Q: What do you project Kahlil McKenzie as?
SPERDUTO: "Yeah, we talked about it and we watched a lot of film on him as a nose tackle. We like some of the things he did at nose tackle, he has such a strong base. His hands are always tight inside, his head is always up. All the things and traits that you look at with him, you could see that this kid might have a shot as a good offensive guard. You look in the past, there are guys that have done it. J.R. Sweezy did it a few years ago at N.C. State. How about Alejandro Villanueva, the guy from the Steelers? He was a wide receiver and a tight end and he made the transition. You look at the traits, you look at some of the things that he did. And I always thought from his freshman year, and I always thought because I live in that area so I go to that school quite a bit, and I always thought as a young kid, if he had played guard from the get go—look at his lower body. You will see it when he comes in. Massive, massive lower body. He plays with such a strong base, he might be a pretty good one. So that was kind of the projection. We said, 'Hey, let's really take a look at this.' To our credit, to the guys up stairs, they did a good job to move up and take him."
Q: Did you bring him in and do a full work out as a guard?
SPERDUTO: "No, we were at his Pro Day and we worked him out as a guard. We took a look and he did some really nice things. They had three other offensive linemen working out and he looked better than the other three of them that were there. It was pretty impressive. It stood out and when we brought it up, we tinkered with it back and forth and sure enough, Brett (Veach) and Coach Reid and the staff, they decided it was a good fit, let's try it, let's go for it."
Q: Is he open to changing positions?
SPERDUTO: "Oh yeah, I talked to him a couple days ago. That was the first thing we brought up. I said, 'What if we drafted you as an offensive guard?' He said, 'I'd be willing to do anything. I just want to play football. I want to be a good player in the league.' He said, 'I would definitely do it.' I passed that on and here we are."
Q: How is he getting low and his movement in his ankles?
SPERDUTO: "He has no problem bending. He has no problem. You will see it on film. His trunk is so big and so strong. The way he plays as a nose tackle, he wasn't an up the field guy. He was more of a latch on, take on the double team, show your strength in your hands, lock out and maintain. His head is always up. That was kind of his forte. As a nose tackle, he would have really have been a two-gap run defender and that's it, where as a guard, now you are talking about a chance to get into people and move them. Now he is the aggressor."
Q: So is he firing out hard?
SPERDUTO: "He isn't necessarily coming out hard. When you think come out, you think a little bit of a flat back. He is not like that. He is more of a vertical on the insides of his feet and he pushes people. It is all out of the strength of his inside hands and his head up."
Q: It's not quite the same, but did seeing Laurent Duvernay-Tardif make the transition from tackle to guard, did that add a little more comfort?
SPERDUTO: "Touché to you, because the last offensive guard we took in the sixth round was Larry, and he was pretty good. But it is different. Larry played offensive tackle in college and he made it really fast. Do I think he is going to make it just as fast? This kid has played football since he was little. His dad is a Hall of Famer and a legend. This kid has been around ball so he has no issues understanding the game and how to do it and stuff like that."
Q: Was it easy to pitch him to the staff and it seems like you have done a bunch of work on him?
SPERDUTO: "I like the kid. Obviously, he comes from good pedigree. You can't take anything away from that. The scuttlebutt around the league I'm sure was the same ideas that, 'Hey, this kid might be a really good offensive guard.' So when you talk about him, you talk about him as a two-gap nose tackle, but this guys might be an offensive guard. That's kind of how it went down. Credit to Brett and Coach Reid. Those guys kind of had a vision and said, 'You know what, this might be the right thing to do.'"
Q: Was there a fun moment when you guys talked about how you drafted the Oakland Raiders' GM's son?
SPERDUTO: "Well, it wasn't really light hearted because we had just stepped out of the room and all of the sudden it was like, 'Pat, get back in here!' Because we traded up and went and got him. It was like, 'OK, let's go. Let's do this.'"
Q: How long has the talk about him becoming a guard been going on? Was it just this draft?
SPERDUTO: "No, we have talked through the process about, and it is in our reports where it said he might be better suited to play offensive guard. And I had said it quite a while ago that if this kid had come in as an offensive guard as a freshman, there's no telling where he would have gone. And you have to remember he is just a junior and he is just 20 years old. It's not like we are taking a 24-year-old guy and asking him to make a position switch."
Q: Did you talk to his dad (Reggie McKenzie)?
SPERDUTO: "No, I didn't talk to his dad. I talked to the kid. I had seen him a whole bunch of times going up there. I felt pretty good about the person and what we were getting and the football pedigree. There is just a lot of good things for him to do ahead of him. It is kind of a chuckle moment taking his son."
Q: What did the coaches at Tennessee say about this kid?
SPERDUTO: "When he had committed, they put him out of need at offensive line and they just never moved him. He had come in as a really big kid. He was probably 335 as a freshman. He was really big. He has just grooved his body. And again, when you see him, you will see what I am talking about. Just remember the conversation. You will look at his lower body and you'll be like, 'Oh, OK. I understand what Pat said."
Q: What is Tremon Smith's readiness to play when he comes in?
DAVIS: "That is one thing about this kid, he is very competitive. You watch him on film and everything he does is full speed. He wants to compete. He wants to be good. I think he is going to come in here and work hard. He's going to learn from all the veteran guys and he wants to compete."
Q: Did you get the sense that he is confident and were you able to get down to why football matters to him?
DAVIS: "Yeah, he is very confident. That is a big deal about coming into this league and making it, especially from a small school like that. You can see it just talking to him, the kid knows he can play. He knows he can come in and play against the best players in the world. He is a very confident kid."
Q: Is being a special teams guy going to be one of his roles?
DAVIS: "I think so. I think that is where he is going to have to make his living at first because of the guys he has in front of him and the learning curve he is going to come in with. Being from a small school, he is going to have to come in. The stuff that we do here, he didn't do at Central Arkansas. They run a lot of different defenses, a lot of adjustments and everything. So he has to get adjusted to all that. I think he is going to come in and be able to really contribute to this team on special teams."
Q: Does his speed factor in to you thinking he can translate to this league?
DAVIS: "Well, you can see it on punt returns, when he breaks it, you weren't catching him. You can see it especially on the punt return things he did and the make up speed. If he gets beat he has the speed to recover very well. You saw all that."
Q: Did you go watch them play Kansas State?
DAVIS: "No, we didn't have the chance to. I was out. I am the southwest scout. The only time I saw him on film was against Kansas State. I saw him against Oklahoma State last year, he did very well against Oklahoma State. So he has done well against top competition."
Q: He got his hands on a lot of balls in college, is that what stood out to you?
DAVIS: "That's what stood out. He really gets his hands on a lot of balls. You saw the speed. You couldn't help but notice how often he was around the ball. Whether he was playing his man or coming off his man and seeing the ball come out the quarterback's hands. He is always around the ball. And then you saw the speed. You're right, he got his hands on a lot of balls."
Q: Do you think he will have the temperament to take a year or two on special teams before getting his shot?
DAVIS: "Yeah, I think he understands what it is going to take. He understands it is going to take hard work. It is going to take him sitting back and learning. It is going to take him earning it. He is a sixth round pick so he understands it isn't going to be easy. I think he has the mentality that he is going to come in and accept that he is going to have to play on special teams and earn his way."
Q: With what you have done with Armani Watts and Tremon Smith, was that the goal to go after secondary guys later because it was so deep?
DAVIS: "I think we just wanted to go get football players. Anyone that is going to help us win the Super Bowl, whether it is the corners or the safeties, we drafted defensive linemen. Whoever is going to help us get to that next level to win the Super Bowl, that's who we wanted, it doesn't matter what position. We went and got the best players to help us win."