? Obviously, the Giants didn't buy in to those, but did you think that you're a little bit misunderstood as a player and a person and as a prospect?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I feel like anything that was said about me before this point is history, and now all we're focused on is the future.
Q. What do you remember about the dinner you went on with Joe? He was talking how you took him to Korean barbecue for the first time.
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Exactly, I took him to my house and we were able to break bread and do everything that we needed and I let them know that I eat, right. It was really dope, we got to break bread and we really got to build that relationship.
(celebratory noise) My bad, I'm sitting here with (Giants Tackle) Evan Neal and we're sitting here – and it's time.
Q. What's that like to be there with Evan and knowing you guys just got picked together? I would imagine in your mind, you guys will be together for a while?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: When you think about it, it's a blessing when you have a complete competitor on the other side of the ball that you're going to be able to go against every day knowing that you're getting better because he's getting better because we want to.
Q. It's been said you're probably the best edge rusher in the Draft. How are you against the run?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: You've got to watch the tape.
Q. What do you say to that notion that your motor did not always run hot, that you took plays off? What do you say to that?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I say that the Giants believe in me, and me and Evan are going to go to work, and this is probably one of the greatest moments of my life.
Q. Who is going to win the one-on-one reps in rookie minicamp?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: It's going to be 50/50 every time. He's going to hit me with an upper cut and I'm going to hit him with a right hook. He'll hit me with a jab and I'm going to hit him with a stomach hit. We're going to keep going back-to-back.
Q.Did you talk to the Giants a lot through this process and did you have a feeling they were going to be a team that might take you tonight?
EVAN NEAL: Yeah, they had the fifth and the seventh pick and so I knew there was a possibility I could end up at the Giants for sure, but I'm just thankful they gave me an opportunity and I'm going to make the most of it.
Q.What was your reaction when they were on clock at five and didn't take you?
EVAN NEAL: Hey, man, I was happy for Kayvon (Thibodeaux). I clapped for him. It's a lot of uncertainty but I just controlling the things that I can control.
Q.What do you think of, you played right tackle obviously before you played left tackle. They are going to start you out at right tackle. What do you think of that? Is that a good spot for you?
EVAN NEAL: Yeah, I'm comfortable at all the tackle spots for sure.
Q.Do you know Andrew Thomas?
EVAN NEAL: I don't think I've ever met him.
Q.What would you say to Giants fans that you're bringing to the table as an offensive lineman if you're describing yourself?
EVAN NEAL: The Giants are going to get a guy that is going to come in every day and work his hardest to be the best that he can be and just ultimately help the organization win.
Q.What were your reactions when the health rumors were coming out the last couple days about you?
EVAN NEAL: I was kind of shocked a little bit but at the end of the day I just control my controllables. I can't control about the information that leaks out, but I played 41 games at Alabama, I didn't miss a game, I didn't miss a snap, I only missed one game due to COVID, so that's your answer there.
Q.When you were sitting there just now when Kayvon was on with us and you see his personality busting out all over the place, what's your reaction?
EVAN NEAL: He's a funny guy, man. I'm just excited to continue to get to know him and spend time with him and compete against him.
Q.Do you get a sense that he's the kind of guy that's going to be talking to you in practice snap to snap?
EVAN NEAL: I really don't care whether he does. I'm going to talk with my shoulder pads (Laughter).
Q.How would you describe your personality?
EVAN NEAL: Pretty much a laid-back guy. I'm kind of more of an introverted extrovert by nature, more reserved, quiet, but just talk to me. I'm a people person. I'm definitely a cool guy.
Q.Are you a better pass blocker or run blocker?
EVAN NEAL: Man, I feel like I'm good at both, honestly. I played well and I played at a high level at both, just turn on the film. That should give you your answer.
Q.You're a real country boy. How does it feel playing in New York?
EVAN NEAL: A little bit of a culture shock, man, but I'm excited. I'm a country boy, but at the end of the day, I know how to fit in well with the city, so I'm just excited.
Q.Got some Alabama guys up here. Have you heard from them yet?
EVAN NEAL: Yeah, Xavier McKinney, when I was on my Top-30 visit, I got a chance to chop it up with him for a little bit. It's going to be pretty cool being able to play with him.
View photos of the Giants' draft picks as they tour their new home.