Reese Meets the Media

After a half-hour press conference with the New York media on Thursday afternoon, it's even more obvious that New York will select a linebacker in the first round of next Saturday's draft. Just kidding, of course. Among other lessons apparently learned from previous GM Ernie Accorsi, Reese did an excellent job of not tipping his hand in any direction while being peppered by the press.

In any event, several interesting points came out of Reese's press conference, the details of which follow.

Q: Last year at this time when Ernie Accorsi was talking to us, what were you doing? Are you more comfortable doing that than this?

A: Last year when Ernie was talking to you, we were preparing. Actually the scouting part of it was really over with. We were discussing with the scouts and the coaches and getting everybody's input. We were really ranking the players by position at this point. That is what I was doing last year. Really that is what we are doing now, as well.

Q: How has the double duty (heading up the draft process as the GM) been?

A: Busy. The double duty has been busy. The draft process in itself is a gigantic process. You can't imagine how much time, money, effort, and man hours we put into it. It is busy. It is really detailed. It's not like you look on the news or NFL Network and these guys have them ranked and it looks like it is a real easy process. But there is so much detail that goes into it you have to be meticulous about the way you rank the players – from their background to what he does on the field. Just a lot of details to this – the entire process.

Q: In general, do you prefer to draft by need or by position?

A: It's a combination of both. You don't want to get into the draft process and you have a great value guy – kind of like Mathias Kiwanuka last year. We really probably didn't need a defensive end but the guy was valued so high for us that we picked the guy. You can't just leave a guy (like that on the board). In the room at the time I asked them, I said, "Does anybody in this room think Mathias Kiwanuka is not going to be a Pro Bowl defensive end?" No hands went up. I said, "We are going to pick this guy. I know we don't need him at this point but at some point he is going to be a good player for us." But you are conscious of your needs. You just don't go in and say that we are going to pick the best player all of the time. You are conscious of your needs.

Q: Will you have more input and power now that you are GM and Director of Scouting?

A: We all do it together. We take everybody's input. We don't have guys that scouts go out for 200 days of the year and not have their input. The coaches go and work guys out. They go to the Combine as well. They write reports. We all put our input in it. So if it's a final decision, it will be my decision. Just like Ernie, if there was a final decision, it was Ernie's decision. But we all have input on the entire process.

Q: Were debates between you and Ernie?

A: Sure, there were debates.

Q: At the top level, not with scouts. So now are you going to debate yourself?

A: Well I'm not going to debate myself but there are scouts in the room. There are coaches in the room. We will talk about it and we will come to a consensus about the player we are talking about. If there is a final decision – I like for all of us to be on board with it, but if it is a final decision that we have to make a hard decision of whether we are going to pick a guy or not, I will make that decision.

Q: If you focus in on somebody that you really like, would you also start to think about making a deal to move up to ensure getting him?

A: I think 20 is a good spot but we could move up or we could move back. If there is a guy that is getting close to us that we like and we think all of a sudden, "You know what, this guy may make it to us we if we try to make a deal for it." But 20 is a very good spot for us. I like the value at 20. I think we are going to get a really good player at 20.

Q: One would be better than 20.

A: Thirty-two would be better.

Q: At 20, can you get someone who can start?

A: I don't know if we can get a guy that can start, but I think that we can get a real good football player. There are not a lot of rookies that start in the National Football League if you look all the way across the board. There are not a lot of guys that can jump in and start right away. It is a different level. I think we can get a really good football player at 20. If we stay at 20. I think we will get a really nice player there.

Q: You don't look at the draft as ‘we are going to draft to fill a hole this year?'

A: Not necessarily. You develop players in the draft. You would love to get guys that come right in and play. That would be fantastic if you would do that every year. But you develop guys out of the draft. College players usually don't come in and play right away. You have some exceptional kids that you throw in the fire and they play right away, but most of the time that is not how it goes. You develop players from the draft.

RE: this being the first pick of your career as a general manager

A: I really don't think about it as my first pick. It is the New York Giants' pick. That's every year. I don't think Ernie saw it as ‘Ernie Accorsi's pick.' I don't think George saw it as ‘George's pick.' He is the New York Giants' pick. So I really don't think about that one.

Q: As you are going through guys, are you paying more attention to character background?

A: We have always, as an organization as a whole, we have always been conscious of the character background. So we have always been conscious of that. We have things in place to try to avoid some of that. But we are very conscious of the character issue, not just now. In the past we have been conscious of their character.

Q: Are character guys little more risky….?

A: Obviously it is a lot riskier now because of the steps taken by Commissioner Goodell. Obviously he slapped some hands, broke some plates. So with those high-risk character guys, you have to be a little bit more careful about taking those picks.

Q: One unnamed personnel director said that he thought there were only 18 first rounders in this year's draft.

A: Let me explain how we do it here. It is not rounds for us. We try to keep the guys in the draft room in rows. It is not rounds. If it were rounds, there would be 32 first-rounders in the first round if it was rounds. It is rows. You have to pick 32 players so you put them in the first row. We call them rows. They are not rounds, because usually there may be 12 first-rounders. If it were rounds, you would only have 12, maybe 18 guys this year. So there are rows. There are guys that you would like to have in the second round, but they get into the first row because you have to pick 32 players in the first row. They are not rounds, they are rows.

Q: Do you think this is a strong draft?

A: I don't like to judge one draft against another draft. All drafts have good players in them. You just have to develop the players. What do we have, eight picks this year? We only need eight players out of the draft. But there are good players to be had in this draft I think.

Q: What are two or three positions you want to address in this draft?

A: I can't share that.

Q: What positions are the strongest?

A: Where is the draft strongest?

Q: Yes.

A: I don't want to talk about that either.

Q: Would you be averse to moving out of the first round to get an extra second- or third-round pick?

A: I'm not adverse to anything. We will look into all situations. We will look at everything. We can move up, we can move down, we could stay where we are.

Q: Is there a possibility?

A: Absolutely there is a possibility. There is a possibility of anything. There is a possibility we could move up, we could move back, we could move out of the first round, we could stay at 20 and pick.

Q: Has this team done enough in free agency?

A: We did what we could in free agency. We went after some guys in free agency and some things just didn't work out. The market was out of control to a degree and we try to be smart with our money and some situations just didn't work out for us.

Q: From what you said, are you a little disappointed in the results?

A: Well, I don't really get disappointed about things like that. It is what it is. We did the best we could as far as we could do it. And we went after guys. It didn't work out and you move on, move on.

Q: In what ways was it out of control?

A: The money was out of control. I think there were some guys who were probably, some people would consider marginal players, got paid astronomical amounts. We didn't feel like we were going to do that. We didn't feel like it was smart for us to do that.

Q: Did that change your draft strategy?

A: You have your ideas and you think you can get guys in free agency. It would be nice to say, "I want this guy in free agency. I want that guy in free agency." If it happened like that, it would be great, but it usually doesn't happen like that. So you have to be prepared to play the hand you are dealt and play it as you go, as it unfolds. Free agency, the draft, you have to play your hand as it unfolds.

Q: Given the way the market did unfold, how comfortable are you going into this draft the way the roster looks now?

A: You always want to improve where you are with your players, your personnel, up until the season starts. I think we have some work to do still. But where we are right now – in the playoffs last year – how many players are not on the team right now that were in the playoff games? What, three or four guys, maybe? I'm not sure, maybe four guys, including Feely maybe five. So I don't think we are that far away. We have things we can get better at and we want to keep improving our roster up until we get ready to play. But it is just a never ending process.

Q: Given that you don't necessarily expect the draft choice to become a starter, do you believe that your starters for this season are on your roster now?

A: I didn't say that the draft pick could not be a starter. We could pick a couple of guys that end up being starters for us. We'd love for that to happen. It could happen. I'd love for it to happen. Maybe it won't happen. So if that doesn't happen, obviously we have some players on the team that are going to have to play right now—are going to have to start and play.

Q: Is there anything left to do in free agency?

A: There are still some opportunities left out in free agency. Free agency, trade opportunities. There's still some stuff left out there.

Q: Did you push for anyone in particular in free agency? What role did Tom have in evaluating free agents? Did he push for anyone in particular?

A: Again, everyone is involved in the process. The pro personnel staff is involved, the coaches are involved, Tom is involved. So we're all involved in the free agency process, just like the draft process. Everybody we talk about, we come together and decide on a game plan. This is the guy we like at this position. Let's try and bring these guys in. So everybody's involved in the process.

Q: Are you more likely to pass on a guy with great skill who has character problems?

A: Again, it's not new for us with the character flaws with players. We've always had things in place. If a we thought a guy's character was going to be a problem, sometimes we might pass on him. Or if we thought structure might give him some help, we might take a chance and take a guy. So we've always been very conscious of character flaws with players.

Q: In recent weeks several names have come up of veterans as free agents or trades. Are there any still live? And don't you need to get a decision before you draft?

A: Everybody's alive in trade opportunities. Everybody's alive. I'm not sure what you're asking me. There are still trade opportunities for us.

Q: But if they were close you wouldn't say anyway.

A: Absolutely not.

Q: How do you determine a guy's character? Does one arrest make him a bad guy?

A: Absolutely not. A lot of us have done things in our past. And I don't think everybody in here's a bad guy because we've done things in our past. These are young kids. They're impressionable kids. So you can't absolutely kill a guy because he went out and had a beer after a party and got into a scuffle or something. A lot of these kids get parking tickets. You're not a bad person. Some of them get speeding tickets. Probably everybody in here's got a speeding ticket. But we get all that information. If a guy's got a blotter, if he's got a long list of character flaws, you have to take that stuff into consideration.

Q: A guy with a long list sits down and talks to you and probably has an explanation for it and says I'm not really that bad of a guy. That must be pretty tough to determine.

A: Well it is. You have to bring him in. We give them psychological inventories. We have a lot of things in place. You sit him down, you bring him in, you talk to him. You let him look at you eye to eye. Some guys will make excuses for everything that happened to him. But a lot of guys will say, ‘You know what, I was a knucklehead. I screwed this up and I know better now. I've learned from my mistakes. Let's move forward.' You get both sides of the story. Some guys don't admit anything, some guys admit, ‘I did it.'

Q: Can you talk about the dynamic with other general managers who don't know you because you're new to this role?

A: Well, I think all the GMs know who I am, I know who they are. They don't know me in the GM role, but they know me from being in the league. I've been working for the Giants for almost 14 years now, so most people know me around the league. Obviously GMs who have been in the business a long time know each other better than they know me at this point. Business is business. I don't care who's doing the business for you. If I'm doing the business, or whoever's doing the business, if a GM wants to talk to the Giants about a trade or something of that matter, whoever's taking care of the business, that's who they talk to. I don't think it matters if I'm the GM or if Ernie is the GM or whoever's the GM.

Q: They don't have a track record as to what kind of guys you like though.

A: No, they don't. I think you're reading too much into that though. I don't think they do that as much as you're saying. I don't think that happens as much as you're saying.

Q: Did that issue come up with Al Wilson. We're they testing you at all?

A: I'm not sure what they thought with Al Wilson. We liked Al Wilson to a degree. We had some things in place with the agreement with them. We brought him in for the physical. Things didn't work out with the physical and it was a deal breaker for us.

Q: Last time we saw you was when you were being named as general manager. Much was being made of the historical significance of being the third black general manager. Has anything happened since then that has sort of brought home the significance of that to you?

A: You know what, I really haven't had a lot of time to sit around and think about that because it's been so tremendously busy. I still get lots of phone calls and emails and flowers. Everybody's excited about it. I really haven't had a lot of time to sit and think about it. I'm sure at some point when things level off a little bit and I hire somebody to take some of this off of me, I can just sit down. Maybe during the summer—a couple days off during the summer—I can sit down and look back.

Q: Has that reception been because you're the general manager or a black general manager?

A: I think it's probably a combination of both. I think it's a combination of both.

Q: When you let Luke Petitgout go, was that more your decision than Tom's?

A: No, it was us. It was us as an organization. From the top to the bottom. From the owners, all the way down to everybody involved with that decision, it was us. It wasn't totally my decision, it wasn't totally Tom's decision. It was our decision as an organization.

Q: Was it mostly a health related decision?

A: I can't go into details about that.

Q: When the first round is over, will you be surprised if you stayed at the 20th spot?

A: Nothing surprises me on draft day. I wouldn't be surprised by anything that happens.

Q: Is your interest in Al Wilson over?

A: Nothing's over at this point. We'll see what happens with him in the future.

Q: Now that Ernie's gone are you going to change anything in the draft process?

A: There are a few things that we've tweaked, but the entire draft process for everybody, it's all similar but different. It's not different from everybody's draft process. It's about the details. Get as much information as you can. And then, after you get the information, don't over-analyze yourself, because sometimes you meet for ever and ever and ever. We meet for two weeks, put them on the board, and then we pick them. Some teams meet for a month. I think you can over-analyze yourself when you meet for a long time.

Q: Do you still give that 6,000 question test to all the players?

A: We have changed companies to do the psychological profiles for us. The test is not as long. I think there are 14 other teams that use the company that we use. But it's not as long.

Q: What is the name of that company?

A: Human Resource Tactics. HRT.

Q: So that's the biggest difference between Joel Goldberg and this current company?

A: I think both of them had similar tests, but one is just much longer than the other.

Q: Was that test used last year?

A: It was used last year.

Q: So this is the first year using the new company and the new test?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you think you're going to bring in a veteran kicker at some point?

A: We might have to bring in a veteran kicker. We're very aware of that. We have some young kickers on the roster now, and we're going to see what happens with them.

Q: Do you want to have a veteran kicker for training camp?

A: We'll see. I'm not sure, Paul. We'll see how these guys kick through OTAs and through the offseason. If they're not kicking worth a crap, we'll go get a veteran kicker and bring him in, but right now they're kicking pretty good. We'll see how that works out.

Q: Is there a longer group of guys that you are staying away from due to the new rules regarding character?

A: No. Again—I don't know how many times I can say this—we always flag for character flaws. We always flag that. Our character flaw (players on our board) are probably similar to the last five, ten years. We have the same batch of guys—we flag them for the same character flaws. It hasn't gone up or down for us just because the league is starting to slap people's hands about the character flaws. It hasn't changed for us because we've been conscious of it for a long time.

Q: Is the offseason market due to the amount of money teams have to spend?

A: Sure. The increased cap. Guys have more money to spend so they give it away.

Q: Now that you're the GM, do you find yourself working longer hours?

A: I am working longer hours now just because there's so much involved. I usually get in around seven, I leave around seven. So right now, you have to do what you have to do until you can get more help. Again, that's part of the double duty that I'm doing. The hours are a little bit longer, so I'm working 12 hours instead of 10 hours.

Re: Brady Quinn

A: I'm not going to individually talk about players in this press conference. I'll talk to you about them after draft day, but I'm not going to talk about individual players.

Q: At this moment do you feel comfortable you have a left offensive tackle?

A: We have a left offensive tackle that we've won games with. Would we like a better player at that position? Maybe so, but we've won games with the left tackle that we have now, David Diehl. We've won games with David.

Re: drafting strategy

A: As the draft unfolds—obviously we're just sitting and watching at the beginning, unless we feel we could package something and move up for a player that we love or something. That could happen. But if we want to stand pat at 20, probably around pick 15 we'll start talking about players. We'll have five or six players that we think will be in our window and we'll talk about those players. If one of those guys gets picked, we'll put the next guy in the bunch. We'll talk about those guys. So by the time we pick, if we haven't moved back or moved forward, those five guys are usually the guys we'll talk about.

Q: Is there a style of defensive player that you're looking for because of your new defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo?

A: Spags, he's given us a list of players that he likes. So we're definitely looking at the type of players that he likes for his defense. Again, we have to wait and see who's on the board, let it unfold and see what happens. We do have a list of the traits that he likes for his defenders.

Q: Would you be surprised if Anthony Wright did not win the backup job?

A: Would I be surprised? No, I wouldn't be surprised by that.

Q: Would you be surprised if he won the backup job?

A: I would not be surprised if he won the backup job. I would not be surprised by that.

Q: Is this thing really as simple as you putting together a list of 20 players in your order of preference and when your turn comes, the highest one still standing is your pick?

A: I don't think it's that simple. The 20th guy on your board, that's your guy. There's a lot that happens. We may have some guys ranked in the first row—we may have a guy at 32 that gets picked before us. Or we may have a guy in our second row that gets picked that we don't like as well that gets picked before us in the first row.

Q: But that still wouldn't affect the 20 you like best in order.

A: It would affect it to a degree. Every pick affects where you are in the draft.

Q: Does position affect that?

A: Everything that happens in the draft affects you as the draft unfolds. Every pick, the draft changes. Every pick.

Q: Are you the tie-breaker?

A: Am I the tie-breaker? Yes, I'll break the ties.

Q: Have you visualized scenarios where you want one guy but someone else has a convincing argument for another guy?

A: Bob, we try to do it—and we did it when George and Ernie were here. I hope it doesn't come down to that, but if it does come down to that, I will be the tie-breaker. But we try to be on board, the majority of the people—the scouts, the coaches, everybody involved. We want everybody to like the player that we pick. We don't want to just say, well, this is Jerry's pick. I don't want to overrule the scouts. They go on the road for 200 days. They know the players better than anybody. So we want everybody's opinion.

Q: Can you be convinced to change your mind?

A: Sure I could, if I think it's the right thing to do.

Q: At the combine you said you would not give up any of your first day picks. Does that change on draft day now?

A: It would have to be a honey deal for us to give up our first day picks. Never say never. If I said never, I shouldn't have said never.

Q: Are there any GMs around the league who you have relied on, maybe picked their brains a little bit?

A: I have made some phone calls to different GMs and asked them about a few different things that came across my desk. I have done that.

Q: Who?

A: Ozzie Newsome.

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