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Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript

Posted May 10, 2014

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his post-Draft press conference at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, May 10, 2014.


BB: Well, I feel like we improved our team today. We had seven picks and we kind of had them in clumps there, but I felt like we were able to take some players that will be able to compete. We'll see how it all goes. We started with Bryan Stork. He's been a very good player for Florida State; center. He's played some guard earlier in his career, but has played center down there. Obviously a very good program and good football team. He's done a good job for them. James White, the running back from Wisconsin. He played in a very productive offense. I think his career average is six yards a carry or something like that. He's been a very productive player both running and receiving, versatile guy, a good player in the kicking game. And then Cameron Fleming is a tackle – three year starter for Stanford, right tackle. Big kid that played against a lot of good competition out there, played against a lot of good players on a good football team. They run the ball a lot. They run a very conventional offense compared to what some of the offenses are in college football, so you can kind of see him do a lot of the things that we see in the National Football League. And then in the sixth round we stated off with [Jon] Halapio, and you know, Jon's been a real good player for Florida. Played guard, has been pretty much exclusively a guard down there. Big, physical, very strong guy, powerful player. Zach Moore is a defensive end from Concordia, Long. He's got a lot of football in front of him. Lower level of competition there, but he stood out and has a real good future if he can come in and develop some of the skills that he has. And then Jemea Thomas played a number of different spots at Georgia Tech. He played in the kicking game, played a little safety, played a little nickel, played some corner. Versatile guy, smart guy. Really a four-down type player. Then we finished up with [Jeremy] Gallon. He's been a very productive player for Michigan. Small guy, but compact, explosive. He's had a lot of big plays for them. Real top traits, hard working kid, very competitive player, been very productive at Michigan. So we'll get those guys going this week and see how it all comes together with that group.

Q: When you get three offensive linemen like you did today, is that just how the board unfolded or is that a specific position you wanted to target today?

BB: No, I'd say it just turned out that way. Pretty much where the value was. Halapio has been a real good player at Florida, so we were probably a little surprised to see him where he was. Fleming's a tackle and it felt like good value there. Stork has been a good center for Florida State. We visited him and he was an impressive kid. So it just kind of turned out that way.

Q: Do you see any versatility with Fleming or is he a tackle only?

BB: Yeah, that's what he's played; he's played tackle. They've got a pretty experienced and good offensive line. They've had a lot of guys drafted off that line: a couple this year, a couple last year, there's going to be a couple next year, so it seems like they kind of get guys, whether it's [David] DeCastro or Fleming or the left tackle that will be coming out next year I imagine, those guys kind of just play where they play and then when they leave they have somebody else to put in there. They've had a lot of linemen go through that program. As I said, they run a more conventional offense than a lot of teams in college football, so you can see something similar to what you see in the NFL.

Q: Those three linemen – do you think if Dante Scarnecchia was here it would be the same thing or is there any scheme change now that Dave DeGuglielmo is here?

BB: No, I don't think it's about the coaching; I just think it's about player selection and how it felt. I don't think we planned on – we definitely didn't plan on it, but it's just the way it turned out.

Q: Is James White a little different than Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen – a little smaller and quicker?

BB: Than Vereen?

Q: Isn't Vereen around 210, 215?

BB: No.

Q: 205?

BB: Yeah.

Q: But Vereen would be a guy you can split out a bit more and this guy is more inside?

BB: We'll see.

Q: I guess my overall question is ball security and pass catching ability seemed to be traits that were mentioned in his scouting reports. Is he very good at those two things?

BB: Yeah, I'd say there are a lot of similarities to Vereen – size wise, skills wise, production. They've had a lot of good backs come out of Wisconsin. They had one come out last year. They've got White this year. They'll probably get another one next year. Those guys, they've had a lot of good players there. I'd say he's a guy that has shown he has four-down value. He's been productive in the kicking game, he's been productive catching the ball. He has a high average per carry. He can run inside. He can run outside. He makes good space plays and he can get some tough yards. I mean, he's not a big power back. We're not talking about LeGarrette Blount – that's not his thing. But I think there are some similarities to Vereen, absolutely. Vereen had probably had a little more production in the return game when he came out of Cal.

Q: Are there certain routes that White runs that are similar to what maybe Danny Woodhead and Kevin Faulk ran in the past?

BB: Well, I'd say more similarities with Kevin and Shane [Vereen]. Danny was really more of a runner. Not that he didn't catch some passes, but I'd say his pass catching was more screens and checkdowns as opposed to elusive-type routes. Smaller guys that maybe play a little bigger than their size in space – that's common.

Q: With the belated draft, what's the orientation process going to be like now?

BB: They'll come in tomorrow and we'll start work with them Monday. We'll put them in with our veteran players and just move right along. There's no big – like before when we had the rookie mini camps and sent them home. Now the draft's so late, we'll just bring them in and keep them here. They'll go all the way through the veteran mini-camp in June. It will be just one straight shot. They're going to have to come in and get oriented to living in a new area, getting transportation, finding their way around, becoming acclimated to New England. Along with the pro football part of it and all that, that'll just be part of the whole next five or six weeks or whatever it is. It'll be part of that whole process and we'll start Monday.

Q: Outside of their measurables, is there a defining characteristic for the three offensive linemen that were drafted?

BB: Yeah, I don't think Stork is a 300-pound center. There aren't many linemen that are drafted that aren't 300 pounds. Halapio's big, he's thick. He's a big kid. Fleming is a big kid too. They're tall and they're thick. I wouldn't say Stork is, technically when you see him, you won't confuse him with the other two. The other two are built a little differently. They're both 330-ish, somewhere in there. Look, we're trying to draft guys that are good football players and size is a part of it, but it's not like we're going to sit there and say, ‘We can't take a guy that weighs much or that much.' Weight's not always an indication of playing strength. I would say with those three guys in particular that they've all shown very good playing strength on the field and they've gone up against a lot of good players. Stork played in a great conference in the ACC. Halapio played in the SEC and Fleming played in the [PAC-12] or whatever it is out there. There's a lot of good players and you can see them lining up against good people, NFL-type people.

Q: You mentioned Stork has some experience playing guard earlier in his career. Is that something his skill set would allow at this level?

BB: Yeah maybe. I think he's been a three-year starter at center. I think he played a little bit at guard his redshirt freshman year. Then if I remember right the center got hurt and they moved him in there. But, he's practiced at the different positions. I think last year the backup center was the next-best lineman so he would have bumped out and played guard but I don't think it came to that very often. Most of the experience is at center, but I think he has some position flexibility. But we'll see how that goes. Physically, he has a pretty good skill set: he's strong, he can run. You can see him get out in front on screens and perimeter plays, that kind of thing. I don't think that's really an issue.

Q: Jeremy Gallon is shorter. Did Michigan use him like a prototypical receiver? Do you have to find unique ways to get him the ball?

BB: I'd say primarily a slot receiver, [he] does have some ability to play outside, did play some outside. They moved him around a little bit. He's an explosive guy. He's good with the ball in his hands, good after the catch, he can make people miss. Has real good quickness and I'd say good playing strength for his size even though he's a shorter guy. He's compact, he's strong, he has good balance. A lot of times he can catch the ball, break tackles and gain some extra yards after the play, that kind of thing. He's not a running back, but he makes yards after the catch a lot of times with his running ability. I wouldn't say this is a specialty player and you need specialty plays for him. I think he can go out there and play receiver.

Q: You didn't draft a tight end. Would a bigger receiver like Mark Harrison possibly factor into the mix at tight end?

BB: Yeah, I'd say we're probably looking at Harrison as a receiver. He missed almost all of the last year or so. To try to take a guy and move him away from a position before we've actually seen the position he actually played – I'm not saying it won't happen. I don't think it's going to happen for a while. We'll try to get him ready to play receiver and see how he plays there, how he competes with other players at the position, his primary position. That's more the way I see it. I'm sure Nick [Caserio], Jon Robinson and their staffs will be competitive and we'll be able to sign some players in free agency at that position and the other positions that we need to do to fill out our roster. We're working on that now. It's a very competitive process. You have 32 teams after a lot of the same guys, not all the same guys but there's competition pretty much everywhere so we'll see how that turns out.

Q: Is it fun as a coach to take a player like Zach Moore and know that he had played at a lower level and see exactly what you can get out of that player?

BB: Yeah, well I think Zach has a real interesting skillset to develop and I think he will develop. He's a hardworking guy and he's played very well at the level of comp [competition] that he was at. Obviously it's going way up, but I think he definitely has the skills to move up. As he gains experience and technique and all that – I mean, he's long, he's got good quickness, he's good burst, get off the ball – but he needs a lot of work. Obviously he's going to be playing against a lot better people than he played against. But I think if he works hard and can develop the skills that he has, I definitely think he can be a productive player for us, sure. We're excited to work with all the guys, but I think Zach has a real good set of skills. You know, it's probably going to take a little bit of time but we'll see.

Q: One of the bigger stories of the day nationally was Michael Sam. Do you have any reaction to that?

BB: No. Talk to the Rams. There was like 240 guys drafted besides the ones we drafted. I'm just trying to concentrate on our guys.

Q: Do you consider Jemea Thomas more of a cornerback or a safety or is that something that will just work itself out once you see him on the field?

BB: Yeah, I think we're going to have to see how that goes. But based on our experience with him, our workouts, watching him play, I think he has the ability to work at all three spots. I think he has some versatility, he's smart, he runs well, he's a tough kid, he's a good tackler. I think that there's definitely a place defensively to have a player like that. Logan Ryan was different but had some similarities to that last year where he played outside, he played in the slot, played some snaps at safety. And just depending on the offense you're going up against and the particular way that your roster is comprised from game to game with an injury or a guy that's out or four wides or whatever it is, it's good to have a couple players that are versatile and can move around and handle different responsibilities like that. We'll see how much Jemea can do there. He's done all those things in the past plus he's been a good special teams player. We'll see exactly what that role is. Maybe he becomes very good at one thing or maybe he becomes a versatile player that is able to do multiple things. We'll have to see but it looks like he's got the ability to compete at all three of those spots – safety, nickel corner and on the perimeter. He's an interesting guy.

Q: Along those lines, do you see Logan Ryan factoring in more at the safety position this year?

BB: I think, yeah, we'll have to see how it all goes. Last year [Marquice] Cole sort of did that, played some safety, played some nickel corner, played a little bit on the perimeter. Logan did that. We'll have to see how it all comes together, but I would imagine in the spring that we probably give those guys some exposure. Somebody, I don't know if all of them. Again, we'll just have to see how it goes here. Again, I think there's definitely a place for that too with the different personnel groups and the different types of receivers that we see. Every time it's three receivers, it isn't quite three receivers; it depends on who those three guys are and how you want to match up on them and so forth. So some flexibility for us defensively is probably a good thing over a long haul.

Q: In your personal experience with quarterbacks, can you think of any example where a team always hit it right in terms of having a succession plan in place, or a team that really didn't and it left an impression on you?

BB: I think organizationally, in our organization I don't think we would put together a team the way Indianapolis did it when they lost [Peyton] Manning and they go 0-16, 1-15 or whatever it was [2-14]. I don't think that's really what we're looking for. Unfortunately when we lost Tom [Brady] in 2008 – we had a player that could step in and we won 11 games. We want to be competitive even if something happens to a player at any position. I think depth is always important. You never know when you're going to need it. But I don't think we'd be happy going 1-15 if we had an injury at one position. But other people have different philosophies. I'm just saying that the contrast to that example. I don't think that's really what we're trying to do.

Q: What are some of the things that drew you to Will Smith and made you think he was a good fit here?

BB: We visited Will maybe three weeks ago, something like that. Will has had a very productive career. Great player, coming out first round pick, very productive. Had the knee injury last year and was released. He still has some rehabilitation to do so we felt that he's moving along. We feel like that's coming along, going in the right direction. We'll see how it all turns out. I think his productivity as a player and his career is pretty well documented. We'll see how he can do going forward. It's different but similar to Tommy Kelly's situation last year. Tommy wasn't coming off an injury last year like Will is this year, but similar – productive player that we feel like still has some good football left but is probably in the back half of their career. We'll see where Will is able to get to. He's got a lot of experience, he's got a lot of production throughout his career. I think he'll be competitive, but we'll have to see how he rehabs from the injury but we're optimistic that he'll be on the field and be able to compete at some point. He's not ready right now but I think he will be.