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Lewis, Alexander, Ogbuehi, Draft News Conference Transcript

Thursday, April 30, 2015
at Paul Brown Stadium

Cincinnati Bengals
news conference transcripts


Head coach
Initial comments ...
    "We are very pleased to be able to draft Cedric Ogbuehi. He has great upside in his play. Obviously we've got to get him healthy from the (knee) injury, but we really felt was a guy with tremendous potential and a tremendous future, and an opportunity to be very, very good. Being there at Texas A&M, he's played both sides of the line — both tackles and guard — so there's a lot of flexibility in his play in the past. He's just a huge man, with big, long length and a huge (wing) span. You watch how he protects all the time, and he's violent as a run-blocker. So we're very, very pleased that he was there when we picked."

His arm length is listed at 36 inches, meaning he has a large blocking radius ...
    "He does. He's got a huge span. We were hopeful to be able to add a young offensive defensive or lineman early in the draft, and we were able to get one side of the ball taken care of."

People have compared him to D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Is that a fair comparison?
    "I don't know. That's what the guy said on TV, I guess (laughs). He reminds me of Ced Ogbuehi (laughs). But he's an impressive guy in protection. When I watch, you look at guys like Jonathan Ogden and Tony Boselli, with how they played, they had the athleticism and big-man length and girth to handle the rushers, but yet come off the football as blockers in the running game as well."

How much extra digging did you have to do with his injury, to make sure he was OK medically?
    "You do as much as you can. The doctors look at the operator reports and MRIs and everything that goes with a player like that. We had him here and he was at the (NFL Combine) re-check. We feel he's right on track for great recovery. He's just got to continue to do the work."

If not for the injury, how high do you think he would have been taken?
    "I can't predict that. He was a good player last year."

Do you think he could have been the top offensive lineman taken?
    "There are 32 different teams grading these guys, so it's hard to say who was the top. But he's very good."

Would you say that he's the top pass protector in the draft?
    "I don't know. He's a young guy coming in here that's going to be a good player for us. We're going to coach the hell out of him and make him a good player. We're excited to have him."

How soon do you think he can be ready to play?
    "We'll have to judge that once he gets here and we're laying hands on him every day, before we know where he is. Obviously this is more of a nine-month injury, minimum, anyway. He had surgery in early January, so you're looking at September."

Texas A&M has had three left tackles taken in the first round of three consecutive drafts — Luke Joeckel, Jake Matthews, and now Ogbuehi. Is there something about the left tackles there?
    "Somebody told me their offensive line coach lost his job this year (laughs)."

Obviously every injury is different, but Clint Boling and Geno Atkins came back last year from ACL injuries. Can you take anything away from those recoveries, in comparison to Ogbuehi's?
    "The doctors put their stamp of approval on it, and we go from there. We know how to rehab it — (Bengals director of rehabilitation) Nick Cosgray does an excellent job with our players. They'll have hands on him beginning tomorrow. I think he's already graduated — in December — so he was one of those guys who was like a professional last year, taking classes just to play football."

What was the feeling in the room as you saw players in positions you don't need , like cornerback and running back, coming off the board, knowing you'd have a larger selection when your pick comes?
    "Not that we don't need a corner — we would take a corner if we had to — but it was good to see the two running backs go early. That helped us. A couple of the (pass) rushers that went early helped us, because we didn't quite think they were a fit for us in a four-man front. So those were helpful. The offensive tackles went off the board too, but the one we really thought fit us the right way was still there. That was great."

Was there any thought of picking a pass-rusher?
    "We were going to pick the next-best player, the next highest player we had graded in our order."

When he visited here, was it a typical visit or did you take a closer look at his medical situation?
    "If a guy has something wrong medically, that's part of the visit."

If anyone called you to trade down, with so many tackles still there, would you have considered it?
    "We feel good about the guy we picked. We don't want to be sitting here spinning our wheels."

Is he projected toward one side of the line more than another?
    "He's played everything. That's a little bit of the appeal he is to us. He's played left tackle very well, right tackle a year ago, inside at left guard two years ago — he's done it all."

Offensive line coach
What do you like about your new guy?
    "I frickin' love him. Let me tell you, there's no way we have a chance at this guy if he doesn't get hurt. He's a top-of-the-draft player. There's no question that this guy has rare feet and athleticism that you see in the very best offensive linemen in the league."

People have compared him to D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Is that a fair comparison?

Is he more athletic?
    "He's different — more compact."

The both have the long arms ...
    "Yeah, but he's not as linear. He's got bigger legs and hips. I don't like to compare him to players. I hope he has as good a career as D'Brickashaw has, but I don't see that comparison at all."

Is he the best pass protector in the draft?
    "Oh yeah. Easily."

In terms of the style, can you compare him to anyone else you've had here along the way?

What is it about Texas A&M left tackles (that makes them first round draft picks)?
    "They're extremely well-coached. They do a great job there, obviously. I know they mentioned that they replaced their (offensive) line coach; I can't imagine why. This kid's as well-coached as any kid there is and the same is true with the two left tackles (that were previously drafted in the first round recently from there).
    "I think the thing that really helped Texas A&M is when they had the pro head coach (former Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike Sherman). He's an offensive line coach, so he was able to recruit top linemen to go to Texas A&M."

Can he play right tackle?
    "I think he can play any of the five spots (on the offensive line), really. He hasn't played center, but as quick as this guy is, there's no reason he couldn't."

Is that what sets him apart — his quickness?
    "Yeah, he's quick as lightning. The feet, the recovery, the athleticism ... when you watch the film, you say 'Wow' a lot."

Is your mindset to redshirt him or to see how healthy he is? I know you're not Nostradamus ...
    "I went to Michigan and you're accusing me of me of Nostradamus?"

You'd be OK red-shirting him though?
    "You know what? And I'm not avoiding the issue, (but) I don't know when he'll be ready. I would think, the moment he's ready, he'll jump in there and be like a big tight end or something to start out. And where he goes from there, who knows? It's hard (to predict) in his particular case. Almost every guy I've had, we've thrown him right out there in the starting lineup, but obviously you can't with this guy. He kind of fits us just right because we've got our starting (offensive) line back, and they're a good line. You don't get a shot at tackles very often. And when you've got a shot at tackles, you've got to take them."

Is this guy one who originally played tight end and just got bigger and bigger and then moved inside?
    "He came in at 260 pounds, I believe. He came in a little bit behind (Jake) Matthews and (Luke) Joeckel, and then he was smaller, so that's why those guys ended up at tackle. I think Joeckel was a year ahead — maybe I have that backwards — but they put him in at guard. I think all things being equal, if they come in at the same time, the same size and the same experience, I'm not sure it ends up the way it did."

As a position coach, how excited were you to see other positions run off the draft board in the handful of picks before you?
    "I got nervous when the two tackles (Brandon Scherff from Iowa and Ereck Flowers from Miami University) went in the first 10 picks. And I was afraid the run was going to go fast. I don't think we're necessarily surprised he was going to be there because there's not that many teams in the league that have the luxury of having their starting (offensive) line back that (they) can work a guy in, you know what I mean? I couldn't really imagine who would have taken him ahead of us if we didn't.
    "Now, at this point in the draft, it would make sense for just about anyone to take him. So I guess we felt pretty good he'd be there, but it only takes one team (to draft a guy ahead of you)."

It almost seems like you felt that you got a top-five talent?
    "I'm real happy with what we got here, yeah. He came in and he did a great job. He impressed us. We brought all of these tackles in, so it wasn't like we just brought him in to check his medical (history). We brought every one of them in and we met with them and everyone really liked him — everything about him physically, everything about him personally. I went through it with him. I said, 'All right, Cedric. My first tackle was Willie Anderson — All-Pro. My next tackle was Levi Jones, knocking on the door of the Pro Bowl. Then Stacey Andrews was the highest paid right tackle in the history of football when he left here. Then we got Andrew Whitworth and he's been to the Pro Bowl, and also Andre Smith, and he's knocking on the door (of the Pro Bowl). Those are my tackles. Those are the tackles that have played for me, all right?' And I said, 'I expect you to be just like them.' He got all fired up."

Your offensive line room is as good as there is really, and this kid fits right in, right?
    "He'll fit right in, yeah."

You spent a lot of time with him. What kind of a guy is he?
    "He's a quiet, confident good guy. I would say he's a quiet, confident athlete if I had to describe him."

Smart guy?
    "He's a unique guy. Both of his parents — he was raised in a Nigerian household and his parents are both nurses that do consulting work now. His parents were very strict and very hard on him, and demanding in his academic work. His parents weren't real excited about him playing football, but he convinced them that's what he wanted to do. So he's been raised of the right stuff, and I think he has a very positive profile."

You said when you put on the tape, you say 'Wow' a lot. Anything in particular that made you do so?
    "He's quick as lightning. I mean, he is so quick in his recovery and his feet and his balance. Those things are exceptional. He can get out on blocks. He can get to the linebackers. A guy can make a move, and guys aren't too fast to move around him. A guy hits an inside move, (and) he can recover."

A right tackle is expected to be a physical blocker — is he a pretty physical guy?
    "Yeah. I think he can play any of the five positions (on the offensive line). If I think he could block that big man that Cleveland just drafted (Danny Shelton), then he can run block at right tackle."

What did you think of Cleveland's drafting of Shelton?
    "I didn't like that. I didn't like that. I've seen him — I've been watching all these guys go against Shelton and I've been watching him toss them around like they were toddlers."

I guess that's why you drafted Russ Bodine last year to handle him?

Some critics said he plays high or has a high pad level at times. Did you see any of that?
    "I have no (reservations). Zero. Ask as many questions as you want. I've got zero reservations on this guy."

Why don't you have any reservations?
    "Because I can't think of any (laughs)? I'll try hard. Maybe I'll think of one."

I know you don't like comparing players to other players, but have you had a guy like this athletically in the past?
    "We've had some of the best tackles in the last 20 years. I'm not going to say he's going to be better than those guys. I'm going to make sure he earns that. But he has the opportunity to be as good as them."

What was the game on tape that really just jumped out at you and you said, 'This is the guy'?
    "All of them. Every game you put on — and I think I've seen just about all of them — he looks the same. He just jumps out at you."

Offensive tackle, Texas A&M
Congrats. Did you think you'd be a first-round pick, or were you afraid the ACL injury was going to scare people off?
    "I knew for a fact I'd be a first-round pick, I knew that I was going to cover well, and it all fell in place."

What are your thoughts about coming to Cincinnati? Does it help that Sean Porter is here?
    "I'm really excited. It helps a lot that Sean plays there, and we were teammates. I'm ready to get out there."

What spot do you like best along the line, what best suits you and why?
    "Left (tackle). I feel comfortable there, that's my premier position."

Paul Alexander said on his visit that he named off his old tackles here. Did the naming of all the successful tackles fire you up?
    "It did, they all had a lot of success, played long careers, so that it's a good sign for me that every guy he drafted in the first round had great careers."

How long did you play with Sean? Are you fairly close? What did he say?
    "Three years. Very close. I texted him before the pick came in, saying we're teammates. He said, 'I'm so happy right now, you don't understand.' "

How would you describe yourself as a player?
    "Very good player, athletic, long, physical, can do a lot of different things."

Where are you at in rehab? What can you do?
    "Jogging right now, light lateral movement, jumping. All that."

In your own mind, do you have an idea when are you getting back on the field?
    "My thinking process is along about training camp. Yeah, seeing different players go through it, and seeing their time tables, and matching up to that."

How discouraging was it to have this ACL injury happen in the bowl game?
    "It was tough, but I knew that everything happens for a reason, so it all falls into place."

When you sent Sean that text, did that come after you had received the call but not made public news yet?

Coach Alexander told us about your background; were your folks not wanting you to play football?
    "They're in the medical field, so they kind of wanted me to go that way, but I knew I loved football, so I kept going with it."

With your athleticism, did you play any other sports?
    "Just football."

How did you change their minds about playing football?
    "I didn't. They weren't going to make me stop playing, so I kept playing."

Do you have a preference on the o-line? What if they ask you to play center?
    "Left tackle is my preference. I've never played (center)."

With Whitworth and Smith here, you wouldn't be asked to start right away. How do you feel about not starting?
    "I can play left guard, right guard, or even just guard. I'm going to come in and compete, and let it all fall into place."

Every recovery, every knee is different. Do you anticipate playing this year?
    "I'm going to play this year. I just know I am."

Are you ahead of schedule? Rehab wise?
    "I think so. I feel like I'm on schedule."

I saw you walking up to the podium; you were limping. Is it just the way you walk?
    "I'm not limping, there's no limp. I guess (it's the way I walk), but there's no limp."

Getting your range of motion back?
    "It's been back a few months."

Paul Alexander said without the injury, there's no chance the Bengals would have been able to draft you. Do you have any idea how high would you have gone? Top 10?
    "A lot higher, most likely. I have no idea, but there was a possibility."

Does that put a chip on your shoulder?
    "My chip is always to be best player I possibly be, that's all I think about.

Who's the best player you played against in your collegiate career? How'd you do?
    "Dee Ford (of Auburn). I did well. Yes, sir."

Why has Texas A&M been able to crank out top left tackles three years in a row now?
    "I mean, we all came in together, worked together, listened to the coaches, and worked hard. A lot of things came into it."

Your line coach was let go. How'd that happen, with all you guys being first-round picks?
    "I'm not sure, that's not my side of it, so I can't really answer it."

What did you do on your visit to Cincinnati a couple of weeks ago? Meet any of the team?
    "Visited the coaches, viewed some film, did some board work, learned the plays a little bit. I met Andre Smith and Whitworth."

Give me a scouting report on yourself. What's your biggest attribute, and what do you need to work on?
    "My biggest attribute is athleticism. I guess I can get a little better in the run game."

Need to work on strength?
    "I guess that's going to come from college to NFL, it's something to work on."

When was the NFL a realistic goal for you?
    "I guess probably in college."

Was it because you were playing so well? Or was it being around all these guys in the NFL?
    "I just played well one season, so I knew what the deal was."

Did you work against Von Miller?
    No, I did not."

Do you know much about the Bengals? Do you follow the NFL closely? Because of your friendship with Sean?
    "Yeah, I follow the NFL closely. I've just always liked football."

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