Del Rio News Conference Regarding Draft

HEAD COACH JACK DEL RIO - DRAFT PREVIEW NEWS CONFERENCE (TRANSCRIPT) - TUESDAY, APRIL 24, 2007

(on drafting well in the second round)
"They've all been different. I think each year it's been different as to how we came up with the player. I think with Rashean (Mathis), in studying him, we really saw a rare athlete that nobody seemed to know about. We just made sure that we did our homework, studied the tape and watched him work out, did all our background checks and all the things that we do. This guy was just a really talented player that, because he went to a small school, was going to be available there. So we were ecstatic to be able to get him there in the second round. I remember that year people were asking us about other name players, 'why not them?' We just felt so good about the value that he represented there, we needed to pick him."

(so you thought Rashean was a second-round guy?)
"We were hoping to be able to have him be available for us in the second round. I don't know how much I want to educate the world on what we do but the bottom line is we talk about how we're going to take them off the board through the first several rounds before we get on the clock. When the draft starts, we have our decisions made early on the value of the player."

(did you target drafting Daryl Smith in the second round?)
"It's not that we targeted him, it's that we thought he was a first-round talent. We thought that he and Greg Jones were both first round ability-wise, and there were some scouts that graded them in the first round. Whenever you say that, the agents want to come back, 'well, let's get paid like a first round,' so you have to be careful with all that, but we had strong grades for them. Obviously they turned out to be really good football players."

(are there players you won't take because of who they're represented by and also those who have character questions?)
"As far as the agent, no, there aren't any agents that we have on a don't-take list. As far as how we work our board and who we take off our board, that's a process that's been in place from the beginning. We have a medical staff; we trust their opinions. We have medical grades and are very thorough with that. We have character; we have a scouting staff that we trust and we assign character grades, and there are certain grades that put players in no-take categories for us."

(on Khalif Barnes being projected in the first round)
"We didn't anticipate him being there. He represented great value."

(at what point in the second or third round that you get away from best available player?)
"There is a line that you carry a certain distance and then you get into need picks. I think historically the second day is more of you're into just filling out the needs. That's been the basic philosophy."

(do you think the hype that goes into the draft and the coverage it gets is a little over the top, considering that the rewards don't come until several years down the road?)
"Somehow that is not a part of it, though, because really five years from now we'll know how this class panned out. Or four years, or whatever the timeframe is. So I think that is part of the realty that nobody cares to look at right now. Right now it's a fun time because if you're a fan of the NFL, if you're even a fan of the college game, it's a time when you're going to pay attention because you want to see if your guy goes, and if you're a fan of an NFL team you want to see what your team does. It's really interesting how it's taken off and taken on a life of its own. Many years ago, Mel Kiper was this guy on a start-up network. So it's really grown and mushroomed into a huge event."

(as someone who's been involved in this process, would you almost prefer that it be the old way, more of a quiet thing where you go about your business?)
"I think we go about our business. I think the information exchange is there. I think with technology it's a lot more rapid. To me it is an exciting time of year. I absolutely love the evaluation process. I enjoy putting on tape and studying these prospects, determining where I think they're going to go, how they're going to do, keeping notes. I track it back. I've done it ever since I've been in the league. I enjoy that part. To me, I look forward to the draft as an event myself, even though I'm a coach and I'm working hard at it, I enjoy the whole process: Working at it, determining whether a guy's going to be good or not, and then finding out. Nobody's perfect. I think one thing you find if you've done it long enough is that it's an inexact science. You've got human beings studying other human beings, trying to determine what they're going to do at the next level. I feel really good about our process because it's inclusive. We encourage our scouts to be very forthright. We value their opinions. We do the same with the coaching staff, and then we work through all that information and place a Jaguars grade on guys. I think it's a good, solid system."

(do you spend more evaluation time on the first three rounds compared to the later rounds?)
"There is no question that there are more scout grades, there are more eyes that come across the first day players. I think what happens late in the draft is that's where you really lean on your scouting department. I think Gene Smith does a great job. I'm not sure he gets the credit he deserves. I think he does a great job, he and his staff working year-round assessing players, evaluating players, gathering information, very professional. They represent the Jaguars organization extremely well out on the road. I get compliments all the time from college coaches, from fellow coaches in the league. Those guys do a great job on the road conducting themselves like professionals and working the process, gathering information. I think late in the draft or college free agents, I think the success we've had has been a direct result of their effort. Look at how many guys we have on our team that have been low-round picks or free agents. That's a credit to the scouting staff."

(how deep do you go in your mock draft?)
"We typically go through the first day."

(will there be more weight put on character in this year's draft?)
"I think it's likely that more teams will put emphasis on it. I feel very confident in telling you that we've had a very strong character grade associated with our overall grade in the time we've been here, and we'll continue to do that. I don't know that our process is going to change a great deal. We've always assigned a character grade and we've had some no-takes, and so this year is no different than that."

(Would those no-takes go deeper this year?)
"We take people off the board if we're not going to take them. Everybody has their own philosophy. We assess and determine a character grade based on the history of that player and what we feel about going forward as an organization, and from the day I got here that has been a very strong component of what we do."

(would you for once like to take a defensive player in the first round?)
"Yeah, I would like to but of course the misnomer about us former defensive guys, once you become a head coach you're all about the team winning and whatever is best for the team. I think Tony Dungy enjoys having a high-powered offense and he's a defensive guy. But as a head coach, we want to do what's best for the football team. Certainly I'm aware, Mike Smith makes me aware of the fact that we haven't selected defense yet. But we're taking a good hard look at the board and we'll do the right thing."

(in the NFL, is defensive end more important than defensive back?)
"I think it's important to have both. Defensive end, corner - they're both premium positions. I think what Gene (Smith) spoke to earlier, you can just watch how much those guys are paid in the open market to get a good idea. If you're a premium defensive end, you're going to get paid a lot. If you're a premium corner, you're going to get paid a lot, and that's reflected in the draft. They get a big run on them each year and this year is no different."

(players who are that big in size compared to a secondary player, does that prompt you to maybe get that smaller pool of a player?)
"I was in Carolina when we selected Julius Peppers. There are rare athletes that come along once a decade, if that, and certainly if you have that kind of opportunity, you can jump up and put the pick in right away. But picking at 17, you don't tend to find those types of guys down there at 17. So we'll do the best we can at 17."

(will there be more consideration to take a player who can make an impact this year versus a player who would not make an impact until the second or third year? Does that come up in discussion?)
"I think it does. I think this year, for the first time really since I've been here, I feel stronger about the roster that we have in place. So a guy coming in is not necessarily going to have a dramatic impact. He'll be given the opportunity to compete and vie for that opportunity to be that guy and have that impact. But much like last year with Maurice Jones-Drew, that's a great one to illustrate this particular example. When you add a talented guy, there's no promise made other than we're going to let you compete and see what happens. And if you've got a guy who is really talented, you start finding ways to get him the ball and so that's an ideal situation. When you're strong at a position, you can just add based on who you like best and gives you the chance to be even stronger."

Jags Illustrated Top Stories