Lewis Final Rounds News Conference Transcript

NFL DRAFT
Saturday, May 2, 2015
at Paul Brown Stadium

Cincinnati Bengals
news conference transcripts

ROUNDS 6

MARVIN LEWIS
Head coach
Initial comments ...
    "To speak about the last three guys that we picked today, C.J. Uzomah, the tight end from Auburn, is a great physical specimen. You know, (he has) the kind of physical traits and tools that equates to a young NFL tight end, so we're really pleased with him.
    "Derron Smith, the safety from Fresno State, he's really an excellent football player. He did a great job playing the ball, great insert guy, great tackler and some of the other superlatives. He just did an excellent job.
     And Mario Alford, the last pick, he's a very speedy wide receiver, return man from West Virginia. He scored a lot of touchdowns this year and had a lot of explosive plays in a very explosive offense, obviously. We just couldn't pass up his speed.
    "I just really feel good about the work today as well with the guys we added. Obviously, you had a chance to meet the three guys that came in today. So we really feel good about having guys with a great football passion that are also guys with a really good football IQ. They are a really exciting group, so I look forward to them being here next Thursday evening and going through the orientation and getting out there and practicing for the first time Friday afternoon. I think for the most part all of them will be able to stay here with us and be here the rest of the spring. We're really pleased and excited things fell into place the way they did this year for the draft."

There were a lot of great receivers drafted earlier, but did you think there would also be some great ones available late that would allow you to draft someone like Alford?
    "Again, there were guys that we had in our target group that seemed to go in other rounds, but as you know, the draft is always plentiful at wide receiver. They come in all different shapes and sizes, and they end up being productive players in different ways. It's huge to find a guy that has some sort of special attribute, speed in Mario's case, so he has an opportunity to have a niche and make a difference."

It seemed like Hue Jackson had a specific type of player in mind at wide receiver, someone was fast, regardless of whether he was 6-8 or 5-8 ...
    "We prefer him to be 6-3" and run real fast, but that guy didn't come our way late. But more to your point, we felt that if we added a receiver, one of the things we hoped to do was add a guy who had speed — production, speed, the two things put together."

How big was it for you to be able to select guys for depth as opposed to doing so for need?
    "You've got to feel really good about that; that's the luck of it that it breaks that way, that you're able to draft a player that you feel has some value. And sometimes maybe you're deciding between two and maybe you're able to get to the (other) player (in) the next round or the next pick in that round. The two picks today, so it worked out — or I guess it was one yesterday and one today — so it worked out that way, so that was good."

People think about the "sexy" draft picks — WRs, RBs, etc. — but this seemed to be a "meat-and-potatoes" draft for you, with a lot of bigger players. Was that the objective for you coming in?
    "We hoped it would be that (laughs). To answer your question, yes. We hoped we'd be able to fill in with some big guys, and we really were able to do that. We got big, physical men, with big stature. That's what we have to have to play in this division. I remember standing on the sideline at the end of the year in Pittsburgh, and that's a big, physical game we were playing. Here at the end of the year against Baltimore, that was a physical football game, with big people. And the games with Cleveland. Our division is so physical, you can't come here with frail people. They've got to be big, strong people. And we feel good about that."

Did that flow out of the end of last year, or is it the way you always look at it? Do you feel your last few drafts have lacked that?
    "We feel that way (good about the size and physicality), but it gets confirmed when you're standing out there on Sunday. When you look at (Ravens OLB Terrell) Suggs, and you look at (Browns LB Paul) Kruger. And there are the guys on the inside, too. It gets confirmed each and every time. (Ravens LB Courtney) Upshaw, Suggs, (Ravens LB Pernell) McPhee, and so on. It gets confirmed. And we played Denver late in the year, and you look at those guys. We have to have those kinds of guys. We've built our defense around guys like that, with Carlos (Dunlap) and Michael (Johnson), and so forth. Now we've added the two big, young tight ends. That's the way (Ryan) Hewitt played. That's the difference he made. Jeremy Hill makes that kind of difference for us. So you put these guys on top of that and it's helpful."

The two tight ends you drafted are a little like Heath Miller and Todd Heap. Do you agree?
    "They're more like Miller than they are Heap. We'd like them to be more like that, than Todd. Obviously I was there (in Baltimore) when we had Todd as a rookie. And I've seen a lot of Heath Miller over my years, and before that, Mark Bruener. Our guys are a good combination of these tight ends that have been so productive in this division for so long."

Are they physical tight ends?
    "They're physical guys that are able to receive the ball and make a difference in your passing offense, because they can win against leverage."

Do you see Mario Alford as a receiver or return guy?
    "Those are one and the same. If you're going to be playing on the 46 (player roster on game day), you're going to get an opportunity to do both."

Every position coach the last few days has talked a lot about their pick's attitude and makeup. Was that a theme for you going in?
    "Well, we've got to revive. We're in a revival. We've got to find new ways. It's important that we continue to bring people into this building that have that kind of attitude. It's contagious. Once it goes, it spreads and multiplies. So we've got to continue with that. If we unfortunately we let one sneak in that doesn't have it, then we're going to break the chain. We can't let the chain get broken."

Was getting the two tight ends important to keeping Ryan Hewitt at FB?
    "Yes. Very important. Jeremy Hill made yardage with Ryan Hewitt in front of him, not on the line of scrimmage. Our rushing yardage from Jeremy came from our two-back offense. It may be with three wide (receivers), but his yardage came with Ryan Hewitt in front of him."

It seems like you got some tough players who may have battled injuries. C.J. Uzomah, for instance, played through an injury vs. Alabama. Was there an emphasis on getting those types of players?
    "The point that I make to the coaches all the time is that we want to continually bring in people who are mentally and physically tough, have physical traits and upside, and are smart enough. Those things have to all fit together. Sometimes smarts need to be measured a little differently. It needs to be measured on the football side of it too — it can't be book-smart, it has to be football-smart. That's very, very important."

Was there ever consideration of La'el Collins today?
    "We don't talk about guys we don't pick. That does me no good."

MARIO ALFORD
Wide receiver, West Virginia
What was the thought process, in waiting for this call? Were you on pins and needles?
    "I was just waiting to get a shot. My agent John said if I didn't get drafted, I had backup plans. He was working on that. All glory to God, so I'm just happy."

Did you know Cincinnati was interested?
    "I knew they were interested in me the whole time, but it was just a situation I was unsure of. I guess it all worked out with them drafting me."

With John Thornton, did you think you had a good 'in' with Cincinnati?
    "Yes. He's in pretty good with them, and I thank God for that. I got the chance to talk to Marvin and at the combine with coach (James) Urban. Him and I text each other, and he was wishing me luck throughout the whole thing. It worked out well."

What's the fastest 40 yard you ever ran?
    "My fastest 40 was at the Edge Pro Day. I ran a 4.25, so that was my fastest."

What did you hear about yourself as far as a scouting report? Do teams look at you beyond your speed?
    "I think with my size, a lot of teams look at me (as being just) 5-8. But I'm glad I got a chance. That's all I need to prove myself. Hype doesn't matter, and heart always is over hype. I got a chance, and I'm going to make the best of it."

Do you return both punts and kicks?
    "I can return punts, (but) I only do kick returns right now. When I go into mini-camp I'm going to start working on my punt returns and everything else they need."

Have you ever returned punts before?
    "Yeah, I did in high school, a little in junior college and then a little my junior year of college. ... Coach (Dana) Holgorsen, he wanted to stay focused on kick returns and on offense."

You had three quarterbacks in two years at West Virginia. How does that help you prepare for getting in sync with a new quarterback in the NFL?
    "Clint Trickett, he did a great job his senior year. But through our junior year, every game there was a different quarterback. It was kind of hard because you have to get the feel for them — what kind of quarterback was going to be throwing you the ball. When you keep changing it up, it can be hard. Andy Dalton, he's down there, he's a great quarterback. ... As long as he's the quarterback, we'll be all right."

Does your speed and quickness allow you to be able to return a kickoff eight yards deep?
    "Yes sir. My speed tells it all. I've got great ball skills, but ... I'm not bragging, you very rarely have the speed I have. I think, in the draft, a lot of people overlooked that. So I'm glad the Bengals picked me, because I'm going to make it. I'm going to use it to my advantage."

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