Q: Is this a generally good draft; better than average? Any way you characterize the talent crop?
A: What am I going to say, Mike (Garafolo)? There are all good drafts, yeah. All drafts are good drafts. We only have seven picks. We are just looking for seven guys that can help us. So I don’t want to qualify what the draft is – good or bad. I think there will be seven good players for us.
Q: Given the lack of free agency movement, do you anticipate on the whole that there might be more activity with the draft – more trades made?
A: That could be a possibility. I think people are going to look at this draft and see what they can get out of the draft. You might see some more movement after the draft. I don’t think that is beyond possibility.
Q: Have you gotten more phone calls about actually moving this year?
A: No more than usual, no.
Q: One part of the pre draft is always is beyond physical – like the mental side and the personality tests and the psychological evaluations – how critical are those in finding a player that might fit into your team concept? And also you store that information. Is it valuable four or five years when you are looking at free agents?
A: We have physiological inventories and we do a lot of interview stuff. That is just part of the puzzle. We put all of the information in our data base and it could help us down the road – how a guy’s interview was, how his personality profile was. We always look back on those things. So we take that into account as well, yes.
Q: For the draft, does it give you a good idea if a guy will fit into your team? Is that kind of the biggest purpose of it?
A: Well, that gives you some kind of idea – the profile of the kind of people that we like in our building. We have a profile that we like, yes. So we try to fit those guys in our profile. But you can never get all of the same guys. Everybody has different personalities, so it is hard to fit it. But we do look for certain qualities in players, yes.
Q: How much does it change things to be picking at the first half of the first round?
A: Obviously we don’t like that. If you are picking in the first half, you didn’t play that well. So in that respect we don’t like it, but we do feel like we are going to be able to pick a good player there at 15.
Q: Does it make for more in-depth work on those top guys?
A: No, not really. We look at everybody. We start out with the guy who we think is going to be the first pick. We talk about him just as much as we talk about the guy who gets picked at 32. So we go through the whole process just as if we were picking 1, yes.
Q: What do you think about the linebacker depth in the draft? Is there a guy that might be able to help you kind of replace that void that was left by Antonio Pierce?
A: I think there are good players at linebacker just like at other positions. So I don’t have a lot of comment of what the depth is like. But I think there are good players at that position, yeah.
Q: Last year at this time there was a lot of outside panic about your receiver situation. They were assuming that you must have a receiver in the draft. There is same kind of flurry of activity outside of the organization about middle linebacker. Do you view that as the hole that other people see? The view is that Antonio has left and you haven’t filled the spot.
A: I think we could improve our team at every position probably; so not just linebacker, any other position. We are looking for seven good players who can give us depth or maybe be a starter at any position – not necessarily linebacker.
Q: Today is the last day to sign offer sheets. Have you had anything going on there?
A: I think a couple of guys ran upstairs today. I have been in meetings all morning. I think a couple of guys ran upstairs and signed their offer sheet, if that is what you are talking about.
Q: No, I’m talking about guys from other teams.
A: Oh, no, I haven’t had anything in that respect, no.
Q: At 15, does it change your perspective – do you still look for the best player available or would you go for what you need the most?
A: We try to get value and need. That is never going to change. We try to get a combination of both. Sometimes you can get a good combination of both. But we are skeptical of drafting need. We try to get a combination of value and need.
Re: Change in schedule of draft, going from two to three days. What do you think the effect will be on how teams around the League go about things because of that gap between Thursday and Friday in the first and second round?
A: It just gives us more time to overanalyze what we have already overanalyzed is basically how that works. It is not a big deal that it is from Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. It is just a small adjustment – small stuff I think.
Q: You don’t think there are big changes?
A: No, just more time.
Q: How about the first phase of it. Do you think you will see more activity – people just getting antsy during the day waiting for the draft to start at 7:30 p.m.?
A: No, I don’t think so. I just think we have picked – like somebody said earlier in here – that we have picked in the bottom half so it has been a long day for us to get our first pick the last two years. So that is not going to change that much for us because we are picking at night. You would like to get up and get started but it is much to do about nothing for me as far as it being at night. I don’t think there is going to be a lot of activity just because it is at night. I think if there are any deals to be done, they will be done before draft day.
Q: In all of the years that you have been doing this, typically how dramatic can a guy either move up or fall based on a dramatic performance at the Combine - just at the Combine? You guys have game film on a guy all career long.
A: Sure, I think that happens sometimes. You see guys go to the Combine and just blow the Combine up with all of the gymnastic drills and athletic stuff. And you see people get burned by it. And you see some people go in there and do well at a Combine and play pretty good. So you see it both ways. I think years ago that the defensive end that Philadelphia took that really blew it up at the Combine played some but he was a quick riser. I said that to say that he was a quick riser, not to criticize their pick. He was a quick riser; I don’t think people had him ranked that high, but he really blew it up in the Combine and he jumped up high really quick. So you always see some of that happen.
Q: But your “MO” is to resist that temptation; to believe what you have seen prior? Or do you personally get swayed much by the Combine?
A: The Combine is just to verify some of the stuff we have seen on the field. What they do on the field is what is more important to us. We are looking for football players, not gymnasts. But that is part of the process.
Q: There has been a lot of talk about the linebackers. You spent a lot of money on the defensive line. Do you still think that is an area that needs to be improved across the board there up front?
A: Again, I think every position on our football team – I think there could be some improvement in every area – defensive front, the linebackers, secondary, offensive line, running backs, receivers, quarterbacks – it really doesn’t matter. We are looking for good football players. And really that is what is important to us. We try to stockpile good players and try to create competition. That is what is important to create competition.
Q: I remember a couple of years ago when you drafted Kiwanuka, I remember Ernie Accorsi coming down and telling us, “you can never enough pass rushers.” Is that something you buy into as well?
A: Sure. You can never have enough pass rushers and big people up front, especially in the league that we play in. You run the ball in our league and there are some big powerful offensive linemen, defensive linemen in our league. So you have to have big people to match up. So that is important for us as well.
Q: Does the fact that you might have actual depth at a position, would that preclude you from drafting somebody high in that position? I’m talking about healthy.
A: No, not really. Mike just mentioned that. Back when we drafted Kiwanuka we had Strahan, we had Tuck, and we had Osi. But he was the best guy on the board right there at that time. There was no way we were going to pass him up. So it doesn’t preclude us from drafting even if we have depth at a position; if he is the best guy up there, it is going to be hard for us to pass him up.
Q: How did that go? Were some people saying, “We really don’t need this right here?” Was there that give and take?
A: There was conversation about that. We had a great conversation about it. It is great conversation when a situation like that arises. But you just have to make the best decision for your team. You are not just looking for what is going to happen tomorrow. You have to look into what is happening in the future with your team as well and try to see the big picture from where I’m standing.
Q: How much more flexibility do you have given that you are getting back a lot of guys hopefully healthy and you were able to retain guys who otherwise would have been unrestricted free agents but were restricted ……..?
A: More is better for us. The more depth you have --- last year we went into the season, we thought we had a lot of depth and then all of a sudden we had a bunch of injuries and we were thin all of a sudden. So, yeah, 53 guys – no matter what, if you only have 53 guys on a team, it is enough depth period for a 16-game season. And if you are lucky to make the tournament, that makes it even more difficult. Depth is good for us if we can get it.
Q: We talked to Ahmad Bradshaw a little while ago and he said he had started running and is feeling good. With your running back situation you have one guy off knee surgery, another guy off Achilles’, another guy off two feet and an ankle. What is your level of concern with that spot – not necessarily related to the draft but just the health.
A: Like the other positions, we are hoping people can come back and be healthy. That is important to try to go into the season with a healthy football team and try to sustain that health as you go through the season. But obviously our starter and our backup were banged up a little bit over the past season. And they are on a good pace to be healthy going into the season. So we expect those guys to be healthy.
Q: Does it make it difficult at all to plan going forward? Because there is a little level of uncertainly when a guy comes off of surgery?
A: Sure. There is always some thought about what if this guy goes down right away. So you always try to create enough depth at those positions to get yourself through. But again, you only have 53 spots so you can’t have 10 running backs.
Q: Last year you drafted a receiver, but you had a lot of faith in some of the young receivers on this roster. Do you have any of the same level of confidence in your group of young linebackers who might be thrust into a middle linebacker job if you can’t get one of those in the draft?
A: I think there are some linebackers on our team that need to prove that they can do it. Just like last year, I thought there were some receivers – I do have some confidence in some guys on our roster that haven’t played a lot. I want them to step out of the shadows and show us what they have. I do expect that. But that won’t preclude us from continuing to look to upgrade that position.
Q: Who are you speaking about specifically?
A: All of the guys that haven’t played a lot – Kehl, Wilkinson, Jon Goff played a little bit at the end of the season – those kind of guys. There is another name it seems like I’m forgetting. But anyway – all of the guys haven’t played a lot. I expect those guys – this is their opportunity to step out of the shadows and show us what they can do.
A: Sintim hasn’t played a lot. He is a second round pick. You expect those guys to come in and play.
Q: Most of the receivers you talked about – you had some high draft picks who were waiting in the wings. But with linebackers that is not the case.
A: Linebacker is not the case but Sintim was a high draft pick. We expect him to play and come in and show us what he can do. When you are picked in the second round up here we expect you to play. Your first three picks, you always expect those guys to contribute right away. And he didn’t play a lot last year. He flashed a little bit in a couple of games. But we expect him to really come on along with some guys that have been here a little bit longer than him. The names that I mentioned – we expect those guys to show us what they have. Hopefully they will do that. I think they are looking forward to a challenge.
Q: What is it about him that leads to that confidence based on what you saw last year? Is it just based on what you saw before the draft with him?
A: Just the few flashes that we saw when he had a chance to play. He didn’t get on the field a lot. But if we picked him in the second round last year, we really think he could be a really good football player. So hopefully in his sophomore season here he will get in there and get it going.
Q: During his rookie year did he show you that kind of stuff in that limited time?
A: In the limited time that he played he showed us some flashes, yeah.
Q: I hear what you are saying about improving at all positions. But when you reflect on last season and the breakdown on the defense over the second half, how will that affect your thinking as far as what you have to achieve in this draft?
A: Well, again, last season I thought we had a lot of depth going into the season. And we had some injury issues. When you don’t rush the passer up front real well it affects the back end. I don’t care who you have back there. Then we had some injuries in the secondary. Kenny Phillips and Aaron Ross, their season was basically a wash. They didn’t play much. In the linebacker situation Boley had two surgeries during the season. You guys bang on me, but the injuries are what they are. When I say some of that kind of stuff – I’m not using that for an excuse. It is what it is – that is what happened. And I hope they stay healthy. Depth is always important. If you can get depth at every position, that is important. Because I’m telling you, this is a physical, physical game and you are going to have injuries. That is just a part of it. But when you don’t have enough depth to overcome that, it makes it difficult for everybody involved.
Q: At the end of last year John Mara came in and kind of vented a little bit to us. He said, “Everybody is kind of on the spot.” How did you take that? Has that affected your approach to the draft and the season?
A: John said basically the same thing I said. I didn’t say it as sensational as John said it, but he said the same thing I said when I stepped in here before he came in. I said, “Nobody is happy with 8-8.” That is not our standard. We don’t like that. That is not what we plan to do moving forward. We don’t like the season to end like that. We don’t like how we went out and got a lot of free agents and they didn’t --- I didn’t say they didn’t play well – they didn’t play a lot because they were not in the ballgame. So I don’t think John was saying anything that Tom Coughlin and myself hadn’t already said. He may have been more sensational with how he presented it than we were. But I think we all said the same thing.
Q: Has your approach to the draft though – it is still the same? You are not saying, “I have to hit a home run?”
A: We are looking for good players. If we can hit home runs, that is good. If we can get a double, that is good. If we can get a single - we just want to get on base in the draft. We don’t want to have a bunch of strikeouts. It is tough when you have a bunch of strikeouts.
Q: There is a very good DE south of us who is unhappy, very expensive to many teams now. Any chance of…..for him to come to the Giants?
A: I have no idea of who you are talking about?
Q: Redskins – Haynesworth - very unhappy. They are changing defensive fronts.
A: I’m not going to comment on someone else’s player. Yeah, I understand what you are trying to do but I don’t see those guys making a move in that respect. But that is neither here nor there at this point. There are always a lot of unhappy guys in the offseason. That is what the offseason is for.
Q: Where do you stand on your draft preparations and what kind of things will you be doing in the next week as you tweak them?
A: We are getting close to being at the end of our discussion about positions. And we are getting ready to stack our value board where we the players we think should off in our rows – they are not rounds, they are rows. We have talked about that before – they are rows – the first row and the second row, all through seven rows. So there is good discussion still going on right now. But we are getting close to starting to put our guys in the rows on the value board.
Q: I guess building off what Tom said before, picking at 15, I think in years past it has usually been we have gone into the draft with maybe four or five guys that you kind of thought would make you happy at that pick. Is that also kind of the way you will do it at 15 as well; same type of style in terms of you go about it on draft day?
A: Yeah, I think you still have the window. You know where you are. We try to visualize and see where our window will be with the four or five players who are going to be in our window at 15. So we are hoping that Bradford could be there; Suh could be there, McCoy could be there. So we are looking for those guys – hope those guys are down there.
Q: Are there still some veteran free agents out there that once the draft is over if there are spots that you haven’t filled, you feel comfortable you might be able to get a guy to come in?
A: You never feel comfortable. You hope that if that is the case, that we can go out and make an offer and get some depth - a veteran player can give us more depth if we don’t get who we want in the draft. If we feel like we need some to shore up some positions, that is a possibility for us, yeah.
Q: Every year there are trades in the first round. Do you guys go into the draft knowing you want to move up or down or is it kind of how the chips fall type of thing?
A: Draft unfolds one pick at a time. The dynamics of the draft changes every pick. All of a sudden you have a guy up there that you love and it gets close to you and you have to think about, “Well, maybe we should move up and take this guy.” And then it could be a situation where you don’t have anybody who you love, you want to get out of your spot, you want to move back. So we are open to everything in the first round, through seven. We are open to whatever. We keep all of our options open. We just try not to panic in there and keep a level head and pick good players; get solid players for the Giants.
Q: The thoughts on the guys you love or the needs and the value. Is there the same amount of consensus or debate this year as there is every year? Or is there a difference?
A: Same debate; no different.
Q: No more consensus?
A: No, same debate. We are not cavalier about anybody. We read the top players all the way down to the players who most people think are going to be free agents and try to find guys down there. You see that all of the time. You see the Willie Parkers of the world – a guy who doesn’t even play for his team and all of a sudden he gets a chance up here and plays well. We try to give each player that we talk about – give him the respect and really talk serious about him.
Q: You drafted Will Beatty rather high on offensive line. You have had continuity at that position for a couple of years now. Is that something that you want to continue to build on? You mentioned the word stockpile earlier.
A: Are you asking me if we are looking at more depth on the offensive line? Every position – offensive line – defensive line – every position – we are still trying to look for depth. We drafted Will high. We expect Will to challenge for his spot, create some competition at offensive line. You love continuity. If you have the five guys, that is a good thing. But at some point age comes into play and injuries come into play and you have to have some new blood to infuse into any position. So we do try to create competition and depth every year at every position. That is really important for us.
Q: How confident are you about the prognosis for your injured players coming back or close to coming back?
A: I feel good about everybody that was injured last year. I feel like we will have everybody ready for training camp. We may have some one a day guys at training camp like always. But as of right now our doctors and trainers are telling me we are going to have a strong, healthy roster for training camp. And that is exciting for me to hear that.