Draft Recap Press Conference Transcript


Initial commentsML: "I'm really pleased with what we were able to do today, throughout the rest of the draft. It started with the drafting of (Clint) Boling in the fourth-round, today. He really fits us in the area of competitiveness, and he has the ability to come in and compete for a job, and he's shown a lot of flexibility in his college career.

"Robert Sands is a big, physical safety. He has good speed and has shown a great ability to cover ground back there. He's been a great insert-guy when he's needed to. He's been able to play in the deep spots of the field, and I think he has a lot of growth and improvement with coaching that we can help him with here. He has some of the things that you really can't coach, and that's his size and speed and ability to go play the ball in his range.

"Ryan Whalen has been a very productive player at Stanford. He really has an opportunity to come here and play in a system that he's fairly familiar with. So I think he can hit the ground running and compete as a wide receiver. He's got good size, and he'll also be able to help us in those backup roles on special teams.

"Later on in the seventh-round, with Korey Lindsey, the defensive back from Southern Illinois, he had a productive career there. He has some speed to him, but he really has a great awareness and some great quickness, and he has a great ability to play the ball. He has been a good, physical tackler and has shown good coverage.

"Lastly, there is the running back from Baylor, (Jay) Finley. He really has been productive and has the ability to catch and run with the ball. Really what we were looking for there was a guy who would show some versatility and some abilities out of the backfield. We felt it would be a good complement in our offense as we move forward.

"So I think it was a really productive day, and a good finish to the draft. I think we were able to put together some needs of the football team with some young guys with some competitiveness in spots."

Sometimes players that teams want fall off the board right before they pick. Did that happen at all today or did things seem to fall the way you wanted?ML: "I thought it did (fall the way we wanted). Today, we got close to a guy or two that we may have kind of favored because of a need, then we had to take that need the next time. But obviously the first and second day, they fit pretty good. We were able to fill (needs) with players that we hope will have an opportunity."

Was running back one of those positions that you could have had the right guy in the third round, but had to wait until later to fill it?ML: "No, not that early on. We really just kind of waited. There were some guys that we liked in different ways as we went through it. But Finley was a guy that's been very productive at Baylor. There were still some running backs left, but there was a run of running backs right after our first pick in the seventh-round and end of the sixth."

Would Lindsey be a guy you consider for punt return?ML: "He's had some return experience (at Baylor). So yes, he'll obviously have an opportunity to do that as well."

A couple of weeks ago, you said that you wanted all of the draftees to come in and contribute immediately, even with some of the later-round guys ...ML: "Right. It's important to have that ability to help that way. That's how they're going to make the football team. When they make the football team, they make the football team better. With the fact that we've had to draft people prior to any other movement of players in the National Football League this year, it kind of puts a premium on these guys in getting an opportunity. So it was kind of a new way of doing things, and we all did it this way and fill needs. You saw teams take multiple guys at positions. So I think that was a reflection of where we are right now with what we're going forward with in the unknown."

Is Jay Finley more of a between-the-tackles type of runner?ML: "No, he's had a lot of big runs this year. He has the shiftiness to make people miss. We feel he fits us well with his ability to catch and do those things."

Were you able to accomplish anything with Andy Dalton with his visit today?ML: "Nothing. His visit was for marketing and for you guys. We were just catering to the media."

Does it worry you that you have a rookie quarterback and you aren't able to work with him?ML: "We chose Andy because we feel that he has less of a learning curve and will be able to do things very quickly. Everyone in the NFL is under the same restrictions. I'm confident that our coaches will get these guys up to speed and ready to go quickly."

Is the NFL no longer a 'Can't stash players away developmental league' anymore?ML: "The salary cap eliminated the ability to stash players away. You have to have guys constantly working their way through. Guys are constantly turning over. It's always competitive and it will be competitive this year."

It seems like you guys were true to the board and were able to fill your needs:ML: "We did. It ended up good for us."

Will there be more emphasis on special teams this year, given your struggles in that area last year?ML: "I think early last year there were guys who didn't cover kicks as well as they should have. We have a lot of young guys with experience and we have some guys who know that special teams is a big part of the game. That you feel good about. We're always looking at what guys can contribute. The only way he's going to make the team is to beat out the guy who's on the bottom of that position."

Are you concerned about the running back situation?ML: "We feel pretty good about it. We return Bernard Scott and Cedric Peerman — two guys we feel really good about it. Cedric (Benson) is a free agent and Brian Leonard may or may not be a free agent based on what rules we're under. We'll have guys who can compete. On the roster right now we have three guys who will come in and compete at fullback, so we feel pretty good."

Do you think there's a need to get a veteran quarterback?ML: "It will be something we'll talk about — probably early next week. We'll make plans one way or another. I don't think there's an exact need. As I said, I feel really good about the guy we were able to draft (Andy Dalton), and if he ends up being the starter as a rookie, I think he can do that."

There's not much experience behind him:ML: "No there isn't. No question. We're going to let the guys compete, so we'll see what happens."

What's next for this offseason?ML: "We'll spend some time on our football now. At least Jay Gruden has a better idea of who he has to work with. We know where we are. We at least now have some direction. Defensively, we have some time to look at opponents. The scouting staff has worked their tails off. Our coaches and staff, especially Duke Tobin, have done a fine job of immersing themselves in this process. There was a lot of cross checking done when looking at multiple positions. It was a good process and I feel really good about how we ended up."

What was it like to see the scouting staff and coaching staff working together?ML: "It was great. We logged some miles together and had quite a few dinners together. We got a chance to talk and hear everyone's feelings and that's a good thing. We were able to involve James Urban, who was the quarterback coach for Philadelphia and has spent some time looking at quarterbacks over the past few years. It was great having him involved and he was able to answer some of my questions. Ken Zampese has worked his tail off in this process. We put these kids through quite a process and he helped prepare them for that. It was a good process and the guys did a great job of that."

Is it time to box things up and wait to hear about the labor agreement?ML: "We'll get things ready to go. We know who we're going to play. We'll spend a little more time on who we're going to play. We'd at least be in the weight room, walking these guys through some things. I would be trying to get the players some time with their coaches but we don't have to worry about that right now."

Would you have gone into offseason conditioning this next week, rather than OTAs?ML: "Yes. We don't know what these guys have been doing, so we need to spend some time not doing competitive football. We would do some classroom football particularly because have a need to do that offensively. We would spend some time in the classroom but we would not competitive on the field football. There were some teams who planned to do some OTA work, but players don't really understand the schedule. But no, there was no plan to do any OTA days yet."

It would be earlier than normal anyway for OTAs:ML: "Exactly. It's critical for us with a number one pick at wide receiver and number two pick at quarterback to use those OTA days when they're all here. It will be critical for us this year."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.