* General manager Charley Casserly*
(opening statement) "With the first pick in the fourth round, we selected tight end Owen Daniels from the University of Wisconsin. We didn't get any offers to trade, but we may not have traded anyway, because we had a conviction on this player. Gary will talk about the player and how he fits in."
*Head coach Gary Kubiak *
(opening statement) "This young man has had an interesting college career. He actually was a quarterback when he went to Wisconsin. He played a little wide receiver and eventually worked himself, body size-wise, into the tight end position over the last couple years. When you're looking at tight ends in the National Football League, especially for us in our system and what we do, they tend to get labeled either physical, blocking tight ends, or athletic guys that can be a receiver. The thing you're always looking for as a coach is the special player that you think has a little bit of both, and this young man, we feel like he's got that opportunity if we continue this growth process with him. He's a very smart young man; he should be able to do a lot for us at the tight end position, at the H-back position. I think this young man can play some fullback—he's done some of that at Wisconsin. We really like his upside; we like what he brings to the table, and if everything continues to come together for this young man, we feel like he has got an excellent opportunity to be a starter in this league for a long time."
(on if Daniels' injury history affected the decision at all) "It was something that was part of the evaluation process. He did have a knee issue at one point, and when he came to Wisconsin, he went through the same issue, but over the past couple years, he's been healthy. When you're making a conversion from being a quarterback to being a tight end and playing in that box, that's something that concerns you, but this kid's played really well for the past two years. He probably played one of the best college games in his bowl game this past year. I think he's on the upside, and he's really gaining momentum as a football player. If we can continue that process, I think he's got a chance to be an excellent player."
Casserly: "I'd add that that's a factor in where he's drafted; it's a factor in why he's there in the fourth round. This player has more ability to be drafted higher, but that enters into it. But he cleared our medical [evaluation] and we had no problems with him."
(on how he feels the tight end position is shaping up) "One of the things that I said to you guys all along about how much competition we're trying to create on our football team. That's what's going to make us better. And Mark [Bruener] has played extremely well in this league for a long time. Mark is a physical tight end; I think he can still do some things in the passing game. He's a great presence on this football team. He's a leader; I know that without ever really being on the field with him. I sense that on a daily basis.
"After that, we've got a couple young men in the athletic mold. You're talking about [Benny] Joppru, who's been here and has been injured, but we're hoping—things have been good so far this offseason—if he can stay healthy, I think he will compete very well with Jeb—Jeb Putzier. Jeb is a receiving, athletic-type tight end. He's a very smart young man that can do a lot of things well.
"After that, we've brought in some free agents like [Ben] Steele, [Matt] Murphy. Murphy's a physical-type player. There's competition, and this young man adds to that competition. This young man fits more, to me, in the mold of Bruener and can do everything you want a tight end to do. We think he has the ability to play on the line of scrimmage; to be a threat as a receiver, so we see him in that mold. But, we're going to have great competition at that position, and it's going to make us a better football team."
(on if the team will use more than one tight end on the field at the same time) "We will definitely do that. How much we do it from week to week will be determined by what we do, game plan-wise, but two tights will definitely be a big part of our offense because we like to run the ball out of two tight end sets."
(on whether the team's first five picks will be expected to make an impact this year)"Without a doubt, yes, these guys are expected to be an immediate impact. Mario and DeMeco, I think that speaks for itself. As we talked about yesterday, these two young tackles that we drafted yesterday in the third round, we think they have an opportunity to have an immediate impact and will create a great, competitive situation for us outside on both sides—both left and right. And, of course, this young man comes in and, to me, he's battling for a job from day one. All of these picks are going to make our football team better and have an immediate impact on our football team."
(on if he feels the team has gotten better through the draft so far) "I feel very good about that. As I've said all along, I think the key is that we continue to add depth at each spot. We've got to get better. One player is not going to flip the switch on and change the whole football team; that's not the way this works. We're going to get better when our team gets better, depth-wise and competition-wise. When you come out of camp and you've created that type of environment, your whole football team is getting better. But, we're going to keep the focus on the whole group and not just one spot."
(on how the team's first five picks this year compare to the first five in previous drafts) "I feel good about the selections. I think that Mario Williams fits right into our other top picks—meaning David Carr, Andre Johnson, Mario Williams. I mean, they're all high-character people—all outstanding prospects. He fits right into that mold. In the second round, I think DeMeco Ryans—hey, he's a first-round pick that we got in the second round. The two linemen in the third round; that was a real bonus, picking up the picks from the Saints last year.
"A long time ago, somebody told me, 'If you need one, get two,' so that made it easy to take the two of them together. We've developed some young linemen here, and we need to develop some more. And here are two guys that we feel real good about who, if they had played four years at their offensive line position, I believe would have been drafted higher; and they have only played two years. Then, of course, Owen Daniels at tight end is a guy that we are very excited about having. We're fortunate that we had the first pick in the fourth round to be able to get him. I feel real good about our five picks—all solid picks."
(on if they saw enough of Spencer at tackle last year to believe that he can play left tackle in the NFL) "Yes, when you look at the second half of his senior year, he was extremely impressive, but the thing that put him over the top, without a doubt, was when you watched this young man go to the Senior Bowl. I mean, that's the ultimate stage for a player. They go there and they compete against the best that week in front of everyone in this business. To watch this young man get his level of play up to a point that was so impressive, the way he competed, it tells you he's ready to take this next step and, as Charley said, had he been at that spot over the past four years, we would had never been able to touch this young man in the fourth round. I think we're very fortunate from that standpoint. We personally went and visited with him and worked him out, also. Coach [John] Benton went down there, and that had a lot to do with our evaluation process: the time that we spent with the young man."
(on if Daniels could possibly be the team's emergency quarterback) "No, I'm not going to do that to him, but it's interesting that you brought
that up. Throughout my years in the NFL as a player and a coach, it's amazing
how many good tight ends there are that are former quarterbacks. I think it's
just something about their knowledge of the game, their knowledge of coverage
and defense, and it helps. That's a conversion that's been very successful in
this business, so hopefully, we can continue that with him."