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Bill Belichick Post 2003 Draft Press Conf. Transcript - 04/27/2002

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick spoke with the media regarding the 2003 NFL Draft.



BB: It was another busy afternoon. We ended up with seven picks here this afternoon and 10 players overall on the draft. We started off with 13 picks yesterday. Overall, I thought we got what we were looking for in terms of value for the picks, spread out on defense and offense. We made some additions to the defensive line, linebacker, in the secondary and we spread around some depth on the offensive side of the ball. As everybody saw, we had movement on just about all the picks again today, until we got to the seventh round. It was a little bit the same as yesterday, we tried to move into position where we could get the guys that would be the most help at that particular time. We didn't necessarily have any desire to do it, but that's just the way it turned out. I think this is a group of guys that for the most part it looks like a hard-working group and I think they'll be competitive and I hope they'll come in here and apply themselves, because they'll certainly get the opportunity to show us what they can do. We're looking forward to working with them, but they'll have a lot of ground that they'll have to gain between now and the end of training camp or whenever the final evaluations are made for them this year. I think they'll all have a good, solid opportunity to show what they can do. I think that a lot of the credit today, not just this year but every year, has to go to the scouts and all of the people in that department, headed by Larry Cook. They go through literally thousands of names and times and all different sorts of information, medical, player evaluations and otherwise. All their history and draft research on all these players and it all comes together for just a handful of guys. In the end, it seems like a lot of work gets thrown away with all of the hundreds or thousands of guys that you end up not drafting. It's just part of the process, and I think those guys did a really good job, and of course, Scott [Pioli] as well. I thought they were really well prepared. It really made it easy for me to go through the information because they sort a lot of it out.

Q: Can you give us a brief summation of each guy?

BB: Alright. We'll start out with [Dan] Klecko. He was a very productive player at Temple. He played some different positions at Temple, inside and outside. He's a real active player, a high energy guy. He gave some people some trouble at different spots with his quickness and his explosiveness. Then we took Asante Samuel. Samuel's a corner from Central Florida. He also returned punts down there and he's got good hands. Again, he's got good hands and good quickness, similar size-wise to [Eugene] Wilson. He has some of those similar attributes. Then we ended up in the fifth round moving down a little bit to [Dan] Koppen. Koppen's a tough, hard-nosed, pro back-type of center from BC. A lot of good offensive linemen come out of the school and Coach [Tom] O'Brien's a former offensive line coach and a guy who I have a lot of respect for and I think does a good job. I think Dan was a solid guy in their program. The sixth round was [Kliff] Kingsbury. He was a real productive player, especially this year. He's had a lot of production in the spread open offense and I think he has some good leadership qualities in terms of managing the team and in two-minute drills. I think he's got some good traits for a quarterback in terms of game management and team management. Then in that seventh round, we started with Spencer Nead, a tight end from BYU who has also played in the backfield in their scheme. He played with [Doug] Jolley last year. He's a smart guy, a personal guy. He's done some different things in their offense, which with Gary [Crowton] out there is a very pro-oriented type of offense. He's doing a lot of things that you would see the Bears do when Gary was the offensive coordinator there. I think he's a guy that has skills in a number of different areas. He can line up in the backfield, he goes in motion, things like that. We then took [Tully] Banta-Cain. Banta-Cain was a defensive end at Cal and he's more of an outside linebacker in our 3-4 system. He has a little bit of experience dropping into coverage and that kind of thing, but he's predominantly been a college pass-rusher and a productive one. His transition will have to be a little bit more into the coverage aspect, although when we get to third down, he'll be in a pass-rush position at that point. Then finally, Ethan Kelley, he's a nose tackle and a three-year starter at Baylor. For the first two years, he played on the offensive side of the ball at guard and then they switched him to defense and he's been a nose tackle for the last two years in their system. Kevin Steele was the head coach down there and Kevin was a pro coach, a linebacker coach at Carolina. He was in the league prior to going to Baylor, so they run a similar type of pro, 3-4 system at Baylor, and Kelley's a hard-working kid, a tough kid that is a nose tackle. Probably what you'd expect a nose tackle to be, that's what he is.

Q: George Allen once said that the future is now, but that was a different time. Is that still the case?

BB: No, I think the future is now. This team and this year and the next game, those things are all important to us. But, as a head coach you still have to manage the team. It is now and it is important and our moves on the team and in free agency and in the draft, any time you draft guys you're drafting them for the future. You hope that they can have an impact as soon as possible. You've just got to balance the two. In George's case, he didn't draft very many guys. I think when you're drafting them and you integrate them into your system, with the salary cap system that we have in place now, it's something that every team needs to do to one degree or another. But, I think it's balancing.

Q: There were areas like running back, linebacker and offensive line where many people thought that you would make a move. Why did you end up going back to the same spots, like the defensive line and cornerback?

BB: My philosophy on the draft is to go in there and take players and take who we think are good players and good players who will fit into our system. It's nice when you can find them at a position that maybe you're not quite as deep at, but rather than just coming in here and checking off that we got a guard, we got an end, we got a this, we got a that, if the guys can't play the position, then you're sitting here two weeks later or a year later or halfway through the season saying, 'We've still got to get a guard, we've still got to get a tackle, we've still got to get this, we've still got to get that.' In the end, you've got to get good football players. If you don't, then you end up having to replace those guys that couldn't do it for you. It comes right back down to value, really. We took Klecko because we like Klecko. We took Samuel because we like Samuel. If there was somebody we liked more, we probably would have taken them. Again, it goes back to some of the other guys that you've seen us take that sometimes they maybe don't look like they're a position of need and then all of a sudden the guy's a good player and he becomes a valuable player for you and that's really what you want.

Q: Are there any spots where you come out of the draft and you say, 'Between now and training camp, we've got to improve this'?

BB: Well, yeah, you'd like to see a lot more of a lot of different guys, but we can't control any of that. So, anybody that becomes available, if there's an opportunity for them, we'd consider them and see what that would look like on our team if given all the factors, that person, whoever it is, was available. I wouldn't rule anything out. We'll take a look at everybody. The guys that fit and the guys that work, we'll be interested in and maybe it will happen and the guys that don't, they'll probably end up somewhere else.

Q: There was a time when the draft was the only way to restock a team and now there's free agency. Does that allow you to be more selective in what you want to do in the draft and focus on certain positions knowing that you have other opportunities to do things?

BB: I think it can. Right now, it would be hard for us to sit here and say, 'This guy's going to be available in June.' Sometimes the people you think are going to be available are and sometimes they rework their contract and stay with that team or sometimes the team doesn't release them even though we think they might. So, I don't think we put too much into that. When it happens, it happens, if it happens. In the meantime, free agency's an opportunity to look at a lot of players and so is the draft. I think that if you talk to every coach in the league, all 32 of us honestly, every guy would say, 'We still need this, we still need that.' I don't think anybody's sitting here today at any place and saying, 'Well, we certainly couldn't use any help at any position. We're just loaded everywhere.' It's just not like that. You're always looking to strengthen your club when you get the opportunity, so we're in that boat, too. We'll look at any opportunity we get.

Q: Guys like Warren, Klecko, Banta-Cain, they sound like very versatile guys. Do you feel like you've created depth?

BB: I sure hope so. We took six players on the defensive side of the ball and I hope that we've created depth not only at the position they're at, but maybe more than one position. I hope we've done that. That's the idea. We'll see how it all pans out and when the timeframe is.

Q: Klecko can play nose and it seems like a lot of those guys can do some different things.

BB: Right, a lot of those guys have done some different things. How they'll be in our system, whether they'll be able to do multiple things and how effective they'll be doing them, we'll just have to wait and see. It's nice to have that as something to work with at this point, but we'll have to see how it pans out. Doing things in college and doing things at this level, sometimes you can handle those multiple things and sometimes guys are more pigeon-holed into spots where their real strengths are. It will just depend on each player and how things work out in the system for them.

Q: Who does Klecko remind you of who has played in the past?

BB: I wouldn't necessarily make a great comparison with him to anybody. He's a good football player, he's a productive player, and he does a lot of things well. He pursues, he's a good pass rusher, he's quick. The big thing with Joe [Klecko] in this case is that we'll have to see if we can get him to wear a Patriots jersey instead of the Jets jacket.

Q: Do you know Joe well?

BB: When I was with the Giants, Joe was with the Jets and we competed against him as a player in New York and got to know him there. Of course, he was a terrific player and a terrific guy.

Q: Is his son like him as a player?

BB: Joe was really an end, Danny plays a little more inside. Not that he doesn't play end as well, but I think they're different players.

Q: He was the defensive player of the year in the Big East, but he was drafted on the second day. Do you think it was his size that made him fall to the fourth round?

BB: I don't know. When we talked about him and evaluated him, I think that he was clearly one of the most productive players in college football last year. I don't think there's any question about that. Why he was there in the fourth round and not taken in the third or the second, I'm not really sure. You could probably ask that about everybody that went in the fourth round. But, he's a productive player and I think he's got a lot of strong points and a lot of strengths going for him. How those manifest themselves in the pro game … He'll have to work hard and be able to capitalize on his strengths at this level as well. He's certainly got some tools to work with.

Q: As you go into the second day, are the players that you have earmarked that you particularly want to get? Did you make any deals because of that?

BB: The difference between the first day and the second day is that you've already taken, in our case, three players. It's not like you're starting from scratch. You've already done something, whatever it is. Then, you look at the board Saturday night and Sunday morning and there are probably going to be somewhere between 10 and 20 players that will kind of stick out a little bit more than the rest. Then you take those guys and kind of reorder them based on where you think you might have to pick them to get them, how much you really like one guy over another, or maybe you just try to figure out what your needs are. Sometimes you look at the board on the second day and you say, 'Okay, there's only one left at this position and then there's going to be a huge dropoff. Either we get this guy here or you'd pretty much better forget about it. So, you end up taking one in the seventh round or as a free agent, but you feel there's a difference in their skill. So, that's why a couple of years ago in the fourth round, based on what was there, we traded up to the top of the round with San Diego to take Kenyatta Jones. This year, we sat at 20 and took Klecko. So, I'd say that for us, there were just a handful of guys at the start of this morning that with our two fourth round picks we hoped that we would be able to get. We got two of them. We're happy with Klecko and Samuel. We were able to grab them.

Q: There's been a tendency in the last three years with the lower picks, in the fifth through seventh round, 50 percent of those guys made opening day rosters. Is that more of a salary cap situation, or…

BB: I think that's a little bit deceiving. I'm not arguing with the numbers, because I know that they are and I see them, too. I think that's a little bit deceiving. I think that when you look at it, almost 90 percent of the draft choices stay with their teams in that year. Whether it's active roster, injured reserve, practice squad, or what have you. Nine out of 10 players stay with their teams, as all of our picks did last year. But where the rubber meets the road is the second and third year. I think that's where financially the salaries escalate and guys have a couple of years to develop. Either he's made progress and he's earned a spot or he hasn't and the club's moved on and they've replaced him with somebody else. That first year, yeah, pretty much everybody – and it's not guaranteed – but pretty much everybody, percentage-wise, is going to stay with the team that picked them. But when you look at those numbers in the second and third year, you're going to see a dramatic dropoff for the same reason, because the guys two years later are sticking with those teams and they're displacing somebody and a lot of times it's draft choices a year or two ahead of them.

Q: Now that the draft is over, did you ever have a place in mind where you would have taken [Willis] McGahee?

BB: No. We really don't look at it that way, you know, that we're going to take this player at 'x' pick or that player at 'y' pick. We look at the board and look at the value and look at our picks and try to match them up. We obviously talk about moving up or moving back and so forth. But no, I've never really gone into a draft and said, 'Okay, at pick number 50 where going to grab this guy.'

Q: Well, was he in your thoughts as far as taking him?

BB: Well yeah, sure. We had a lot of players on the board and they were all considerations. If they weren't on the board, then we wouldn't have considered them. If they were up there, then there was some scenario where they would have potentially been picks for us. I really don't, for us anyway, I don't know if there is any other way to do it. I mean you can say well, 'this guy won't be there or that guy won't.' But when they come off, guys end up there that you might not anticipate and other guys that you think 'well we might have a shot at this guy,' is long gone.

Q: Was Kelley Washington on your board?

BB: Yes, he was one. Of the guys who were picked, whomever was picked, we had up there probably just like everyone else did.

Q: Do you think you are the first number on the speed dial to most people around the league given your movement in this year's draft?

BB: I don't know. Some of those calls we made, and some of them were made to us. I think anytime you go into a draft with multiple picks you are more likely to move them than when you have fewer picks or one pick in each round and when you have one pick in each round, that's the way it is and then you trade a pick and move up, then you've got a whole there in your draft and your sitting for 60 or so players. Then you pick at 60 and then you have no third round pick. Then you pick at the fourth round and you're at 120-something and you see a lot of players go by. You know, that's the downside of doing it. It's a little bit tougher. When you have a couple of picks … Here's the way I look at it. When we sit there, whatever the picks we have, whatever the numbers are up on the board, we've got this number and that number, okay those are players. However you want to put the picks together at the end of the day we've got to have a players name to put up there for those picks and that's what it's about. Sometimes those extra one's are just about getting a player.

Q: Coming into the draft and now looking back on it, do you feel like, as an organization, that you were better prepared coming into it? Last year you were coming off the Super Bowl and in 2000 you were late coming into it.

BB: Right. Yes, I would agree with that. I think that the preparation this year was good and we unfortunately had more time in January to work on it than we would have liked to have had. The scouts work on the draft year round and this is their Super Bowl. When we are playing in October and November or even in January they're still at the Bowl games and they are still doing the scouting and acquiring all the information. But for me personally and for the coaching staff, it was a late start but that's always what you want it to be. One thing about picking at the bottom of the round, you can usually eliminate a few players that won't be there where you want at 32.

Q: [Tully] Banta-Cain was very highly rated on a lot of the expert analysis. Were you still surprised to see he was there? Do you have any theory as to why?

BB: Let me put it this way, I'm not surprised to see anybody there. I wouldn't be surprised to see some of those players not there either. It wouldn't surprise me to see some of the players be picked in earlier rounds. You just never know. One thing with a guy like Banta-Cain, he's [from] a 4-3 team, is he an end? Or is he a linebacker for a 3-4 team? He's probably a little cleaner fit for us as a linebacker than he might be for some 4-3 teams. I am not saying that's a reason, I don't know, but anytime you have those defensive end/outside linebacker kind of guys that are in that 245 to 260 range, you have to make a decision organizational what you are going to do with them. Are they down? Are they up? Where do you find a place for them? Sometimes those guys, for some teams, tougher fits. It's a little bit like in a 3-4 the problem comes really with some of the defensive lineman. Some guys who aren't really that well suited to play on the nose. They're much better suited to play on a tackle. So if you got a guy on the center and a guy that's more suited to play on the tackle then he's not really on the nose, he's not really an end, he really should be on the guard, then sometimes that becomes a tougher fit for a 3-4 type team. Whatever system you have, some guys are going to look a little bit better in your system and not quite as good in another system but then vice versa. Maybe that's true of him. I don't know.

Q: The way you spoke about [Dan] Klecko, being mystified that he would stay on the board as long as he did, was he a pick at 117 that you said if he's there we've got to take him?

BB: Well, we said that at the end of Saturday. We looked at the board, there were some players up there. Who do we like? Here are the top guys that we like and he was one of them and he was there when we picked it, I can't remember what it was 117 or 120 whatever it was. But he was a target there and again, we talked, which we always do, about moving up higher and again the problem becomes when you move up you lose the picks behind you to move into it and just gamble whether or not the guy is going to be there when you pick. Now with Klecko, we stayed there and took him. Then with [Asante] Samuel we moved up a few picks and took him and then there was at least one maybe two corners taken right behind that between where we took him and where we would have taken him. What corner they would have taken or whatever, who knows. Sometimes you just kind of get a feel that you know the needs of the teams that are around you and you got a sense of what they might be after, maybe it's your guy. Maybe it isn't. If you really want to secure him for one reason or another whether he is the last guy left or he's got some special skills that you don't see the other players have and it's not equal then you make a move and get him.

Q: So you took Klecko where you would have taken Samuel because you couldn't pass that guy up on the board anymore?

BB: Right. We took Klecko because he was ahead of Samuel. Then we moved up to get Samuel. Then in the fifth round, we were sitting there and then we didn't have 6th round pick because we had given that up on the first round for [Ty] Warren. We moved back in the fifth round to fill that whole there in the sixth and we ended up taking [Kliff] Kingsbury. Again, like the move in the fifth round was a good example where we felt like okay, if we back off a little bit we've got a chance to fill in this whole between whatever the whole was, I can't remember the numbers now, between the fifth round and the seventh and we were able to fill that in the sixth and be able to balance it out a little bit.

Q: Who do you foresee at the nose right now?

BB: Well, I said [Richard] Seymour could play on the nose and he did play on the nose his rookie year. I don't think that's his natural position although he could certainly play it and did play there and played it on a Super Bowl championship team. I see him more as an end. Warren on the other hand, played end at Texas A&M, played nose at Texas A&M his junior year in very much the same defensive system that we play. So he's played both in a system where you could see him playing both. Seymour on the other hand, when he came here, played in a 4-3 system always on the right side between the center and a guard or the guard and the tackle. Those were his spots. Those were his only spots. You just didn't see him playing the same style that you saw Warren play. Yes, Seymour can do it. I think he's better at end. Warren on the other hand has done both and we'll just have to see with him where. Either he fits better for us or he's more comfortable. We'll just have to see how that goes.

Q: Will he start at nose?

BB: Will who start at nose?

Q: Will he begin his time at nose?

BB: No. I am sure we will work him at a couple of spots and we'll probably make a decision in training camp whether we just want to leave him at one spot and let him get the majority of his reps there or whether we want to work him at two spots in training camp to kind of see how it goes. There's pluses and minuses to that too. That's the decision and that's a great question. That's the decision that you make with a player is in mini-camp you can do whatever you want with him. You can put him at one spot and see how it looks and move him a couple of days. But when you go to training camp and you put the pads on, well those reps really add up day after day after day, then you fight the question of, 'well if we put him at nose and give him all the reps at nose and we find out we need to move him to end,' now we're starting from scratch when we move him to end. If you split the reps between nose and end, then you're splitting the reps and if you really know where you want the guy to go then you're better off giving him all the reps there. So there are pluses and minuses of doing it both ways. You just have to look at your situation and try to manage it. It's the same thing on the offensive line. But in the end, if a guy can play more than one position, then you have created some depth for yourself and that's always good.

Q: Can you see where he has look the best in either his junior or senior year?

BB: Well junior year he played nose and senior year he played end. I mean the guy was a pretty decent player at both spots. Part of that had to do with their whole defensive line situation. Again, a year ago the way that Texas A&M did it, is they put Rocky at left end his junior year because in the conference they played that was kind of the strong side running position and then this year when Ty was a senior, then they moved him from nose over to left end. Now Rocky, who was a left end, his junior year played right end. So it seems like they kind of move those guys around a little bit and they've had several guys down there. They had Rocky, Brandon, Ty and it seems like they had a guy or two every year and each year they kind of move them from one spot to the other even though they keep playing the same system.

Q: The fact that you won a Super Bowl 15 months ago with what many people would call a waiver wire team, an underdog team, does that make you a more confident and a more patient drafter? Are you able to do what you did yesterday when you took one of your number one picks and move it back to 2004? A coach operating under a more perceived pressure might feel inclined to just stick with it. Does winning that Super Bowl change the way you approach the draft in terms of your own comfort level?

BB: I don't think so. I really don't think so. I would just use the example in the 1995 draft in Cleveland. We were picking and I think it was 10th and moved that pick back in the round with San Francisco when they took J.J. Stokes. We moved the pick back and picked up a couple extra picks in the 1995 draft but also picked up a first round pick in the 1996 draft, which Baltimore ended up using for Ray Lewis, who is decent. I don't feel like that is anything that was unprecedented. I thought that was a good move to make at that time. I felt like yesterday was a good move in terms of overall value and overall what is good for the football team. As the head coach that is the job that I have to do in terms of managing the team. When you are sitting there with a first round pick, your receiver coach wants a receiver, your line coach wants a lineman, your defensive coordinator wants a pass rusher, your secondary coach wants a corner. Nobody wants to get somebody two years from now. They don't want to hear that, but as a head coach you have to look at the whole thing. You have to look at the contracts. You have to look at the development of your team, not just this year, but next year and so forth at all the different positions. I try to do the best I can at that, but that is my thought process. I don't sit there and think 'whether I get fired this year this is going to happen or if I don't get fired this year something else is going to happen.' I don't look at it like that.

Q: If you had not gotten [Rosevelt] Colvin in the free agency market, would you have been that much more inclined to take a pass rushing linebacker?

BB: That is a really tough question to answer. I just never thought of that. If we had not gotten Colvin, maybe we would have gotten somebody else. Who knows? Maybe that money would have been spent somewhere else or maybe it would have been another pass rusher. Who knows? Once you get dealt the cards or you draw the cards, however you want to call it, you have your hand and you play it. Some of those cards are dealt to you and some of them you draw out of the pile knowingly. You have it and you go from there.

Q: Your selection of Kingsbury is almost in the same exact spot as another quarterback you drafted in 2000 [Tom Brady]. Are there similarities in the two of them?

BB: I think it is really tough to compare players like that. They are from such different systems. There are a lot of things that are different. Of the quarterbacks that went in the later part of the draft, I think that Kliff has some good intangibles that I mentioned. How will he do in our system? We will just have to wait and see. He still has a lot of developing to do just like any quarterback would coming into the NFL. It doesn't matter what round they are taken in. He has some qualities that we like. I look forward to working with him.

Q: Is it tougher or easier to evaluate him (Kingsbury) given the type of offense he was in?

BB: That is another tough question. If you watch college football and I watch a lot of it from January to April. That is honestly when I watch the most. What you don't see much of in the college game is downfield passing. In other words, where a guys runs down, runs a route and the quarterback throws the ball and he catches it. You just don't see much of that. What you see is a lot of play action, a lot of quick screens where they just raise up and throw right out and the guy catches it and runs with the blockers downfield. You see some go patterns or some long passes. You just don't get to see the quarterback throw the intermediate routes and you don't get to see the receivers run them and you don't get to see the defense try to cover them very often. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part it is either

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