The Kansas City Chiefs officially introduced their first-round draft pick of the 2014 Draft on Friday and as expected, Dee Ford was just as excited and engaging as he was on draft night. Joining Ford at the press-conference table was Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey.
DORSEY:"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Once again, it's our distinct pleasure here to introduce to you the 2014 Kansas City Chiefs selection in Dee Ford. But before that, what I'd like to do is acknowledge Clark Hunt; the Ford family; James Senior, James Junior; Mark Donovan, our president; and this is really Dee's day, so with that, we'll take your questions."
Q:What does it mean for you to be in this spot, taken by the Chiefs?
FORD:"I'm very honored. I was speechless last night on the phone and I'm never a guy who is speechless. I'm very honored to be here in such a rich tradition. It reminds me a lot of Auburn. This is a perfect situation for me and I'm going to take full advantage of it."
Q:Are you excited to be playing for a coach who encourages individuality?
FORD:"It's easy. This game starts with relationships and I think sometimes it's overlooked, because it's such a business. I'm definitely hearing that he admired my energy in the combine interview and that's me. Just meeting everyone here and meeting the staff, I feel at home right now. I want to be a Chief forever.
Q:There was a story that came out about a week or two ago that you said apparently you are a better player than Jadeveon Clowney. Did you say that?
FORD:"Well, to clarify that, they just asked me on a radio interview who did I think was better. I don't know if that was a rhetorical question or not, but obviously, I thought I was better and I just went on to explain; it was nothing personal. We have a great relationship. I do think I'm the best pass rusher in this draft and that just comes along with the game itself. I like to play confident. I think that's where it starts. I think every athlete has the right to think that about himself, especially when they put in a lot of work, in what you do. But you know, that's over now. I'm here to be a teammate. I'm here to learn. There are a lot of guys who are Pro Bowlers, Hall of Famers here, who I'm just trying to learn a lot from. So, that's behind; we have a big future now."
Q:Do you plan to measure yourself against Clowney and what he does?
FORD: "No. We haven't done anything, so there isn't anything to measure. It's just all about the Chiefs, right now."
Q:You obviously take a lot of pride in your pass rush ability; tell us about some of your pass-rush moves. What do you like to go to? What do you have to do successfully to get to the quarterback?
FORD:"Well, this is the home of Derrick Thomas; I know you all remember that speed. That get-off is so vital and so deadly, just the speed rush itself, it opens up everything. I have a lot of counters, and there are definitely a lot of things I'm going to learn in the league, from all of the vets that are here. I love speed rush, the speed and power and I love to spin. Pass rush is an art and it's all about what you put into it. You can do whatever you want with it. It's pretty much an art form."
Q:What are some of the similarities with Auburn?
FORD:"The tradition. I saw yesterday, the deal you all had with the draft, with about 4,000 people here; that is definitely something Auburn would do. Just the environment itself. I'm hearing about the fans. This is a family work space that I'm definitely learning from the very start. Like I said, you know, I just feel so at home. The city itself is not a very big city, Auburn is not a very big city. But you know, it's home."
Q:Have you ever been to Missouri before or up this way? Or spent any time in the Midwest?
FORD:"No. I heard it gets cold out here though."
Q:I think there were about 14 underclassmen taken last night. You are a fifth-year guy, someone who has had to maybe work for it a little harder than some others; is that a source of pride for you?
FORD:"I have a foundation and that's one thing that I can hang my hat on. Yeah, it took me longer, but I have a foundation that's going to take me further than someone who is young. Having that foundation is very important and coming here is just going to make it very much easier for me to be a teammate."
Q:How do you guard against feeling like you've crossed the finish line and make sure you take it to another level, now that you're a professional?
FORD:"Well, that's within you, I think. I've been setting goals for myself. During the whole draft process, I told myself it doesn't matter where I'm drafted, because it's out of my hands and I can't control that. But I can control my work ethic and my craft itself. I've just been working on what I do. I said at the top of my mind that I don't care where I'm drafted, I just need the opportunity. So, I have goals in my mind that I've already set. Until I'm done with the NFL, I won't cross my finish line."
Q:What are some of those goals?
FORD:"Of course, I want to be a Hall of Famer, but right now, my short-term goals are just being a teammate. I don't want to sound generic, but that is so important. I don't want to come in here feeling like I know everything, because I don't. This is my first week, my first day here, so I'm just trying to soak everything in and really just have fun with the process."
Q:How long have you been playing the piano?
FORD:"Since I was 12."
Q:How many concerts have you played?
FORD:"Well, me and my brother here, we traveled all over the place. We actually had a group, when we were younger, and used to travel and play at a lot of churches. And, we actually used to do concerts in school. I actually played my first concert in eighth grade. Music is kind of like my vent just to get away. You know, my refuge, just to settle in and get away from everything."
Q: It's like the calm before the storm, before the game?
FORD: "Yeah, yeah. It can be a little charm too, at times."
Q: When can Dee and the rest of the draft picks start participating?
REID: "They can actually start Monday."
Q: And they can stay the whole time?
REID: "They can stay the duration, yeah."
Q: 214 pounds is what you weighed in high school. You had 18.0 sacks as a senior. Who were you watching in 2008, trying to mold yourself after?
FORD: "I watched Lawrence Taylor. I watched Derrick Thomas. I watched Ray Lewis, a lot. That was the intangible part. I was a big fan of Glenn Dorsey, Quintin Groves. That's an unfair question, because I watched so many pass rushers."
Q: A guy your size could have played so many different positions, what was it about rushing the passer that had you excited?
FORD: "Well beyond that, it was d-line play for me. I was very close to my d-line coach and he was a wrestling coach. So, he was kind of insane in the mind. So, our practices were so deadly and tough, and he just developed a toughness in me. There's just something about d-line play; it's tough. You have to be tough and that's what I strive for. I played receiver in high school, but I was more in a tussling match than trying to catch balls. I wasn't really good at the pretty-boy game; I was good at the dirty work."
Q: What was his name?
FORD: "Coach Hicks. Matt Hicks."
Q: How far away are you from getting your degree?
FORD: "I graduated in December. Public Administration."
Q: How do you plan to continue your ability to shine on the big stage?
FORD: "I had this conversation with a coach a week ago. I said 'It's one thing to have a lot of sacks, and it's one thing to have efficient sacks. Anyone can go out and have 10 or 12 sacks; but when your team really needs you to end the game or end a drive and you have those sacks, those are very vital to your team. I want to always have productive, efficient sacks. That's my mindset going into a game, when it's close, a la Texas A&M. That last drive, Johnny Manziel was in the game and we needed to end the game, and I was able to get to him twice. It's just something about my mindset, naturally, I just get very intense, get very focused, naturally. I love the moment; I love the adrenaline. That's what you work for, those big moments. Like I said, I don't want a sack, when the game is a blowout; I want to have a sack, when we're in the time to win the game."
Q: What do you envision being the biggest difference between the college and professional game?
FORD: "Just being professional and being consistent. It's a day-in, day-out thing. I only really look at the business side, that's out of your control. All you have to do is put in the work and it's a day-in, day-out thing. Everyone is good; it's every week, every day. That's the biggest thing; I just have to be professional in what I do."
Q: What happened at the Combine, with your back situation? Did that take you by surprise?
FORD: "I was getting ready to bench and they pulled me to the side and said 'You're on a medical exclusion, a medical precaution.' I wasn't injured; they just saw some things in my MRI that they did not want to chance at the Combine. I healed in a week and did it a week later at my pro day. I did pretty well, so, it's all good. It caught me by surprise at first. I've been hit by a lot of road blocks in my career, so, it was nothing to me. I just deal with what will set the table and roll with it."
Q: Did you feel any back pain last season?
FORD: "No, you can't fake back pain. You can't fake that; I tell you that, right now. I feel great. I feel better than I've ever felt body-wise. I'm ready to roll."
Q: What did you weigh in the National Championship game?
FORD: "I weighed 240 against Florida State. I play at about 240."
Q: Do you feel like you will be able to keep the weight you put on, between then and the Combine?
FORD: "I got faster."
Q: Do you feel like you can stay at your current weight?
FORD: "I want to put on good pounds. You can never go wrong with good pounds; it means you're stronger and faster. As long as you keep your mobility and flexibility, as long as everything is going, you're good. You can really make yourself into a machine, if you put in the work, no matter what size."
Q: Do you feel like you will be ready for the first game and the different attacks teams run at you?
FORD: "Definitely, it's all mind. It's within the mind. It's all fundamentals and leverage, it has a little bit to do with size and strength, but it's really more fundamentals. Those are more things that I have to work on, that I am going to work on to perfect."
Q: After the National Championship game, where did you go to work out?
FORD: "I went to Miami."
Q: Which facility, down there? FORD: "Pete Bommarito."