HEAD COACH AND GENERAL MANAGER BILL O'BRIEN
Will T Charlie Heck play strictly at tackle or could he be given a shot at guard as well?
"I think he's pretty much a tackle. I think he can play both sides. Great guy. Really smart, works hard. Obviously his dad is a coach. We were thrilled to be able to go up there and get him. We made a couple of moves today that we were happy with and that was one. We were able to go up there and get a guy that we really targeted and we liked at that spot."
Do you see CB John Reid playing mostly as a slot corner or can he play outside as well?
"I think he can do both. I do think that he can play on the inside. I think he's got good quickness, he's got good toughness. I've known John for a while. When I was at Penn State he was a sophomore in high school and came to our camp. I think we offered him a scholarship right there. Really smart guy, comes from a great family. But yeah, I think he can do both. I think he can play on the inside and I also think that he'll help us on special teams. That was another guy that we felt really good about that we had targeted and we were really hoping would be there, and he was there."
Was the draft different for you this year with it being your first draft as the general manager, and were there extra challenges with it being virtual?
"I would just say, again, to go with the first question, we have a great team here. I've said it and I'll say it over and over. I really mean it. Myself, Jack Easterby – Kevin Krajcovic has done an unbelievable job with our salary cap and our contracts, and then Matt Bazirgan and James Liipfert relative to the draft and the scouts. We just have a great team of people. We make decisions that are formed around a consensus. I think really that's Bob McNair, that's the way he wanted it, that's the way Cal McNair wants it, and that's what we try to do. Relative to the virtual, I wouldn't say that there were too many challenges, I just do miss being in the meeting room where you can be face-to-face with somebody and put the film on, 'Hey, let's watch this guy.' We weren't able to do as much of that, but our technological team, Tim Brog, Russell Joyner, they just do an unbelievable job of setting us up. There was a setup at my house, a setup at Jack's house, a setup at Kevin's house, a setup at Cal's house. There's so much that goes into it from a technological standpoint, so it was great."
With the challenges of this virtual offseason for rookies especially, does that change the profile of the type of guy you were looking for at all?
"Yeah, I think that's a good question. I think that we took a lot of that into account. When you look at Ross (Blacklock) and Jon (Greenard) and Charlie (Heck) and John Reid and Isaiah Coulter, you're talking about mature guys, guys that have overcome adversity in their lives, guys that understand work ethic, guys that understand how important practice is, guys that understand what it means to be a good teammate and be hungry and humble. I think we got those type of guys with all these guys."
When you look at how your secondary is now, how competitive do you think the group stacks up after your additions in free agency and the draft?
"I like our team. I think at this time of the year, we have good depth at a lot of positions. Certainly there's always holes that we need to fill and think about, but I really like where we are right now. I think in the secondary – I was saying this the other day to you guys, I think there's versatility at the safety and the corner position. You have safeties that can play corner, you have corners that can play inside and some corners can play safety, and a lot of those guys are really good special teams players. I really like where we are right now. It's still incomplete. Even though we've had the draft and free agency, there's still a lot of different things you can do relative to the roster. We'll continue to grind on that and work, but I like where we are right now."
What stood out to you when you recruited CB John Reid at Penn State?
"We had camp and Penn State camp there's probably three sessions and 1,000 kids come to each session. So what you try to do is you try to take some of the guys that you think are prospects and work them out separately, and he was one of those guys. He was only a sophomore in high school from right outside of Philly, and so we took him on the field and did some drills with him and just noticed right away his movement skills -this is when he was 14-15 years old – his ability to follow directions, his intensity, his seriousness. He's a good guy, we're glad we are able to have him. He went through some adversity there at Penn State, injuries and different things, but he came out last year and was highly recommended by James Franklin and did a good job last year at Penn State. We were glad to be able to get him."
Does five draft picks feel like the right number to you?
"Yeah, I think so. I think that we're working on the CFA process. I don't know if we'll go all the way to 90, but maybe we'll go to 84, 85 guys. But yeah, we feel good about the numbers. We went into the draft with about 73, 74 on the roster and we feel good about the numbers, where we are right now."
How much has the college free agent process changed with your staff not being in the same room?
"That's a challenge. I just left a Zoom call. I was on a Zoom call with Jack (Easterby) and Matt Bazirgan, and Liip (James Liipfert) and Tommy Hayden. Those guys, they're in contact with the scouts and the coaches and we're trying to do a good job of talking to agents and players, and trying to get the best guys we can get. Some of that has to do with money, how much can you pay a guy relative to how much another team is paying him. Our guys are communicating really well, we're just not all in the same room. So, some it's text messages and – the Zoom's been huge. I mean, the ability to Zoom and have contact like that has been really important."
What positions would you have liked to draft that you were not able to, and how active will you be with veteran free agents since there's so many who still haven't signed?
"We targeted certain guys in the draft and obviously we didn't get all of them, you never do, but we were able to get five that we really liked and I feel really good about that. I do think that's a good point that you're making relative to the free agents that are still out there. That's why I'm saying there's still a lot of opportunities to build the roster in different ways as we head on down the road here. That's why I don't think – I'm not sure we'll go all the way to 90, you know what I mean? Maybe we'll stick at 84, 85, 86 and leave a few spots open and see what happens when they tell us we can go back to practice."
How do you feel about the competition level at the right guard spot?
"Zach's (Fulton) played a lot of good football for us. We have Zach there, obviously Senio (Kelemete) has played at that position, Greg Mancz can play at that position. I feel good about – for this time of year, again, it's incomplete, but for where we are post-draft, I feel good about our offensive line, where we are and our depth there. We'll continue to try to look to add to it. We're talking to a couple of guys in the CFA process here and things like that, but I feel good about where it's at for post-draft."
*You traded down twice today. Is it just a matter of how the board falls or in some years do you look to trade down more than others just depending on what your draft capital is like? *
"Sometimes it's really probably year to year. Every year we've made trades. Obviously, over the years we have made some very important trades, trading up, when Rick (Smith) traded up to go get Deshaun Watson. That was a big trade. So, we've made trades up and down. I think it's the team calls or maybe you call the team to go up because you really like a player and you've got enough firepower to go up there and do that, and you think about doing it. I think trading down, you have a brick of players and you think that you'll be able to get a couple of those guys and maybe you go down and gain a couple more picks, and you do it. I cannot emphasize this enough, the team of people we have working on this that advise us as to the direction we should go. Then we have, obviously, Jack (Easterby) and Matt (Bazirgan), and James (Liipfert) and then Kevin (Krajcovic) submits the pick or the trade, or Russell Joyner and Kevin talk to us about the value of the trade from an analytics standpoint. So, really, it's a team effort."
As far as what you've done in free agency earlier and trades you made and what you've done with your draft picks, what positions do you feel like you want to go after additionally?
"I don't know. I think for this time of year, I think our depth is pretty good. I think at every position – you go through the secondary, you go through the inside linebacker spot, outside linebacker, defensive line, quarterback, running back, offensive line, tight end, wide receiver. I think we'll add some guys relative to the college free agent process that we're working on right now. I think for where we are right now, we feel pretty good about where we are and we'll continue to build if we see somebody out there that could really help us, we'll definitely continue to build."