Initial comments ...
Taylor: "The third-round pick is Zach Carter, defensive tackle from Florida. Excited about this guy. We've been talking about him for a while. I think that he's going to bring a lot of value over there to our defense and help provide some depth and competition over there. So, we'll be trying to get him over here and get to know him a little bit better, but he's a guy we have high regard for."
What did you like about him as a defensive tackle and what does he do well?
Anarumo: "One more time, we'll use the word versatility. He's got some inside things, and some defensive end stuff. He has moved around. I think (he had) 17-plus sacks in the SEC over the course of his career, so he has shown a knack to rush the passer at the highest level. Again, he just brings us that flexibility I like to have, because we like moving guys around some."
With a wide variety of defensive linemen on the board, what was unique about his skill set that you valued most?
Anarumo: "I think it's the way he got to the quarterback. We value that over everything when you're looking at guys like that. Again, when you're doing it in the SEC, you're doing it at the highest level. He has shown he can do it, and that's what stood out to us."
Is he the kind of guy who plays outside on early downs and moves inside on passing downs?
Anarumo: "Potentially. He's shown he can do both, which is great. He's almost 290 pounds, and he'll have the ability to do a few things for us."
Schematically, how big is that to get a guy who can go up field and rush the passer from the interior, as opposed to being able to do it from the outside?
Anarumo: "Yeah, it's huge. Quarterbacks don't like pressure inside — around their feet, in their face — and that also helps push it to the outside guys. It's critical to rush together as a group, and it can only benefit the whole defense, especially the guys up front."
He looks mean, and I don't mean that in a bad way ...
Anarumo: "He's a D-lineman through and through, so he's got that edge to him, which we love. There's no doubt he's going to bring a sense of urgency to the group that we already have, but just add to it. (When) he crosses that white line, he's a tough guy."
At what point did you start zeroing in on him through this whole process?
Taylor: "He's been in the conversation all day. I think for him to be where we got him, we're pleased with that, because we've talked about him, really, over the last couple of weeks. Spent a lot of time on him. We feel really good about him."
Obviously, the focus of the draft so far has been on defense. What would you say to those who might say to take an offensive lineman?
Taylor: "Well, we just signed three starters (on the offensive line) in free agency, and we drafted several guys last year. That Year 2 (for last year's drafted players) is a good year for them to take that next jump. They know what's expected of them, coming through a year now in the system, and they get a chance to go through an offseason and know the expectations. And so, we expect to see those guys take the next step here in training camp and in the offseason, and really compete. That doesn't mean we are totally out of the market. We've got four rounds left in the draft. These are the first three picks. But certainly, the offense side of the ball is what we spent more time addressing in free agency this year, and defense has been the draft."
Are you looking at him as primarily a three-technique player?
Anarumo: "We'll start him out that way — three, five ... all these different things — and work him slightly away from the center, but he'll start out inside for sure."
Does he add something different to the defensive tackle room? Is that kind of what you look for in a situation like this? Someone who can bring something different?
Anarumo: "Yeah, again, I think his skill set, when you look at his numbers coming out of college — guys don't typically have that many sacks on the interior. Some of them are from the outside, but the majority are inside. When you add a guy like this, he brings that level of, 'All right, now we have this extra inside push and ability to beat guards.' And he has shown he can beat tackles as well."
You knew you were going to focus on defense the first couple of days, but did you think it would go defense, defense, defense? Or was that a little more up in the air?
Taylor: "I think we were going to be in a position where there were some good offensive players there, and they'd be in the conversation. We are really happy with the three guys we've walked away with so far. We feel very good, especially with this last pick. We walked out of there feeling like, 'OK, we accomplished not only value with the right players.' They hit some spots that we knew we needed some depth. We weren't going to reach for guys, so some guys that we felt good about were there and took them. And so, you walk away feeling like you've hit some needs and found the right value. I think it has been a successful two days for us."
Do you have to have position versatility? If you are a one-trick pony at one position, is it tougher to find a job in NFL without some type of position versatility?
Taylor: "It helps. You play multiple fronts and you do a lot of different things, so guys that can do more than one job I think can help on defense. It can just expand what we do and continue to evolve each year. We've got a lot of guys comfortable playing multiple roles for us."
Two players from the Big Ten and one from the SEC. How much does that matter?
Taylor: "You get a chance to grade them against quality competition. And that's not to mean that there aren't guys from schools maybe with lesser competition that jump out and aren't great players for you, but it's maybe easier because you see a lot of other guys in the draft that they're going up against. And so, maybe it's a little bit cleaner of an evaluation from my standpoint. Scouts may disagree with that. And maybe that just makes it a little clearer on the competition they faced, and what's expected at the next level."
It seems like these first three picks have been about depth for this year and looking at 2023 and beyond. Is that kind of a good position to be in, given where you were at in free agency?
Taylor: "I think so, because we didn't feel like there was a starter position where there was a hole, which maybe you go into the draft sometimes feeling that pressure to find a starter. We feel like now we can get the right players at the right positions who can come in here and compete to start, compete to play a solid role, compete for the future. However it plays out, that remains to be seen. Each player walks into the NFL at different levels, so we're excited to have these three guys come in and see where they hit."
You have filled that room with a bunch of young defensive lineman. What do you like about that group as a whole?
Anarumo: "They'll be led by the veteran guys we have. As we mentioned earlier, that's a huge asset for us and for the young guys coming in. They get to learn from veterans who have done it the right way. Anytime you get a guy like that, or multiple young guys, those veteran guys — and our veteran guys in particular — will look to only help these guys, which is great for all of us."
Does this pick help make up for the production you guys got from Larry Ogunjobi last year?
Taylor: "That's hard to make up. We've got high regard for Larry. He had a ton of production for us. This is more about adding another player at the position that we feel could come in and compete, but to say someone is going to walk in and fill Larry's shoes is tough."
Do you feel like it's a deep interior defensive line class, or was that something that you thought there might be a drop off maybe after Day 2?
Taylor: "We've addressed it, so that will be someone else's problem going forward if there's a drop off or not. But we're certainly happy with getting Zach."
How important was it to address it today?
Taylor: "It's one of those things we were not going to reach for. If the right guy's not there, we're going to wait and maybe take another position. But Zach was there, and we were happy Zach was there. So we made the move."
When you look at the edge rush position, with Joseph Ossai and Wyatt Hubert, do you look at that as a couple of draft picks that basically are going to unfold in 2022?
Taylor: "I think that's the way to look at it. Joseph just played in that first preseason game, and Wyatt got hurt in July. Those are two guys that never really got a chance to spend a lot of time in pads and do all that stuff. It's good to get those guys back in the mix and see what competition they can bring."
Could Zach's path be something potentially like Logan Wilson's, where he works his way in the first year and ends up becoming a starter before his second year? Is that something that's a feasible plan for him maybe potentially moving forward?
Taylor: "That's hard to predict. We'll get him in the building, see how he reacts to life in the NFL, and go from there."
Defensive tackle, Florida
How are you feeling right now?
"I feel good, man. I feel so blessed right now."
Did you have a feeling the Bengals were interested in you?
"What's crazy is I haven't heard from the Bengals much. I've heard from them a little bit, but they haven't really reached out to my agent much. So I was surprised, honestly."
Can you tell us a little bit about your game and what Bengals fans can expect from you as a player?
"I feel like Bengals fans should be excited because I'm a versatile playmaker. I can line up pretty much anywhere. And I feel like I can make plays from pretty much anywhere — rushing the passer, in the run game. I'm a disruptive defender — I like to disrupt plays in the backfield, I like to penetrate. So there's a lot to look forward to."
Are you more comfortable lining up inside or outside on the defensive line? Where do you think you'll be more of a factor in the NFL?
"I think I'll be more of a factor inside. I think I'm a mismatch on guards."
Why is that?
"I feel like my quickness inside and my first step separate me. I feel like that gives guards trouble inside."
How much did you watch the Bengals last year as they made their run in the playoffs?
"I watched that whole rise to the Super Bowl."
Do you have any first impressions on the Bengals' defense as a whole?
"I love that defense and how they play. I can't wait to play with these guys. They play with a lot of fire and energy."
What Bengals defensive linemen do you like?
"The one I love the most is Trey Hendrickson. I feel like he's very underrated. He's a great player, but I feel like he doesn't get enough love."
Are there any players that you grew up idolizing or wanting to mold your game after?
"I'd say J.J. Watt."
How did you end up at DE? What led to you playing that position, even when you were in high school?
"They really moved me everywhere. They moved me from DE to DT. I've been moving around the line since high school, so it's something I've been doing for years now. It started in high school and (continued) in college. I don't know, maybe I'll find a permanent home in the NFL, or maybe they'll continue to move me around. I'm not sure, but I'm prepared for whatever."
Who was the best interior offensive lineman you played against in college?
"That's a tough one. Probably somebody from Georgia. Solomon Kindley — he plays for the Dolphins now."
On sitting out of Florida's Gasparilla Bowl matchup with UCF...
"I was dealing with some pain the whole season that I was playing through. When it came time for the bowl game, I just decided to sit it out so that I could take a month to heal up and get ready for the Senior Bowl and combine. I feel like it was a good decision for me."
You initially weren't going to play because of COVID in 2020, but then you changed your mind and did. Can you talk about your decision to end up playing?
"I was just trying to make sure the proper safety measures were taken and that they would have stuff laid out. I wasn't thinking about not playing, it was kind of just waiting it out and making sure everything was in line. I only missed about a week of camp."
Were you confident that you were going to be selected today, on Day 2 of the draft? What was the wait like?
"Yes I did. I knew I was going today. But I'm not going to lie man, it kind of aches you just sitting there waiting while guys are being called. But I stayed patient, and once I got that call it just made my whole life. My life was made."
Who are you watching the draft with tonight?
"Close family and friends. I had a little gathering."
You said you didn't hear much from the Bengals. Who did you think you'd be drafted by?
"Honestly, I thought I was going to go to the Bills or 49ers. One of those teams."
Did you sack Joe Burrow in 2019?
"No, I didn't get to sack Joe Burrow (laughs). Man, Joe Burrow was a beast."
How do you feel about being his teammate now?
"It's crazy, honestly, to go from being in a college locker room to now being in the NFL and being with guys you played against. I'm teammates with Joe Burrow. I feel like it's an honor, man. He's a good dude. I look up to these guys."
How would you characterize your nastiness and desire to get to the QB?
"Trying to get sacks and hunting the QB, I live for that. I'm always hunting. I look at is as a lion just hunting for his prey. I've got to get to that QB. That's what changes games."