Bengals Draft Rd 3: News Conference Transcripts
Initial comments ...
"Nick Vigil gives us another player that showed a lot of versatility. He's been an inside, downhill linebacker at Utah State in the middle of the defense, scraping, playing over-the-top and through blocks, and he's done a great job. He's a smart kid, you can tell he understands the passing game, playing in passing lanes, and he has been productive there. He's a good fit for us. He brings the ability of speed on special teams and playmaking and all the things that you want of a young linebacker as he comes in the National Football League."
It seems like he's a good runner with 4.6 or 4.7 in the 40-yard dash ...
"Yeah, he ran low 4.7s I think, so he can run. He's a good athlete on his feet, big guy, huge hands, big physical kid."
Did you see a really good knack for the game?
"I think he has a good feel for anticipation and suddenness in his lower body, which is what it takes to be productive as a good linebacker."
Is he a no-false-steps kind of guy that takes the proper angle every time?
"He's got some stuff that we'll have to clean up with him to play productively at this level, but yeah, he's a guy that has a great feel (for the game) that's played in there, understands it — it's not like a guy you're making transition; he sees the angles and blocks and how things attack him and so forth and has good, disciplined vision that way, which is another thing you like about him."
Is he a three-down type of guy?
Lewis: "He has an opportunity to be, which I think is a key part of having an opportunity to draft a young guy like this. He has a chance to be a three-down linebacker."
Can you describe the challenge you have in trying to evaluate a player from a smaller school, given the competition he played against?
"Well, college football has changed so much, because your Utah States of the world, there's more crossover than you think in their schedule. If you look at their schedule, they play against top teams all the time and they hold their own. These kids match up and play well against those type of teams. But nowadays with the tape and the ability with the area scouts and so forth, when I look at a guy and the coaches look at a guy, you're looking at videotape. There's not a challenge to that. Logan, Utah is not that far out of the way. I've bit there quite a bit in my life, obviously, so we picked a couple guys lately whose territory I'm very familiar with, and I like that about them. They're tough kids, both (second round pick) Tyler Boyd and (now) Nick Vigil, I love their backgrounds and what they come from."
Did you think there was a chance he might be there early tomorrow at all?
"We weren't willing to take that risk. This is a guy that, grade-wise, we felt very strong about collectively."
Can he play any linebacker position for you?
He has a keen football aptitude, yes?
"He's very intelligent that way and understands football."
Initial comments ...
Guenther: "The first thing I want to say is, I thought it was awesome they had Carlos Dunlap (Bengals DE) introduce the pick of Nick in Chicago. I want to congratulate Carlos on his graduation (from the University of Florida). I think it's a great thing and it was good to see."
You and Coach Haslett are big on football smarts — this kid has all of that stuff, yes?
Guenther: "Like I said to you guys yesterday, when we sit down as a staff and look — we have Jacob (Burney) and Jim and Kevin (Coyle) and Rob (Livingston), everybody — we'll look at the linebackers together, we'll look at the secondary and try to see how we see the fit. And this guy popped on tape. As soon as we put (the tape) in, we said, 'This guy is a real fit for us.' He's fast. He ran a 4.66 (40-yard dash). He ran a 4 on the shuttle, like a receiver's speed."
"He's a good instinct guy. He's good in the passing game, which is intriguing at this point in the NFL because you have to have linebackers that can cover the pass. Just all those things he did.
"And I have his offensive numbers here — he carried the ball 41 times as a junior with three touchdowns and (averaged) 3.7 (yards) a carry. He's done a lot of different things, and we like the versatility of the player and we're excited to have him."
He was a redshirt junior?
Guenther: "Yes. He came out as a redshirt junior."
With so many returning players on the defensive side of the ball, how hard is to make the play for Vigil here in the war room, or do you just have to have him?
Guenther: "I think anywhere you draft a player on our defense now, it's going to be hard to come in here and start. Really, anywhere in the NFL unless you've got a hole and you've got to fill that need,. Whether you take a guy in the second round or the fourth round, if you value the player at that spot and you want to take him, you really don't worry about where everyone else has him on their board. We always think about league value and where the league values a player, but ultimately, when we have discussions and we're on the clock, we may have two or three players we have to decide on, this is (the) one we decided to go with."
Is he the kind of guy you start on special teams and he just keeps progressing that way, or can he take it all on right away?
Haslett: "That's something we're going to talk about. We've kind of discussed it, but obviously he'll have a big role on special teams. He's got great speed. We'll try to fit him in and we've got some pretty good linebackers, but when you watch the tape, he jumps out on the tape. He can run the field. He's really good in coverage and they play the same type of defense we play, so I think it'll be an easy transition once he learns the language, and I think he's a three down player that can play multiple positions. He can play the Mike, the SAM or the WILL positions because of his versatility.
"His sophomore year, he had seven-and-a-half sacks and 118 tackles. This year he had 144 tackles and three-and-a-half sacks, so the guy's got some rush ability. He's got some speed, some cover ability, so he's just a good football player."
Guenther: "At this point in the draft, we're trying to challenge the back end of our roster, whether it be the sixth linebacker or fourth or fifth corner, and that's how those guys come in. They develop on special teams. One of the things we've done is, last year we really tried to get those guys in early in preseason games against the better players, so we could get a really good gauge of what we had. That's initially going to be these guys' roles coming in here, coming in the back of the thing and work their way up the rest of that."
Haslett: "Their defense as a whole is ranked 17th in the country. You're talking about Ohio State, Penn State, Georgia and those type of teams. You're talking about a team that had two picks back-to-back in the draft and had two linebackers taken in the draft tonight, and we like Tyler, too, the guy taken right behind him, so obviously, they are good football players. They were coached by a heck of a coach, they played good defense. They know what it takes to win. They put out some pretty good linebackers over the last couple of years."
He's got pretty good size. Does he splash pretty good and can play downhill?
Guenther: "He can. The thing that we like to have on a team is a variety of abilities. Vontaze (Burfict) and Rey (Maualuga) are two big thumping guys in there. When you have a guy like this than can do a little bit of everything — cover, run sideline to sideline, smart and instinctive — he'll fit right into that mold. Like I said yesterday with the corner about the run support, training camp's going to be just like any other training camp in the NFL, he's going to learn to be physical."
Will he learn to play one spot first, or will you teach him all three linebacker spots right away?
Haslett: "He did play Mike for them and then on nickel, he would move to the dime position. So he can play all different spots. For us, the dime, the Will and the SAM are basically the same position and then you've got the Mike position. I think he'll learn all three. If something's happening, we'll see how he progresses."
Can he play any spot?
Guenther: "He can. I heard the question you guys asked Marvin, 'Is a linebacker a linebacker?' For us, the way we teach our system, we teach all those linebackers different traits, because if there are three linebackers on the field, the next-best player has to go out there and play if someone goes down. It's not the next best MIKE linebacker, or the best outside linebacker; it's the next best player. We have plenty of time with this guy, to teach him from inside and out. They need to know what's going on to the guy next to him, and all those things. So we teach the system that way, so we give them chances to play both spots."
With Vontaze, you were pretty impressed right away with his football IQ. Is this guy similar?
Haslett: "Yeah I think that's the type of guy he is. Just being around in the short time I was around him in the interview process and all that, and when you watch him on field, he's got great instincts, number one. And then he can talk football with you. He can talk one-on-one. He's a country boy. He's a roper; he roped steers and all that stuff. He better look out in Cincinnati."
Guenther: "I told him the best thing we have is a mechanical bull here."
He seems like he's NFL ready ...
Guenther: "He's a fit for us. There are certain players, you say, 'Eh, it may take this guy a year.' But this guy's done it, it's on tape. The evidence is there. It's the same front that we play. So I would say, yes, he's going to come in and pick it up fairly quick."
Is his strength his movement, and is his physical strength the biggest area he needs to improve?
Haslett: "He's got great movement. Like I said, he can go sideline to sideline. He has great instincts for the ball and he knows when to go downhill. Is he a killer tackler? I think he's a good enough tackler to get them down. I don't think he's going to look like Vontaze or Rey, but I don't think too many do. What the process was, I looked at him first, made a big cut-up, a long tape. And then we go in as a staff and look at it. First thing Paul said, 'That looks like that guy.' And I said, 'Yeah, he kind of does look like that guy.'"
What guy do you mean?
Guenther: "Like a local prospect that went early in the draft a few years ago (Luke Kuechly). I did not say the name (laughs). I don't want to put too much pressure on the kid, but that's what he reminded me of."
Haslett: "I mean running-wise and athletic-wise, he jumps out at you like that."
Guenther: "That's what coaches like to do; they like turn on a player on tape and compare him to somebody they've seen before. Everybody does it; it's natural. The scouts do the same thing, everybody does it. He is his own player and obviously coming in here, he's going to have to work his butt off for a chance."
How rare is it to get a linebacker that can play in the passing game?
Guenther: "It's the hardest thing for the linebackers to do. I shouldn't say that. The way college football is now, it used to be the hardest thing for a young linebacker to do — come in and play the passing game. It's like running backs coming out of college that can't protect. But now the way college football is, it's bubble screens, it's quick throws, wide open spaces. Now it's harder to find guys that take on guys like we alluded to with Vontaze and Rey. Those guys are harder to find. To have a guy with the ability to play in the passing game and to do good things like that, I think we needed a player like that."
Can he play Mike and base?
Haslett: "Yes. He can play Mike. He can play base in nickel situations, in their 42 package, he would play the dime position. That's why he had a lot of sacks. He rushed from the position. He's a two-position player right there."
Is he a captain type of guy?
Haslett: "He was a junior. Being around him in a short time, he seemed like it. He was making all the calls, all the checks out there. Yeah, I think he's got that all built in to him."
Linebacker, Utah State
What was this moment like for you when you got the call?
"Actually when they called my phone, my phone dropped the call. They had to call my mother's phone. It took a minute to set in, but its pure excitement. It's a dream come true."
What do you know about the Bengals and what can you bring to them?
"I know they're a good team every year. They're in the playoffs pretty much every year. They have a great organization, and from what I've heard everyone loves Marvin Lewis. I'm ready to help the team."
Did you get a sense they had interest in you?
"I actually hadn't even talked to anyone from Cincinnati from the combine all the way on. I didn't have conversations with anyone from Cincinnati. Maybe a scout or something here and there. They were a team I didn't really think I had chance to be drafted by. It was a surprise to me."
How much experience do you have as an outside or inside linebacker, and which is more comfortable?
"Since I was a freshman I played all four linebacker positions. The first couple of years I was playing, I moved around from inside to outside and back and forth. This last year I just played mainly inside linebacker. I'm pretty comfortable at all the positions."
Comfortable with 4-3 scheme? Any one spot you feel the best?
"I think I can play all the linebacker positions in the 4-3. Wherever they see me fitting better and where I can contribute best is I'm sure where they'll have me."
Did you play a lot of special teams in college?
"Yeah. Freshmen year I was a special teams starter. My junior year I played on the kickoff team. And this last year I was on the punt team. So I played all four special teams spots in college."
So will you demand to get some offensive snaps?
"(Laughs.) No sir I think those days are over. Thank goodness, because I wasn't very good at running back."
What went into your playing some offense?
"I didn't know. One day Coach Wells called me into his office and said, 'We're going to put in a package for you to play running back.' They did, and we did it for a little while. It was fun, but I'm sure that's behind me now. (Laughs.)"
Did they line you up at tailback or as a fullback?
Was it a lot of goal line and short-yardage scenarios?
"Yeah, it was a little more goal line and short-yardage, with first- and second-down a little more my sophomore year. It was just trying to get a couple yards to get the offense going."
Do you still have your rat-tail haircut?
"(Laughs) No, I cut that off before the combine."
"I didn't want to go in and meet coaches and GMs and all of that with a little rat-tail hanging off the side (laughs). But I tell you what, I miss it. So maybe I'll grow another one. I don't know (laughs)."
Now that you've been drafted, you can grow it back out ...
"Yeah. I might as well let it go again (laughs). We'll see. Maybe."
Why did you grow it in the first place?
"I don't know (laughs). One day, I just decided that I'm going to grow it. I wanted to grow one in high school and never did, so I just started growing it one day and never cut it."
What has your brother, Zach, who plays for the Miami Dolphins, told you about the NFL? Has he been helpful throughout this process?
"Yeah. I've talked to him pretty much every day since I made my decision to come out. He's just told me that it's a business, and you have to treat it like a business. And just to have fun, and that this next year is going to be the longest year of your life, getting acclimated to the NFL, learning a new scheme and learning the ropes of being an NFL player. He just said that you have to act professional, because it's a profession. 'Handle your business' is pretty much what he's told me."
Is he still with the Dolphins?
"Yes, he is. They're starting their OTAs right now."
How familiar are you with the Bengals' schedule?
"Not very familiar, but my parents just told me that we're going to play the Dolphins. So that'll be pretty fun. It's in September some time."
It's in Week 4, on national TV. Thursday night ...
"Oh really. That'll be fun then. I'll be able to see him out there hopefully. It'll be a little brotherly rivalry."
Were you expecting to be a Day 2 pick?
"My agent said there's a pretty good chance, depending on how the draft plays out, that I could go in Round 3. But we were kind of expecting more of a fourth round. He said that I could go in the middle of the third to the latter of the third, all the way to the middle of the fifth round."