The following is a transcript of Head Coach Jack Del Rio's press conference following the selection of Eben Britton in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
(on speaking with Britton) "Just got off the phone with him. He sounds eager to get down here and get to work. It was a great value for us to be able to get two really gifted offensive linemen, to be able to add them. I think both guys really help solidify our offensive line going forward for many, many years. So very excited to be able to add them both and really did not anticipate that we'd have the opportunity to add them both; never really thought that would be possible but certainly excited about the prospect."
(is he a player who can play multiple positions or where does he fit?) "He played right and left tackle in college. We believe he could play some guard if we want him to. We'll work through that, whether we line him up at guard or tackle. He's a team captain, very mature, a good player; a guy that we had considered if we were to trade back we thought he would be a candidate in trade-back scenarios, and ultimately we're sitting here in the second round and he's still available."
(were there top players still remaining going into the second round?) "Yeah, there was a good little clump there and we were getting a lot of action to have us come up and try and move us back. We thought we'd move out of that clump. We were in a real good clump of players and wanted to stay there. There wasn't enough value in our opinion to move back out of that spot, so we stayed and took and like I said, real happy with it."
(did you field calls about trading at your spot?) "Yeah, there's been that all day, really. A lot of discussion, but more bargain shopping than really coming up with anything serious. We think we were able to get two really good football players. Last year we had some issues on our O-line, some health issues, aging issues, things like that, and obviously elected to not resign one of our guys that played there. And so adding these two young guys, like I said, the next decade we strengthen this offensive line."
(so we shouldn't be surprised that you selected two offensive tackles because you saw both players as a need and stayed true to your board?) "Yes, very much so, but it's tempting not to because we had taken one at that position. It's tempting not to stay with what we thought was a good value, but I think when you look at that position in particular the premium that you pay to have those kinds of guys, the fact that quite often a tackle can move in and play some guard and can start out there if you need to, really strengthens us as an offense."
(by adding Eugene Monroe and Britton, do you think that almost makes your offensive line strength for this team now?) "We hope so. We think we've added two quality people, two competitive guys, two well-coached guys that are coming in. They're both mature. They should fit real nicely here."
"Most likely our first day is over. I doubt that we will be back in this round. Obviously we'll continue to monitor things, but in all likelihood we'll pick up tomorrow and continue on. I feel real good about being able to add the two players we did today. You've got really two big, strong, mature, well-coached offensive linemen. And I think really to be in position to get two guys of this caliber, we feel very fortunate. We felt like it was a tremendous opportunity, and very pleased to add these guys to the football team."
(your first pick wasn't a surprise but this pick was a little bit. Was this a best value pick?) "Yeah and I think there's room for him. It's not like there isn't room for him. I think if there wasn't then maybe that question would be warranted, but I think there is plenty of room for him. I think we just made the group a lot more competitive, a lot stronger. Obviously we've had some injuries and some age kind of creep into our offensive and defensive lines. I think to be able to add two big, strong offensive linemen on the first day is very encouraging."
(what does this say about your view of your offensive line? Does it say you're attempting to rebuild it?) "Committed to being stronger. We've talked about wanting to add healthy bodies into the trenches. I think we've done. I think we've fortified our trenches a little bit, certainly on the offensive side of the ball, and we'll turn our attention to the remainder of the draft and see what more we can do. But pleased to add the two guys that we have."
(what are the particular things that Britton caught your eye for?) "He can play left or right tackle. I would think he could also slide in and play some guard, but at Arizona he played both left and right tackle. He's, I believe, been a three-year starter. He's a two-time team captain. A smart, mature guy. This is a good football player, well-coached, one of the better interviews that we had in terms of a young man that has his life together. He's very excited about getting here. I think he was a little disappointed that he lasted as long as he did, and he's excited to get here and get to work."
(is there a chance Monroe or Britton could start this season, even at guard?) "It's possible. We'll work through that. When you get a chance to get big athletes like this and fortify your offensive line, it's great to be able to do it."
(did part of you wince a little bit when the USC linebacker went before him?) "I'm sure he was relieved to finally get selected. A good football player that most people assumed would go off in the first round and so happy to see that end for him and him find a home."
(on these picks being fundamental building blocks for a football team) "I think anybody that really watches and studies the game understands that what happens in the trenches really determines whether or not you can have success in this league. And like I said, to be able to fortify the group up front offensively, these are the kind of guys that you plug in and they play for a long time. And so there is a lot of value with that. And we still have a lot of work to do this weekend. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day for us and all of the work that the scouts and the coaches have done, really tomorrow we kind of get into it more. Today we were able to select guys that were obvious talents. Real clean guys, big strong athletes that became available for us, so we're pleased with that but looking forward to tomorrow."
(does this open up competition at those positions?) "It's always open competition. The best guys are always going to play. I think what we've done, we've added two talented guys. Guards and tackles, playing time, that'll be determined on the field. I think clearly there are some guys that are here that are going to battle to continue to keep their jobs and there are some young guys who we're adding that are going to be eager to get started and try and find a spot. So we'll let that kind of sort itself out on the football field."
(it was implied that Monroe was much more comfortable at left tackle. Was the attractive quality with Britton his versatility?) "Correct. That's where we saw the fit because the first guy (Monroe) is a left tackle. That's what he is. He's going to battle to win that job and we expect that in time, whether he wins it right away or not, in time he's going to be our left tackle. But how quickly that occurs depends on him coming in and earning it. The same thing with Eben at whatever other spot, whether we start him at guard or tackle, he's going to get an opportunity to compete. But we do believe that has played, in fact he played more at right tackle than he did at left tackle in college. So we expect him to compete there at right tackle or right guard."
(and provide depth?) "At least depth, and at some point those two guys will be our bookends, at some point. But we're going to let them earn that through good competition."
(are there no character or medical issues with Britton?) "Correct, very solid. We give different tests. This guy had a 10 HRT which is as high a grade as you can have on that particular deal. So it's a good, smart, tough, big guy. So we're excited to have him."
(in trying to read into this, are these building block picks? In other words, these aren't sexy picks, like wide receivers or running backs.) "Big can be sexy."