³The seventh round saw us continue in the area of need, and we chose two young men primarily for size and speed as wide receivers. At that point, our first pick in the seventh round was Clarence Jones, wide receiver from Tennessee State. He has outstanding speed and good size. Our second pick was Gregory Spann, a wide receiver from Jackson State, not only a receiver but also a kickoff returner.
³As we analyze the draft, we started with the idea that we would go heavily to defense. We felt very good about being able to come away with what we thought were two outstanding defensive picks, two first-round picks ‹ an all-purpose linebacker, Kevin Hardy, who can not only play over the tight end, play in space, walk out over the top of a wide receiver, but also rush the passer. he has outstanding versatility. Tony Brackens from Texas was the 33rd pick at the top of the second round. He¹s an outstanding pass-rush prospect, a player who I think will develop into an every-down guy. He¹s a very young player who will end up being an outstanding pass rusher, but a run player as well.
³Moving into the bottom of the second round was a trade-up that we thought would enhance our opportunity to get the corner or the receiver. That didn¹t work out. We were fortunate to get Michael Cheever, fitting another need at center. We¹re very, very pleased at that solid pick. Michael Cheever played at Georgia Tech for George O¹Leary. George O¹Leary and I coached together along time ago. I know the quality of the program. I feel good about that pick. Aaron Beasley, at the top of the second round, was the leading interceptor in the NCAA in 1994. He¹s an outstanding football player, an instinctive football player.
³Then we moved onto the area of need and tried to solve some problems with Reggie Barlow being not only an outstanding wide receiver with great speed but also a kick returner, a punt returner. He¹s an individual who will need development.
³Jimmy Herndon was our next pick at offensive tackle. He¹s a guy who fills a positional need for us ‹ a backup offensive tackle/offensive guard, an outstanding athlete and outstanding worker ‹ a guy who we look forward to being able to work with and develop in this program.
³John Fisher, who played running back as a senior at Missouri Western, rushing for over 1,200 yards, played strong safety the year before and blocked five punts. We liked him as a special teams player at strong safety.
³Chris Doering, Clarence Jones and Gregory Spann finished up our draft as size and speed wide receivers ‹ people who we think can challenge and also will fill a particular need for us at this time. We are currently checking the remainder of the draft to see which players will be left as we begin our calls for free agents. We have a number in mind that we¹re trying to shoot for in terms of players that will be necessary to fill out our roster of 82 for mini-camp this next weekend and for training camp this summer. So we¹ll be actively participating in that free-agent market as soon as the draft is over.²
(on free agent number) ³We can take 82 to camp. What we¹ll probably do is sign players in a couple of different areas and then make the roster decisions as people sign. We¹ll have some leeway because of the 10 players we drafted. It normally ranges from a couple of weeks to six weeks to sign them. We¹ll strive to make great progress in the signings again as we did last year. As you know, after our first draft, we signed all 10 and announced that on June 1, 1995. We¹ll proceed aggressively again to get everybody signed.²
(comparing this draft to last year¹s) ³Last year was a situation where we knew the model of our football team and what we had to do. Some things fell for us in the early picks, one being Tony Boselli. We traded up and got James Stewart. We got two solid players in the second round (Brian DeMarco and Bryan Schwartz), then Chris Hudson in the third round. But our needs were so great that we had an opportunity with extra picks to maneuver around and fulfill those needs, and I felt like that draft pretty much went that way. I mentioned this year it would be a different. We didn¹t have as many picks. We were very much aware of the positions that were strong and the positions that weren¹t strong. We had a definite need on defense, which affected us in our determination and our objectives in terms of how we were going about the draft. We only had about 79 defensive players rated above the 5 mode. But we knew we had to go into that area and strike. We did do that. We felt like it would be more specific in terms of our needs.
³I think we had a very solid draft. The Michael Cheever pick was a very solid down the road pick for us. I think a lot of the draft will stem on how well Aaron Beasley can play. If Beasley can help us in a nickel and dime situations, that will be a big plus for us. Will Reggie Barlow be able be a return man for us? Will he help us from a speed standpoint? And then can we get some special teams and safety help as we pick down the line? Can we get that receiver help that we need to be competitive in camp as we close out the draft? That¹s going to be the history of the draft and how it¹s looked upon. I feel very strongly about the solid picks that we made in the very beginning of the draft (Hardy and Brackens). After that we answered needs. When answering needs, we¹re interested in size and speed. Talk to me about this as training camp progresses and I get a chance to know these receivers that we bring in and I¹ll give you some information about that.²
³You¹re always influenced by the difference between quality and need. We tried to stay with that as long as we could. After that point, just like everybody else on the board, we went to try to answer some of our solutions. You knew going in that I was concerned that we needed some young defensive players. We need some more youth as the cornerstone of our defensive team, something I thought we got started on last year on offense.²