Opening Statement: We have a beautiful place to showcase. It looked really good on TV. We’re thankful for the coverage of you guys and the NFL Network. It was a great day.
On former players in attendance to provide support: It was good to see the guys who are currently playing in the league come back and support. Of course, our current teammates, something they’re striving for and looking forward to when they get that opportunity too. It is a genuine family atmosphere here, and that’s something that I think is unique to us in a lot of ways. That doesn’t mean we’re better, but for certain people we’re the right fit. That’s one of our advantages.
On Laquon Treadwell and speed: I don’t know that there are a lot of questions on it. He ran exactly what I thought he’d run. If you’re looking for just a guy that can run a straight line fast, that’s not what he is. If you’re looking for a guy that when you put on the tape can use his physical presence and his body to win in one-on-one situations in tight quarters and can win 50-50 balls, that’s him. I don’t watch a lot of NFL football games, but I see the highlights, and I don’t really see anybody running away from those DBS in that league. I’d take my chances with a guy like Laquon who can win in those tight quarters in one-on-one situations.
On Laremy Tunsil: To me, that’s the easiest discussion I can have. I don’t care who you have on your team I don’t see how you can bypass Laremy Tunsil. For a big man, an offensive lineman protecting your quarterback, that left tackle position is something you want to make sure you can secure. Laremy’s that guy. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anybody that can bend and move like he does, and now he’s gone to work on the one knock. What about his run game blocking? Well, he was very good for us at that, but can he do that at the next level. And his upper body strength? Today he goes and benches 34 times at 225 which I think tied the combine, this year’s (top) performance. There’s not a lot of question marks. It’s just a matter of people’s needs. Just put the tape on him, too. I don’t care if he ever runs a 40. I can see what he does from his stance to his first step back to his second step forward. It’s as good as any I’ve ever seen. There can’t be but a handful of guys that are that talented at that size and weight. I couldn’t bypass him if I were picking.
Did you think he would be No. 1 pick when you recruited him? Honestly, I absolutely do at this point and thought that was a possibility when we recruited him. I remember telling some people this guy could be a top two or three pick just because of how good his feet are. He’s very deserving of it, in my opinion.
Surprised by his 34 bench press reps? A little. He’s been training here, which speaks a lot for our staff. He’s been training here and getting his therapy here. He thought he was going to get 30. I said, ‘Man, that would be a good goal.’ Today he got 34.
Your lesser-known players? Glad you asked that. I started meeting with GMs and people early this morning, like 5:00 a.m. (Trae Elston) is a name that keeps coming up. The guy started like 44 games for us and played really good football. Everybody is intrigued by him, and he certainly helped himself today. Mike Hilton did also. Another surprise is going to be Woody Hamilton. He was dinged a little bit today, but somebody in a 3-4 scheme might get a guy that’s going to play like 8-10 years as a two-gap nose guard to play first and second down. I think some of those others, Cody Core everyone is talking about because of his performance at the combine. Fahn Cooper. Good to see those others like Trae Elston and Mike Hilton improve their chances today.
On Robert Nkemdiche: The narrative out there that he might not always give effort or there might be some laziness to his game is totally inaccurate to what my experience has been with him over the three years. I want to be very clear, the guy’s very competitive and he gives great effort. He’s only played inside technique for two years. Maybe he doesn’t handle double teams quite as well as he does zone blocking schemes right now but that will come with time. The word that he sometimes takes plays off, I have not experienced that at all. He’s one of the hardest workers we have in the strength program and the practices. He’s very competitive. The thing they have to decide is how much do we think the off-the-field issue is a risk for us. Is it something that can be managed? For us he managed it very well for the most part of his tenure here. He’s a very intelligent young man that has a good heart and he knows what’s at stake. They’ve got to make the call on that, but I think he has the potential to make somebody look really, really smart.
On how the NFL Draft plays in recruiting: We’ve had to battle in recruiting the last 3-4 years those who would say compare the draft picks. We were very careful to always point out that we haven’t had a draftable class yet. Now this is our first real draftable class. The product that we’ll put out in this draft will be very comparable to the top in our league, so now they can give us kind of some validation. Certainly we talked about these plans for a lot of these kids in the recruiting process. Now for it all to happen it gives us something to point to as we move forward in the next step at Ole Miss.
How do you answer the questions regarding Robert Nkemdiche’s character? I tell them my experience. He was a joy to coach. Obviously we were very up front and honest that he made a poor choice and he suffered the consequence of not playing in the Sugar Bowl. Hopefully he will learn from that. That was not a pattern that continued to happen throughout the three years. That’s really all I can speak of from that. Hopefully he’s learned from that.
What about Laremy Tunsil’s character related to suspension? One or two (NFL teams) have mentioned it. It hasn’t been a big item of discussion. He sat out as a punishment for something I believe that he did unintentional. I don’t think he intentionally said I’m going to get involved with this, and he kind of had a bad circumstance with the issues around him. We can talk about who’s right or wrong. It doesn’t matter. He did that, but I don’t think that a big source ... that there’s something they’re concerned with. I don’t think that speaks to a character flaw. Put his tape on and it’s pretty easy to look past whatever decision may or not have been good or bad.