Transcript of the Jets' predraft news conference with general manager Mike Tannenbaum, Joey Clinkscales, vice president, college scouting, and Terry Bradway, senior personnel executive, on Friday afternoon:
TANNENBAUM: Hello everybody. Thank you for coming. First, I would like to start off by thanking everyone for their hard work. It's been a long process, a real collaborative process, obviously working with a new staff, but I really want to thank the whole organization. It has been a tremendous organizational effort — a lot of hours, a lot of nights away from their families — I just want to publicly thank everybody for their hard work.
Our goal going into next weekend was to try to give ourselves as much flexibility as possible and some of the work we've done as an organization up to this point hopefully will allow us to do that come next weekend. With some of the additions that we made, be it the Lito Sheppard trade or signing Bart Scott, Marques Douglas, Howard Green, down the line to retaining Brandon Moore, that was all within the context of trying to achieve two goals: improving the team for the 2009 season and in addition giving ourselves as much flexibility as possible. We tried to do that as best we can.
Right now, from a draft choice standpoint we have our one, our two, we have New Orleans' three, Washington's four, our fifth-round pick went to Philadelphia in the Lito Sheppard trade, and we have our sixth and our seventh.
Just some other housekeeping, Thomas Jones, as you all are aware, is not here, but I just want to emphasis that we're at the part of the year that is voluntary. And with Erik Ainge, he is also not here for personal reasons. We didn't expect either player to be here and we are moving forward with the guys that are here. I think we have had three good practices so far. With that, I am going to turn it over to Terry [Bradway] to give you a little more background about the draft.
BRADWAY: As usual, I have some fun facts for you relative to this draft. To this point, we've evaluated 1,375 players. Our scouts have visited 232 schools. We've written 5,650 reports and we've had 227 predraft visits, which are not only visits here but at all-star games and the combine.
In terms of us sitting down interviewing players, whether it be a coach or a scout, the interview process as you are all aware has become a major part of our evaluation process and that's conducted at the all-star games that our scouts attend. At the combine, we have our 60 formal interviews. But at the combine this year, scouts and coaches talked to over 200 players. We've also had 30 players visit our facility here last week and this week and that doesn't include some of the local guys here also, so there is a pretty intense process of this evaluation that we take very seriously.
We are probably going to complete our position reports today, over the weekend put the board together, and start discussing it on Monday as we review the board each day next week, in addition to some other meetings we'll have, our security meeting, our special teams meeting with Mike Westhoff on Monday. We are excited about what we've done so far. I understand Rex [Ryan] has invited all of you up to the draft room to look at all of our information [laughter].
TANNENBAUM: I'm just here to tweak that — we are going to make his playbook available instead [laughter].
BRADWAY: I never thought when I got involved with this business that we would be taping the combine in Indianapolis and obviously we do that and it really has paid off. A lot of the guys work out, over 85 percent of the guys work out now whereas before they started [taping], I'd say they were at somewhere between 70-75 percent. So the participation has really increased and I think a lot of that is due to the publicity that we've gotten.
In terms of what we do and the information we gather, we put all our information on a director report that is carried with this player from the time they are scouted in college all the way through their pro career, all their college reports and all their pro reports. But some of the things we have are basically name, position, school, height, weight, speed, test score, date of birth, whether or not they were a redshirt. General areas that we evaluate: Their character, their intelligence, their athletic ability, their playing strengths, their durability, their production, any type of special teams.
We have 12 to 14 specific areas with each position that we evaluate. If it is a quarterback, it's managing a game, it's arm strength, it's accuracy, it's mobility, things like that. We have four critical factors for each position, which our coaches identify each year, of things that they think are most important for their particular position. We write up strong points, weak points and a summary. We also write a projection for what we think is going to happen to that particular player in their first year and even as they progress throughout their pro career.
We've got physiological information, we've got medical information, workout information, statistics and contact information with addresses and agent's numbers, interview summaries. It is a very comprehensive report and a lot of work goes into it.
On some of our players, we may have eight scouts that have a report on a particular player whether it be on film or a live look, a practice, an all-star game, an interview. We have position coaches, coordinators and Joey [Clinkscales] does such a great job, along with our scouts, of organizing this whole thing to make sure we get the maximum blanket coverage we can get on all these players.
We've talked about the process before, but maybe there is some way we can at least let you in a little bit. I think it would be interesting, but maybe a dummy report of something [laughter]. Four years ago, I would have said no, but now I say maybe.
I am going to turn it over to Joey now, but I just have to say, we started these meetings March 30, we went offense for a week, we had visits come in and we have defense this week in addition to minicamp. Joey runs the meetings. He organizes this whole thing on the college side and it is buttoned up, it is very solid, very sound.
Hey, listen, we make mistakes like everybody else, but I think the work that we do in getting this board set up, you don't just sit up there and move cards around at random. It's all based on reports that we've had, information that we have gathered, and Joey and the scouts have done a great job.
You know, if you could have been a fly on the wall for our meetings, you would see that I'm not very patient when it gets after 4 o'clock in the afternoon and there will be some guy that I don't think really fits our team and I lose interest, but these guys keep going at it and keep doing it and they give each player their fair shake in terms of putting them up on the board and putting a value on them because even though they might not play here, they'll be in the league somewhere and maybe they'll develop over a couple of years and we might be looking at that player two or three years down the road.
I'm going to pass it over to Joey and he'll give you a rundown of what this draft looks like and we'll go from there.
CLINKSCALES: First of all, I would like to give credit to the scouts because they do a wonderful job of gathering information and reporting some of the things they see on players and getting background information and talking to high school coaches and college coaches and gathering and getting all the information. Probably, if I had to go into this year's draft, there is more depth at the offensive line position, the running back position, wide receiver position and there's some depth at the defensive back position.
A lot of things that we're looking for as the year has progressed, now that we have a new coach on board, some of the things Rex really looks for in a player is his football character, was he productive, his passion for the game, how tough is he, is he physical, is he competitive and how good a system player he is. So when we are out, from the time we hired Rex through this point, those are the characteristics we try to find in the players we're looking for.
On if the characteristics Ryan looks for are different than what Eric Mangini looked for…
CLINKSCALES: I don't think it's a huge [change]. In the past, we've had different types of coaches and some have run a 4-3 defense and some have run a 3-4 defense and Rex is carrying over some of the same things that we have had in the past, so the type of player is not necessarily different, just some of the characteristics.
On if the first round is deeper this year than in past years …
CLINKSCALES: I don't know that I would say that. As always, we are going to try to get the best player available whether that player is at the top of the draft or at the bottom of the draft. A lot of it depends on your draft position. I think at 17, we'll be able to find a good player, so I wouldn't say one part of the draft is more important than the other part.
On if there is good value in the first round, given the Jets' propensity to trade the last few years…
CLINKSCALES: Absolutely. It's like always. Like offensive linemen, sometimes those guys that are sixth- and seventh-round draft picks end up making it and playing a long time in this league because they may not be ready day one but soon down the line they're ready to play. That's the same theory you use in the first round.
TANNENBAUM: To clarify two things [smiles]. One, on all those trades we've actually traded away 15 picks in three years and we've acquired 15 picks. And we also do like trading up at the bottom of the first round like we did with Dustin [Keller a year ago], so we are an equal-opportunity trader [laughter].
On why there is more failure for first-round wide receivers than at other positions…
CLINKSCALES: It's a unique position, to be honest with you. You have a lot of guys who are prima donnas at that position, as you all know. But you know, some guys always feel, in the second or third round, the reason why they are second- and third-round picks is because usually they have first-round value and first-round talent and there's something keeping them from being first-round players.
So I think you can find value in later round receivers like Jerricho [Cotchery] who's a fourth-round pick who's become a really good NFL receiver. So I think there is value in later picks, but I can't tell you why some of those guys have failed because they've had the talent and some of them just haven't improved on their natural ability.
On if the Jets will be focusing on offensive players in the draft…
TANNENBAUM: We are going to try to let the board, as much as possible, dictate what we do. You just never know who is going to go. Certainly our numbers, as Brian Schottenheimer has said as he walked by my office twice a day, every day, are a little skewed right now from a strictly numbers standpoint, but we really want to take the best player possible.
On the possibility of taking a linebacker…
TANNENBAUM: Ideally, the best player will fit a need as we see it and we will always tweak our decision based on a need as, let's say, a tiebreaker, but as much as possible we are going to let the board dictate what we are going to do at 17 and on down as we go.
On taking players off the board for failed drug tests…
CLINKSCALES: Technically, we don't have the drug information from the league office yet. There are guys for various reasons that may flunk tests, but as in previous years, I think the important thing to do is do your homework on the kid, find out what the situation is, just like in the instance with Darren McFadden last year. If you do your homework and you are thorough, at the end of the day, if there happens to be a person that has flunked a drug test and you've done your homework, then if that's one of our choices, we've done our homework and we are comfortable.
TANNENBAUM: Just to add to that, one of the things that the three of us believe in and Rex and Woody [Johnson] and organizationally, we are going to be thorough, so we wouldn't take someone off the board based on one factor. We'll look at the bigger picture and then make that decision based on the whole body of evidence.
On Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin possibly being available in trade…
TANNENBAUM: Anquan is a player under contact with another team, so I can't talk about him.
On the possibility of trading the Jets' first-round pick for a veteran player…
TANNENBAUM: Right now we're really comfortable with were we are at 17. If opportunities came along that we thought made sense for the organization, we'd take a long look at it, but right now we fully anticipate taking a player at 17 a week from Saturday.
On how many quarterbacks there are with a first-round grade in this draft…
CLINKSCALES: If I told you that, I would have to run you out of the room, so that wouldn't be fair to you [laughter]. There are several quarterbacks that have a lot of ability and talent, I will say that. There has been a lot of publicity about the top three or four quarterbacks and I think all of those guys will make great professionals, but I couldn't tell you how many we had with a first-round grade.
On QBs Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman…
CLINKSCALES: I think they are both talented players. I think they both bring different things to the table. I think Sanchez is a fantastic leader. He's played [at Southern Cal], which is like the 33rd NFL team. and he's led that team. I think Freeman is a guy who is physically gifted. He has a big arm. He has not had as much success at Kansas State as maybe Sanchez did at USC, but he's a very talented, athletic quarterback.
On Sanchez having only 16 college starts…
CLINKSCALES: Usually, if I am evaluating Sanchez or I'm evaluating Freeman or anyone else, I am going off his complete body of work. He has been really good. He has been really special.
On player being better prepped than ever for their predraft interviews…
BRADWAY: Players are prepped now, not only in the physical part, but also in the interview process. Three years ago, we were the first team to show video at the combine and talk to the player about what their responsibilities were and our coaches ran the interviews. Now, I believe, there are as many as 10 teams that use video during the 15-minute interview.
Some of the things we want to find out, really the most important are from a learning standpoint — how much they can comprehend and their ability to assimilate a lot of information, because you know how it is when they get here, especially those young rookies. They get hit with a ton of information, a high volume of stuff, and the guys who get it, that understand it are the guys who are going to get on the field and get an opportunity to play. The guys that don't, that struggle, they're not going to get a ton of reps.
It is really important for us to know how much these guys know from a football standpoint. When we bring them in there, that's a little more involved because they'll spend time with the coordinator, with the position coach, with Mike [Tannenbaum] and Rex, with me, Joey and JoJo [Wooden] if there is time. It is a pretty extensive process and we learn a lot from it.
You've got to be careful because sometimes they can not so much fool you but sometimes you can put too much into that. Again, it is another piece of the pie. If you add that to how they played, the workouts and everything else, that helps you come to your final grade of a particular player.
CLINKSCALES: We evaluate guys from the time they step off the plane coming here to the time they leave the door. So if he has a car service coming to the building, we'll find out what happened in the car, and when he goes to meet the doctors, we'll find out how he was with the doctors. He's evaluated from the time he steps off the plane to the time he gets back on the plane.
TANNENBAUM: Joey has an expression that nothing is outcome-determinative. It's just part of the process [laughter].
On what they are looking for from the car service and the doctors…
CLINKSCALES: I'm from the South, I'm a southern guy. If I have a player that gets in a car service and he wants to blast the music and he doesn't know [the driver] from Adam, then that's a problem. Not only do you want a good player, but you want a good person. It's just part of the process.
TANNENBAUM: I think just philosophically, you say from college to pro they have more time, more money. What is this individual going to do with more time and more money? The more information you can get to project how they'll be as a professional player and how they'll use their time, whether it's getting better, what kind of teammate are they going to be, how they are going to affect locker room chemistry, that's all part of the picture we're trying to build and filling out our roster and building the team the way Rex sees it. And as Rex has told us many times, he doesn't want to coach effort and you can look for those things in a lot of different areas.
On what their interaction is like with the agents at this time of year…
TANNENBAUM: I think there is a lot of misinformation out at this time of year and agents are calling with agendas and trying to ... not to say they're not good people, they have a job to do. It's part of the process.
On if agents call often to regarding their clients prior to the draft…
TANNENBAUM: I think sometimes they are calling to clarify. If a player has a specific bump in the road they'll maybe want to say, "Look, this was an isolated incident. There is a body of work that is more compelling than this one bump." You have to take it from who it comes from. Certain agents have more legitimacy than others. Again, if an agent tells us something, we are not going to make a decision based on that, but sometimes it's helpful in the process.
On TE Brandon Pettigrew…
CLINKSCALES: As I said before, we have researched Brandon Pettigrew and if he's our pick then we have come to the conclusion that he has done nothing that would preclude him from being a Jet. I think he's a fantastic talent. He's big, he's athletic, he can catch the ball, he can block. Those are all attributes that if I was his size, I would love to have.
On the Jets' quarterback situation
TANNENBAUM: Right now, we're comfortable with the three players that we have. We are really happy with the work ethic they showed just coming in everyday and getting better, be it with Sal [Alosi] in the weightroom or with Coach [Matt] Cavanaugh and Coach Schottenheimer.
As I said before, in Kellen [Clemens] and Brett [Ratliff]'s case, they've earned the right to compete and that's not based off of anything indiscriminate, that's based off a long period of time and their work ethic. When they have had a chance to perform, they have preformed well. It hasn't been a lot, Kellen, eight starts, and Brett in the preseason, but they've earned the right to compete for the job and that's all it is. They have to go out there and earn it, but they have both done enough good things to earn the right to move forward and we'll go from there.
We're not going to just give the job away and when Rex thinks he has a guy that he's comfortable with, he'll decide that. But again, those guys have been around here long enough and they've done enough good things to encourage us as an organization.
On if the Jets would select Sanchez if he were to fall to 17…
TANNENBAUM: Well, again, we'll let the board dictate what we'll do. If he's there, does the phone ring? Can we move up? Can we move back? We'll take all those factors and do what's best for the team.
TANNENBAUM: All I can say about Thomas is that I am really glad he is on the team. He's given us two really good years of performance and why he's not here or when he'll be here is really best answered by Thomas.
On if the Jets' running back position needs to be addressed through the draft…
TANNENBAUM: Well, we actually have Marcus Mason, who we have a pretty strong feeling for, and Danny Woodhead behind Thomas and Leon [Washington]. If there is an opportunity to add someone to that group, we will certainly look at that.
We are also really excited about re-signing Tony Richardson. We think he brought a lot to the team not only on the field but off the field and you can look at Tony's résumé and the number of 1,000-yard rushers that he has blocked for is really impressive. And then Jehuu Caulcrick has been a swing guy playing fullback and tailback and I think he has a real opportunity to help us in the kicking game and to compete at what could be one of the five positions at running back.
So if the right situation came along, I think we'd look at it, but as a group, we like that group.