Initial comments ...
"To follow up, I really didn't talk much about the other guys earlier ...
"Carl Lawson in the fourth round really provided (us with) a player that has played on his feet, played outside in the 3-4 defense there at Auburn, and we really feel he has the versatility to be one of those swing guys here. We can teach him to play linebacker in our defense, (and he can) have an opportunity to be a down guy on third downs and in passing situations.
"Josh Malone really came on at Tennessee and is a guy who we really likened to some of the young receivers we've had here in the past who continued to mature and ascend once they got here, so we're excited about him. He's got great vertical speed, a big-catch radius, and he has done a nice job at Tennessee in an offense where they did a good job throwing the football. You can see that in the coaching.
"Ryan Glasgow is a hard-, hard-playing interior lineman from Michigan who gives you a great day's work all of the time. He's really a great guy to give you energy on the football team, and to provide some depth in pushing others at his spot.
"Jake Elliott ... We went into this offseason looking at where we were, signing our kicker back from the end of the year, but this gives us an opportunity to take a look at another prospect, and a chance to (have competition). We really did an extensive study on these collegiate guys this year, and we really feel good about how Jake came through it, so we decided to put our chip on him there.
"J.J. Dielman is a good, big physical kid from Utah. He played center there, and they had an outstanding offensive front. He was the leader of the bunch, and a physical player, and we really feel good about him coming in and competing with our interior guys and adding depth as well.
"Jordan Evans, who we drafted there in the sixth round, is a big, athletic linebacker from Oklahoma. He's a guy who didn't get a combine invite, but he stood out to our scouts and coaches — both with his play and his postseason work. We got an opportunity to bring him in here, get him a physical, and spend time with him, and we really felt like he warranted a pick there. He can really run, he has good range, (and he) understands the passing game very well. We're excited about him.
"Brandon Wilson is a very similar type prospect from the University of Houston. Again, he wasn't invited to the combine, and he's a guy we put in a lot of work on, and he just has incredible measurables. He'll have an opportunity to compete at the back end at the safety spots, and he can obviously make or break himself with how he does on special teams — both those two young guys (including Evans), the linebacker and the safety. We really felt like their physical tools lend well to that.
"Lastly, we finished up with Mason Schreck, the tight end from Buffalo. He's a big kid, a physical kid, a good receiver of the football — just a good all-around prospect, and a good, young guy to have in the fold to compete at that spot.
"I think we really were blessed the way the draft fell for us. We were able to take basically the best player available in our minds at that time, and continue to fill some of our needs (at backup positions) — the competitiveness that you want to put forth on the football team — so I'm excited about that. These guys — their (physical) traits, and their mental aspects as well — they all fit in line with the physical part of the game they play. We're really excited about that, and we feel like it was a beneficial three days. Obviously, a lot of work goes into it by the scouts, and the coaches supplement that when they get involved, and reports that are written and filed, time is spent, and the video and everything — so, literally, everybody through the football operations and personnel part (of the team) and all the work they do — we give them thanks and congratulations."
It seems like speed was the No. 1 focus in this draft ...
"I don't know if it was No. 1, but it was a big part of our earlier plan. It was important to do. These guys both fit us as position players, and also with their physical measurables. That worked well. That's part of it with today's NFL; we measure speed every day on the field. We have to make sure we feel good about it."
Is part of it keeping up with the trends in the league?
"There's an evolution in college football, so it's only natural that the NFL follow suit."
It's also important to marry speed with production ...
"I think that's most important for us. The production has to match up with the timed speed. That's the hardest part. We don't play football in shorts. We've elevated the combine to such a big, huge deal, and that's just one part of the puzzle and a confirmation of things. The tape matters so much. When coaches ask you to talk to their underclassmen, you try to encourage (them and tell them) if they would prepare as hard for their final college season as they do for the things that come postseason, they'd have a better (regular) season. They really prepare hard for the combine. Now we have to get them ready for football."
It's always a rarity when you trade up. What was your thinking when you decided to trade up for Brandon Wilson?
"Any time you trade forward, you're targeting a player. We felt like, in that case, Brandon (Wilson) fit us in a good spot. We hadn't taken a player at that position, and he'd have an opportunity to come in and really make us better. He'll compete."
Is it challenging to execute a busy day like today?
"When you go into the day with nine picks, you know that is a lot. We only ended up with eight, but it was a busy day for Duke (Tobin) on the phone. Even with the one or two moves we made, we sought out a few others, and then we have people seeking us out. We'll field a phone call from a team asking if we are willing to move back to their spot, and then we say, 'No, we'll stay and make our pick,' then they'll ask if we want to move up. A lot of that is going on throughout the day. It keeps people busy. That's part of their role."
Willie Anderson said he reached out for you and vouched for Lawson. How much weight does that carry when a guy that you know speaks up for a kid?
"It's great. But, we can't base things off of a guy's appraisal. But that's great that Willie felt good about it and that makes us feel good. I told Willie he was our target, and it worked out."
During the senior bowl, or combine, does the idea of trading picks pop up? Does it really affect things?
"I don't know. I was one that thought it wasn't something that we even needed to do. But obviously I was in the minority on that. People feel there is a value to them. Obviously there's a value to the third-, fourth-round (compensatory) draft picks because they come before the round (and now you can trade them). But when you start trading sixth- and seventh-round comp picks, we're shooting in the dark a little bit."
There wasn't a sense that anybody was taken out from under you. It seemed like everyone you wanted was there ...
"When you get later in the draft, it gets even harder to figure out who a target may be for a club. A lot of people go into (the draft) thinking we only have one night to think about it. But we have huge gaps Friday and Saturday with more times to figure out who these targets may be. I counted at the 112th pick, and there were 12 players picked that were outside the first three rounds of our board. So I felt pretty good about that. That means our evaluations were very much in line with the rest of the league, which is good. You don't want to have it where there are 25 picks from this side of the board that we had rated lower. So that was good — that there was that few (a number) of guys that were picked with different grades, or that we had not come to a conclusion on."
What does having this many picks do to the new roster? What goes through your head? There's a lot of competition on getting down to 53 ...
"It is a lot of competition, and hopefully it opens some eyes. It's good, because no place should be guaranteed. It gives us an opportunity to push to get better. We will get better with speed, playmaking, athleticism and so forth, so those are good things."
Hey Mason, Congratulations ...
"Thank you. Thank you so much."
Were you left in limbo wondering how it was going to fall out?
"I was on the phone with my agent, and he told me that we (might join) Philly (as a college free agent). That's where I was (thinking) of heading ... Not more than two minutes later, Coach Lewis called me and broke the news to me (about being drafting). I honestly broke down in tears. I'm so excited — so excited to go to Cincinnati and (help) this team go in the right direction and help them win a Super Bowl."
Did you want to get picked? Is it better to get the draft call?
"Well, I put so much work into this, so much time and effort. This was a dream of mine to get drafted, and for that to come true is great. In my visits, (at) Cincinnati, I kind of knew right then and there, that was where I wanted to be (if), God willing, they wanted to pick me. I met with Coach Hayes, the tight ends coach, and sat down with him for quite a while, and I felt like we had a great vibe. From that point on, I knew I wanted to be in Cincinnati. It was just a matter of whether they wanted to pick me or not."
So they had you in for a top-30 visit?
How many teams did you visit?
"I visited with two. I visited with New York (Giants), and then Cincinnati."
What was your role, tight end wise?
"My role was to be a hybrid guy. I was flexed out my whole career pretty much. We ran a lot of two tight end sets, where I was the primary receiver most of the time. My game is very similar to Tyler Eifert's. That's who I looked up to for most of my career in college. I think we are going to do great in Cincinnati."
Do you think you can set up on the line?
"Yeah, absolutely. I played quarterback my whole life, so going to college, I wasn't asked much to do a lot of those things. On line, in line, or point of attack on blocking. Coach Hayes and I broke it down to where he is going to coach me in that aspect — I've never really been coached like that before. So he is really going to work with me on Day 1 when I get there."
You were a high school quarterback?
Did you throw it a lot, or were you more of a running quarterback?
"Did a little bit of both. I had four high school head coaches in four years, so I got to run a bit of spread offense, and a little bit of pro style. It changed up every year. Did a little bit of everything. That's what a lot of colleges saw in me —my ability to make plays and run. I think, from the very beginning, that I was destined to be a tight end at some point. I was lucky that Buffalo saw that in me and gave me an opportunity to play at such a young age."
Did you have any recruiting interest in basketball?
"Yeah, I did. I was set on playing football, but yeah, I had a little bit of basketball interest."
Were you a Browns fan growing up in Cleveland?
"I was always a Raiders fan. My dad and I were big Raiders fans. He grew up on George Blanda and Kenny Stabler, so growing up, I was always a Raiders fan."