Saturday, May 2, 2015
at Paul Brown Stadium
news conference transcripts
Defensive backs coach
Tell us about Derron Smith ...
"Derron Smith is a four-year starter at Fresno State, leading tackler a couple years with their team, a very smart football player, very versatile. With our safeties, we do a lot of different things with our guys. They have to be versatile, and he fits right in with that group."
Did you have a guy like him in mind this late in the draft?
"Yes. With the draft, you have to wait and see what happens, with projections, picks from other teams, and then you look at what is best for our team. It's a really good group; it's really going to be great competition which will make everyone better. Derron fit right in that mold, and it's going to help our team."
Did he do much on special teams?
"Yes. I know he did some early in his career for sure. I wasn't sure he did as much this year because he was hurt a little bit."
Did his recent surgery cause him to slip? Do you feel it was a steal for you guys at that point?
"He was rated still pretty high on our board. He had surgery for a sports hernia, which he had all year, and he played through it and still was very productive. I'm sure it hurt his draft status a little bit, but we knew where he was at, and where he sat on our board, and we're lucky to have him here."
What does Derron bring? What can he do across the board?
"One, I like his intelligence. Anytime you are a four-year starter, that says a lot about who you are. He's a very efficient tackler. One of the things we always judge guys on is how good are they at tackling. This kid is a very good tackler. He's very instinctive. He's not the fastest guy at times, but you can see he's always in the right spot and doesn't get beat many times. And one of the big things that people have told me about him is that he's like another coach on the field. You love to have guys like that in your stable because they help find ways to win."
Look at the current star you have now at safety (George Iloka) who was a fifth-round pick a few years ago. Do you point to that and say, "It's that easy"?
"Coach Lewis always talks about that. It doesn't matter when you get here; it's what you do when you get here. Case in point, over the past few years we've played a lot of different guys that became big contributors that weren't top draft picks. You're going to have an opportunity to play and perform and be judged accordingly. When guys see that, they know it's a good place to be."
In talking with Coach Joseph earlier about Shaw and the USC connection, how well did that play in with Smith?
"Well, it was all on his ability. We looked at his ability, and what he can do and what he's done and what he can do for our team. The 'SC' thing is a totally different thing because I'm hard on 'SC' guys. I really am. Taylor Mays will tell you, because that's very important to me, and he fit the test very well. We're very excited about getting him. He was truly judged on his merit and his ability and what he can do for our team, and because they're 'SC' guys, I'm always going to be a harsh grader on them because that's how it was for me."
Do you see Shaw coming over and playing safety?
"He's done it in college. What we like about our group is the versatility. In this league, the way things get spread out with matchups, the more versatile you are in the back end, the more you don't have to substitute and get specific guys in there. You can still run your defenses and have calls available to you because you can mix and match. With the hurry up offense this gives us a match. We like the versatility of our guys."
He played all these positions in high school. What translates over into this level and that athleticism to play different positions?
"The versatility. How many times have you seen George (Iloka) walk down and cover the top of a slot? The next minute he's in the box playing like a linebacker. The next minute he's a high safety. Reggie (Nelson) is the same way, he's one of the best blitzers on the team; he can also line up and cover a wide receiver at cornerback and he plays very good single high safety. Again that versatility with the guys we like translates into the game, and having a guy like Derron being able to play those various positions. And the biggest thing is to be able to think that a guy has some kind of football awareness and football intelligence, to be able to go from one position to another because the mindset changes. Those are the type of players we like a lot."
Safety, Fresno State
As a four-year starter at Fresno State, how much did taking a large amount of snaps help you get selected?
"I think it definitely helped. The more football you play, the more comfortable you get, the better you feel about going out there and doing your job and helping your team out. So I think that all the games and all the snaps I played, I think that really helped."
When you look at your production, were you surprised you were still hanging around in the sixth round?
"Yeah, definitely. To tell you I wasn't disappointed waiting that like, I'd be lying to you. It is what it is. Everybody has a plan in place. I'm just happy to be able to make it to my dream of playing in the National Football League."
What round did you think you were going to get selected?
"It's hard to say, but I talked to my agent, talked to teams and they all had said third- or fourth-round range. Obviously once the draft starts, anything can happen. I was thinking fourth round — hoping third, thinking fourth. So to fall, like I said, I was definitely disappointed. But at the same time I got the phone call, I'm drafted. I couldn't be happier."
How long ago did you have the sports hernia surgery?
"I started feeling it earlier in the year, Week 2 or Week 3. But I didn't have surgery on it until Dec. 30."
You just played through it. Was it ever a question of whether you would keep playing or not?
"At one point it did. At first it kind of just started off as a sore groin, and then it just gradually got worse throughout the year. Late in the season, I knew that something was definitely wrong with it."
Are you finished with the rehab?
"Oh yeah, I'm 100 percent healthy now. It took a while to get through it. I wasn't able to participate in the combine, but I'm healthy now."
How familiar are you with the Bengals in general and their situation at safety?
"I was honestly kind of surprised that I heard that they were interested in safeties. They have George Iloka from Boise State, that's a Mountain West team. And then I knew they had Reggie Nelson at safety. So I was a little surprised, but I'm looking forward to learning from those guys and trying to compete."
Did you know George Iloka from college?
"No, I didn't get a chance. I think he was just a little older than me. I might have played against him my freshman or sophomore year, but not too much. I just know the name from Boise State."