What did you like about Orson Charles?
ML: "We liked his strength and his versatility, both with the run and the pass. He's had some production as a receiver. He's played in an offense that is pretty well-rounded — Coach Richt's (Georgia head coach Mark Richt) offense there at Georgia. They run the football, as well as spread the field in passing sets. They play with multiple tight ends. A lot of the things we do, he's had an opportunity to do there at Georgia."
You've drafted a few players already this year from the SEC. Is that pure coincidence, or is it calculated?
ML: "If you look at their style of football in the SEC, the competition every year and the recruiting, we're getting a lot of the prospects from it. We have quite a few players here from SEC schools already. But we've got to evaluate the players and just do the best job of evaluation and picking the guys that are there for us when we choose to pick."
Can he contribute on special teams?
ML: "I don't really know that. That's not really a consideration when we take a guy like that, in this case. Obviously, when they come in the National Football League, all these guys — tight ends, running backs — have done that. Coach Hayes (tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes) might be able to fill you in a little bit more on that. But that will be a part of what he needs to do. But we really feel like he will do a good job coming here and competing to play and be a part of our offense. He's a strong guy, again. It's another guy that did 35 reps (of 225 pounds on the bench press at the NFL combine), so he's a very strong man. He kind of falls in line with the guys last night."
This is the third straight year you have taken someone from the University of Georgia in the fourth round (Geno Atkins in 2010 and Clint Boling in '11). Is that reflective of your trust with their coaching staff and their players?
ML: "We have a great relationship there with the coaching staff, obviously. I can call Coach Richt at any point. I think he's very honest and frank with us about things. This is a guy (Charles) that wanted to know if he could come here today. He was ready to get on the plane and come (laughs). Those are the kinds of guys we have on our football team from there (Georgia) — very no-nonsense, all about football and winning. And they're good people. They're coached well, they've learned, they know how to prepare. It's been a great place for us and a really comfortable place for our coaches and scouts to visit. We have a great relationship with them."
Is he a complete player? Is he a better blocker than receiver, or vice versa?
ML: "He's a pretty complete player. He's had almost 100 catches over the last three seasons, so he averages almost 30 catches a season, and he's scored touchdowns. So he's done a nice job for them."
Tight ends coach JONATHAN HAYES
They might have to change the weight of the Combine bench press from 225 pounds to something higher ...
JH: "I was sitting there watching him do it and he popped out 25 reps, and I was like, 'he's done.' And then he did 10 more. I think he could have done more than that, and he just set it down. He's that strong. When he plays, he plays strong and tenacious. When you turn on the tape, not only does he pop out as a receiver, but when he locks on people, he finishes through the whistle, trying to put him on the ground. That's what you like about guys. You teach young players all the time — and I teach my son ... I don't ever want to have to coach effort. This guy is over the top in that sense."
Is he smart?
JH: "He's a smart guy. He's bright and he's got the right look. When I was on the phone I overheard him say, 'coach, I want to come up now to get with the quarterbacks.' I was like, 'Slow down, let's just get through today and talk about what we need to do. We'll get you the information and set a plan to get you here.' Even at the combine when we were down on the field for the tight-ends, he was always asking questions, wanting to get better. And guys like that will go a long way because they are going to outwork so many other people."
Is he a complete tight-end, considering you got him in the fourth round?
JH: "Here's the thing, and we all know this — he's a fourth-round draft pick. Do they have things you wish were better? You bet. Dimensions, or whatever it might be. You bet, or we wouldn't have gotten him in the fourth round. There are always things — height, arm length or other circumstances — that might play a part in where you go in this draft. Let's face it. To get this kid just makes us that much better of a football team. His attitude, his effort, his production ... he had good production at Georgia. Those are the things that I look at the most. He's going to come in here and fit right in. The good thing is, I would rather have to pull him back and slow him down than always have to get him going — poke and prod him to get him to do stuff. I'd rather try and control it rather than stick an electric shock to him."
How is his size?
JH: "He is 250 now and was 252 at the combine. If you see him, he reminds you physically of Vernon (Davis) the way that he is built and how he is thick through the legs — things like that. He doesn't run as well as Davis, but his body type is very similar. Obviously, Davis' quick-twitch is out of this world, but Charles' quick-twitch isn't bad, which is one of the things I like about him. That is what is going to help him, especially in the blocking game, because he is going to have to be able to get into people. Once he gets into them, he has the stuff to sustain it, but he is going to have to be able to get into them first. Obviously, not everyone has arms as long as Jermaine (Gresham) because we're all not blessed that way. But once he latches on, he can move his feet and cover people up. He will do a good job of coming here and competing. As far as special teams are concerned, he will do a good job of coming here and competing because he runs really well. He is a big-body guy that can run, and you always want to get those guys out there."
Your room is as hard of a working group as there is on the team, and this guy sounds like he is going to be a perfect fit:
JH: "Like I said before, I don't ever want to have to coach effort. And if I ever do, it is time for me to go do something else. With this kid, I don't ever have to worry about that. He will jump right in line with Jermaine (Gresham), Colin (Cochart) and Donald (Lee), because they all understand. The guys that came before them — the Reggie Kelly's and Tony Stewart's — those guys all understood. The one thing I will not tolerate is you not giving effort, not playing hard. We all know I wasn't a good football player, but the one thing you did know was that I was going to try and (pound) you the whole play and not quit, which is what I expect of my players."
You were already pretty stocked at this position coming into the draft, but how much does the New England style, with two tight ends and receiving, change the game?
JH: "We only had three bodies in the room. People were coming up and asking me if I was going to put the pads back on. I can't go to camp with three bodies in my room. Anyway, let's not get ahead of ourselves. If you turn on tape and watch what New England does then you see that they do spread them out and that they are fortunate enough to have a guy in Aaron (Hernandez) who can do some good things. The big guy (Rob Gronkowski) though, he still pounds them. Let's not get it confused, he (Gronkowski) is still in there attached to the (tackle) and all of his routes come from right there with the (tackle). I just did a breakdown on who I felt were the top five or six guys, and I watched all of his plays. Most of his receptions came from next-to-the-tackle running routes, though he does detach and play out of space. We have one guy that does that too, and bringing in Charles will allow us to do some more of that. Having a guy like Donald (Lee) allowed us to do that last year.
"Just because you see it (the New England style of tight end plays) some, don't think everyone is doing it, because that isn't an accurate statement. The thing that you are seeing is that they are becoming a function more of the team's offense, and so in saying that, you are seeing more highlights of these guys down the field. The one thing about the kid up in New England (Gronkowski) is that he is a big-body guy, just like our guy (Gresham). They are both great big-body guys that run pretty good. Now, Jermaine (Gresham) has some more wiggle to him, but the kid up in New England has a little more pop — a little more power — and both have been very successful their first two years in the league. But, we switched offenses after Jermaine's first year. His second year, he wasn't allowed to come to any OTAs, so we couldn't work on the finer things. So, when you think about it, this is the first time in three years that he has had an offseason to be able to better himself. He came off an injury where he missed his entire senior year. Then after that, we had him one year, then we went to another offense he had to learn. Finally, he had to learn the offense which we ran last year. The kid hasn't had anything consistent until now, but we'll get to do it again. That is where they make their leap, from year one to year two having done it, but that is what is so exciting."
It sounds like you're ready to get into the playbook:
OC: "Yes. I plan to come up, start working out and getting familiar with Andy Dalton, hang out with A.J. Green and get into the playbook so I can make an impact my rookie year."
There are a lot of Georgia Bulldogs on this team:
OC: "Yeah. I guess they love the program we've built over the years here at Georgia. I don't want to break the tradition."
Do you talk to A.J. Green often?
OC: "Here and there. I try not to bother him because I know he's going through a lot. One of the things he taught me was to go hard every practice. How you practice resembles your game. It's a blessing. I'll definitely be in his right pocket and work with him, catch balls with him, and stay in the film room with him. Jermaine Gresham is also a great player to look up to and (emulate) my game after."
Did you talk to Green after the season?
OC: "Here and there. I asked him what I should do — stay or go — and he said that I should talk to my family and figure it out from there."
How many calls have you received from teams regarding your DUI?
OC: "I've received a few. They wanted to know what happened. I told them that it was a one-time event that will never happen again. It was one of the worst things that has happened in my life. It was hard to explain to my little brother what I did and to tell my mother how sorry I was. My mother and grandma had to leave work — I just put my family in a bind. I'll never put bad substances in my body because know I know how much it can hurt my family, church and friends."
How old is your brother?
That must have been a tough conversation:
OC: "Very tough. I let him know that he needs to learn from my mistakes."
How well did you know Geno Atkins and Clint Boling in school?
OC: "I played with them my freshmen year. We always used to compete and we still hang out when they come to town."
This is about the best team you could have come to as far as familiar faces:
OC: "Yes, definitely. Going to the next level, you have a chance to reach out and make new friends also. I'm excited and blessed that I'm in this situation. I'm ready to go to work and prove to the coaches that I can play."
What type of role do you see yourself in here?
OC: "I told coach not to limit me and that I'll do whatever it takes. He told me to come in ready to compete and that they'd utilize me in the best way they can. I'm excited. I feel like my game can help the organization and push Gresham to work harder."
Have you watched any tape of Gresham?
OC: "Yes. I also watched him in college. I respect him. He has the potential to be one of the great ones. I'll definitely learn from him and allow him to be my mentor. I'm excited."
Where are you now?
OC: "I'm in Tampa."
Is that where you're from?
Did you watch the draft with your family?
What was the reaction at the combine when you repped 225 pounds 35 times?
OC: "A lot of people were surprised. I don't think people expected me to get it that many times and break the record. My mindset was to separate myself in any way I could. I know I had the upper hand on the bench. A lot of people congratulated me and I said, 'Thank you' and moved on."
Coach Hayes said you may have had a few more in you ...
OC: "I'm not so sure about that. My adrenaline was going. In my head, I thought I had 37. You can't complain about that."
And that's a record for tight ends?
Do you know who had held the record you broke?
OC: "I want to say Ben Watson, but I'm not sure."