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Bill Belichick Draft Day 1 Press Conference

Belichick: We tried to take players that we think had good value for the pick and honestly if we didn’t think that then we moved the pick, or tried to.



BB: Since the last time we got together, the deck got shuffled around a little bit. We started out the weekend with five picks on the first day and we moved the third round pick into a second on Friday with Miami. It started out today with four picks in the first three rounds and we ended up taking three players and finished with a first-round pick next year. Obviously, in terms of next year's draft, we've got two ones, two twos and three fours at this point. We feel kind of good about that. But more importantly, the players that we picked this year, we traded up for all of those players at one point or another. So, we obviously felt good about moving forward to take all three of them. [Ty] Warren's a big defensive end who will play defensive end in the 3-4 defense, which he did at Texas A&M. In his junior year, he also played nose, so we think he has some position flexibility there and the defensive system that they play at A&M is very similar to what we'll be using, so we'll just have to see how that goes, but he has played both spots. Then [Eugene] Wilson is a corner from Illinois that is also… they kind of changed defensive systems a little bit even though it was the same coaching staff there from his junior to his senior year. We've seen examples of him doing a number of different things at the corner position – press coverage, off coverage, man-to-man, zone and so forth. We think that he's going to be a good addition to our secondary. Then Bethel Johnson is a very explosive player, one of the fastest, if not the fastest player in the draft. He's a good kickoff returner and should give us some depth and speed at the wide receiver position. I feel like we've added some speed to our team, added some youth on defense. I know that at this point we're not picking in the third round, but with what we have left in the draft this year and also with our picks next year that if we see something that we want to be able to move toward, I would like to think that we would probably have enough to move if that was our desire. I'm not saying we are, I'm not saying we're not, but we'll evaluate it as it goes. Although I won't see us picking [again] in the second round this year. That would probably get into a first round pick next year and I don't think we're looking to do that. That's pretty much where we're at. I know there were a lot of trade rumors prior to the draft about the Patriots moving very high into the first round, but there were no offers made on that. There were the usual preliminary draft talks. I know the Detroit thing was big yesterday. I'm not really sure where that came from. There was certainly never any talk by myself or as far as I know anyone in the organization with Detroit about making a move to their pick. So, what the exact nature of those rumors were I really don't know, because I didn't have anything to do with them. That's pretty much the way I saw it today.

Q:During the pre-draft press conference about 10 days ago, you talked about how with the defensive linemen, in your eyes there was very little that separated all of them.

BB: Well, wait a minute, I didn't say that couldn't be separated. I think they're different and therefore that separates them a little bit, too. They have different skills.

Q:I meant that in terms of quality and in terms of where they all were. Was Ty Warren someone you said, 'Okay, we'll see who we get,' and that's when you traded up for him, or were you looking at other people and saying…

BB: No. First of all, if you look at the first round of the draft, by the 18th pick I don't know how many defensive linemen went, but a bunch of them did and I think our board was probably like everybody else's board, that cleaned out a whole bunch of guys at the top of the draft, whether it was [Jimmy] Kennedy, [Michael] Haynes, [Johnathan] Sullivan, Warren, [Dewayne] Robertson, you can go right down the line. Then [Jerome] McDougle was right in there, too. Then there was a dropoff where there were seven or eight offensive players picked right after that. I got a feeling that there were a lot of boards in the league that looked similar to that. I wouldn't characterize all those players as the same, but I think there was value at that position clearly and a lot of teams in the league recognized that value after the first three offensive picks there was quite a run on defensive players, particularly the bigger guys.

Q:Did the Bears tip you off that there was somebody looking at Warren? Obviously if they had wanted them, they would have picked him. Is that why you moved up?

BB: Well, we thought that based on what was left on the board at that particular point, that was the best fit for us and that it was a relatively inexpensive move to make just to secure the player. I'm sure that the Bears were probably getting some action on that pick. I think there were other teams trying to move up. Who they were moving up for or whatever I'm not sure exactly. But, I know there was some action on that pick and I felt like for a sixth, and we had some extra picks, that that just secured the pick for us.

Q:Did you try to get up into the top 10 to make a run at Johnathan Sullivan?

BB: We did not. We've had communications with just about every team in the draft, as we always do. We're not doing anything different. There were no really serious conversations to my knowledge on any of those picks in the top 10.

Q:Coming into today, whether it was Warren or Johnathan Sullivan, would you have been satisfied with whatever happened?

BB: When you go through a draft, you do your homework and you grade the players, you evaluate everything and then you take a look at where you sit and take your opportunities and do with them what you will. Obviously some of that for us was this year, some of it was next year. But in the end, I feel good about the guys that we took and where we took them.

Q:The knock on some of the guys was that they lacked good work ethic. Did you find that to be the case?

BB: The knock on who?

Q:I just read that…

BB: Who are you talking about?

Q:Warren and Wilson.

BB: I definitely didn't see it that way. I think that all three guys we took are … If they'll come in and work hard, which they are still going to have to do and prove, but I wouldn't say there's a big question about that.

Q:Can you comment on Wilson's special teams abilities? Was that part of the equation?

BB: He returned punts. I think he's athletic enough to be involved in the kicking game on the coverage units. How well he'll do on that relative to the other people we have doing it, we'll just have to wait and see. He certainly has some background in it and I think he has excellent hands and he can catch the ball very well. I don't think ball handling's going to be a major issue, but doing it at this level and doing it in our conditions is a little bit different than doing it in college. We'll see how that goes.

Q:You make a lot of draft day trades. Is that a philosophy of yours? You don't really look like a wheeler-dealer.

BB: Oh, thanks. Would I need some plaid pants and a white belt? [Laughter] First of all, when you go into a draft like we did in this one where we have multiple picks in a number of rounds, we had probably more picks than we'd think we would use with 13, that gives you some flexibility to move within the draft. Basically, what you try to do is maximize those opportunities. There are other drafts that I've been involved in here where there were few opportunities and you really don't have much ammunition or much in the way of draft picks to do anything with other than sit there. You can usually move back if somebody else wants to move up. This was one of those situations where we had some flexibility. When we had the opportunity to get the first round pick in next year's draft and still move to the top of the second round, we kind of anticipated that we would want to move up a little bit higher than that. Because we had extra picks to do it with, we thought we'd be able to do it. After taking the defensive lineman, we were certainly happy to get Wilson at the point we got him in the second round. To answer your question, it's not like we're going to go in and say, 'We're going to make four trades today, make three trades today.' You look at where you are and if it looks like you're going to start to lose value in the draft, then you might go up there and get it. If you're sitting there and you feel like one guy's value is about the same as the next, then sometimes there's something to be said for backing out of that spot and trying to pick up something else that you can use at a different point in time.

Q:In years where there's value at 19 in the first round, you don't usually have equal value when you get into the second round. Was this a different kind of year where 19 was almost like a second round pick in a different year?

BB: I would never say that 19 is equal to 41. I'm not saying that. But, I think in relative terms, when it's 41 plus a first round pick in another year, that's where you have to look at value. I think this year that probably a lot of teams looked at the board and said well, there's probably less than 32 legitimate first-round guys that you would like to take, but they're the best 32 players on your board and so some of them are going to have to go and I'm sure different teams had them rated differently. But I'd say it's probably a fair assessment that not everybody on everybody's board would have what you would consider true first-round grades this year.

Q:Can you talk a little more about the nose tackle spot? Can you see yourself getting another player to play over center or might a veteran like Bobby Hamilton take that role?

BB: I don't see Hamilton doing it. It's certainly a possibility, and as I said with Warren, he's played both, he's played left end and he's played nose at Texas A&M. He's played them against good competition. How he'll do in our defense at those two positions, we'll have to wait and see. But, I think he has a good background in both of them. We'd certainly like to keep [Richard] Seymour at end rather than at nose. That was more out of necessity in the '01 season than really what we wanted to do, but he was certainly one of our best players and we wanted to get him in the game and he was productive in that position, but we think he's more of a natural 34 end than he is a 34 nose. Let's put him at end and we'll see how the rest of it sorts out.

Q:Trading up just one pick is pretty unusual. Was that because you thought someone else was going after Warren?

BB: Well, you never know who anybody else is after, but we all saw those defensive linemen go and they went quick. Haynes went right after Warren, so who was after who, I don't know, but all things being equal, given what was up there, we wanted to take a defensive lineman there if we could and we felt like the value was there. I think had we moved too much further back, based on the way it turned out, at 18 most of those higher rated defensive linemen were all gone one way or the other. I think that if we had moved much further back, those guys would have been out of our range.

Q:So you thought the Bears were going to take a D-lineman, too?

BB: The Bears were talking to other teams and whether those teams would have traded up into that spot ahead of us and what they would have done, that's all speculation, but there was certainly some action going on around that spot. I think everybody's looking at the same board. The teams that are in the 20s are seeing that there were not going to be too many defensive linemen hanging around down there. Like I said, we were all seeing the same names up there today.

Q:Were you surprised at some of the picks early in the round?

BB: Those guys are all good players. If somebody wants somebody, they'll move up and take them. We've shown that we'll do that and other teams will do the same thing. You always get that on draft day. You get teams that want to move for a certain player and if they have the ammunition to do it, they do it. Other guys think they'll go higher, but for whatever reasons, they don't. That's just draft day. I think that's just part of it. You can never predict for sure who it's going to be or when it's going to be.

Q:How hard was it to get the #1 from Baltimore?

BB: This was one of those where Baltimore called us relatively early, right after they made their pick and said, 'Would you be interested in moving your 19th pick? We're interested in that.' We talked about that pretty much throughout the next six or seven picks, however many it was after the initial call. 'Are we still on for this? Are you staying? Is anybody else coming?' We were fielding some other calls, but in the end, we felt like that one worked out the best for us overall. We definitely had some other options at that pick.

Q:Was the #1 on the table at the beginning of the call?

BB: Well, yeah. There's no other way for them to get to our first round pick.

Q:Was that a hard decision?

BB: Sure. You're trading off a little bit this year versus next year. But again, in terms of numbers, we moved from 19 to 41. You're moving out of a round, but what you're actually doing is moving back 22 players and again, we felt like with the number of picks that we had in this year's draft and also in next year's draft, we would be able to move from 41 back up a little bit higher if we needed to and to be able to secure two #1 picks next year in addition to the two twos is good business long term.

Q:Do you feel like Warren's a good enough player to have a significant impact on the team in his rookie year?

BB: I don't know. Rookies develop at different rates. Obviously we think he can help us or we wouldn't have taken him when we did. We'll see how all that turns out.

Q:You said that it's good business long term, but is it ever harder to go for the long term when you had 19 right now?

BB: It just depends on who those players are. If you feel like that player at 19, you're not going to see at 41 or you're not going to see in next year's draft, then you probably wouldn't make the trade. But if you feel like you could back off and maybe get the same player or a similar type of player, then it makes sense to pick up something else. That's basically why teams trade back in the draft, because they feel like they can get equivalent value at a later point and get a little gravy on top of it. But again, each situation's different. It's not like you can just sit there and make a plan and say, 'Well, this is what we're going to do today.' You've got to kind of let it come to you and you can't make a trade unless someone wants to give you something. In Baltimore's case, they wanted the pick and they were willing to put something substantial on the table.

Q:What strikes you about Warren?

BB: He's really been a four-year player and a three-year starter in a good program. He played left end in their defense this year and nose the year before. You could really see him doing all of the things that we would ask him to do for the most part. He plays inside as a sub rusher in their nickel defense. He's a big, strong kid. He's a physical kid. He's tough and I think that he has some of the traits and some of the experience doing the things … He's easy to evaluate, because we can see him doing some of the things that we'll be asking him to do. But again, he'll be going against better competition and he'll be playing in a slightly different scheme and we'll see how that adapts. But, I think he's got a lot of qualities that we're looking for and if he can come in and work hard and pick up the system and do the techniques the way we want them done, then I think that at some point he'll have the chance to help us defensively. We certainly need some younger defensive linemen to work with.

Q:What besides the speed is the biggest selling point on Johnson? He got some mixed reviews in those draft books, but obviously you saw something in him that you liked.

BB: I think he's fast, he's explosive, he's a good special teams player and he's got some football in front of him. Their offense was probably not as sophisticated a passing offense as some other guys played in this year. They had some younger guys at quarterback and so forth, so I think that there's certainly some technique development that, like any young player, he can absorb coming in there. But he's got a couple of things that you can't teach. He's 200 pounds, he's very fast and he's very explosive. He's a big time run-after-catch guy. He really didn't get an opportunity to have a lot of deep balls this year in the passing game, but we know he can run and I think that he should be a deep threat or if they want to back off him maybe we can throw in front. He's certainly got some development to do, but he's got some skills that not many other guys possess in terms of rare speed.

Q:Because Warren played in a 3-4, was he rated higher on your board?

BB: No. I'm not saying that because he has experience in that defense that that's the main selling point. Seymour didn't play in that defense at Georgia and we still had him rated high. When a guy does sort of what you want to do, you can evaluate him and see how he does it, so maybe he's a little bit easier to evaluate. But, in the end, I think if the defense had been different, we probably would have come to the same point on him.

Q:Did that lessen the need to try to get up high knowing that he might be there?

BB: Well, you never really know who's going to be there. That's a tough one. You just don't know. You might have a group of guys and you hope that one or two of them are there that you like, but to sit there and say, 'We know this guy's going to be there,' that's a tough call to make.

Q:Was defensive line your main focus with your first pick?

BB: No. Our focus was to get good value for the picks. Defensive line was certainly a position that we can use, but if it had gone differently, and if eight defensive linemen had gotten picked and somebody else had been there, we would have evaluated that.

Q:Were you surprised at Buffalo's first-round pick?

BB: [Willis] McGahee? I think that there's been talk of him going in there, late first or second round, so no not really.

Q:Are you still looking for a bigger, stronger receiver?

BB: We'll evaluate what's on the draft board for the rest of the third round and into tomorrow and do that we can do with the picks and take the value. We're not going to take a guy just so I can walk in here tomorrow and say that we got a guy that's 6-4. If he's no good, what good is that? So, if the value's there and we think he can help us, I'd say at any position other than kicker we would take any player that we think is a good value. You need depth on your team at every position.

Q:Are you looking ahead to the '04 draft?

BB: That's something that you take a quick little glance at, but as we all know, the underclassmen move into the draft and that affects it so much. So many of those guys are high picks because that's why they're coming into the draft – they've had good seasons and it looks like they'll go fairly high in the draft. It's really hard to project how many junior that we don't even know about are going to be in next year's draft, just like it was going to be in this year's. To a certain degree yes, but in the end it's tough to know the answer to that question because it can change so much based on how a guy plays next year or whatever year it is.

Q:Can you speak to Wilson's ball skills?

BB: I think that Wilson's ball skills are probably as good or right up there with any other corner in the draft. I think he's got excellent ball skills. He has real good hands and is able to get his hands on a lot of balls. I think that's definitely a strength of his. He has real good hands.

Q:When you traded out of 19, did you think that McGahee would be around at 41?

BB: When you trade from 19 to 41, you look at the board and 22 guys are going to go, you don't know which guys are going to be there and which guys aren't. It's impossible to predict that. If you're moving down two or three spots then that's one thing, but when you're moving down 22 spots, your boat's going to take on a lot of water one way or another. Again, we're looking in terms of overall value. You can't trade 20 spots and just have one guy in mind. You might hope for one, but…

Q:Was that part of your thought process with McGahee?

BB: No. I don't think it's … It only takes one team to take a player. A guy could be rated to go in the fifth round on everybody's board, but if one team likes him in the second, he's going to be a second-round pick. It's just too hard to predict how that's going to go. The guys that are there you look at, the guys that aren't, you can't worry about them. There are other players on the board that we like, but there's no way to get them all.

Q:You passed on several highly-rated offensive linemen. Does that indicate a level of comfort with your current offensive line?

BB: Again, it's not really that important to us how the services have the players rated, with all due respect to the scouting services – and I have a lot of respect for what those people do – in the end it's how a player fits for us and what his value is to our team relative to the other players that are also there at the same time. I don't think it says anything about our team, it just says how we value the players that we had the opportunity to select at that point in time and we made our choices. There are other players on the draft board that we liked, but when it's your time to pick, you select one and then other people get their turn.

Q:Was this a need-based draft?

BB: No. It was value-based. We tried to take players that we think had good value for the pick and honestly if we didn't think that then we moved the pick, or tried to.

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