Draft: Scott Pioli Day Three Q&A

Posted Apr 30, 2011

PIOLI: “Everyone doing OK, I hope. So day three has ended, and everyone’s kind of got that glaze, first of all, thanks to you all here, thanks to the scouts, the coaches, and truthfully there’s a lot of people in the entire operation that you all don’t see or hear about, you guys get to see the PR department, they’re working overtime, and there’s just this whole organization, Clark and I talked about this before he left, in our third year, third draft, doing this together, this whole organization and the efficiency of the whole operation there’s a number of different people who do so many things to make this thing go, it’s gotten so much better, which truthfully, as silly as it sounds, allows us to do our jobs better, worry less, micromanage less, and the whole process goes a lot more smoothly, which has allowed us to do something that we think was really improve our football team here, with these picks made, this year as a whole, not just today’s group, we believe that we accomplished something that we talked about consistently when we first started here, we became a bigger, stronger, faster, tougher football team this draft. And this group of players we feel, was a nice, I know I always get asked the question is it need based or is best player available, we really think that this draft in particular, for some reason, things were falling together where we were able to address a number of large needs, or as we call, some of our ‘musts’ and needs, and were able to fill in with players at positions with really, good football players that we think are going to make us a better football now and in the future. So we thought that this was a great, for whatever reason, combination of us being able to fill needs as well as get really good football players. And that being said I’ll open it up to questions on either the draft in its entirety and/or some of the guys that we selected today.”


Q: Can you go pick by pick through your guys today?


PIOLI: “So from the beginning?”


Q: Just today’s group

PIOLI: “The first pick, Jalil Brown, is a good corner out of Colorado, obviously he’s got good size, good speed, he’s played corner and safety in the past, he’s got some position flexibility, he’s also a player that we felt as we did our homework with Coach Hoffman, and some of the other scouts, a player that we felt could not only come in and help us in a role at the corner position, but also come in and be a corner that plays a lot of core-special teams and be one of the betters. We identified him as being one of the better special teams players, difference makers in this draft. The next pick was Ricky Stanzi, quarterback out of Iowa, and Ricky’s a guy who’s going to come in, we think he has really good tools, really good ability, outstanding intangibles, comes from a program that’s runs a pro-style offense so he has a little more familiarity and this day and age there’s a lot of spread offense, a lot of things that hopefully the learning curve will more back to normal, as it has been with quarterbacks in the past, and again a guy from a makeup standpoint, with the relationship with Kirk that we’ve had, we know really, really well. And actually at some point, I wasn’t aware of this, I guess he was Moeaki’s roommate. So then after that, is Gabe Miller, who’s an interesting story, he’s a player, he’s a Portland area kid, Portland, Oregon, played at Oregon State, started off at a tight end, spend quite a bit of time at tight end then played defensive end for them, we see him based on his size and speed being a guy who’s a developmental outside linebacker for us, and will also have flexibility possibly, we’re not going to call him a two-way star at this point and time, but we also in his workout, worked him out at defense and at tight end. So he’s a guy who has position flexibility as well. Again but we’re going to be playing him at outside linebacker trying to help him. After Gabe was Jerrell Powe, nose, from Mississippi. So I told Houston with the number of guys drafted from Mississippi, you should have won a national championship down there. But we know what he is, he’s a nose, he’s a big guy, slimmed down to 328 here recently and we will play him at the nose and he’ll be competing for, taking these guys into position, all these guys are going to come in here and compete, you know we’re not naming anyone starters, we need guys to earn their positions, and then the final pick, Shane Bannon is a fullback out of Yale. He’s a big fullback, and another player that we looked at that we think can play on offense for us, but can also fill a roll on special teams. Line up a few different, big, or mid-range positions, big positions on special teams, but really he’s a semi-big guy. So those are the guys from today, if there’s more specific questions on those guys, is that kind of what you wanted?

Q: In the case of Stanzi, was that a case of the guy on the board or do you feel like you guys needed a quarterback?

PIOLI: “It’s a combination, we don’t know right now, with the situation it is, we know Matt’s our starting quarterback but behind that we don’t know what the situation is going to be, with Brody and Tyler on the roster, and philosophically, I like the idea and concept of trying to get a quarterback every year, it’s something that I know Ron Wolff did, and talking with Ron over the years, it’s something he firmly believes in, a number of us in this league learn from him, and it you get a quarterback every year at the right spot who has the right tools the and the right makeup the chance the develop you go out and get that guy, in my previous thoughts, we’ve had some success with mid and late round quarterbacks to develop and we’ve also had a number of failures, or situations that were failures and/or didn’t work out. And in this situation I like the idea of drafting a quarterback every year. Again, Ricky has a lot of things that we like as a staff and try to develop.”

Q: Can you elaborate on any of those things?

PIOLI: “He’s a big guy, he has good arm strength, he has good accuracy. One of the big things we noticed about Ricky, I was up there this year and I saw the kid’s work ethic first hand, in terms of film study. I’m not sure how many classes he had but the day that I was in there, he didn’t know I was in there, but he happened to be in there over three hours doing film study on his own. He’s a guy who changed his numbers from his junior year to his senior year – in terms of his touchdown to interception ratio – he changed that I think more dramatically than any quarterback in the country in terms of that ratio changing. A lot of what happened had to do with his work ethic, which Kirk (Ferentz) made very clear to me, but it also had to do with his learning how to do certain things like throw to check-down, not take risks but go more with the sure thing. It made him a much better quarterback.”

Q: With you new nose tackle, if you have a 325-pound player at that position, a lot of times they don’t last too long in the draft. Why do you think he was available to you in the sixth round?

PIOLI: “I’m not sure. It’s tough to [speak] for 31 other teams.”

Q: He wasn’t real high on your board obviously. Why not?

PIOLI: “That’s relative. Why he lasted, why the 31 other teams didn’t do it, I’m not sure. As you go through the draft Adam, there is always going to be a guy picked in the sixth round or the seventh or the fifth round that wasn’t up there where the first-round guys are. I’m not sure why the other teams didn’t pick him. I know some teams may have had concern with him medically. Some people had concerns, I won’t even call them concerns, other people didn’t view him as to go where he went. Where people are picked doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with how they’re going to perform in the National Football League. So I can’t talk about what the other 31 teams thought and as we’ve seen here, we’ve had guys that we picked in mid to late rounds or even had rookie free agents, we have a guy who’s starting who was a rookie free agent defensive lineman out of the University of Maine who has become a starting MIKE LB. So clearly we didn’t know what the heck we were doing there either because we didn’t pick him. Where they end up getting picked isn’t as relevant as how they perform.”

Q: Did he play anything at all that resembles a nose tackle in this defense?

PIOLI: “In this particular defense, no. Truthfully, there are not a lot of teams that play defensive line where they’re two-gapping as often as we do. What we’ve tried to do, and this is a really difficult thing – there are two things that make it difficult right now in trying to find defensive linemen in our system, the two-gap system – primarily the first thing is there aren’t a lot of teams that are playing as much two-gap as we want. They’re in a more one-gap system and they weren’t always heavy or head-up, he wasn’t always as heavy or head-up on the offensive linemen. The other thing is the spread offense. There are so many spread teams and one of the things Todd (Haley) and I were watching, together one day and we were watching game after game, and a lot of the teams they’re playing, including the place where he played, where there are so many games that’s he’s in, he’s playing against spread offenses and these big splits and it’s hard to figure that out. What you try to find is a guy who has the physical stature for that position and has discipline in what they’re being asked to do and then when we work them out or you spend time with them to try to find some insight whether they have the discipline to play the techniques or play the technique of what we’re going to ask them to do in the defensive line, which is the two-gap. Some guys can do it and some guys can’t. Vince Wilfork was a guy that when we drafted, even as high as we drafted him, we knew he was big, strong, powerful and when we took him in New England, he had played his entire career as a one-gap defensive lineman. It was all gap stuff and he eventually learned it and Romeo (Crennel) taught him that.”

Q: Can you go over the rules of what you’re able to do with your draft picks with the lockout?

PIOLI: “We’re done talking to them. We’re done.”

Q: You can’t bring them in?

PIOLI: “When the draft ended the situation is back to being what it was last week and that is regardless of what they are, just like there is no rookie free agency right now.”

Q: You can’t send them video?

PIOLI: “It’s done. Yep.”

Q: No undrafted rookies?

PIOLI: “No rookie free agency. I’m going to get home and put my daughter to bed tonight as long as you guys don’t keep me long. I like that.”

Q: Can you explain why the rookie free agents have been excluded?

PIOLI: “I’m following the rules as they are. I can’t explain to you because I have not been a part of all those conversations. We get rules. Let’s talk about the draft.”

Q: One more question about that. Every general manager is in the same situation. Do you think staffs have to work to identify the undrafted guys that you would want to bring in? Is that where everybody is, trying to be ready to go?

PIOLI: “As far as I know and understand it, it’s stopped right now. It’s not just us, it’s every team.”

Q: So if some kid called you, you wouldn’t be able to talk to him?

PIOLI: “Oh no. They don’t have my number, first of all, unless you give it to them.”

Q: So if some kid that played called you, you wouldn’t be able to talk to him?

PIOLI: “No kids are going to call me. They don’t have my number first of all, unless you are going to give it to them.”

Q: Was Bannon on your radar before the pro day last month?

PIOLI: “Before the pro day last month, yes, he was. Or right about that time exactly because we were there as part of the pro day and we worked him out.”

Q: It seemed like after the pro day teams started to talk about him, but before that he was under the radar. He was going to go to law school.

PIOLI: “We need another lawyer in this building (that was a joke). We knew about him about the time his agent found out about him. No one really knew about him because he didn’t have an agent; we did some research on him. We had everyone on our offensive coaching staff take a look at him. Our area scout up there had seen him, graded him and you know there is not too many 260-plus pound fullbacks and that is probably a little bit too heavy. This happens every year where there are guys, for whatever reason, scouts don’t go into every single school in the country because it is nearly impossible. Then there are guys, who for whatever reason, rise at some point in time during their senior years. I go back to a guy like LB Jovan Belcher who was not on the radar at the University of Maine as a 240 pound defensive lineman, these guys come up. You spend time watching these guys on film late because for whatever reason they weren’t on the radar. That is part of the fun of it though, you think you have all this work done and you have so many things figured out and then this guy pops up and at times it is annoying because you don’t have enough time to look at it, so you talk to the scout about it. Other times it is exciting. But then let me tell you what, for every guy like that, we spend a lot of hours watching tape of guys like that conceptually that couldn’t play a lick.”

Q: So you didn’t draft him just to raise your team GPA?

PIOLI: “No, he can play. He is a very intriguing player and I will tell you what, Maurice Carthon who is a very tough grader really liked the player too. That said a lot to me. That position for us has to be a guy who can fill a certain role because the number of snaps on offense isn’t that great. I know that Todd talks all the time about the total number of snaps that players get which includes special teams. You have to look at the player in terms of how many snaps is he going to get on the field for you per year. Particularly the fullback position isn’t going to get a heck of a lot of snaps on offense; we think he can do some things on special teams as well. Now he has to compete for that position and we will figure it out.”

Q: Are you ready to go to camp?

PIOLI: “This minute? I am ready to get some sleep Adam. Next week”

Q: Seriously, are you ready for camp?

PIOLI: “We have to get to an 80-man roster. Right now we are not ready to go to camp. We are sitting here with 61 players, not all under contract. These guys aren’t under contract yet. Ready to go to camp? No. Once we get up to 80 people we will be ready to go.”

Q: How much does Jim Zorn factor into drafting a quarterback?

PIOLI: “Honestly it doesn’t have anything to do with the particular coach. Honestly this is something that we are hoping to get to, I have been hoping to get to, a place where we can draft a quarterback every year and find quarterbacks to develop. The pick is more about Ricky Stanzi than it is about coach Zorn. No disrespect to Jim, he is here to do that but whether it was Ricky or a rookie free-agent. It is more about Ricky than it is Jim.”

Q: You can’t talk to draft pick agents?

PIOLI: “No. You are talking about starting to negotiate contracts? No, we are not going to start negotiate contacts, no.”

Q: You are not or you can’t?

PIOLI: “We are not. Seriously, I have been focusing on the draft guys. I haven’t read every memo, I don’t know what is going on truthfully. I care about the draft. I will figure out the rules Monday morning as to what we can do and what we can’t do because there has been so many changes here, I need to get educated on all of this. I know the important rules for today and I mean this sincerely, where our focus needed to be today was on the draft and to get distracted by all of these other things. If we were getting distracted by all of these other things, it wouldn’t be as good of a job as we can do on this stuff. This is what I want to stay focused on.”

Q: Were there any needs you didn’t fill?

PIOLI: “I don’t know if it is needs that didn’t get filled, it is more philosophically I will always feel like we have needs and musts. We still need to keep getting better. We got knocked out of the first round of the playoffs so we have a ton of needs and we have a lot of needs to get better. Did we feel every need? Absolutely not because we want every day to find a way whether it is the draft, free agency, trades, claiming players on waivers, we need to improve our football team every single day. We have gotten better a number of those places but we are still so far away. We will reassess the roster where it is when this whole thing starts. At some point in time there is going to be more player acquisition and we will continue to do that.”

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