News Conference Transcripts
Initial comments ...
"We feel really good about Chris Westerman from Arizona State, the chance for him to come in right away and have a chance to uplift us. He gives us another young guy on the interior offensive line to compete. We thought when we had him visit a few weeks ago that it was really an incredible visit, so we're excited that we had the opportunity to draft him today. It's good."
Does he project to guard or center, or both?
"Well, guard and possibly — but he's not been a center at Arizona State. He's been a guard and a tackle in his career, but the opportunity (at center) could be there, too. All of our interior guys need to learn how to do both things, so that will be something we'll work with him on. We spent time with him in the offseason, and over the draft process, people worked with him as a center."
What made the visit he had with the Bengals 'incredible'?
"His intensity. What you saw on tape, you saw in person and you felt in person, which plays good for us. That works here."
Offensive line coach
Can Westerman play both guard and center?
"He's going to be a swing guy starting out. He's a great kid. He's the type of guy that gets up at 5 o'clock in the morning and works out. He's a good athlete. He played basketball, he played baseball, he boxed. He has incredibly strong hands. He's tougher than hell — he's the toughest kid in the draft.
"When (Andrew) Whitworth came out, he was the toughest kid in the draft, and (Russell) Bodine was, and (Jake) Fisher probably was last year. When he's the toughest guy in the draft, I put a nice box around him and in this division, you have to. It's not for the feeble."
How do you determine who the toughest prospect in the draft is?
"You watch the film, and my best thing is, I shake the kid's hand and look him in the eye, and I judge the percentage that he would kick my ass. (laughs) The more I think he would really destroy me, the more I like him."
How important was it when you worked him out that he showed he could play some center?
"I didn't work him out; he came here for his visit and he hadn't played much center and he hadn't played it in a game. We went through the film and so forth and had the feeling he had the capacity to do it. It won't happen overnight; it will be a year away or whatever before he could do that. I think he's a versatile guy."
Do you think he could transition from going to guard to center though?
"I think he's an inside guy. He can play both. Are you guys asking about the (Russell) Bodine witch hunt?
"Let me tell you about Bodine. Let me tell you about him. He's better than (Clint) Boling was after 2 years (in the NFL). He's similar to what (Kevin) Zeitler was. Zeitler didn't start out all that great. And then I was talking to Whit (Andrew Whitworth) about (former Bengals center) Rich (Braham), and Whit said, 'Don't compare Bodine to Rich Braham.' And I said, 'Whit, Braham didn't step on the field until his third year.' This (Bodine) is a young player who's playing with a bunch of veterans who are very good offensive linemen, and he's the last one right now because he's the youngest. I don't care what anyone else says — I think Bodine is going to be a hell of a player."
Guard, Arizona State
What was your reaction to finally getting the call?
"It was great. It was a very blessed moment for me."
What round expectations did you have?
"I really didn't. I was just watching TV waiting to get my name called. I remember taking a trip down to Cincinnati and I loved it. So when I heard my name being called by them, it was awesome."
What did you think of Coach Alexander?
"A great guy. I'm excited to be a part of the organization."
What went well on your trip here?
"Everything went well. You know, when everything works out right and goes smoothly. You build those relationships fast, that's what happened. I felt that connection with those guys, and now I'm ready to get to work."
Have you taken any reps at center?
"I took some practice reps, but I never got to play in a game. We had a pretty good center who was solid in that position."
How do you think you fit in here?
"I'm ready to come in and play and contribute to the organization, and win some football games."
Who's better, you or your dad?
"I would whup my dad. (Laughs.) He'll tell you that. He had a mullet and a mustache back in the day, so that might give him the advantage."
Where on the line did he play?
"My dad played both guard spots."
Did he make it to the NFL?
"He didn't. His senior year he blew his ACL out. After that, he was done with football."
How much do you know about the Bengals offensive line?
"I know their left tackle is a beast. I like some of the things the coaches showed me so far. I'm ready to work with those guys."
Was it hard to wait overnight, given you were projected to be picked yesterday?
"I had no idea. I was expecting yesterday, when that didn't happen, the worries start coming in a little bit. You wonder what's going on behind closed doors. Every time I saw the Bengals I was thinking about it. They finally called me, and now I'm ecstatic and ready to go work for this organization."
You played a lot of other sports. What else did you do?
"I did. I boxed for a little while. That was probably my main sport besides football. It was getting me focused on my footwork and hand speed; something that helped me at the game of football. Growing up in Arizona, there's a weight regulation so I'm not able to play until a freshman in high school. For me, getting some kind of contact sport in was essential."
Did you box in tournaments?
"A lot of training and sparring. Nothing too crazy, but something to keep my aggressiveness up. I like to hit people."
What was your record?
"Honestly, I won a lot of fights."
How many matches?
"I'm not sure. Probably eight or nine. I did a lot of sparring just to get ready to football. Once I finally got to put pads on, that was my dream, and it was time to go to work. All other sports were set aside."
Does your hand strength come from boxing?
"It definitely does. Working on hand and arm strength. When I punch people it probably doesn't feel too good. So it helps with that."
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
"I would say my biggest strengths are my overall physical strength, my consistency, and my willingness to be coachable and be a better player every day. For me overall, I want to work on technique, my first step, and all the kinks to it. A lot of things you can get away with in college you can't in the NFL. For me, its going to be working on things like that."
Coach Alexander said he judges prospects on their handshakes and on the percentage that they would kick his butt. Could you tell Coach Alexander was sizing your toughness up when you two first met?
"I guess I didn't think of it like that. (Laughs.) I've got pretty big hands."