Kokinis Meets the Media

The Browns new GM conducted the team's annual pre-draft conference, offering little new info beyond acknowledging medical procedures for RB Jamal Lewis and QB Derek Anderson. The OBR's Fred Greetham was there and recaps the session...

BEREA - George Kokinis was officially announced to the media on Jan. 26 in a press conference. He met with the entire local media for the first time since that date—almost three months—in the annual pre-draft press conference.

Kokinis only spoke for about 30 minutes—mostly answering questions as briefly as possible. He primarily addressed the draft, but did answer some questions on a variety of topics.

His opening statement was the obvious.

"We're excited about the draft," Kokinis said. "We asked (our scouts) to put the pedal down and they have. I've been a part of 18 drafts and it's an exciting time. We'll get an influx of new, young talent and it will be good.

"We'll talk about the process, but internal business is something that we're not going to discuss regarding speculation, rumors and trades. It's just not the thing to do."

Unlike his predecessor Phil Savage, who gave a rundown of the top 10 or so players at each position, Kokinis mentioned no players unless he was specifically asked about one.

Kokinis was asked if his philosophy was to take the best available player regardless of position or to draft by need.

"I don't think you can go wrong when you pick the best available player."

The only real news coming out of the session was the fact that Jamal Lewis and Derek Anderson had off-season procedures to repair injuries.

Here's a synopsis of his session.

Q: Do you feel ready for your first draft as the person in charge?

Kokinis: "The coaches have put a lot of time in with the scouts and worked hand-in-hand. I feel really good where we're at."

Q: Any ideas on whether you'll make a any moves on draft day?:

Kokinis: "We'll look at all options. Every team looks at all our options. Draft day is a great day. I'm not saying we're going to trade up or down or players. That's not been our focus."

Q: What about rumors regarding trading Brady Quinn. Do you feel this has affected him?:

Kokinis: "I've seen Brady. I haven't seen him change his work ethic. I see him with a smile on his face. I think everyone is working forward to the season."

Q: What do you think the chances of making a trade or taking a player with the fifth pick?:

Kokinis:  "If the phone rings, we'll pick it up. If there's consensus in the building on a player we like, we'll take the player."

Q: Were you involved in discussions to acquire Jay Cutler?:

Kokinis: "Jay Cutler is a Bear. We talk about all possibilities to improve the team."

Q: Earlier, you've said you anticipate both Quinn and Derek Anderson to compete for the starting job. Has anything changed?:

Kokinis: "I don't think anything has changed. They both have skills and competition is essential. You try to change that culture and attitude to move forward and do some pretty good things. Right now, they're both here and we're moving forward."

Q: Do you see the Browns as rebuilding?:

Kokinis: "We're going to try to win as many games as we can. We're going to try to bring in players to turn things around. It's more important as to what we are doing to improve the team. I don't think it's a big picture scenario."

Q: Do you want to acquire more draft choices?:

Kokinis: "We have five. We acquired one and if it's the right thing, we'll do that. We're going to wait and see."

Q: Who are some of the top players in the draft?:

Kokinis: "Every team is going to be different. I can't go into our strategy. I don't think there are any favorites, but how it would help your football team. There are a lot of guys in this draft like that."

Q: What about Michael Crabtree?:

Kokinis: "He's a good player. He had a procedure on his foot that didn't allow him to run. There's a comfort level with Michael. We've seen the doctor's reports. He has speed to get into the end zone and that's good enough for me."

Q: What areas of the team are most pressing?:

Kokinis: "I don't think there's a pressing need. There are needs all over the team. That's what the draft is for as far as filling depth and needs."

Q: Will Donte' Stallworth's situation affect your thinking?:

Kokinis: "I don't think draft strategy has any effect on his situation. He's on the team, but I'm not going to comment on his situation, hypothetically."

Q: Is he still in the off-season program?:

Kokinis: "He was here at the beginning of it but he's been in Miami trying to get his situation settled."

Q: What are thoughts about looking to find the heir apparent to Jamal Lewis?:

Kokinis:"One thing about Jamal is when you count him out, that's when he runs you over. If we see a back we like we take him. I don't think Jamal is done."

Q: Did he have any procedures in the off-season?:

Kokinis: " He had a cleanup on his ankle and I think he will come back stronger."

"I hope it's closer to the 10-6, I just know we have to get better every day. Our goal is to get better every day. I think the guys are working hard to get better. I don't think there will be a day that we don't try to get better."

Q: Did Derek Anderson have an off-season procedure?:

Kokinis: "I already gave you Jamal. All I'm going to say is Derek is 100 percent and he's going to come in and compete."

Q: Is it difficult to project someone from defensive end to outside linebacker in the 3-4 like Brian Orapko?:

Kokinis: "I don't think it's difficult. It's a little bit of buy into. We tried to move Adalius Thomas and it took a year or so to adapt. I've seen Orapko do it. His forte is getting to the passer."

Q: Do you see Aaron Curry as an inside or outside linebacker?:

Kokinis: "I think he could play in multiple schemes. He's a big, strong kid who plays hard. You do see him covering the tight end a lot because he can run. Versatility is an asset. In this defense he could play either inside or outside."

Q: You didn't make a splash in free agency as has been done in the past, why is that?:

Kokinis: "We looked at it and took a more modest approach in bringing in some leaders who wanted to play for Coach Mangini. We wanted to have someone who knew the system in each room."

Q: Do you think you will draft a quarterback, if nothing more than to be the third QB for now?:

Kokinis: "There is some philosophy to take a quarterback in every draft. If there's one we like we'll take him."

Q: Do you think the Browns defense will be able to stop the run?:

Kokinis: "I think this defense and the mentality of the personalities help you gauge your team. I think there is some buy in to what we're trying to do. It's going to be a priority."

Thoughts on Rey Malaluaga:

Kokinis: "His forte is smashing up into the guards. I think he has good range and there's no reason to think he can't do it."


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