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Full transcript: Bills pre-draft press conference

Posted Apr 25, 2014

Pre-draft remarks from President and CEO Russ Brandon, GM Doug Whaley, Director of Player Personnel Jim Monos, Director of College Scouting Kelvin Fisher, and Coordinator of College Scouting Doug Majeski.


Buffalo Bills Pre-Draft Luncheon – Friday, April 25, 2014

President and CEO Russ Brandon

General Manager Doug Whaley

Director of Player Personnel Jim Monos

Director of College Scouting Kelvin Fisher

Coordinator of College Scouting Doug Majeski

President and CEO Russ Brandon opening remarks:

I’m just going to be up here briefly, but one month ago today we lost our Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson and it has certainly been a very challenging and difficult month. What has been very therapeutic for this organization has been the outpouring of support from our community, from our region and most notably from our great fans. Not only here, but Bills fans throughout the country and throughout the world quite frankly. People ask me all the time how we can honor Mr. Wilson’s legacy and my answer is always the same. It’s one word: win. That’s the only thing that Mr. Wilson was focused on, was winning. This was also his favorite time of the year, the draft and kicking it off here today with the draft luncheon. I know you’ll have a great day with Doug Whaley and the rest of the crew. There are a lot of positives going on right now. The renovation as you have seen when you pulled up is in full force. I can’t say enough about the work that the men and women who have been focused on that renovation since the signing of the lease and working throughout the winter and staying on top of it so we can kick the season off on time with the renovation when we kick off the preseason games. Kudos to all the men and women that have been a part of that. We’re obviously excited to have our players back in the facility. It’s great to have them back and we’re probably most excited about the draft and all the work that is going in to the draft. Doug Whaley, Kelvin Fisher, Jim Monos and Doug Majeski will sit up here in a few minutes and the entire scouting staff has been tirelessly working. I know they’d probably say they wish the draft was last night and I’m sure all of you do. It is what it is, so I just want to thank everybody, every one of you that has been so supportive over the last very difficult month for this organization and we very much appreciate it.

General Manager Doug Whaley Opening Remarks:

First of all, I want to thank you guys for taking your time and coming out today. I just want to say a quick couple sentences here. There are a lot of man hours that have gone in to this process to this date and we still have some more to go. It’s a total team effort. I want to thank the coaches, the medical staff and the administration. It’s been a total team effort and we look forward to putting together an exciting draft and just building on what we did last year. I also want to thank the scouts, it’s a thankless job. They’re not around, they’re on the road a lot and you just don’t see them so I want to make sure you guys know that those guys do a tremendous amount of work and especially are away from their families. That’s another entity I want to recognize. One thing in this world that you can never make more of is time and these scouts spend a lot of time away from their families. Those families sacrifice a lot, so I want to make sure I thank them publically because it takes a special family entity to be in this business. With that, I just want to make sure those guys and that area of our building and our administration get recognized. I’ll open it up to questions after that.

Q: Did you pick up the fifth year option on Marcell Dareus?
Doug Whaley:
We did. We did that this morning and you guys are on top of that. We’re excited about it and we look for great things from him.

Q: What do you think about pursuing a contract extension with him any time in the near future? Does the ownership change have any impact on that?
Doug Whaley:
We look at it this way. We’re going to focus on the draft right now and then after the draft we’ll start looking at issues such as Marcell and C.J. (Spiller). We’ll start doing a pecking order of what we want to do. The ownership has no bearing on us trying to win football games.

Russ Brandon: In regards to the ownership transition, it’s business as usual in every facet of our operation.

Q: How much would you say that misdirection or deception is a part of the process at this time of year?
Doug Whaley:
It’s finally one time where we can use you guys to our advantage. There are things that you put out there to see if someone bites and there are some things you put out there that are true. You have people read between the lines and you don’t want to show your hand. I’m sure everyone is doing the same thing.

Q: You’ve been vocal about not drafting a quarterback in the first round. Why should we believe you?
Doug Whaley:
Let me say this. I’ve been vocal about it. Will it happen? I will always say to you guys to never say never. We don’t plan on it, but there are a lot of things that can go down where we may be staring at a guy and he is the best person for us and the Buffalo Bills and it may be a quarterback so it may happen. The one thing, the way we set up this roster this offseason, we are able to go after the best player available. The best player we think can help the Bills get to the playoffs.

Q: Can you clear up the reports that you might want to move up in the draft?
Doug Whaley:
We’re going to keep every option open. To tell you the truth, why would I back myself in to a corner and say no we’re going to stay here or move down or move up. You always have to keep options open because you never know what is going to come across your desk or on your phone. One of the early lessons I learned was don’t say no until you hear what is being offered to you.

Q: How do you weigh using current assets to move up and potentially risking your future drafts?
Doug Whaley:
It’s got to be a right deal and it has to be a calculated deal that is beneficial to us and the other team. It’s going to take two to tango to get to a trade. Everybody says you should trade down and that is great, but if nobody wants to trade with you, you can’t do it. So we’ll sit down with Russ and Coach and all these guys and Jim Overdorf and we’ll say, ‘Does this make sense? Does this make us a better team? Does this get us to the playoffs?’ If it does and we’re all on board because it’s a team effort, we’ll do it.

Q: Would you agree that mortgaging the future in a significant way runs counter to the team building philosophy you were raised in?
Doug Whaley:
Depends on what you mean by mortgaging the future. We give up our whole draft? You’re mortgaging our future. If we give up a second round or a pick next year, again it’s a calculated decision. I would say it all depends on the deal.

Q: What do you think in general about the quality and depth of the draft?
Doug Whaley:
I think the draft is very deep. You have to understand just off of sheer numbers with the underclassmen, you have 90 guys and that is three extra rounds of players to pick from. We’re very excited that we’ll be able to get contributors late in the draft.

Q: Can you speak of the depth at wide receiver and offensive tackle? Is there more quality in the second and third round at wide receiver or at offensive tackle?
Jim Monos:
I think both positions have high end talent and depth to be honest with you. Those are good positions in this year’s draft. Every draft is different; this one is good with those positions.

Q: Your early drafts will be judged on EJ Manuel’s development. How much does that weigh on what you’ll do in this draft?
A: It’s a quarterback driven league, so we’re going to give every avenue and every piece of the puzzle to surround EJ and make him as successful as possible. Again, what we did this offseason affords us the opportunity to go any way and every way in this draft. Our main focus is making sure EJ progresses.

Q: Given the jury still being out on EJ, what concerns might you still have with him going in to his second season?
Doug Whaley:
The thing we want to see is progression. The one thing a lot of players do from their first year to their second is they progress because they know what is expected of them. There are not a lot of questions of where do I go or what is going on or what is expected of me. He can take a breath and attack this offseason with some mental fortitude to say, ‘I can take this next step.’ The injury situation, you can’t do anything about that. It’s part of football, but we believe that when we needed him most he always put us in position to win. We’re excited about that and you can build off of that, that it factor. When you need it the most, he came through for us, so I’d rather start with that and build on the rest than try to get to that point.

Q: When you talk about building off of last year, can you expand on the draft prior to this and what your options are now?
Doug Whaley:
Well I look at this year. We can go with any position. We can take offensive line, we can take running back, we can take receiver, you can always use another DB, a safety, a linebacker. So that makes our job a lot easier. We can stack the board without having a pressing need. When you have a pressing need, guys tend to get pushed up the board. When you push guys up the board, that is when you have a greater chance of making mistakes. When you have it set the way we do this year, we have a less chance of making a mistake and we’re excited about that.

Q: Where do you need depth?
Doug Whaley:
I think with the switch to the 4-3 we could use more defensive end depth, but we signed some guys that are unproven so we’re excited and we just have to wait and see there. Linebacker, we’re going to probably get some depth, but again we have guys like Ty Powell that we’re waiting to see. We have a lot of guys that will give us depth, but they’re still a little unknown because they haven’t been out and shown us what they can do on the field.

Q: Can you talk about Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan?
Kelvin Fisher:
I think all those guys are really good players. From Greg Robinson to Matthews to Lewan to Zack Martin. I think all those guys are good players. It’s a matter of where you can take them if they’re there for you. At the end of the day, it’s a good group of offensive tackles to draft this year.

Q: Can Lewan play on the right side?
Kelvin Fisher:
I think Lewan can play on the right or the left.

Q: Can you review what their best strengths are?
Kelvin Fisher:
I think Lewan and Matthews both can play left and right tackles. In this league today, you’re getting the same pass rusher from both sides so it really doesn’t matter what side they’re on because you’re getting the same pass rusher in this league today. Both defensive ends rush up field and pass rush, so they’re both athletic enough to play on either side, left or right.

Q: Can you expand on Martin as well?
Kelvin Fisher:
I think Martin can play on the right or left as well. I think these guys are athletic enough to make the transition form left tackle to right tackle at the NFL. In this league, your left end and right end are the same type of pass rusher.

Q: Does Martin have short arms?
Kelvin Fisher:
Short arms? I mean he’s a good athlete, obviously he’s been using his short arms for the last three or four years in college, so I don’t think it’s going to change much.

Q: Is he a tackle and not a guard?
Kelvin Fisher:
I think he’s a tackle first.

Doug Whaley: To piggyback off what Fish just said, this is a copycat league. The team that won the Super Bowl is the Seattle Seahawks and they have a ‘NASCAR’ package. That’s a package where they have a lot of speed on the defensive line coming at you in passing downs. That is what Fish is alluding to; you need a right tackle nowadays as athletic as your left tackle. That’s why we feel these guys are interchangeable and we’re excited about the depth at the position.

 Q: Is a right tackle really worth using the number nine pick on?
Doug Whaley:
If he can plug and play and we forget about him for ten years? Why wouldn’t you? You’d have two bookend tackles.

Q: You’re familiar with how the draft has worked in Buffalo over the last four years. What is different now that you are the GM?
Doug Whaley:
I don’t look at it that way. I look at it as the Buffalo Bills draft. These guys up here, the scouts and everybody in this building has helped us and will help us pick the right players. I don’t say it’s my draft, it’s not the coach’s draft, it’s the Buffalo Bills draft. I’m going to lean on my wise council that I have around me and that’s the only way I know how to do it.

Q: The buck now stops with you and you will be judged as the person whose blueprint this is.

Doug Whaley: Call me crazy, I like it. I’m a competitor and I want to win. If that’s my role and that’s my job, I embrace my destiny.

Q: It sounds like you think the role of the left tackle being the lead guy and the one who makes all the money is going out and there will be more equality at those positions.

Doug Whaley:  I feel that way. Again, the trending of the way the league is now and as soon as someone does something and has success with it, other people are going to start studying it and start copying it. I feel that next year you’re going to see a lot of guys with this ‘NASCAR’ package in sub downs and having four fast guys instead of two fast guys and two tackles in there. I just think that’s the way the league is trending.

Q: How much does Coach Schwartz being the new defensive coordinator change what you do?
Doug Whaley:
We tinkered it a little bit, but the thing about Schwartz is when he came in he said give me good football players and we’ll find a way to get them on the field. That’s the beauty of our coaching staff starting with Coach Marrone. They don’t want to put anybody in a box. Give us the best football players, we’ll get them on the field and we will make them productive players.

Q: The league is trending to a point where tight ends are more productive than ever. Do you agree with that?
Doug Whaley:
Absolutely and just look at the production of the tight end, like Jimmy Graham and all those guys. It’s trending towards those basketball, athletic guys that can position their body, go up and get balls, take balls away from smaller defenders. There’s less of an emphasis on the blocking at the tight end position nowadays. That’s the way it’s going and you’ve got to get with the times.

Q: How important is that pass catching tight end to today’s offense?
Doug Whaley:
Every offense is different, but I know a tight end and a running back are great friends to a quarterback.

Q: Can you talk about Eric Ebron and what he brings to the table?
Jim Monos:
Just overall athleticism. He’s a playmaker as a receiving tight end, but at the same time he’s a receiving tight end. He blocks, he gives great effort, he’s strong, he’s got good size.

Q: What about his hands? He had a couple drops last year.
Jim Monos:
His hands are good. Yeah his hands are good.

Q: How different is Ebron from Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Jace Amaro?
Jim Monos:
I think they are different, all three (of them). Ebron, I think athletically is a little bit more advanced than those guys. Seferian-Jenkins is huge and he’s a complete tight end as well and Amaro hasn’t been asked to do a lot of blocking in that offense.

Q: Does Ebron have the potential to be a Jimmy Graham type player?
Jim Monos: If everybody knew that he might be the number one pick. Does he have the potential to be that? Yes.

Q: How much does a big WR/TE add to the dimension of the offense?
Doug Whaley:
We’re very excited and happy with the guys we have on our roster, but sometimes you have to bring in a dimension that you don’t have and a size receiver is a dimension that we don’t have. Everybody is looking for that, but it would help EJ just because he can find that guy anywhere and also EJ can basically throw up the ball and you’ve got a 6’5” guy with 35-inch arms and 30-plus vertical, that’s a big target that you can have down the field. So that’s an exciting thing and also the tight end position. That has a lot to do with the mismatch. Are you going to play him as a tight end and do base defense or are you going to put in sub-defense? Is he going against a linebacker or a safety and I think he’s a good mismatch for both scenarios.

Q: With C.J. (Spiller) and Fred Jackson in the last year of their contracts, do you view running back as a need?
Doug Whaley
: There’s a delicate balance there. You want to get somebody who can come in and contribute right away, but you also have one eye open for the future. So it’s nothing that’s going to weigh on us heavily and say we have to do this because of the future. But you’re definitely cognizant of what’s going on after this year.

Q: What are the strengths of this running back class?
Kelvin Fisher:
I think the strength of the running backs is deep this year. You have all different types of sizes. You have big guys, fast guys, short guys, but it’s the depth of the running backs in this draft that’s really good.

Q: Do you view any of the guys as do it all running backs?
Kelvin Fisher:
I think most of these guys are do it all guys. When you look back at their production there are a lot of guys who are 5’9”, but they have over 200-plus carries and they’ve caught over 50 balls. So as far as the durability part of it there’s a good depth of running backs who can contribute early and then they’re going to have good production as far as running back and special teams.

Q: Does adding Mike Williams rule out choosing a wide receiver in the first round?
Doug
Whaley: We’re very excited about the receivers we have on campus right now. I keep harping back, we’re set up, if a guy is there with our pick whenever that pick is be it one, eight, nine, 20, if he’s the guy we think can get us to the playoffs, there’s nothing that will preclude us from taking that guy. That’s the beauty of how we set it up this year.

Q: What led to the decision to make the trade for Mike Williams?
Doug Whaley: The decision was simple. Tampa Bay called and asked if we would have interest. I talked to Coach (Marrone), Russ and Jim (Monos) and we said for a sixth-round pick, with our roster now a sixth-round pick is going to have a hard time making our team. Most likely he’d be a practice squad guy at best. Can we get a player the caliber of Mike Williams in the sixth round? We didn’t think so. We thought it was a no brainer for us to make the deal. Again this does not preclude us from taking a wide receiver and it doesn’t preclude us from doing anything else. It’s just another weapon that we gave EJ, another piece of the puzzle will help get us to where we need to go.

Q: How much background research did you do before making the trade?
Doug Whaley
: We did a lot, but we do a lot on every player. Everybody we look at we send out to the league to see where he is. Obviously we had a tremendous amount of information and background with him being at Syracuse with Coach (Marrone) and I have a lot of friends in Tampa. So I called them so you do your due diligence, but he’s not the only one you do your due diligence on. You do that with every player in the draft and any player that we decide to bring in or even look at we’re going to do our due diligence.

Q: Where would you rank this year’s wide receiver class in terms of depth, talent, etc?
Jim Monos:
That’s a hard one because when you talk about the draft with A.J. Green and Julio (Jones) in it they have to live up to those guys. Depth-wise we’re excited. You can go through every round and we talk about guys all the time in every round. Boy if he’s there or he’s there. It’s just deep.

Q: Will that push some of these guys deemed round one prospects down because of the depth?
Jim Monos
: Yes.

Q: With the departure of Jairus Byrd, how important is it for you to get a safety in this draft?
Doug Whaley: We believe in the guys we have on campus. (Jonathan ) Meeks and (Da’Norris) Searcy and Duke Williams. We think it’s time for one of those guys to step up. It won’t preclude us, if we see a safety there who can come in and help us we’ll go get him.

Q: Where does Corey Graham fit? As a safety or a corner?
Doug Whaley:
Right now he’s got the flexibility to do both. One thing we like about him is he’s a professional. He’s highly intelligent and he’s a good football player so wherever we decide to put him we know he’s going to attack it with vigor and be a professional and be highly productive.

Q: Where do you think he’ll be lining up most?
Doug Whaley:
I think that’s going to be worked out either way. That’s more of a coaching question. A lot of times it works out because we get into camp and if we have injuries at safety then he has the flexibility to move to safety. If there’s a rash of injuries at corner, he’ll be predominantly a corner. At the end of camp I’ll be able to give you a better answer.

Q: Do you want interchangeable safeties?
Doug Whaley: Talking to Coach Schwartz, yes you do. Offenses are so complex now and offensive coordinators are so smart they can single out guys and exploit their weaknesses. So if you’ve got guys who can do both, force the run and cover the pass and sometimes come down and play some man to man you’re ahead of the curve.

Q: Under Coach Pettine, press cornerbacks were emphasized. Is that still the case?
Doug Whaley: I think Coach Schwartz, talking to him, he’s going to put the corners and everyone on this defense in a position to accentuate the positives. So he’s going to put them in the best positions to be productive. If he feels they’re better at press then he’ll make sure they’re in press more often than not. There’s no set way we’re going to go about this. Coach Schwartz has said he’s going to make sure he puts his guys in clear cut beneficial situations for their abilities.

Q: Can you compare the WR class in round two and three to the OT’s and TE’s?
Kelvin Fisher:
I don’t think there’s a significant drop off, but the value of that pick depends on what that player is. How a player is valued. Every year you’re going to have a ton of wide receivers, because that’s the nature of the position compared to offensive linemen and tight ends. So of course in the second and third round you’re probably going to have a greater option of better players, but I don’t think it’s a big drop off as far as talent.

Q: How many elite players are there in this draft?
Doug Whaley:
Time will tell. That’s hard to say. Everybody you think will be elite. Will they pan out? Who knows?
Jim Monos: I would say we’re in the five to six range of guys that we would consider elite.

Q: If you do pick a QB somewhere in this draft, what does that tell EJ and then would you worry about what he might think about that? Would that player provide starter competition?
Doug Whaley: That’s a broad and wide open question. EJ is a competitor so he’s not going to shy away from competition. If we bring in a quarterback that we think can help our team then he’s going to compete. Now to compete to start? We’ll see. I would say no right off the bat, but there are going to be injuries and a lot of that stuff works itself out. Don’t get it wrong. All the quarterbacks on our roster now are competitors and they think they have the ability to start and you want a quarterback like that. But we wouldn’t per se pick a quarterback and say you’re coming in to compete with EJ. Hopefully that answers your question.

Q: Is Johnny Manziel a franchise QB?
Doug Whaley:
I’m not going to tell you that. Let’s just say this, he’s a special player. He is a very special player, a productive player. There are some question marks out there on if he’ll be able to translate that production to the league. That’s a very good question. I can’t sit here and tell you one way right now what I think. I want to go back and we do have the preliminary board up, but on Monday the scouts come in and we’re going to sum up everything and what they saw in the spring and what the coaches say and formulate my opinion then. He’s an intriguing person and right now I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a star, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t translate.

Q: Is he an anomaly or can you think of any quarterback to compare to him?
Doug Whaley:
I’ll say this. With the success Russell Wilson has had with the lack of height and Drew Brees, that lends more credence to taking this guy seriously. Stature in his game is not something you want to lean on, but his improvisation and his playmaking skills, that’s what you have to lean on and put more weight into.

Q: You had Cyrus Kouandjio in today and he is number 29 out of a possible 30. Can you tell us who will be the last one?
Doug Whaley: We’re keeping that open, but that last day is Sunday so we probably won’t have anybody else. League rules the last day to have pre-draft visitors in is Sunday.

Q: Are there enough fast corners in the draft?
Jim Monos: I think there’s plenty of fast guys at corner.

Q: What do you think of the cornerback depth in the draft?
Jim Monos:
Yeah it’s there. They’re big too. It’s a good year for size corners.

Doug Whaley: That’s interesting just because if you look around the league wide receivers aren’t getting smaller. It’s hard to find DBs with length who can match up with those guys. I agree with Monos this is a very good year where you can get a size corner with speed later in the draft.

Q: Your thoughts on Khalil Mack?

Doug Majeski: He’s an outstanding player. He’s got everything we’re looking for in a linebacker. He fits different schemes, he can play 4-3, he can play 3-4, and he’s really a great player. I hope we have the opportunity to draft him, play for us too.

Q: How big was the game vs. Ohio State for him?

Doug Majeski: As a scout, I’m going to try to look at the best competition. That would be the first game of the season, and he made a bunch of plays, and he got a little buzz going. That helps, no doubt. But when you look at every tape he’s on, he makes impact plays, whether it’s against San Diego State or Ohio State. He’s made plays in every game he’s been in.

Q: How does he compare to Jadeveon Clowney?

Doug Majeski: Well, one’s a defensive end, one’s a linebacker. I can really touch more on Khalil. Khalil is just a combination of size, power, speed, instincts. He’s played the game physically and he’s done it for a couple years.

Q: Are UB’s Brandon Oliver and Alex Neutz draftable players?

Doug Majeski: Yeah. Bo Oliver is a shorter, but thick, strong, fast running back that had good production. He’s a good blocker for a smaller statured guy. Neutz has really good production as a pass catcher, he’s got good ball skills. He ran pretty much what everybody expected he’d run, he’s not a 4.4 blazer guy but he’s got good speed, he’s got good athletic ability.

Q: Does Sammy Watkins have the ability to be a top prospect?

Jim Monos: We believe so. We think his traits are dynamic enough to overcome his lack of height.

Q: With 5-6 elite players in the draft, how big is the temptation to get where you need to, to get an elite prospect?

Jim Monos: We’re open to everything. Yeah, it’s tempting.

Q: Do you feel urgency to show the next owner that this team is on the rise?

Doug Whaley: I look at it this way--this is a results-based business. Every year we’re out to win as many games as possible, and to make the playoffs. So that does not factor in to what we do day to day, the ownership issue. Our issue is making the playoffs. That could be last year, this year, next year. It’s a results based business.

Q: What kind of impact does the extra two weeks make, if any?

Doug Whaley: None for us. For us, we actually took a week off over Easter. We wanted to get away, clear our brains. I’m sure you guys are tired of writing about this, we’re tired of thinking about it. So we said, instead of sitting here banging our heads against the wall, let’s go and refresh ourselves, and get ready to attack these last two weeks. So for our schedule, all we did was push our draft meetings back two weeks. Is it something that’s more or less beneficial? I’d have to say less, because we do our work in the fall and spring. We were ready to go yesterday. So it doesn’t help us. And I’m a firm believer in the saying “study long, study wrong.” I like to go with my gut, and usually with a gut instinct with all scouts, is usually the best, the most accurate.

Q: Does this cut into how you get into the 2015 draft?

Doug Whaley: With our BLESTO meetings, the scouting service we subscribe to, it is moving back a week. Usually we start on those guys end of May, right before Memorial Day. Now we’re starting on June first. So it pushes it back a week, but everyone’s working with the same schedule so I’m not going to complain, I’m just going to do what I have to do.

Q: How does the talent being so deep in this draft impact the trade market? Might teams higher up be more apt to move back?

Doug Whaley: I think it is case by case basis. Some guys may love with a guy and say I don’t want to trade away from him. And I’ll give you guys a little draft board secret: The way we set up our board, we’ll have a line that says, ‘these are the guys we won’t trade away from. And then we’ll have another line that says these will be the guys that we’ll trade down to. Meaning we’ll go down to x number, and still get a player that we feel brings us what we want and the value we want for that pick. So everybody’s different. And if you love a guy you’ll go up and get him, or you won’t trade away. I can’t speak for other organizations, but that’s how we do it.

Q: Talk about Anthony Barr and CJ Mosley. I know they’re different positions, but can you break them down?

Kelvin Fisher: Well Anthony Barr is an outside backer, and I think he’s probably going to fit more of a 3-4, where CJ is an inside guy, he can a 4-3 or 3-4. I think that’s the biggest difference with those two guys.

Q: Khalil Mack started late in high school. Does that hold him back, or help him, knowing how far he’s come.

Doug Majeski: He had an injury in high school, he missed his senior year, which probably led to some of his recruiting… but no, he’s a guy that’s played football, he’s gotten a lot of starts at UB, he’s gotten a ton of evaluation from our team. It’s not like he’s going to be slowed down. He’s physically strong. He’s improved himself every year in the weight room, gotten a little better each year so I think that time frame has helped him, but I don’t think his late start has hurt him.

Q: Anthony Barr moving to a new position, does that put a question mark on him in terms of his ceiling?

Kelvin Fisher: Well he played outside linebacker last year, so his movement was two years ago when he went from running back to outside linebacker. I don’t think it changes much, but he’s an outside backer, and when you study him that’s what you see and that’s what you’re going to get.

Q: What goes into looking for players like Chris Manhertz, what is your general thoughts on finding these guys?

Kelvin Fisher: That tight end position is trending towards the basketball, athletic, being able to box guys out. So we’re going to try to unearth anybody we can and do our due diligence. He came in without any background in football whatsoever and we thought hey, let’s give it a shot, see what we can do, see what he’s all about. He’s a unique individual, I think he’s got a skillset, but he’s really raw, really green. So we’ll see where his next step is.

Q: Where do you start when you look at those basketball guys?

Jim Monos: I have a friend that is an assistant coach at Ryder, and he called me during the season and said he’s the toughest guy in the conference, a banger-type guy. And then Russ heard about him too, so I said well, his name keeps popping up so let’s take a look at him if he’s interested.

Q: Can you look at a basketball tape and take something from that?

Jim Monos: No, that’s why we had him in for a workout. We wanted to put him in football-specific drills and see what he does to translate.

Q: What was his reaction when you called him?

Jim Monos: He was excited. This was something he wanted to try.

Q: Can you forecast how many QBs you expect to see go in the top half of the first round?

Doug Whaley: I hope before us, four of them go. I mean, this is one of the years that the QB position is so up in the air about when they will go. I can’t tell you, but I will tell you this, if four of them go we’ll be ready, if none of them go we’ll be ready.

Q: Charles Siddoway and Bradley Roby have both been arrested in the last week, how much of a red flag is that, what does that do to your board?

Doug Whaley: It’s unfortunate for the kids, but we’ll do our due diligence. And we’ll also hopefully get enough information before the draft to have an educated guess on should we take this guy or should we not. Hopefully some of the legal process will play itself out, and we can get some information before we have to make a decision.

Q: What do you like about Tiny Richardson?

Kelvin Fisher: He has long arms, he’s a good athlete, has good strength. I don’t remember him having any injuries.

Q: Cyrus Kouandjio, his best strengths? And with his season, did he struggle early?

Kelvin Fisher: I think he’s just a powerful, big guy. I’ve been around guys like him who’ve been successful in the league. And last year, Fluker did well at San Diego. He reminds me a lot of Max Starks from Pittsburgh. Big, powerful guy, long arms, could ride you out or sit and squat on you, settle down, good pass blocker and run blocker. And I don’t remember having him a slow start. The one game we remember him struggling in was Oklahoma. But the other games, I don’t recall him having a slow start or anything like that.

Q: Joel Bitonio, is he a guard or tackle?

Kelvin Fisher: I like him at tackle. Can he play guard, I think he can. He shows the athleticism a bit and to do both. He played left tackle in college, I think can move over to the right side, or he can play left guard or right guard, or he can play left tackle.

Q: Doug, you’ve been involved in numerous drafts, how much do you draw upon that experience?

Doug Whaley: It’s just like anything in life, you lean on your experience, experience is the best teacher. Fortunately I’ve been involved in drafts that have built world championship teams, and that’s what I’m going to lean on, and also lean on guys around me to give the information for us to make the best decision to build a championship team here, and a team that consistently competes.

Q: Can you talk about the trades you made in last year’s draft?

Doug Whaley: It’s one of those things like you said, if you have a calculated system, and you use that approach, and the deal makes sense, and you see hey, we can move down to this point and still get a guy that we’re excited about, pick up another pick, then don’t be afraid to make the deal.

Q: How does Watkins compared to AJ Green and Julio Jones?

Jim Monos: Those guys were bigger, height wise. Talent wise, he’s on par with them. His style is more like Percy Harvin, with the ball in his hands, he’s special like that. Those guys were just so big, but yeah he’s right on par with those guys.

Q: You talk about building a championship team and the ability to now take the best player available. How important is this draft in getting to that goal?

Doug Whaley: Again, this is a results based business. This draft is critical for us to add more pieces to get us over the hump. Now that the guys are back in the building, you get a sense and a feel that they believe the same thing because they know what is expected of them when they come in the building. They know how close we were last year. They know what we’re building. So I think everybody from top to bottom in this organization sees that this draft is important to take that next step.