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Q&A: Jeff Ireland's final thoughts on draft
OPENING STATEMENT: I really feel like we got better today. As you well know, the draft is a process, and throughout the process what you try to do is add good football players to your roster who want to compete and who can help you win. Sometimes they fall the way you want them to fall, sometimes they don't. Today we got some good players who fell to us in the right places. I feel real good about the guys we got. As you well know, building a team doesn't start with the draft, it doesn't end with the draft. This whole thing started when we were signing payers off of the practice squad, reserve futures, and signing our own players like Channing Crowder, Vernon Carey, Yeremiah Bell, etc. It didn't stop when we signed Jake Grove, Gibril (Wilson), and Eric Green. It doesn't stop here either. We got some good players today, we feel very good about it, but it's a whole process, and we have a plan for that process. We are trying to get good college free agents that are going to help us compete, and it won't stop there either. There are going to be some acorns that fall off the tree, and there are acorns on the ground right now that we may pick up. This is just another part of the process, and the process will continue.
As far as today, I'm going to go through the roster. We got Patrick Turner in the third round. We feel real good about this young man. He is a big, tall receiver; I think he runs excellent routes. He scored ten touchdowns last year, he's a playmaker, he's played inside, he's played outside, he's smart. I think he's got some versatility and some very good hands. A highly recruited player coming out of high school, played at a very successful program. They know how to develop receivers there (USC), who usually go on to get drafted. I feel really good about this young man.
(Brian) Hartline, another successful program there [ Ohio State], they know how to coach them up there too. Very articulate, very smart, very versatile. Plays on special teams, is a good sized kid, plays inside, plays outside with some flexibility at the wide receiver position that is very important to us. Both these guys have played inside, played outside, and both real good players. (John) Nalbone, small college kid from Monmouth, about 6-5, about 257, runs real good. Three year starter there at Monmouth. This kid has tremendous skills. He's going to have to learn to play at NFL speed, there's no doubt about it. He kind of dominated that league, and he's going to be a good player for us I hope.
(Chris) Clemons, another three year starter, hadn't missed a game in his career. Big, strong, tough, aggressive safety. Good cover skills as well. We feel real good that he was there for us and I think he's going to contribute on the roster very well.
(Andrew) Gardner - had a shoulder injury late in the season, but he's a four year starter, really. Played at a good program, he's got left tackle feet. He's big, he runs good, he's a good athlete, he's got real good test scores, he's very smart. He brings some much needed depth at the left tackle position, so we feel real good about getting him.
J.D. Folsom from Weber state. He is a developmental candidate. He's got real good size, he's about 6-2 1/2, almost 240, runs really good. Smart kid, older kid, he's more mature, will be about 25 soon. Real good core special teams player. Has some sub-down value as well, so we got a good plan for him. That pretty much wraps up the day.
On if the run on wide receivers and the Giants trading up before the third round pick influenced the selection of WR Patrick Turner
IRELAND: The run on receivers didn't have much impact on that pick at all, to be honest. We had Patrick in that round and feel real good about it. We were going to take that player regardless. We dint have to go up, we stayed right there and made the pick. We feel real good about it.
On if he can quantify how much this draft helped the teams' needs at receiver and what the state of that position is currently
IRELAND: It's going to be a competitive position, no doubt about it. We have a couple guys here on this team that did very well for us this last year. We felt like we had a couple guys on the board that could help us be more competitive at that position. To be able to quantify that position right now we have to go into training camp and OTA's, and figure out what we got. I feel like we have helped ourselves there. We got some size there, we got some physicality there, and we got some flexibility with these two guys (Turner and Hartline).
On if there were any pre-draft expectations that were not fulfilled
IRELAND: Not necessarily. The way you stack the board, you don't really stack it by need, you try to stack it by value. Sometimes things don fall the way you want them to, but we try not to reach for guys, so I wouldn't say we are disappointed in how the draft played out. I would say we hit some needs, and again, the process isn't over. We will still try to get some players that will help us here throughout the process.
On what he saw in Turner this year and why the team selected him
IRELAND: I think its confidence. I think his confidence, and his production really grew this year. His touchdown production and some of his catches. I think he became a more confident player and learned. From an offensive perspective, they keyed in on him to be a bit more of a playmaker. What he did this year at USC I think is very respectable. I think he is a very good player. I don't think 13 touchdowns in two years is anything to be ashamed of. I like the player; we had him up there from day one, so we feel real good about him.
On if he envisions Folsom as an inside or outside linebacker, and if he knew Folsom planned on going to veterinary school
IRELAND: We see him more as an inside player. I didn't know he was going to vet school. I know our area scout probably did. But we see him as an inside player probably the 'moe' position I'm assuming. He really can play 'mike' or 'moe.' I envision him more right now as a sub-linebacker. He probably can line up as 'mike' or 'moe.' Excellent motor, great kid, very smart.
On if he feels the team has enough 3-4 linebackers and hybrid pass rushers on the roster
IRELAND: I would say we feel real good about (Erik) Walden, Tearrius George, obviously (Cameron) Wake, and obviously the players that were here before we signed those guys. As you said we always look for pass rushers regardless of where they fall in the draft, it just didn't happen that we liked some of the payers that fell to us. We paid close attention to positions that we call 'core positions,' and pass rush is obviously one of those core positions, but they didn't fall to us the right way, so we went ahead and went for value.
On what the teams' level of interest is in free-agent and ex-Dolphin Jason Taylor
IRELAND: We haven't really talked about it too much to be honest with you. He's one of those acorns sitting on the ground right now. We have got to make a decision here right now, I'm sure pretty quickly, on whether we are going to do that or not. But we have not made a decision.
On if he agrees with Gardner calling himself 'one of the best deals in the draft'
IRELAND: Well, in think the shoulder surgery probably didn't help him in the draft. But I do feel like he's got left tackle feet, I think that's rare to find. He was a four year starter, a captain at a major university (Georgia Tech). I think that's a good value, absolutely.
On if there are rookie free agents that will be successful like Davone Bess was last year
IRELAND: We hope so. We felt great about Davone (Bess) last year, but you never know about the college free agent business. The make-up is most important in that regard. Trying to get the right kind of guy that will be successful in this program and that want to be good and want to be coached and developed. That is what we try to instill in those guys when we sign them. You are coming here to get coached and you are coming here to try and help us win.
On what he likes about Chris Clemons
IRELAND: I like the fact that he is a three-year starter. I like the fact that he is big and he is fast. I like the fact that he can cover. Whenever you watch him in a tape and whether or not he is in the slot or in the zone he has a pretty good awareness on coverage and I like that. He is big, strong and aggressive. He is a core special teams player. Those are hard to find.
On how many college free agents the team plans to bring in
IRELAND: It could be 8-10. Somewhere around there.
On the reasoning behind trading a seventh-round pick with Kansas City
IRELAND: We didn't have a whole left on the board. As you probably know, it gets picked pretty good and we really didn't have much left.
On if Bill Parcells called Scott Pioli Kansas City to make the trade
IRELAND: Actually it was Scott (Pioli) calling me and basically it was what the heck.
On if it was a family call with Bill Parcells and Scott Pioli
IRELAND: No. It was actually me doing that deal.
On if Chris Clemons has the same hitting intensity as Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell
IRELAND: I would say they have the same type of intensity. They will strike you. They are tough guys and they are good tacklers. There are some similarities for sure
On if in his mind there is a clear cut number one receiver of the nine players at that position
IRELAND: You have to let that play out. You can't really try to say yes to do that yet. I've got my thoughts, but I have to see that play out on the field to be honest with you. I've got some guys I would say yes to, but I would rather keep that to myself for right now.
On if his draft board was shorter than usual this year compared to years past
IRELAND: Again, I don't want to get into numbers, but it was picked clean. I can tell you that. We put guys on there that we felt had a chance to make our team and make us better. The way we do it is that we try not to have any window dressing up there. By the end of the draft, we know it is going to be picked pretty clean and it was.
On if Andrew Gardner benefited from being in a pro style offense and then switching to a option style offense
IRELAND: Yes. I think he benefited a lot from being in a pro-style offense and being a left tackle there for three years. I think it has benefited him greatly. I don't think it benefited him a whole lot last year when he was cutting and on the ground and trying to reach block.
On the extensive research that went into evaluating Brian Hartline
IRELAND: He was a junior coming out early and he really didn't have great production. We saw some things in 2007 with him that we wanted to verify not only from an interview standpoint on why he came out early because he wasn't this elite junior in terms of publicity. So we did spend a little bit more time with Brian. We had dinner with him and worked him out. It just so happens that we try and travel around we try to not only do it with one player, but a multitude. We try to kill a lot of birds with one stone. That happened to be in that group too. It wasn't just Brian we were trying to visit with. It was (Brian) Robiskie and (James) Laurinaitis and (Marcus) Freeman. We were trying to kill a lot of birds with one stone in that particular workout.
On if Brian Hartline is in the same mold as the Colts Anthony Gonzalez
IRELAND: I think that it's a little bit of the Ohio State system, they develop receivers and they are pretty successful in doing that. They are usually always very good route runners, usually have a very good knowledge of coverage's and they usually all play a multitude of positions. That seems to be kind of what we are looking for too, so that is obviously a school that I have a high regard for when it comes to developing prospect for the National Football League.
On if the system at Ohio State accounted for Hartline's perceived lack of production
IRELAND: I think it was and I think that he would say that as well. They went to more of a 'Wildcat' offense to say the least, they had a four-year starter at quarterback that was more of a thrower, that really didn't play a lot and so I think that was probably part of it.
On if he is more comfortable drafting players from the bigger schools and conferences
IRELAND: I would say that not only me but the other 31 teams feel that comfortable as well. I think that during the last five years 90 percent of the draft comes from those Division I schools, so I think that me and the rest of the league feel that comfortable with it as well. I like big school players, there is no doubt about it, to answer your question. I like them, Bill (Parcells) likes them, we like guys that start a lot of games, guys that you don't have to guess about. When you try to evaluate the tape and you don't have to guess on what he can do in the league, and you can see it, that makes you feel a lot better. Most of the time these big school programs they develop their players in a way that you see the things that you are looking for.
On the draft critics scrutinizing some of the selections that are made during the draft
IRELAND: I would say that the one that are projecting them and are not in the draft room and aren't in the business, really don't know what we go through. We keep it highly secretive, its highly confidential information, our scouts don't talk and so I don't know where some people would get their information. Unless they have been on the road scouting, like myself and our other scouts who do a tremendous job, they would not know the needs of the teams are, sometimes they don't know the character of the player, they are just kind of going out there and I don't know where they are getting their information. So I don't pay much attention to it to be honest with you and don't really care to be honest with you.
On the situation at nose tackle and if he is comfortable with the position as it is currently
IRELAND: Well we got a player that we like a lot in Jason (Ferguson), now I know that he is getting up there in years, it was a position that you would certainly like to address, but it just didn't fall in the draft the way you wanted to. We weren't going to reach and there are only so many big nose tackles walking on this earth and we just didn't get our hands on one this year.
On the signing of Jy Bond a punter from Australia
IRELAND: He is a big leg Australian punter who is a little bit old right now. But he has a big leg I can tell you that, he walked up and wanted a tryout and we accommodated the tryout and he is a nice young man and he can hit it five seconds I do know that, so we feel real good about him.