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What They Said: Transcript of postdraft press conference with Bills GM Doug Whaley and coach Rex Ryan

GM Doug Whaley
Head Coach Rex Ryan

Q: Rex, is this the type of draft you’re excited about?

Rex Ryan: Not really, bummed out with the first three picks obviously. No, it’s so funny. When you sit back, you know, we’ve always talked about how Doug and I, we see players the same way. We’ve been around similar situations, what we think is successful. We obviously had some holes but we weren’t going to, as you know, Doug doesn’t say, “Well we’re just going to take this because we have a need,” or whatever, we’ll take the best player. But it fit in so perfect for really what our perceived needs and the best players and we were, I mean, super excited obviously. The first pick of the draft, you get Shaq Lawson, we need that pass rusher to compliment, go with the guys that we already have, Jerry Hughes and Marcell (Dareus) and Kyle (Williams). And so that landed perfect for us and then to have Reggie Ragland sitting back there, you know, really a top linebacking prospect to where we have a big hole. There’s a big need there so it was perfect. We get to pair him up with Preston Brown, that will really give us a 1-2 combination right there. And then the young man from Ohio State is, he’s got a ton of ability and when you put him in that rotation with the guys that we have, I think he’s got a chance to really do some things. Really, all the picks have roles that you can envision guys coming in and contributing. So, yeah, was it exciting for me? Absolutely, one-hundred percent. And I’m having a tough time believing somebody had a better draft but it will be proved out as the years go on.

Q: Hey Rex, Doug has said a couple of times this weekend that it’s a Buffalo Bills pick, but obviously, especially those first three picks seemed to really have your fingerprints on them. How much were you lobbying for those guys and I know that you guys talked that it’s a consensus, but were you lobbying?

RR: No. I think you sit back there and like I say, the board’s the board. But you sit back and maybe if there’s two guys touching or whatever, Whales (Doug Whaley) and I will say, “Which one of these two?” But no, you just sit back and our scouts do an unbelievable job and Doug does a phenomenal job of taking input from everybody and it gives coaches an assignment. Now, we don’t see every player in the country, like some guys like they’ll do, but he listens to the coach’s evaluation. That doesn’t mean that you’re going to put, “Hey, all of the sudden the coach wants this. You’re going to put in…” No. Whales has got the organization’s best interest, you know what I mean? Every position coach will say, “Take my guy.” But that’s not the case so when you sit back in there, you go in there and if it would have been a receiver, if it would have been a ‘whoever’ and if Whales thinks it’s best for the organization, I’m right with him all the way. He sees the big picture, he sees every kid in the country, and it just so happened that these landed, you know, great. The Clemson kid, obviously you got to give a little lobby in there. But, no, it’s without question it’s great. And it’s interesting seeing scouts, when the scouts, their guys that have seen a lot of guys in the country see their players and you know, it’s just great back-and-forth but at the end of the day, the pick, I think was a unanimous Bills selection. I mean, Whales picks him, but I don’t know if there was anybody that had a difference of opinion. Especially those first three players and even beyond that.

Q: Doug, you guys were under tight cap restraints this offseason. That really kind of left you with the draft as the last best way to fill these holes that you had on defense and you said it straight out yesterday, you probably have two day-one starters and maybe a third. Could you have envisioned it panning out as well as the board fell to you, those first three picks especially?

Doug Whaley: We can never envision the board falling the way it did because of the draft but with the way we kind of look ahead, we kind of knew that if we had the cap restrictions with the guys, our guys that we re-signed, not being able to go out and fill through the free agent market, but we knew this was going to be a draft heavy in some of the spots that we might be losing the guys. So it correlated pretty well. Is that always going to happen? No, but it happened this year.

Q: Rex, you have all the guys you drafted. Have you seen Shaq Lawson pretty much as much as anybody that you’ve drafted in person with your own eyes right here on campus or at Clemson?

RR: Oh man, you know what, probably not. I probably saw him more than any of them. You know, because my kid wasn’t playing college football or whatever, so yeah, I guess I’ve probably seen him as much as anybody.

Q: What stood out? What did you like about him?

RR: I just love…he has that Buffalo and Bills mentality. He’s going to fit great in the community. He’s just a tough guy, a passionate guy, loves to play the game and that’s what we’re going to see. Are they going to have guys with more sacks than him? Maybe. But there’s not going to be anybody that’s going to play harder than this kid, and that’s what I think the fans are going to love about him. He’s going to be productive and like I say, he’s not going to have to do it by himself, he’s got some great players around him. And I think part of his game is going to help others as well, so it’s not just the production that he’s going to have, but the production that he’s going to force to others I think is going to be impressive.

Q: Doug, can you just give a thumbnail sketch on those last two guys you drafted?

DW: (Kolby) Listenbee is a track guy, but that’s what everybody’s going to say, but he’s a football player, and he brings us the speed and you guys have seen the way we draft the last couple of years and we love speed. It’s something you can’t coach. But the best thing about him I think besides his speed is his ability to track the ball. He’s got incredible, natural ability to track those deep balls and even make catches when it’s contested, so we’re really excited about him. And when you look at it, you put him, (Marquise) Goodwin and Sammy (Watkins) on the field at one time, with Tyrod (Taylor) and maybe Shady (LeSean McCoy), it’s going to put some heartache in some defensive coordinators, right coach?

RR: There’s no question about it. And, you know, like Whales had mentioned, the vertical threat, the guy tracks the football, I mean safeties are always leaning to Sammy Watkins. Always. So, it’s like now you’re going to do it at your own risk. And I love it, “He’s got a tough time getting off press.” Really? Who’s got the guts and courage to press him? Because if you miss, you’re not catching 10 flat, 100.

DW: And then you look at (Kevon) Seymour, you got a guy that’s 6-foot, runs a 4.39, he’s got some raw ability. Now, does he need to be more consistent? Absolutely. But in the sixth round, if you’re going to take a chance on anybody, you’re going to take a chance on a guy that’s 6-foot, 4.39 speed, that’s played at a high level and high level competition. So we’re excited about him as a guy that has a high upside.

Q: You’ve told us before that cornerback’s a position that you want to address every year and you’ve stayed true to that. Is that part of the pick there too, with Seymour?

DW: Yeah, it was. It was because corners, it’s a passing league and you can always need those guys, especially with the injuries. The more you have, the better you feel if someone goes down.

Q: I know part of Clemson players and we just talked about them, how much does that help you maybe compared to other coaches and personnel people around the league? You have a relationship with the coaching staff and your son to know the practice habits, what kind of character person he is in the locker room because you can get that information probably and soak it in better than a lot of people could.

RR: Yeah, and that’s something that Doug would obviously talk to me about or whatever, but there was never, you can watch the guy play and know he’s got no problem, his work ethic and all that type of stuff. But absolutely, is it a benefit? Of course. We’ll take advantage of that any chance we get.

Q: Let’s talk about this a little bit. Two Ohio State guys, a Clemson guy, Alabama guy, they come from winning programs. How important is it to get that mentality in the locker room?

RR: Well I think we have a lot of winners in our locker room, there’s no question. And when you bring these guys in, it only adds to that. They’re used to winning, we expect to win, we want to win desperately and these guys are coming in and knowing what it takes, albeit in the college level, but it’s still, it says something when you’ve got the last two national championship programs and this year’s. It tells you that, yeah, it’s important. And when you’re a member and playing with the best team in the country, that says something.

Q: Hey Rex, Cardale Jones only having 11 college starts, does it mean there’s kind of an unreasonable expectation that he can really, legitimately be your backup quarterback this season given all that he has to learn and his resume being so thin?

RR: Well we looked at it as it’s an ideal situation for this young man to come here. We have a true starting quarterback, there’s no question. We have another quarterback that we feel really good about in EJ Manuel. He comes in, he can soak it all in and compete and let’s see what happens but he doesn’t have to rush to be a starting quarterback; we have our starting quarterback. So, it’s a good situation to learn the pro game, to learn a new system and I think it’s going to be great for him. He’s going to be the benefactor. We did say that his record is 11-0 so we might start him somewhere. It might be on defense, but who cares? He’s going to start and we keep that track going.

Q: Rex, you’ve had a lot of top-end linebackers throughout your coaching history. Just the importance of adding a physical presence like (Reggie) Ragland, just how important is it?

RR: Well you hit it on the head; physical. That’s what we said we’re going to bring here and that’s we’re used to that’s what we want. I’ve been around the Bart Scott’s of the world and things like that. This young man, his name is Reggie Ragland, it doesn’t mean Bart Scott but there’s a lot of similarities in his play. This guy will run and hit and his cover skills are I think a lot better than he’s given credit for. He played dime linebacker in Alabama, he played the WILL linebacker spot, sometimes plays MIC, in a very similar defense. The college version of our defense is really Alabama and I think he does a tremendous job. We had him in for a visit, he blew everybody away. All his teammates, if you’re going to choose one guy, every one of them said, “I want Reggie Ragland with me.” That’s what we’re bringing to this football team. He’s a day-one starter and let’s see what happens.

Q: Why are bigger linebackers really important in your defense? You guys have two now with Preston (Brown).

RR: Well, our system is a little different than others. We, a lot of times, play two inside linebackers so you got to be able to punch, strike, knock some people off and with our outside guys, when you got Jerry Hughes and Shaq Lawson as your outside linebackers, these two guys inside, they ain’t running outside anymore. So we like that, we want physical guys. Guys that can do both, blitz, cover, play zone, play man. That’s what our two linebackers will be able to do.

Q: You talked about last year’s class having to earn a spot on the team, would you say you expect this year’s class to come in and contribute right away?

DW: I would, I would. We did have some attrition this offseason and I think this is a really good draft for us in that what you are saying that guys in the later rounds that can come in, compete, help on special teams, but add depth. Then they are in the system for a year and with expectations down the round, if they don’t pop this first year they are in the system and they can pop years later down the round.

Q: How much play making ability have you added to the defense in terms of expectations?

RR: Well I am just excited, we are keeping that chip on our shoulder though. And so we are going to leave it on there and we will see at the end of the day. We feel good about the people we have added here. We feel great about the guys that are already on our roster. But when you add, especially the three young men at the top of our draft. These three guys will have major impact on our football team. I don’t think there is any doubt about it.

Q: Jarran Reed was falling down the board was there any consideration to move up and grab him as well?

DW: We gave consideration but the cost was too high. Especially with the stuff that we thought we would need body wise in later rounds we just thought it would be too costly.

Q: Did you guys have Myles Jack off your board because of the knee?

DW: No we did not.

Q: Did any of these guys you drafted today offer kick or punt return ability?

DW: [Kevon] Seymour has done it in the past but that was I think maybe his sophomore year. But he is somebody that has done it. We will work him in and see what he can bring. We also have the college free agents that we are going to try and sign and we will make a concerted effort to sign a guy there as well.

Q: What consideration did you give to offensive line in this draft?

DW: We did, we did. Again like I told you guys again at the beginning of this draft process. We could have went every position and everybody would have said okay I understand. So we did, again it just didn’t fall that way.

Q: Is there a position you didn’t draft that you might try to sign free agents in the next couple weeks?

DW: We will always keep our eyes open and our ears open. There is going to be to be some guys getting cut after probably this Monday or Tuesday. You are always got the antenna up to make your team better.

Q: You didn’t draft any safeties. Does that say how confident you are in Aaron Williams return?

DW: That and especially the additions we made this year. With [Robert] Blanton and Colt Anderson and then Corey [Graham] coming back, Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks. We got a glut of safeties there and it is time for one of those guys to step up outside of Aaron [Williams] and if Aaron seems regress or have a medical issues, which we hope he doesn’t, we don’t expect him but injuries play in on it but we think we have some depth there.

Q: Is that the same situation with right tackle where you just need a guy to step up and take it this year?

DW: Correct.

Q: You go defense, defense, defense do you feel any pressure to really get it right this year?

RR: Nope. I have got, I feel, I see opportunity and that is what I can’t wait for. You know I think, pressure whatever, we want to win. And we don’t care how we win we want to get the job done. But I see opportunity for us and I am excited for this group, I don’t think there is any doubt. We are going to be young, we are going to be explosive. Yeah there is talent and all that, the big thing is we are going to have 11 guys working as one, and when we do that I think we are going to be very successful.

Q: Adolphus Washington has the arrest in his past, what did he say to make you give him a second chance?

RR: Well I think as an organization we recognize that people make mistakes, everybody makes mistakes. The big thing is do you learn from them and we feel good that he has learned from it.

Q: Is this what a Rex Ryan defense should look like personal wise compared to last year?

RR: I am not going to get into that. I am not, there is ownership that was part of me. That was part us, my defense, my offense, my everything--that is a song I think. That has got my stamp on it, so I’ll get that, but so do the other 15 years where I have been a nothing but a top 10 defenses--I think we forget that. But we will see what this one looks like. I am excited about it, I know you are going to see a very physical group, and that usually is a great thing. When you are physical and you play as one I think that is a great sign for us. I am not saying we didn’t. But I am saying this group will be physical. I don’t think there is any doubt about that and they are passionate. They already, I see the closeness, I think also…I got a guy on our football team and said ‘Hey Rex I think we need to run the blitz this way. If we put the nose on this side I think it will be a more effective blitz.’ And I looked at him and said, ‘Man he is right.’ I am like that is pretty good. That is it, it is ownership. It is our defense. Not just mine it is our defense. But ultimately I will stand by the results, I am excited about the results and I think we are going to be in great shape as a football team. Not just on defense or whatever, I think I am excited where our offense is and how we can grow offensively. You know having a starting quarterback going into training camp, now this an ideal situation. Last year we admitted having three guys compete for the job probably wasn’t ideal. But it is this year and we all know who the quarterback is. Is there competition, yeah at a lot of spots but not for that spot.

Q: Your thoughts and maybe not playing Brady week four?

RR: I never even recognized if we were playing him Week Four or not.

Q: You are.

RR: Oh really? No, you know what, we are going to play them if Steve Grogan is there quarterback.

Q: Where does Adolphus Washington fit in on the defensive line?

RR: All the above. We are going to be multiple with the players that we have. We are going to take advantage of the match ups and can he be a five-technique and three-technique a zero, absolutely he can be all those things. Having, in my opinion, one of the best if not the best interior lineman in Marcell Dareus all over the place too. We know they are going to account for him but where is he going to be. And don’t just put a bullseye on him and that is how this young man is going to help us. Having a healthy a Kyle Williams is going to be very exciting for me. And then we have a guy that can play all over the place with Corbin Bryant. So I am excited about that group. Now is there competition behind those guys we know about those four. Now let’s see the other guys. Does [Jerel] Worthy fill a spot? I don’t know. But there is going be great competition at those spots and we will see what shakes.

Q: Does Shaq Lawson remind you of anyone you have coached?

RR: I am not going to saddle him with my comparison.

Q: Adolphus said that you told him you were going to draft him?

RR: Well no, I say that to every player that comes in. But you know what we have talked about him, that we wanted to draft to him. There is no question about, did I think it was going to be in round three. I will be honest with you, no, I thought he would be gone. But there he was. Terry Pegula made a great point he goes as the draft is going on when it gets closer to our picks, what do they have extra minutes before our picks. Like it is just oh gosh hang in there, hang in there. When it hits it is pretty exciting.

Q: Is Adolphus more of a pass rusher situation guy?

RR: Yeah but in my opinion we have the best defense line coach in the league, and you know with John Blake. This young man will be ready to play all. The run, pass, whatever. I think the thing that jumps at you, yes his pass rush is unique for an inside defensive lineman. You know the guy was a Gatorade Basketball Player of the Year. This guy has unusual talent. But he is going to play a physical brand of football, our brand of football, I think he is going to benefit from it playing alongside Marcell [Dareus], playing alongside those Jerry Hughes, all these guys. It is going to be exciting to watch this young man. But yes he has got rare ability that there are some guys that can’t rush the passer, they are just run guys. This guy can do it all. And I think you know as we see as a coach we don’t want to label him hey is just going to be this. No he is not. We have a bigger vision, a broader vision of it.

Q: Passing on Paxton Lynch is that a vote of confidence for Tyrod Taylor?

DW: I mean you guys write it as you will. When it comes to the draft, I told you guys all the time when the value meets the where we think his ability is that is when we will pick the guy. It just didn’t work out that we were in a position where we thought the value of Paxton [Lynch] was for us. You guys can surmise what you want from that. But that is how we attack the draft at every position, not just at quarterback.

Q: What was it like having Tim Murray in the room with you, and are you going to join him for the hockey draft?

RR: Well go ahead Whales [Doug Whaley], you like those guys from Finland.

DW: Yeah absolutely. We gave him our draft board, we switched, we swapped draft boards. So yeah that is the plan we are going to go. It is going to be exciting for us to see a different drafting process. I think the weirdest thing for us will be everybody is there at the draft. We have everybody here and we just have a couple in Chicago, but to have your whole organization at the draft table and guess what your competition is right next to you. That is going to be a unique thing. Absolutely no doubt, I am excited, I am very interested. If I can I pick up one tip that helps us, why not. So he has been great. We share ideas constantly and it is one of those things we are truly one buffalo.

Q: Is the Tunsil situation one of the unique things you have seen?

DW: In my time it was, it was. I think maybe it is just a sign of the times because this generation they document everything. And hopefully these young men know you don’t want to document everything because something that get out can never be put back in the bottle and they can affect you tremendously and it affected the kid. Hopefully people will learn from this.

Q: Do you plan on for defensive line rotation is it going to be more Marcell and Kyle splitting?

RR: We are basically lining up in a five-two, to start with. You are going to have Jerry Hughes and Shaq Lawson as your outside linebackers. So when you have that you are going to have three big ones inside. So anyway we configure it we have four guys that will be primarily in there with obviously Corbin [Bryant] with the young kid [Adolphus] Washington and then our two studs with Kyle [Williams] and Marcell [Dareus]. Obviously those guys we can configure them anyway we want. When this, when we have been at our best defensively it is generally when you don’t know who is what. Last year we were somewhat predictable having a true SAM linebacker, a true rush linebacker. This year is going to be much different. So you are going to get the going back to my days in Baltimore, back to my early years with the Jets we played rights and left. That is what you are going to get, we don’t know how we are going to configure them, but at the time we snap the ball it could look a lot different than how we do before the ball is snapped.

DW: Let me say something if you guys get cameras on if you see me frowning I am watching the draft and I am looking at college free agents we were looking to sign and some guys are losing. So I am not frowning about his answer. So just to clarify that right now, okay.

Provided by the Buffalo Bills.

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