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What They Said: Transcript of Bills GM Doug Whaley following drafting of Shaq Lawson

GM Doug Whaley

Q: You checked off both boxes. You filled a need and got a very good player…

A: Very few times that you can go in the draft and have a very big need and that guy there, standing out like a sore thumb, is the guy you want and the guy that fills that need. So we’re extremely excited to have Shaq Lawson. We never thought he’d drop to us at number 19 and when it got closer and got closer, we all said, “Let’s keep our mouths shut.”

Q: What do you know about his shoulder and if he might need surgery after next season? What do you expect on that?

A: Medical staff cleared him, said he can play. Now, if something happens, it’s going to happen, but it’s nothing that we’re real worried about or we wouldn’t have taken him. We got complete faith in our medical staff and they signed off on him, so we’re excited to have him.

Q: What about the fit? He’s a little undersized for a defensive edge…What do you like about that type of package?

A: He walks in, day one, starter opposite Jerry Hughes. So he can set the edge from the outside, he can rush with speed and power--and that gives us two nice rushers off the edge. And then you got the push in the middle with our defensive tackles, so I think this is, again, a guy that has the versatility like you said too. Also, when we go nickel or sub, he can go inside and use his quickness on those interior offensive linemen. So I know coach is ecstatic about it just because of what he brings. First day, coming in off the bus, he’s starting and his mind’s going crazy on different ways he can use him.

Q: Did Rex’s closeness to the Clemson program…how much did that figure in to this pick?

A: Oh, in Buffalo, we’re the league recruiters for Clemson. I mean we got to keep them stocked on players and one way to do it is to draft those guys high. No, I mean…they were in the national championship for a reason and they have good players. Coach recognized that this guy is a good player. He’s not going to want to take a Clemson player, or any player, that isn’t worthy of the value we put on him so he’s wholehearted behind it, but it was more because he’s a good player than from Clemson.

Q: Hey Doug, how much consideration was given to Paxton Lynch, who was on the board when you picked?

A: Well, we’re talking about our guy, Shaq Lawson. We’re not talking about those guys. Shaq Lawson did a lot to get to this day, he put in a lot of work, a dream come true, so let’s not take away anything from him.

Q: Was there a lot of debate, though, in the war room?

A: No. I’m telling you, he was the top-rated guy and he was sticking out there like a sore thumb. We never thought we’d even have a chance to sniff the guy. So, when it got there we fielded a couple calls, but we said it’s not worth it. This guy immediately upgrades our defense.

Q: Doug, you say he’s the starter opposite Jerry Hughes. Do you think he can be as standout a pass rusher or also five-technique? Can he play both those spots?

A: I think so. That’s the versatility. And more of the five-technique going into the passing downs. Now, coach will get into how they’re going to use him, but we see him stand-up, right-outside. Right or left outside linebacker, we’re not quite sure which ones they’re going to use him. From the running downs and the passing downs, he can rush from the outside or the inside so versatility is key.

Q: How well do you think he plays in space as an outside guy in coverage?

A: I think well enough. Do you want him on a steady diet of it? I don’t think so, but I know Coach recognizes that as well. But there’s some things that you can do with him in space and he’s shown it on film so he’s not a wash, but again, we got DBs for that.

Q: What weight do you think he needs to be to be a sufficient size for stopping the run in the NFL…

A: I mean he’s 269 pounds now, 270 pounds. Naturally, these guys, once they get into the NFL and they’re not having class and they got money to eat, they’re going to naturally put on at least five-to-ten pounds, so we have no problem with his size.

Q: When you look at defense and priority, and you talk about that at the draft table, how much does this fill a need, an immediate need for you guys?

A: That’s what I said when we first started. Very few times do you have a need and you can fill it with one of the top rated guys on your board. It just came together and it was perfect for us and I can’t say any more but we’re ecstatic, we’re elated, and we just can’t wait to get him in the building and start working with him.

Q: With how the draft was supposed to go…. Did that play into your chance to get him?

A: I think so. I can’t really say for sure but sometimes…that’s why we thought we wouldn’t get him because once you get a run on a position, a lot of teams start saying, “Hey, we need to get the guy now,” because we won’t be able to circle back around and get him in a later round.

Q: To get back to how highly you said you had him rated, did you not consider moving down? It seemed like there were other players that fit well for you to give you the potential to move down or did you not consider that at all?

A: We considered it. We fielded a couple of calls but where we were dropping to and what they were offering did not match what we’d be trading away from in Shaq Lawson.

Q: What really separates him as a pass rusher?

A: I think he’s got a compliment of moves, but I think the best thing he does is go from speed to power, and that gives a lot of guys trouble because the combination of so I overset him for the speed or do I sit down and hunker down for the power? And he can mix it up and he’s got a compliment of rush moves that’s very special.

Q: Did that factor into what makes him ready to make that instant transition? You said day one starter in the National Football League…

A: We’ll see but we have full faith in what we’ve seen in tape and what we’ve got from personal interviews with this guy. He’s going to be a true professional and dedicate himself to his craft.

Q: What does this mean for Manny Lawson? Is he no longer a starter?

A: We’ll see. I mean, let’s put it this way. Manny Lawson has been here for a while and he’s done a mirage of jobs and he’s done it well. He’s a true professional. So I know he’ll come in here and try to compete. And what’s wrong with having depth?

Q: Doug, what shoulder is it? Because I know with edge rushers it matter, coming off one specific side what shoulder it is.

A: I don’t know if HIPAA stuff, if I can say all that stuff. I don’t know about that.

Q: He’s not in college anymore.

A: I’m not getting in trouble. You guys pay my fine, I’ll do it. But, no.

Q: How much was Rex’s inside intel with the Clemson program help in drafting Shaq?

A: It was more of a help of getting to know Shaq. You want to get to know these guys and see what type of people they are, what type of learning capabilities they have to come in and be able to pick up a complex defense like Rex runs. So that was a major help for sure.

Q: Can you say for sure if you guys are done for the night?

A: Yeah, I’d say. Unless something incredible happens, we’re done for the night.

Q: Is it safe to say you guys did not have Myles Jack on your board because of his knee?

A: Again, we’ll talk about Shaq. All that stuff we’ll do it at the wrap-up conversation.

Provided by the Buffalo Bills.

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