At the conclusion of the 2012 NFL Draft, Rick Smith and Gary Kubiak answered questions from the media in a Saturday afternoon press conference at Reliant Stadium. The following is a transcript of their respective quotes.
General Manager/Executive Vice President Rick SmithHead Coach Gary Kubiak
General Manager/Executive Vice President Rick Smith
(opening statement) "I said last week, we were hopeful that we would be able to come out of the weekend and feel like we've improved our football team. We certainly feel that way. I look at our class and I think it accomplished several things that we were attempting to accomplish. We were able to add some players that can impact our team like we talked about, both offensively and defensively. In this case, for the first time in my career, even on special teams with a kicker. We were able to fill some needs. I thought our board, as the draft progressed, I was really pleased. I thought that we were prepared and as the draft progressed, at least the way we had our board stacked, it looked like it was stacked accurately. Again, that's a testament to the men that we have and that are working extremely hard to help us add talent to this football team. So we're pleased and I'm sure we'll get into the details and specifics of all the players, but from an overall standpoint, I'm very pleased with what we were able to get accomplished over the last few days."
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(opening statement) "I just want to say I think Rick (Smith) and the scouts did a tremendous job. Obviously, the coaches have done their work over the course of the last couple of months. It's just nice to see things come together. I feel very good about our draft class, not only adding quality talent to our football team, but a lot of passion. I think our team is about a group of guys that play very hard week in and week out. When you look at this group, that's the first thing that stands out to me. I'm very excited to get started with them and I feel very good coming out of today."
(on if there was something about the Big 10 that fits the system) "I think that was a coincidence. I don't think there was any grand design. I think when we look at players we like to watch players who play in big conferences. I certainly think that it's possible obviously to find players at smaller schools, but it's good to see players playing against good competition. Beyond that, there was no grand design of targeting one conference over another."
(on why they chose to go with K Randy Bullock over other kickers) "I'll speak first and then let Gary talk. We had him rated as the top guy of the group. First of all, he's a very talented young man. That's apparent and he has a very strong leg. He's had some success kicking at A&M, again, big school, big competition. I like his mental makeup. I like what he represents. I like his mental framework. I think that's a very important characteristic for a kicker. Just talking to the young man and interviewing him and watching him, he was able to come over to our local workout and every chance we interacted with him, we felt mo re and more comfortable with him as the top guy. I think all three of those guys are very talented, but I'm glad that we were able to get the pick of the litter and get the guy that we wanted. We feel like he'll be the better of the bunch."
(on WR DeVier Posey and why they feel comfortable with him despite his past issues) "Number one, I think that he's a quality young man. He did get caught up in the situation. He made a mistake. One of the things that was impressive to me is I thought he took a difficult set of circumstances and handled it about as well as he could. In that, what I mean by that was in his suspension, he continued to go to practice and continued to be a good teammate. He continued to be a leader on that football team in the capacity that he was capable of doing not playing. That plus all of the research that we had done on him—and he's a talented football player. He's got a skill set, he's good size. He has good speed. He's a very good route runner, good hands. He's got range around his body and a catching radius that we like. We think he's going to be a good player for us. We've talked often about the fact that we won't penalize a guy for making a mistake. If it's not repeated behavior and it's not a decision where we think a guy has done something so egregious that we won't even consider him. If a guy makes a mistake, we'll give a guy a second chance. We certainly think that this young man is a quality guy, is a hard worker. I think you'll see that and he's a good football player.
"One of the things about Indianapolis, what I think is one of the greatest things about the Combine, is getting the chance to sit down and visit with these kids face-to-face. When he came in our room, obviously we're going through his situation and he was very forthright about everything that had taken place. He told us exactly what he went through. The fact that he sat there and practice every day throughout the course of the season when he knew he couldn't play, he got himself ready to play in his all-star game and played very well in that game. He has his degree. There are just so many positives about the kid. Obviously, he made a mistake. He wants to move on and he's got an excellent opportunity with his career. I felt very good about him after doing all of our research and watching him play the game the year before. I just think this guy is going to fit in with our players and he has a tremendous amount of upside. Andre (Johnson) spoke to him today. We had Andre come by and have lunch with him today. I think he's got a big-time upside and can help us real quick."
(on if drafting Keshawn Martin means Jacoby Jones won't be returning anymore and a possible change of scenery coming) "No, I think there were reports out there that we were attempting to trade Jacoby. Jacoby is still on our football team. We did not trade Jacoby. You're always entertaining any kind of phone calls that you have over the course of a draft. We do our due diligence that way, but he's still on our team. It does not signal the end of anything at this point. What we were trying to do is add quality football players."
(on if he thinks he'll look at a veteran for the third quarterback or possibly an undrafted free agent) "First off, we're not through today. Obviously, we've got the rookie free agents to deal with here after the draft, so that's something that Rick (Smith) and I have talked about. Obviously, there's a place for another one, another quarterback and possibly two as we head towards training camp. We'll have to figure all of that out. There are still some quality players out there from last season and we'll have to see how the draft pans out over the course of the last round and we'll go from there."
(on if it is tough to overcome the idea of having a rookie as a kicker) "No, not really. You've got to listen to (special teams coordinator) Joe (Marciano); he's been doing this a long time. He had a lot of confidence in a couple of the kickers that were in this draft. I think the thing that really sold us on Randy (Bullock) and Rick (Smith) briefly mentioned this, the in-town workouts, our local workouts that we have here with the players, he benefited from that very much. He walked in here in front of our whole staff, all of our coaches, all our scouts and he put on a show that day. He was tremendous. He's kicked in a big environment, week in and week out. We like his maturity when we visit with him and Joe has a lot of confidence in him. Yeah, you're going with a young guy, but we've got a lot of confidence moving forward and we think this young man has a lot of confidence. I think that helped us a great deal."
(on how well their strategy played out during the fourth round and specifically regarding DE Jared Crick) "Again, we talked about being open. We contemplated moving. We were just pleased. First of all, I hadn't had a chance to say how pleased we were that Whitney (Mercilus) was there in the first round. We had talked about maybe possibly even moving up in the first round as he continued to fall. There were a couple of other players that we had ranked fairly high, so we were active the entire draft. It just felt like sitting there in the second round that if we backed up a little bit, we had a number of players that we felt good about and felt like if we were to back up and maybe pick up some extra picks, maybe we could do what we ended up doing. So we moved obviously back out of the second and picked up the third and I think another fourth. I liked that, the young man that you mention, I liked that pick because if you look at him last year, obviously he was limited because of the injury, but this guy was a productive football player early in his career. He wasn't as productive prior to the injury last year, but again Gary (Kubiak) kind of touched on it. You look at this group of football players, and it's a continuation of sorts from last year. What we targeted last year were guys that we wanted that played hard, that were passionate about the game of football, that it's important to them, that were good guys. This group, and particularly that young man, these guys play hard, and it's important to them. I think you'll see that he'll come in, and he'll fit right in with that group of players."
(on how excited he is to add Whitney Mercilus to the team) "Yeah, just a quality young man. He adds a dimension. We talk about what we want out of first round is those guys that can impact your team, that add dimensions to your team, and he certainly is that type of player. With his pass rush ability, again, the effort, the intensity, the way that this guy works, he fits right into that group, and I think he's just a solid addition to our football team."
"Yeah, he's very sharp. We think he can play a lot of places for us. Obviously, he's outside. He can put his hand down on third down. We all know what he did from a sack standpoint, but he also forced nine or 10 fumbles last year. He just finds a way to make big plays. Very sharp, young man, plays a great effort. We think he's just touched the surface. People talk about him being a one-year player, but we think it's just the first year of many great ones to come."
(on Texans' strategy regarding the undrafted free agency players) "No, I think that process, just to answer the first part of your question, is what will happen is once the draft is over – it's still going on, obviously the seventh round is happening – once it's over, what we are doing at this point is we are identifying the guys by position with the scouts and the coaches as guys that we see that if they are not drafted as guys that we would target by position. We'll round the roster out, for lack of a better way to put it, by positions in terms of the numbers that we'd like to go to training camp. The roster limit was increased to 90, but that doesn't mean that we need to be at 90 tomorrow. We'll look at our numbers from obviously this draft class as well as the ideal numbers that we need to go to the training camp with any other free agency that are out there. That's basically what the process looks like now, so we'll target some positions. Maybe some guys have better chances than others to make the team, so we'll be more aggressive at some positions than others and just try to round out the roster."
(on who to look out for this season) "I think the young man that we talked about from Nebraska (Jared Crick) might be one for me. I think he'll come in and get into a rotation, and I think he's a hard-nosed football player. He plays hard. Football is important to him, and I think you'll see him fit right in with our group and contribute to our team. I'd look for him."
"I would go to Ben Jones. I'm just really excited about this young man. He's got 49 starts in the SEC. Heck of a football player, plays a great effort. He's going to give us a lot of versatility going into game day when we're suiting seven guys, that type of thing. I think he's got a bright future, and I really like his football IQ, so I'm very excited about him. I think you're going to see great things from him for a long time."