You said about a week ago that you wanted to do something about the run and it looks like you did that with the first two guys. Is that what you had in mind?
Yeah, I think Lamarr Houston will play defensive end in our scheme and we expect the transition to be easy for him. He played it the first half of his college career so there's a lot of background there. Gives you a guy, again, that's got the right qualities in terms of the football player, the numbers, the power, speed, all those things. Very productive. Comes out of a program that's used to winning, understands how to do that. And then more importantly, to me, he comes and fits a need for us which is in the defensive front.
And then Jared Veldheer in the the third pick, offensive tackle from Hillsdale. Best tackle available there and a guy we had in for a visit and knew a lot about him. You have to do your homework on those guys from the smaller schools, but thrilled to get him.
How hard is it to project those smaller schools guys and what is it about Jared that makes you believe...
Well, the biggest thing, I think when you start projecting. If we didn't see him in all star games, we didn't see him play up, we didn't see him in the Combine, things like that, then I think you have some bigger questions. But seeing him against better competition, he performed very, very well. Here's a guy that I think has the ability to play on either side and so that's a big deal. He is, for that much height, he's a shorter in-seam, longer body guy which translates into a very good offensive lineman.
Both McClain and Houston, they were kind of surprised to be drafted by the Raiders. There hadn't been that much contact. Is that just because you have so much of a wealth of information on them, whereas Veldheer actually said he even talked to Mr. Davis?
Well, you know really, I think we've tried to keep it to ourselves maybe as much, if not, more than ever this year. And as I said last week in the pre draft news conference and again last night, it's important for us to make this team better and put some need-fitters in the program rather than just numbers guys, if you will. So, I think thus far, very excited about what we've been able to do, and tomorrow's a huge day. We were able to make some trades, which was part of the strategy. Both the players that we liked there in the second were there, and they were again, and they were there again, and people wanted to do business, and we were able to do that, and I think put together what hopefully will be a good draft for us tomorrow on the last day.
How confident were you when you got out of the second rounder that Houston was going to be there? Did you ask those teams?
No, you can't really do that because you show too much of your hand. But we had targeted two guys, so we knew if they're both there, we're going to get one of them. Fortunately, the one we wanted was Lamarr. And he stayed in there, and he stayed in there, and then after the second trade it was like "That's enough. Okay. We're driving ourselves crazy here." But it worked out great because that's who we wanted.
How much of a project do you see Veldheer being? You know, footwork, technique. How long is that going to take him?
Not very long. As I mentioned to you, he's tall, but he's a long-bodied guy, shorter in-seam. So his tail is closer to the ground than a normal 6-8 guy. Not a basketball player I guess is the best way to put it. Plenty of length and has played both left and right. Tremendous athlete. To run that fast, that big, I think says a lot. If you've seen any film on him, his ability to bend. His power numbers at that size, 32 on the bench. He's got a lot of good things that make him up, so to me, let's just get him here and get him playing. I'm pretty excited about Jared because I feel like this is going to be a short window for him and he can contribute.
Do you envision him more on one side than or the other as a tackle?
No. I see him coming in here and going right into it, and being the third and competing to be a starter somewhere. I mean that's why you draft them that early. Pleased about it. Again, the best football player on the offensive line was him. You know, I don't want to say we're getting lucky, but we're feeling pretty good because things are going our way in that regard.
When you say Houston is an end in your scheme, you're talking about a 4-3? Wouldn't that still make you a little light at tackle right now?
No. You'll see the plan when we get there. It's good. You'll like. You will like it. It's good. We have some things that we're putting together to get it all sorted out, but you'll see it in mini camp.
Why do you like Houston more as an end than a tackle?
What we're trying to do is become a little more physical in our defensive front. I think that's obvious with what we've drafted there at the first two picks. You might be seeing some people moved around a little bit. What it gives is a chance to line him up there at left end and let him go wrestle with the tight end all day and that's a good thing. I think he's going to win a lot of those battles.
When was the first time you noticed Jared? Was it the Texas vs. The Nation game? Something that people look for for hidden talent or when did you first notice him?
Yeah. Those games like that, the East-West game. They're really kind of where you find kids who maybe didn't get to the Senior Bowl, and everybody kind of classifies that as the game. But they're there and they're competing against other really good players. You look at the number of players coming out of both those games. The Texas-Nation game, the East-West game. They're getting drafted. So the important thing for me was to see him play up. See him play better talent. See him compete at that level, and he did that very, very well. And at the Combine, I think what I was most impressed about was here's a kid from Hillsdale and it was like this was no big deal. I belong here with Alabama, with USC, with Penn State, with whoever, and he fit right in and he's carried himself that way. And then, as I mentioned, we brought him here for a visit, and I had a chance to sit down with him and really kind of figure him out a little bit and talk to him. And so, I like what I saw.
What are the other holes that you hope to address with the last six picks you have?
I think the biggest thing we need to do right now, we got to go back in there and kind of sit down, and look at the board and rework it for tomorrow. There's been a lot of good players come off the board, there's still a bunch of good ones left. As I mentioned, this draft was going to carry itself pretty deep. I think pretty much every team is saying that and it's true. So the biggest thing tonight is to go back in there, sit down and really ramp it back up again about where it's at and who's going to be available. We pick eighth tomorrow morning, and we'll go from there. We've got two fives, and a six, and two sevens, so a lot of work to do. But we have issues, let's see what's still up there to see if we can still fix some of those areas. I don't think the line of scrimmage, I don't know that we're done there yet. In terms of the backfield, on both sides. Defensive backfield, offensive backfield. Let's see what's available.
Some of the scouting reports on Jared mentioned that he had short arms. Can you kind of explain that?
Yeah, his arms are like 33 1/8". Which is still pretty long. He's 6-8, 312-lbs. I'm not sure that you really have short arms. I mean when you start talking about a guy under 33, then yeah, I guess you could say that about offensive linemen. The number that everybody likes to talk about is 34" arms.
On the last six picks, do you take for need or the best athlete?
I think we got to stay the course. I think we're doing a tremendous job so far. We're getting where we want to be and we were able to move there in the second and build for a better draft on Saturday. We're getting pieces to our puzzle. We're getting some issues fixed. Obviously, these guys have got to come in and play and perform, but I like what we're doing. We just got to stay the course and we keep trying to make this team better specifically.
Are you surprised that we didn't see a lot of the big Day Two trades that a lot of people thought we might?
Think about it though, there was quite a bit, really. I think someone said it's the most trades ever in rounds two and three. So I think there's still a lot. What I was surprised is more of it didn't happen before it started. But that's typical. We like to wait each other out and see if we can squeeze each other a little bit. See who will get nervous, and I'll give you a truck for a Volkswagen, or whatever, that kind of deal. So, I think it went as it would and everybody's just kind of playing their cards.
As Clausen fell, was he ever a consideration at all?
You spoke yesterday about the character investigation that you did when scouting out these guys. Can you talk about the character of Houston and Jared? Differences? Similarities?
There's really not. You're talking about guys who have had a lot of success. Guys who have made it through hard work. Certainly Lamarr, coming from the University of Texas, he's had a lot of success in his career, in his program. Getting a chance to compete for a National Championship this year. Those are important things to me, and so as part of it, we do a lot of work as to come in and be honorable and represent this thing right and come with a right attitude because, you know, getting good and turning it around, we don't need knuckleheads. We need champions. And I think that's what we're doing. Nobody's perfect. Everybody probably has some roughness to them somewhere, but at the end of the day, their football character and how they take care of themselves and their team was outstanding.
Tom Cable Comments on Houston, Veldheer
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