Browns General Manager Tom Heckert met with reporters this morning to discuss the upcoming NFL Draft. Here is the transcript from the press conference:
Browns General Manager Tom Heckert press conference 4-21-11
(On if it is safe to assume that they will pick offensive players early) -- “I wouldn’t assume that, no. I really wouldn’t. You guys all know, we have some holes to fill all over the place. We still have holes on defense and offense. We are going to try to the best of our ability to stick with our philosophy of taking the best available player. I know everybody says that, but we are going to try to do that. I think we are probably in a better position to do that than some teams. Some teams they may be one or two positions away from being really good so I think it’s probably a positive for us that we can sit there and take the best available player.”
(On if he is satisfied that Da'Quan Bowers’ is knee is OK) -- “Yes, our doctors have looked at him 100 times. He went to the re-check so we’ve done our due diligence. I don’t want to get into all the medical stuff but we think his knee is going to be all right.”
(On if they have to weigh an injury risk more picking earlier in the first round) -- “I think it depends on what the injury is and what our doctors say. If our doctors say he can play than no. Obviously, you are going to look at it but if our doctors think it’s not going to be a big deal then we just have to go with that.”
(On if there is no chance the Browns will take a quarterback with the first pick) -- “I wouldn’t say that there is no chance of that. We like Colt McCoy, we really do. I was in a little bit of the same situation, obviously the age was a big difference, but when we were in Philadelphia and we had Donovan McNabb. I don’t know what the perception was, that we didn’t think Donavan was still a good player, that wasn’t the case. We thought Kevin Kolb was a really good football player so we did that. I wouldn’t say that’s probably one of our top needs but if somebody that we thought was a legitimate Hall of Fame type quarterback then we would do that.”
(On if there is an abundance of players at a certain position in the later rounds) -- “That’s a good question. I think there are guys throughout the draft. I don’t know if there is one position that is better than the others but we have certain players at each round that we think could come in here and help us. I don’t know if there is a group of let’s say the fourth round, a bunch of linebackers. There are players that we think are going to be in the fourth and fifth round that can help us, not at a certain position but there are guys that we like in those rounds. There really are.”
(On if Julio Jones, pictured above, or A.J. Green is better) -- “That’s up to each individual club. I think they are both very talented guys. They are both receivers and they are both good football players. They both can run and catch and all that stuff. I think some people might like something else about one guy than the other guy. If you talk to 32 teams, you’ll probably get 16 answers to why one guy might do something better. At that position it’s a little hard because they are both kind of the same size and maybe one runs a little faster but they are very similar players. They really are. There’s not much difference as an overall package.”
(On if Jones or Green is a better fit for the west coast offense) -- “Either one is fine.”
(On if there is concern about Jones’ foot) -- “There are a zillion guys that have medical stuff. We are aware of everything. With those guys, I think we are fine with that.”
(On if there is one key thing in front of them that can happen that will change everything) -- “No, really there’s not. If we end up staying at where we’re picking, we are going to get a good football player. There are six guys and we are going to get a good football player. Obviously you don’t to be picking up there all the time, but that’s the nice thing about it. We know that we are getting a good football player. We have six guys that we will be happy with. If we stay here then we are good. It really is not going to affect us, what happens up there. Obviously, one guy that we might like a little better might fall to us but it’s not a situation where we are that concerned about it.”
(On if they can get a player rated as high as or higher than Joe Haden last year) -- “Yes, it depends on who’s there. There are really good football player, there really are.”
(On if he puts more of a value on a certain position such a secondary because of his past draft history) -- “Don’t read into what I’m going to say at all but I think obviously quarterback is the number one then left tackle, defensive end, corners. Those are the groups because you can’t hide corners. You can’t hide left tackles and if you can’t get to the quarterback then you are in trouble. I think that’s league wide. I don’t know if anybody would disagree with that. That’s not saying you don’t need good players everywhere else too. It was a situation in Philly when we did that it wasn’t just the position, those guys were rated the highest guys so we took them.”
(On how the lockout has affected their planning for the draft) -- “Really none. It’s going to be different without free agency. We are just going to have to wait and see how that works out once free agency happens. It really hasn’t affected us at all.”
(On if their philosophy changes of best player available after the first round) -- “It really doesn’t. It kind of works itself out after that because it separates a lot more. There are some positions we don’t have anybody in the second or third round. It kind of works itself out. We are still going to go with the best player available but it seems like there’s not a position all the way across the board. You know there aren’t certain players at this position so you don’t even have to worry about. We are not taking them because they are not up there.”
(On Von Miller and where he will play) -- “Obviously, he can rush the passer. That’s the best thing he does and he does it really well. Where he plays, I don’t think that a big issue. I think he’s probably going to be a linebacker, whether it’s a 3-4 or 4-3. He’s not going to be a defensive end, I don’t think. Whoever has him is going to find ways for him to rush the quarterback.”
(On what their biggest need is) -- “That’s a good question and I think we have a few of them. I don’t know what the biggest need is. I know everybody has their opinion on that. I think we are in a situation where we can draft anybody and it will help us. I don’t know if it’s a fill the need thing, but we’re not looking at it like that. We are looking at trying to get the best player.”
(On if they will likely trade out of the six spot of a certain guy isn’t there) -- “I don’t think so. I think it’s more of what we think of the risk-reward. What we can get for that pick. The only way that would affect it is if you are trying to move down a few spots then obviously you aren’t getting as much in return so then you have to think about who’s going to be there. The further you trade down, you just aren’t going to know who’s going to be there so you are looking at the rest of the picks or anybody else you get in that. Really it’s not going to affect us with who is there I don’t think.”
(On there being a drop off in quality if they trade down) -- “That’s what I’m saying, but it depends on what you are getting back. You are still going to get a good player but you are getting let’s say three more players out of that deal then is it worth doing it? That’s what you have to weigh.”
(On if the phone is ringing less with players not being able to be traded this year) -- “It’s ringing the same. We are talking, everybody talks. Realistically there’s not many players traded during the draft. I’m just talking off the top of my head, there are probably more trades before the draft, the last couple weeks somebody might have been traded but nobody trades players for picks much anymore. It happens every once in a while but that’s not a big deal.”
(On if the right side of the offensive line needs a boast) -- “We like Tony (Pashos), so if Tony does comes back and we have all indications that he’s going to be fine. We think Tony will be our right tackle and we like Shawn (Lauvao). Floyd (Womack) and Billy (Yates) are both free agents so we’ll have to deal with that once things happen, but we are comfortable there. We really are.”
(On if an offensive or defensive player tips the scale more for the best available player) -- “It really depends on who is there for us. If they are both there, I don’t know if I can answer that question. Let’s say they have the same grade, which I don’t think they do, it’s the same thing, we need help on both sides. It’s funny, we met with the coaches on Monday and Tuesday and obviously the offensive coaches were saying let’s take offense with the first two picks. The defense is saying let’s take defense with the first two picks. The best thing about this is everybody understands. The coaches understand. They want players, but if we go offense the defense is all for it and happy. It’s a good thing.”
(On how the current roster affects how they will draft) -- “It’s probably not going to affect us a whole lot. We know the situation and I think we internally probably feel a little better about some of those positions than maybe you guys or the fans. Obviously, we need help at quite a few positions. With competition, the more players you have the better off you are. We are not looking at it like we have to get this position. We really aren’t and I think that’s the best way to go about it.”
(On the risk of Robert Quinn who missed the 2010 season) -- “I don’t think it’s a risk, it’s a thing you would rather not have to deal with. You’d like to see them play this year and unfortunately you can’t. I don’t think it’s a risk, you have to base it off of last year’s tape. To be honest with you, even with the seniors we always look at two years of tape anyways. You are basing some of the stuff on of junior tape. For seniors, sophomores, and juniors so you are looking at everything you have. You just have one less year to look at for him. You just have to use your judgment. Actually, it’s more of a detriment to the player than it is the scouting organization because you only get to see him. So if he had three great games and three bad games, he can’t change that from his one year. You just have to weigh that all in and if they are in shape and that type of thing and you are fine with the physical part of it, then you just have to base it off a little less game tape.”
(On if Patrick Peterson could have All-Pro written all over him) -- “He is a good football player. He is a rare guy just because of his size alone, size and speed. I don’t know when the last guy that came out, I know Nnamdi was a big guy but I don’t think he ran like Patrick did. He is a rare guy, a rare athlete and he is a very good football player.”
(On what lessons he has learned from past drafts) -- “We talked about the need stuff, just try to not force anything. It’s easier said than done. People think it happens on draft day and I don’t think it does. It happens before draft day. Once the board is set I don’t think anyone is going to sit there and start jumping guys off their draft board. It happens in the whole process where you may say whatever the position is, you say, we need this so you maybe make the guy better than he is. You just have to be careful of doing that. It happens. I’ve been guilty of it, just like everyone else. It’s a tough thing to do but you have to be smart about it.”
(On how often the draft has gone the way he has set it up) -- “I think last year we did a pretty good job. Media wise there were questions rather T.J. was worth of the pick and we said this guy is a good football player, he is going to come in here and start for us and he is worth that pick. You can try to get cute and say maybe he’ll be there later in the second round so you try to trade down and you lose him. How stupid is that? If you like the guy, take him. Don’t try to get too cute. We were at the league meetings and I was talking to a couple other general managers, we were having lunch one day. We were talking and I said everybody wants more picks, that’s great but don’t sell yourself short especially if you like the guy. We’re talking about the second and third round where your guys start to dwindle, if you like a guy, take him. You can’t go wrong doing that.”
(On being able to get a player like DeSean Jackson in the second round) -- “That was a special case there. That’s great if you can do it and I hope we can, but DeSean is a special player.”
(On if it was luck that they got Jackson) -- “That’s what you kind of hope for in the draft is you get guys in the second round that you have rated way up in the first round. That’s what happened with DeSean. That’s the best case scenario, you are thinking about guys in the second round and somebody you had in the first round falls to you and you say this is great. I don’t know why he went so late. There were obviously some things but it wasn’t anything crazy. He was small and the same thing but a little bit different with Brian Westbrook. He fell because of size and he had a couple injuries and things like that. There are reasons probably why they fall but if they are that good, you take them.”
(On light weight wise would they go at defensive end, 250-pound minimum?) -- “Dick (Jauron) was in Philly and those were the guys we had. Those guys were 250 tops. In Philly 250 was tops. We had Trent Cole and Jaqua Parker and those guys.”
(On if a player has to have his hand down on game film to project at defensive end) -- “I don’t know if we have anyone that was standing up that we project as a defensive end. I don’t think we have anyone on our defensive end board that stood up in college. I don’t think so.”
(On if a player has to show that he played defensive end) -- “In college there are a bunch of guys that’s what they are, there are a bunch of defensive ends that are 250 lbs.”
(On if it’s a weak linebacker class after Miller) -- “I don’t know if you can say. Then you throw back the 3-4 guys and they are taking defensive ends the other way. There are a bunch of defensive ends that are being projected at outside linebacker. If you throw those guys in there, it’s alright.”
(On what they have on their current defensive line behind Ahtyba Rubin) -- “We have the guys that we have on our team and that’s what we have right now. We’ll see what happens with Jayme (Mitchell), but we think they are serviceable guys. They really are. Are they elite guys? I don’t know if we had elite guys last year and I think we were alright. We will find players.”
(On differentiating between all of the off the field concerns) -- “I think that exactly what you have to do. You have to talk about each individual thing because there are a zillion of them. It’s unfortunate that we do have to deal with a lot of this stuff. If you say you are not taking anybody that has anything then you aren’t going to draft very many players. It’s a case by case basis and you have to hopefully sit and talk with the guy somewhere or talk with enough people. A lot of this stuff is typical college stuff, especially when it happens as a freshman or sophomore. We are not condoning anything but they are young kids and it’s going to happen. You are going to have to look at each individual thing. We try not to just take a guy off the board because of an incident without at least trying to find out about it.”
(On if some issues are worse than others) -- "I think it's a case by case basis and you really have to try to get to know the player that has had an issue and kind of find out if you trust the kid. If you think it's over with and it was a one-time thing or an immaturity thing, and now he knows obviously he can't do this, it's a gut feeling I guess. I'm not saying that we would take anybody but there are circumstances. A guy might have a little character thing and we feel good enough about it and we'll take the kid."
(On Julio Jones) -- "He's obviously a good player. He is a big, fast kid. He is a great kid and I think he is a really good player."
(On Jones running a fast 40 time after having a foot injury) -- “I think it helps his cause. They told them about it before he ran and he said I'm going to run it anyway. It shows how tough the kid is and he is tough. He is a tough kid.”
(On if Jones plays as fast as he runs) -- "Yes."
(On Nick Fairley and how his stock has risen and fallen since the National Championship game) -- "That's part of this whole process. If you guys watch those mock drafts and they are changing guys every day and I really don't know for what reason. You watch the tape, you make your decision and you go from there. I think he is probably going up and down less than what is perceived to be. I think there are a lot of players like that though. You hear about new guys jumping all over the place and it just doesn't happen in the real world."
(On if Fairley is a one-year wonder) -- "He is one-year wonder from a sack stand point. He played. I think it's a great thing to have 11.5 sacks as a defensive tackle. That's impressive. There is probably no other defensive tackle that is close to that in the draft so, you can't say he is a one-year wonder. He had a really good year but you can't say that he didn't have a good year as a sophomore. I think that's blown out of proportion too."
(On how Quinn is rated as high as Fairley even after missing the 2010 season) -- "I wouldn't say everybody's perception."
(On if Fairley takes plays off) -- "The stuff that is being thrown out there, it really bothers me. Some of the stuff you hear about is legit, but they toss around a lot of stuff way too easily and I do think it affects the kids. I personally don't like it. As a scouting whole in the NFL we bring it on ourselves and it's not a good thing. The scouts talk too much about their opinions to other people and I don't think they should. It's not an issue for us."
(On Quinn's character) -- "We've looked at it all and we'll make the organizational decision on all these guys that have issues."
(On if there will be talented players left in the second round compared to other years) -- "I really haven't looked back at it that much but there are players, yes. There are guys that we have probably in the end of the first top of the second where they could go from anywhere from 18 to 38 or 40. All those guys are mixed up and it gets a little more difficult to try and figure out who is going to go where once you start talking about those guys. They are all good players but some guys are going to like guys better than other guys. The top whatever 15-16, those are the top guys that everyone probably has in the same area. After that, everyone has them in all different places."
(On Jonathan Baldwin and guys who may have regressed from their previous year) -- "It's like everything else. You take everything into consideration. Who they played and who they had sacks against, who they had a bunch of catches against. You try to watch the tape versus their best competition as much as possible. Sometimes, you watch guys and even though they play against a good school, the guy they are playing against isn't a very good player. It's a tough thing to do but we do look at all that. Then if you don't get to see them do it against top players then it's a judgment call. That's why the bowl games are worth watching. You can't make or break a guy at a bowl game but you get to see them against the top players for three or four days. That helps, but sometimes you can't see it and you have to make your own determination on whether this guy is going to be good enough on this level."
(On the possibility of trading up) -- "I would say it's probably unlikely but I have talked to some teams ahead of us just to see. That's probably a tougher thing to do from our situation. We'd hate to give up picks to do something like that."
(On if Pierre Garcon changed the way teams look at smaller schools and on Cecil Shorts) -- "I don't think he did. We try to cover all our bases and we try to look at everybody. Every year there is someone from a Division III school that ends up making it. I think we drafted a kid a couple years ago from Wheaton College and he actually ended up starting some games, Andy Studebaker from Kansas City this year. It has happened before that so that's why everyone makes sure they are checking these guys. Cecil is a good player, he really is. He went to an all-star game and performed well there. It's rare that you get guys like that but they are out there."
(On if Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert will be gone by the sixth pick) -- "I don't know. I really don't. I have no idea."
(On if it would make it easier to move if one of those quarterbacks is still available) -- "I don't know the answer to that either, to be honest with you. There are a bunch of quarterbacks in this draft and obviously some are better than others. For teams looking for a quarterback it's how they feel about those guys first of all and then how they feel about the other guys. They say well I'm going to take this guy instead of the quarterback and I can get this guy. I don't know the answer to that. Those are what the other teams are going to have to do."
(On the team's current group of wide receivers) -- "We like those guys and think Robo (Brian Robiskie) and Mohamed (Massaquoi) are good players. Last year, I wasn't here before that so I don't know that much about it before then, they didn't get a ton of opportunities so I think the West Coast offense will at least get them the ball. We'll probably find out more about them this year than we actually know about them. They are both big, they can both catch the football and that's obviously two big things. We'll see and everyone wants the top players. Everybody does. I heard this conversation every day in Philadelphia about how our wide receivers weren't good enough and we went to five NFC Championships and obviously we didn't win the Super Bowl and that's what we are looking for. But, it's not overrated, but it's not as bleak I think people think. We'll see. Trust me we are not against having other receivers here. The more competition the better, but we do like our guys."
(On how the lockout has affected the team) -- "Pat (Shurmur) is great about it, it is what it is. I don't think Pat is looking at it as it's hurting us. It's hurting Pat because he wants to coach. He wants to be out there with these guys. Getting guys ready, we'll get guys ready. Pat and our coaches, they obviously have been working a lot. Probably more than they would have if there were players here. We are ready to roll and Pat has the coaches and when it happens it happens. We'll be ready."
(On the team's group of wide receivers going to Texas to workout with McCoy) -- "I think that's great. To be honest with you, I don't know how things worked in the past, but when we were in Philadelphia, that happened anyway. That happened right before we had off-season conditioning and even during off-season conditioning when guys didn't want to come back to Philadelphia they would hang out in Arizona or go around to workout. I think it's probably more publicized now, and it's nice to hear. If they do it great, if they don't I don't think it's a big deal. They'll be ready when they come back and we'll have time."
(On Mike Holmgren's role in the draft) -- "Mike is aware of everything we do. In his role, he has a lot of things on his plate, but we talk daily. He comes in and asks me what we are doing. We'll probably get together a little bit here before the draft and tell him exactly what we are planning on doing. He knows exactly what is going on and he knows who we like. He'll be aware of everything we do."
(On if Holmgren has veto power on quarterbacks based on what happened last year with McCoy) -- "That is completely not true. Colt McCoy was the guy who was there when we picked. He was our highest rated guy. Did Mike like him? Yes. Did I like him? Yes. Did Eric like him? Yes. I think that was blown a little bit out of proportion."
(On the 2011 schedule and five of the last six games being against divisional opponents) -- "I think it's good for the fans, it's kind of weird playing them so close. I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about it to be honest with you. I glanced at it and it is what it is. I don't think it is any big deterrent, positive or negative. We'll play them."
(On if there is a sore spot from last year so he feels there is a need to get a pass rusher) -- "I don't know if it's a sore spot, I just think it's a fact that you have to do it. Now, 3-4 is obviously different so you are getting it from your linebackers more so than your defensive ends. I don't think it's a sore spot, I just think it's the truth. Switching to a 4-3 and even if we were staying in a 3-4 you need guys to rush the passer. We knew last year, you always want good pass rushers. Whoever you drafted last year, if you are in a 3-4 or 4-3 you need pass rushers."
(On if it's easier to find guys who play 4-3 who can rush the passer) -- "I think the 3-4 teams would say it's probably easier to find linebackers who can rush the passer, I don't know. I think it's on the person who is calling the shots. I'm more comfortable in a 4-3. I've been involved in that. As a pass rush only, it's probably no different. When you are talking about a 3-4 you obviously need a pass rush but that guy has to be able to drop some. If you don't, they are going to take advantage of that. They are going to try to get the guy to drop and that's probably a little more difficult from my perspective. Some people might disagree with that."
(On if taking a corner like Patrick Peterson with the sixth overall pick won't help if you do not upgrade your pass rush) -- "I disagree with that. You are going to play close to 60% nickel so you are going to have three corners on the field 60% of the time. If you don't have three of them they are going to find the one. They are going to and you have to roll coverage that way and then you are putting that guy on the island. The more cover guys you can have the better you are. You get a corner hurt, you can't have enough corners. It’s the same thing with defensive and offensive linemen. Everybody talks about the starters and that's great. On defense, the nickel guys, in the secondary and as pass rushers, it's great to have an inside pass rusher or a nickel pass rusher. There are spots for that and the same thing with the offensive line. If one of your tackles goes down you better have someone who can replace him. That's why those positions are so key that if you don't have one you are going to be in trouble."
(On Montario Hardesty) -- "Obviously, we can't talk to him. Our doctors have talked to their doctors and he is good. He is coming along well. We expect him to be ready to go. Obviously if he is back, which we are assuming he'll be, and have every indication he is going to be, he'll help us. Peyton (Hillis) carried the ball a ton for us and he was pretty much healthy except for the end there. It's tough for a guy to take that much pounding. If we can get another guy in there, which Montario can do, and he is a little change of pace guy where he is probably a little quicker and faster than Peyton. It'll be great to have those two guys in the backfield. It really will be."