Draft Transcript: Lovie Smith

Preaching athleticism and versatility all the way, the Chicago Bears added nine new players to the mix on Day 2 of the 2009 NFL Draft. Head coach Lovie Smith chatted with the Windy City media after the choices were made on a very long day for everyone involved at Halas Hall. Here's a transcript ...

Opening statement:
Very good draft for us without having a first- or second-round pick. We feel good about all the players. You want to add athletic ability. You want to get faster, younger, all of that. I heard one of you guys ask the question about how many of these players will make the team. We don't really know all of that, but just looking at the roster you want to think that all the guys have the opportunity. We start everybody from scratch, and we will do that this week with our rookie minicamp starting up Friday.

I am anxious to see some of our players. Jarron Gilbert, just looking at his athletic ability. Besides being able to jump out of the pool, he is able to do a lot of other things, too. Great speed. He jumped 10-7, so how many linemen do you see with those types of numbers? I am anxious to see Rod [Marinelli] work him, along with Henry Melton. Henry came up a little late on the scene, but I know a little bit about him and just him being a great running back and just seeing how he has developed the last couple years being a full-time defensive end. Anxious to see how far he can go.

Receiver-wise, of course, we knew that was a position that we needed to add some players and we did. [Juaquin] Iglesias and what he brings as a good steady receiver with good skills. Caught a lot of balls. The speed of Johnny Knox, with the combination we got with [Derek] Kinder, so I feel good about them. And picking up a player like Marcus Freeman, a linebacker that we could use some depth to get into the mix with it also. So we will put all those guys in there and let them go.

Defensive back was another position that we felt we needed to add a little bit to. D.J. Moore, great hands, great skill, quickness, all of that. [Al] Afalava also, a strong safety-type with some free-safety skills.

Overall, a good draft. We will put them all together this week along with some other free agents, and we will go from there.

On the addition of Gilbert:
Definitely a high ceiling for him, actually at a couple of different positions. Of course, at defensive tackle, at our three technique, we definitely think he can play it. He is a versatile athlete. Body size-wise, we are going to start him inside and let him go from there. It is going to be fun to watch him grow.

On Gilbert having a different body type than a typical defensive tackle:
I don't think he is that much of a projection when you look at his body type with the long arms, but if you look at what we are looking for at that position, yes, Tommie Harris does a lot of great things, but he is a great athlete. He is agile with great speed and agility, and Jarron has some of the same abilities, except for his body is a little bit different. We think he can play the position in there, and we have seen him grow quite a bit in the last couple years as a player.

On whether versatility was a theme to the draft going in:
I think you are always looking first at athletes. But all the players we have talked about, they do something well and that is what we drafted. The combination doesn't really play into it that much. We took Johnny Knox because we thought he would be a good receiver. We took Jarron, we saw him being a good under tackle. It just so happens that these guys can do different things.

On Knox being from a small school:
Well, it is a leap, but it's a leap to go from high school to junior college, junior college to even a smaller college. But we got a chance to see Johnny at the combine with everybody else, with all the big school guys. I didn't know a lot about him until I went to the combine, and then at the combine he looked like he was one of the guys from one of the bigger schools. I don't think this will be too much of a problem for him. I know he is excited about the opportunity. Skill-wise, he will be fine.

On Iglesias playing for a college team that was loaded with talent:
When you are at a big program like that, that puts up big numbers like that, you have to deal with some other stars. We think he stood out amongst the other stars. He has been a consistent player throughout, a go-to receiver in an offense like that. When you talk about him catching the football and what he can do as a receiver that size, a lot of different things that he can do.

On Afalava being a champion at rock, paper, scissors:
You know, we do quite a bit of research, but that was one that I didn't realize that was the one of the many things that he does well. But he was an impressive guy when he came in. I don't even know if I would know how to play that game.


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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.


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