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Colbert & Tomlin on the 2012 Draft

Posted Apr 28, 2012

KC: Thanks everybody for sticking around for the conclusion of the 2012 Draft. We feel very good about the nine guys that we added. They all unfolded pretty well for us, really the last three days unfolded very well for us. We got a lot of players that we had targeted. Every player we picked, we liked. We didn’t think we reached for anybody. Again, we got everybody where we felt very comfortable taking them. We already talked exclusively about David DeCastro, and we talked about Mike Adams yesterday. Coach Tomlin and I didn’t get to talk about Sean Spence. He’s a very instinctive, fast and tough linebacker that can really find the ball and get to it. He is exciting. Alameda Ta’amu is a big, strong and physical nose tackle. We traded up to get him. We felt that there wasn’t a lot of depth at that position. We thought if we didn’t make the move, there was a good chance we weren’t going to get him, so we decided to give up the sixth-round pick to move up to the fourth round and get him. Having all the compensatory picks allowed us the freedom to do that. Chris Rainey is an exciting player. He is a small guy but when you watch him run against SEC competition, he was really impressive. He doesn’t run people over but week-in-and-week-out the kid showed up in probably one of the toughest conferences in the country as a running back. In addition to that, he can do punt returns and kick returns. Coach Haley spoke to you guys about his utilization. He is going to be a very exciting player for us. Toney Clemons, a local kid from Valley High School, was an excellent player out of Valley. He started off at the University of Michigan. He spent two years there but he really didn’t fit in to what they were doing offensively, so he transferred to the University of Colorado. He got on the field this year as a starter and did some really impressive things. He has good size and he’s fast. He’s athletic and he has a gym rat-type of personality. He was one of our visits. He was not a combine guy. We are excited about what he can bring to the table. David Paulson is kind of a do-it-all tight end. He lines up on the line of scrimmage as an H-back. He led blocks sometimes from the backfield. He has a gym rat-type of personality. The kid appears to love football. He is an interesting guy. Terrence Frederick, the cornerback from Texas A&M, is a quicker than fast guy. He’s had pretty good production. He’s been a three-year starter. He has a chance to contribute at a position where we feel we could use some depth and competition. Kelvin Beachum is an interesting guy. He was the starting left tackle for Southern Methodist. He probably doesn’t have prototypical tackle size. He’s just under six-foot-three, 305. We had him in for a visit. He did go to the combine. This is a kid that could have some position flexibility, even though he has been a left tackle. We know he can play tackle but he really has guard size, and he really has a center’s intelligence. This kid is extremely bright. He is actually on the board of trustees, as a student, at Southern Methodist. He is viewed as a team leader. Right now, the scouts and coaches are in the process of signing free agents. We will probably sign in the neighborhood of 10 guys, and we will go from there.


You waited for the seventh round to fill the wide receiver roster spot.
KC:
We felt we addressed it when it was necessary. At other positions, we like those players. There was a gap in between five and seven. There were a lot of players picked in between there. We’re excited. We think Tony Clemons has a chance to compete for that spot. We were really happy to get him where we got him.


Does he have anyone to compete with for the roster spot?
KC:
He’s got a lot of guys to compete with. They’re already here. There are several guys that are in the building already. Kids from last year’s draft class that we signed in the winter. Nobody’s a shoe-in of course. He’ll have to work to earn his spot.

MT: Kevin was pretty clear that we’re still capable of working potentially in free-agency. I don’t think we’ve laid any of these positional things to bed. What we seek, of course, is competition.


Is Clemons unique because he has size and speed?
KC:
He’s really athletic. That was the thing that you don’t see. A lot of times you see big guys, you see sometimes they are big, strong guys and they aren’t the fastest or most fluid. This kid can make some small-man catches, and some small-man runs after the catches. When he visited us we were all impressed with his upbeat personality, wanting to do anything he could on the football field. I think he’ll be able to help if he makes the team as a special teams contributor. He’s caught punts before, he’s done some kick-off returns, but with his size and his speed and his personality, he might be able to help on the coverage teams as well.


Clemons believes his last five games were critical to get on the radar for the draft.
MT:
Within that, if you look at the last three games, a couple of games specifically: Southern Cal and Utah, he’s competitive and it jumps off the screen at you. He made some combat catches, some competitive throws down field with DBs in position. He was very physical in the perimeter blocking game, with the wide receivers scheme, bubbles and so forth. I think the thing that stands out is he is a gym rat, he is competitive, and those things, of course, you value in seven.

KC: His first year there he had a red shirt after the transfer, then the next year the coach was fired midway through the season, so he gets to a new staff his senior year. As the year went on, they grew comfortable with him and he started to show what he can do.

Do you have any concerns with Mike Adams’ issues?
MT:
I wasn’t in here, but I think Kevin did a nice job of giving you a synopsis of our approach to the situation. What he told you was very accurate. The kid wanted to meet with us, we granted him that, and he told us the situation. We told him at that point that he was off of our board because that’s how we do business. We did provide him an opportunity within some stipulations to maybe work himself back into good graces. I think the thing that got us to the level of comfort is not that meeting or the request for that meeting, but what happened after that meeting in terms of him meeting some things that we wanted him to meet. We did get to a level of comfort that was acceptable for us in order to take him. But again, what Kevin said again is very true. “Convinced” is another word. We’ll just live day by day. Obviously he’s a very talented young man. Young people make mistakes. We’re satisfied enough that we’re able to move forward at this juncture.

How do you feel about having young guys on the offensive line?
MT:
We’ve got youth at every position. That’s the nature of this thing. The guys that are ready and capable of playing will play, the guys that aren’t, won’t.


Re: Amount of depth on offensive line:
MT:
We have youth at every position. That’s the nature of this thing.  The guys that are ready and capable of playing will play and the guys that aren’t wont.

Will you line DeCastro up with the first team this spring?
MT:
We’ll play it by ear.  Obviously he will be with the first team in our rookie mini-camp.  We’ll see how the rookie mini-camp goes.


How good can your offensive line be down the road?
KC:
The higher you pick the greater the expectation is by everybody, us included.  It was no grand design, that’s just how these drafts work.  Last year, Cameron Heyward was the best player for us.  We don’t go into it every year looking for specific sides of the ball or anything like that.  When you look at the breakdown of this group, there are two offensive guys, two defensive guys, a special teams guy for sure in Rainey and the other four guys are just picking and hoping that there is something in these kids that proves they deserve a roster spot.  Really, this year we got three young offensive linemen, so add to that mix and see how it shapes out.  You want to get younger and provide competition at every position, but sometimes it breaks where there are more on one side or one position.  It really isn’t by design; it’s just how this class looks like.


Was getting all of your needs in this draft just circumstance?
KC:
It is because when you put a draft board together you are just hoping and you know where you want to add some youth and competition.  You let the board dictate when it’s going to be available and sometimes it fits together.  When we drafted these players, nobody moved from last Tuesday till today.  It wasn’t like we shifted anybody after a certain pick.  In a move situation, there were only four or five nose tackle types that were available and he was the last man standing.  We felt that when you look at that and you look at what’s behind him, sometimes you have to trade up to secure him.  We didn’t feel that we reached for him, but we knew behind him there probably weren’t a lot of options.  We wanted to secure him and we did.


How unique is it when everything breaks the way it did in this draft?
KC:
If it broke and these kids help us win a Super Bowl, then it was great.

MT: It doesn’t feel any different than it did last year.

KC: Last year we felt Cameron, Gilbert and the two young corners that it broke pretty good for us too.


Are there any character concerns with Chris Rainey?
KC:
Chris Rainey, everybody knows about the texting situation and we were well aware of it as well. We had some unique background on this kid because of his relationship with the Pouncey family. Knowing Maurkice’s mother and father, for them to take a kid in and provide him a home in high school said a lot to us. Those people are great folks they provided a great home for their own children. For them to endorse this kid by letting him live with them for part of his high school career while he went to Lakeland High School as the Pouncey brothers did. It said something to us. Of course Maurkice spoke highly of him as well, but he is a teammate and a friend, so we took that with a grain-of-salt even though we trust his opinion. When his family reached out to provide this kid with an opportunity and he takes that opportunity to go on and graduate, that says something to us.


You went away with the standard operating procedures of the past with picking Mike Adams. What changed that?
KC:
That was another unique one. We have certain criteria, when that criteria isn’t met we’re going to take you off our board. Never in my 28 years have I had a player solicit a face-to-face meeting to explain the situation, and us be the only team that he did that with. We said okay come on in, we have nothing to lose. He will just be one of our visits. He explained the situation and we explained our thoughts and our feelings and laid it out for him. I told him that you are off our board, this is what you can do to help yourself around the league. Once the league gets this information everybody is going to have the same reaction that we just had. They don’t know, like I said yesterday, we don’t get that information until about a week before the draft. We were trying to help the kid be proactive and save his chance to get drafted. We said oh by the way if you do these things we’ll see where it goes. He did them and we are where we are today. We’ll see where it goes from here, we don’t know. If it doesn’t work it is on me because I endorsed it.


Do you stay on a kid like this, or do you have the veterans watch him?
MT:
All of the above, not only a kid like this but all of the kids. We are not going to assume anything. These are young kids making a significant transition. We are not going to label or put any particular kid in a box. We are not going to make any assumptions regarding any of them, they are all going to need assistance in terms of acclimating themselves to professional football and what is expected of them and how they live.


Does Sean Spence fit in with Timmons in the inside role?
MT:
We haven’t written in ink at this juncture. We are just getting to know these people and getting them acclimated to what we do. He’s a sharp kid. We are going to teach him the inside linebacker position, both positions, and see where that leads us. We value position flexibility. We did similar things a few years ago with Sly. We’ll do what puts us in the best position to play the most viable men.


Is he a nickel type linebacker?
MT:
He’s a linebacker.


Re: Sean Spence:

MT:
He’s got very quick see-to-do. If you go down to Mobile like Kevin and I did, when you watch a 9-on-7 drill the ball snaps and he is the first guy to move on the defensive side of the ball. You watch his tape, the guys read and react is exceptional. That helps him compensate for some of the deficiencies he has in size and length. He is aggressive and he’s tough. He is smart and a four-year starter down at the University of Miami. And he encompasses a lot of football character things that we value.

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