Offensive line coach
Initial comments ...
Lewis: “(We) woke you guys up, didn’t we?” (laughs) ... Obviously, in moving up and picking Russ, we set out to add some new, young players at certain spots, and the interior offensive line (and) offensive center was one target (area). We’ve been able to pick the guys we really felt good about, and he was another one. He was impressive on tape, and I had an opportunity to meet him in Indianapolis (at the Scouting Combine), and he’s another one of those guys who comes off and speaks and carries himself like you want to have throughout your football team. He’s a leader there at North Carolina; everybody spoke so highly of him. He’s a big, strong man and tough, which we need to have to compete and win against the people we play in our division. We think he has those attributes.”
He had 42 bench press reps at the Combine. He’s a beast ...
Lewis: “He had one more than that at his Pro Day. Someone said (he had) 43 ... Maybe he embellished on one (laughs). I think a couple years ago, we had three guys — Orson (Charles), (Kevin) Zeitler and
Would you say his strength is more in run blocking or pass blocking?
Lewis: “They’ve been in one of those offenses (at North Carolina) that’s been wide open. (It’s) a wide open offense that spreads the field. They don’t huddle up, and Paul (offensive line coach Paul Alexander) really feels like he has a great opportunity to grow and take positive steps because he’s been in an offense where they haven’t huddled. Everything’s been done at the line of scrimmage and so forth, so we really think that in making the conversion and the adjustment, he can really take big strides here.”
You’ve had a run of smart guys at the center position, with the likes of Rich Braham and Kyle Cook, who were pretty good conductors on the field mentally. Is this guy that kind of guy?
Lewis: “Well, he’s that kind of guy intellectually. Obviously, we can’t judge their system until we get the player here. But as I told you, in our room at Indy, Paul spent time with him, and also at North Carolina. He’s what we’re looking for.”
What do you like about him?
Alexander: “I think he can block the big nose guards. He was really the only big center in the draft. We talked last round about taking him. Duke (Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin) did a great job of getting the trade done, and we’re really happy. It was a good deal. But I think he can block the big nose guards that we see every week in our division. And he’s a tough, he’s a leader, he’s strong. He had one of the higher Wonderlic scores at the combine, so he is a smart guy. He didn’t process the way an NFL team would because they don’t have the multiple calls, checks, audibles, etc. in their fast-paced offense, so they just kind of called plays. So he’ll have to learn that, but I think he’ll get that pretty quick. There’s really nothing about him I don’t like.”
As far as the need to move up, was that something you talked about before the draft resumed today?
Lewis: “When we met this morning, it was something we discussed. Duke’s been busy all morning trying to facilitate that. Sometimes it’s difficult to do, but Seattle had two picks; I think they had 108 and 111, and they made a pick and they were trying to trade the other one. So we were able to trade for this one.”
Alexander: “Everyone wanted to do it. I even got a text from Jack Brennan (PR director) that said we needed to trade up to get Bodine (laughs).”
Is he athletic enough to block guys at the second level too?
Alexander: “I think he needs to, honestly, improve that part of his game. But his measurable, his speed, his agility, all those things at the combine are very good. He’s got that ability. I think he’ll grow and he’ll eventually be good at that.”
Is he strictly a center or is he versatile and can play other positions?
Alexander: “He played guard against Old Dominion; he looked pretty good. But I’m thinking he’s going to compete right away at center. He’s going to compete to be the starting center.”