2011 NFL Draft: Jerry Reese Says Giants Will 'Try To Pick The Best Player'

-- See Big Blue View for more discussion and analysis -- Full Jerry Reese press conference transcript

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Jets Say They Will 'Draft The Best Player Available'

The New York Jets held their pre-draft press conference on Thursday. The transcript is below:

On who will be taken with the 30th pick…
JOEY CLINKSCALES (Vice President of College College Scouting): We’re going to draft the best player available. That’s been our stance the past few years. That’s who we are. However the board falls, we’ll be ready to draft the best player available.

On if there will be more picks on defense in this draft…
MIKE TANNENBAUM (General Manager): I think if we could add some depth, competition on the defensive side, that’s something we’d like to accomplish during the offseason, if the right opportunity comes along. I know the number you’re referring to, of the seven (draft) picks (in the last two seasons), six have been on offense. (Rex Ryan will) tell you how good of a coach he is on defense, so that doesn’t even matter. (laughter) That is something we’re looking at. In a perfect world you balance it out. It never really works that way. In a perfect world, you try to get that to be as balanced as possible.

On if their first-round pick will be a defensive player…

MIKE TANNENBAUM: We’ll take the 30th best player, whoever that is.

On how the approach to the draft changes with the draft coming before free agency…
MIKE TANNENBAUM: We signed 18 future free agents towards the end of the season last year. Scott Cohen and Brendan Prophett, they did a great job with that. Not to say those players are necessarily going to fill a need, but again I really do look at it as a continuum. I feel a lot more comfortable sitting here today knowing that Brick, Nick, Darrelle and David are all under contract, and with the exception of David, for years to come. I do think the offseason started last year. The longer I’m in this, the more you realize the only part you can control is the preparation. They’re telling us we’re going to draft now, so we’re prepared for that. When there’s veteran free agency, we’ll be prepared. When we can trade players, we’ll be prepared. This is just the next step of what I would say is an opportunity to improve the team. Whatever the next step is after that, we’ll go for there.

On if he will try to keep all six picks in the draft…
MIKE TANNENBAUM: We have run scenarios. We’ve looked at a lot of different opportunities. We’ll continue to do that. Maybe we’ll move up, maybe we’ll move back. We’ll be ready to go. Last year we added Marcus Dixon, I believe it was September 6th. I think Marcus Dixon is going to be a good football for us. Is that nearly as noteworthy as the draft, obviously it isn’t. But again, it’s a long continuum. When opportunities present themselves, we’ll be prepared. That’s the only part of the process we can control.

On if the lockout has affected any of their preparation for the draft this season…
MIKE TANNENBAUM: Really this time of year for us, in the building, it really feels the same. The flow of the day, just the meetings and the schedule, really that’s kind of been the same for us. Obviously, if it’s free agency, there are phone (calls) and visits and things like that. For the most part, the preparation (has been the same). The draft, for us, it’s all hands on deck, it’s medical, psychological, security.

On if there is uncertainty making a draft-day trade without knowing what the new CBA will look like…
MIKE TANNENBAUM: I think that’s fair. That old saying: “Measure twice, cut once.” We’ll look at it really carefully. Again, if there’s opportunities, and we think it’s smart, we’ll go. Quite frankly, sometimes I’m the last one onboard. These two guys up here deserve all of the credit, 99% of the credit that Shonn Greene is a Jet. The last thing I wanted to do two years ago was make two substantial trades in one draft. There’s no book that would ever tell you to do that. But, when that opportunity presents itself, we’re sitting there with the 76th pick, and at the end of the day that made good sense. It’s an organizational philosophy, not just me. We have good debate. We don’t always agree. At the end of the day, (we do) what’s the best decision for the Jets.

On the effect of not being able to trade players during the draft…
MIKE TANNENBAUM: There’s other ways to get creative, swapping picks, future years. If you’re trying to solve a problem, you still have other clubs in the bag to use. You may not have your driver, and If you’ve ever seen me play golf, that’s probably a good thing (smiling). You use your utility club, and you just figure out ways to solve problems. If you’re a good listener, and can figure out what the other side wants, then there are always ways to (get a deal done). I’m the optimist, I feel like there are deals to be made if both sides are trying to accomplish something.

On not being able to trade players making draft-day trades more challenging…
MIKE TANNENBAUM: We actually looked at that. I don’t know the exact numbers. Over the last few years, I don’t think there’s been a lot of players traded on draft day. The notable exception was with Mark (Sanchez). That was unique in that the other team knew the players. I don’t think it happens a lot.

On if they are more apt to keep their six picks given the fact that they haven’t had free agency yet…
MIKE TANNENBAUM: We look at as, (when) we’re sitting there with Rex, looking more at the depth chart, and what we think our needs are. It’s really more just checking the boxes off. If we can do that with three picks, great. If it’s nine picks, that’s fine. I don’t think we’re ever fixated on the number of picks. To me, I’m always think about solving the problem of the need. Knowing that, “Hey, we’re trying to get this done, here is what veteran free agency looks like, here is what trades look like.” That’s how we stack our decision making in terms of those variables.

On if the team is looking to select players from BCS conferences after Kyle Wilson’s rookie season…
JOEY CLINKSCALES: Not really. I think we try to find a guy that’s the best fit for what we’re trying to get, especially defensively. So whether he’s from a BCS conference, whether he’s from the CAA or whenever, along with the coaches, we sit down, we talk about it and we try to find the best fit.

On approaching the draft as if none of their free agents will be returning…
MIKE TANNENBAUM: Well, I guess the threshold part of that would be, we’re not sure what the rules are moving forward. How many of our guys we’ll eventually be able to keep, it’s hard to say. I think (Bill Polian’s) point is fair. It’s kind of a hypothetical, because again, whatever the rules are, when they’re decided upon, we’ll go from there.

On not being able to sign undrafted free agents after the draft…

MIKE TANNENBAUM: Really our plan is once the draft is over, we’ll wait to get more information of what we can do and when we can do it. Again, Scott Cohen and Brendon (Prophett) did a great job. We signed an unusual high number of (reserve/future) guys, going back to January, 18 I think was the number. We did that to try to fill out the roster the best we could, back towards the turn of the year, January into February.

On the process of the coaches lobbying to draft players at their positions…
MIKE TANNENBAUM: Zealous advocacy? Organizational momentum? I have no idea what you’re talking about (smiling). Mike (Westhoff) is a great evaluator. I think Joey and Terry do a great job of facilitating discussions, because they’ll always say, “Mike, how does he get to the game? Is he an R4?” Whatever his role is going to be, that’s a big tiebreaker in the middle rounds. What’s the vision for the player? But we’ll sit in the draft room and we’ll talk about our 45-man roster as we’re drafting. That’s where Rex has great vision for the team and how he wants to see the team. If you think about what Rex did was really unbelievable, we played the Patriots in a playoff game with 11 defensive backs on the 45-man roster. One out of every four players was a defensive back. For us to do that organizationally, he’s constantly talking to us and Scott and JoJo (Wooden) and Brendan in terms of how we’re going to build the team. In the kicking game, how does that translate? I think those discussions go all year long. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of good passing attacks that we have to defend to get to where we want to go. How we build our team is definitely within, “Hey, here’s our division, here’s our conference, how are we going to get to where we want to go?”

On how integral Mike Westhoff is in pre-draft evaluation…
JOEY CLINKSCALES: He plays a big role because he looks at linebackers, he looks at safeties. His vision for a player may be different from the secondary coach because he’s trying to find a player that has an opportunity to play R5, or be a gunner, or go in and be a vice. When we’re trying to build this thing, he is a part of helping us get the right player that not only can get to the game as part of the 45, but also if he’s got a role on defense, that’s almost a plus for a guy that’s down the line.

TERRY BRADWAY: To add to that, both Mike Westhoff, and Ben Kotwica, (the assistant special teams coach), have evaluated close to 150 players. Throughout the draft, they’ve identified guys they felt could come in and contribute on teams. In certain rounds, whether it be the fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh round, the special teams could be a tiebreaker when we’re dealing with two or three names on the board.

On if the involvement by the coaches in the draft process is more, less or the same as it has been in years past…
TERRY BRADWAY: It’s been steady. We want the coaches to be involved. I think our coaches do a great job, along with our scouts. There’s a mutual respect. I talk about this every year. It’s not that way in every program. But they know what we want and they do the work, they watch the four games, they visit with the player, they’ve worked them out. They can tell us basically how they see that player fitting in. Taking that information with what the scouts give us back, you know, we feel like we’ve got a good handle on what we’re looking at. I think now in Rex’s third year, there’s a greater understanding among the scouts and everybody just exactly what we’re looking for. I know Mike and Joey feel the same way, there was a great deal of respect in that room when it comes to the coaches and the scouts. Best that I’ve ever been around.

MIKE TANNENBAUM: Let’s face it, with Rex, a lot of humor, as well. (laughter)

On if the scouts know what a “Rex Ryan Player” is…
TERRY BRADWAY: No question about it. Play like a Jet.

On what they look for when evaluation a prospect that may convert from defensive end to linebacker like Brooks Reed…
JOEY CLINKSCALES: For a guy that played down, like a Brooks (Reed), the first thing we’re looking for is can he rush the passer? Because in the defense we want to play, Rex wants a guy that can rush the passer. For a rush linebacker, dropping in coverages is probably only 15% of what he does. He needs to be smart, he needs to have good hand use, he needs to have quick feet and again, have a demeanor to be hungry to get to the quarterback.

On if there is apprehension on using a high pick on a conversion prospect…
JOEY CLINKSCALES: Projections are always tough, but it’s good when you can see a guy line up at a certain position and it’s not a huge projection. A guy like Brooks or any other guy that may be a little bit undersized, hopefully you’ve seen them play linebacker a little bit, and he gives you an opportunity, or you see the opportunity to do a lot of different things with him, the versatility the player may have. Along with that, that player may also have to contribute on teams.

On evaluating the need at wide receiver with the pending free agency of Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards…
MIKE TANNENBAUM: That’s a great question. There’s no magical answer. It’s the judgment of the best player on the board versus what’s going to happen in free agency. Again, even if you don’t get your first or second choice in free agency or the draft, there’s going to be other opportunities. Those are great tiebreakers for us. If we feel like down the road we’re going to have trouble getting a player back, that may break a tie in the draft room. Those are really hard judgment calls to make that you do when you’re on the clock or formulating a strategy to go up a couple spots or move back.

On if they will want to trade back to allow another team to select a quarterback…
MIKE TANNENBAUM: Yeah, we’ve seen a lot of that same speculation. We’ll listen to any opportunity to go up or back. We’re not going to rule anything out. When we moved up for Mark, that turned out be a good decision. A lot of work went into that. He was able to start from day one because of Matt Cavanaugh, Brian Schottenheimer and his work ethic. If those scenarios play out, we’ll see what happens when the phone rings on Thursday night.

On if they know before the draft if they will make a trade…
MIKE TANNENBAUM: Yeah, that’s interesting. It’s gone a couple ways. I know in some of the bigger (trades) we’ve done like (Darrelle) Revis and Mark (Sanchez), we did have discussions the night before, where they were maybe 90% done. There have been other situations, like Dustin (Keller) at the bottom of the first (where) we did that fairly spontaneously. It goes both ways. I think with first-round trades, there is a little bit more planning, like ‘I got a player (in mind), if he’s there, we’d be interested,’ those sorts of things.

On keeping the morale up in light of the pay reductions…
JOEY CLINKSCALES: I’ll just say this. First of all, we love what we do. A lot of us, especially who are football junkies, who have most of our life been a part of football, we’d almost do this for free. We feel blessed not only to be in this business but to be doing what we do and being paid for it. If it’s 25%, if those are the rules we’re playing under, then that’s what we do.

MIKE TANNENBAUM: To add to that, that’s a decision Mr. Johnson made. Woody (has) been a great owner. We sincerely like being here. Terry mentioned before, if people realized how much fun we have doing this, you’d be shocked. We have great people in the building. That decision has been made. Where I sit, everyone is happy. We’re in a great situation. We went to the AFC championship game two years in a row. We have a great head coach that is great to work with every day. We have an owner that provides unbelievable resources for us. We think we’re in a great situation and we’re going to move forward from there. My door is open. The pulse I have on the organization I think is pretty good right now.

On if there are any questions about Phil Taylor because of his foot issues…
JOEY CLINKSCALES: He probably does have some feet issues. I guess if you’re talking about a guy that was once 380 pounds, he is 335 pound pounds now. He’s a good player, strong and physical. He’s been at Baylor a couple years, now from Penn State. He’s a good football player. I don’t think in the long-term, if you’re looking throughout a contract, the feet would be a big issue. If you’re looking for a guy that can help you now, he and many others have a chance to do that.

Of if assessing a player’s intelligence is more important this season with potentially less time to prepare…
TERRY BRADWAY: That’s a good point. We’ve always stressed the character, intelligence part of it. Not knowing when those players may be here, it may factor in some cases where we’re pitting one player against another player of equal value. I think it’s only natural. We do a lot with football intelligence. Our coaches get involved with these players at the combine, whether it be in a formal interview, whether it be at the training station at Indy. That’s really the number one thing we want to find out is how quickly they can learn. We’re going to put a premium on that in a normal situation. In this situation here it could make a difference between one and two players.

MIKE TANNENBAUM: Terry brings up an interesting nuance point. Someone that graduated, you think they can learn, sometimes they can’t. Someone who is out as a junior, who is 40, 50 credits away from graduating, may be a great football learner. That’s a fun part of the process, to see how it translates to the field. I think that’s where our coaches do a great job with the evaluations.

On how many potential players they are looking at with the 30th pick…
MIKE TANNENBAUM: Give or take eight to ten (players). We’ve run a lot of different scenarios. Our guess is as good as anybody’s. When you’re at 30, there’s going to be a few trades ahead of us. We try to be as prepared as possible, see if we can move up a few spots or back a few. I think you have to have a pretty good number to start with just because you’re sitting at 30.

On if there has been any guidance from the league about how much first round draft picks will make in the new CBA…
MIKE TANNENBAUM: We don’t know what the rules are as of now. We’ll make the decisions with the information we have. But that’s something we don’t have as of now.

On if they have an assumption of what a top-15 pick will cost…
MIKE TANNENBAUM: Again, we don’t know what the new system is going to look like.

On if not knowing the cost of a top-15 pick will preclude them from trading up for one…
MIKE TANNENBAUM: Sure, it would be a factor. That is one thing you would to take a best guess estimate. Obviously it’s not going to be an exact science. You take the best information you have, put it on paper and go from there. Again, when we make trades, you have what you have, and you go from there. When we traded up for Shonn Greene, there was a really good chance he wasn’t going to be there when we were picking in the third round, and we really wanted him. We didn’t want to take that risk. We paid, in my mind, a pretty big premium for him, but again going into it, we didn’t have all the information.

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