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Del Rio on fifth round


The following is a transcript of head coach Jack Del Rio's press conference following the fifth round of the draft.

"We moved back and added a seventh round pick, made two fifth round selections, and, much like last year when we acquired Uche Nwaneri and Derek Landri, we feel like we got two guys that can really come in here and challenge for a spot and challenge for a role on this football team. So I'm happy to do so. I think part of feeling this confident about the type of guys we selected is the work that Gene Smith and his staff, the college scouts, do on the road all year. I think that's what gives us the confidence. But our coaches like these guys a lot, our scouts like them a lot and we think they are terrific values down here in the fifth round and we'll move on. We have one more selection today and we'll have quite a few to sign tonight as far as college free agents, so we've got a little work to do yet."

(you've obviously gone defense heavy in this draft. What does that say in general about where you see the state of the team?) "If you look at our signings this offseason, I think you have to add it all in as part of building the overall team. For us to be able to sign Mo (Maurice) Williams really from a depth standpoint solidified us. We have a young guy in Richard Collier who we've extended who is playing well and will compete at left tackle for us and so we have a pretty solid group. We were able to resign David Garrard. For our quarterback position, we went out and got Cleo Lemon, so our quarterback position is set. At wide receiver, we lost Ernest (Wilford) but we were able to sign (Jerry) Porter and then Greg Jones of course has resigned. So we really feel like we return a good group and we returned some key guys like Mo and Greg, we got David redone. So to have all that done and then add a Porter to the group, we feel like offensively we have a good group and we ought to be able to build on what we did last year. Defensively, there were more opportunities to add guys and we felt like we really knew the board well going into this weekend. And for us to be able to get up and get those two guys (Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves), I mean if you could have come out of the weekend with either one of those two would have been great. To have both those pass rushers was awesome. And then Thomas Williams, a great character guy. This guy can play multiple positions. He was a special teams captain. He was voted Most Inspirational Player on their team. This guy is an all-football, all-day kind of guy. And then Trae Williams, All Big East two years ago. This year he was second team All Big East. Very productive, 16 interceptions in his career, kind of a ball hawk. A little bit of an Asante Samuel type guy that finds the ball. He has a real knack for anticipation and intercepting balls. So we're really excited to get these kinds of guys late in the draft."

(did you have a chance to talk to Thomas Williams or did you have direct contact with people who had been around him?) "Oh yeah, a lot. Obviously that's a school that I know well and South Florida is so close. These are two programs that we have well covered from our scouts and from our coaching staff and relationships and things like that. These are two of the higher quality human beings in the draft. We got two real winners here in the fifth round and guys with these types of traits are going to come in here and help our team."

(when you moved down in the fifth round, did you think Thomas Williams would be the next guy or were there a group of players that you thought you would get one of them?) "We hoped to be able to get one of the two. Grade-wise we saw them a little better than that. Obviously you're always trying to get value but we're very pleased to be able to get them both. It was kind of like we think we'll be able to stay within one or two of those guys and then to be able to get them both, really excited about that."

(did you feel like you took a chance you might miss out on these players moving down?) "Calculated. It's a little bit of a gamble, it always is but we slide back a little, picked up another pick and now we're looking at a position here that will give us a head start on tonight's work. Like I said, our undrafted college free agent list, we'll have quite a few guys tonight."

(there have been a ton of cornerbacks drafted in this draft. Is that indicative of the depth of the position or is it something about the state of the league right now?) "I think both. I think it's a really good year for corner depth. I think there are some players that are being taken in this second day that will play in this league and so I think there is a good number of players that are take-able. They're talent-wise good enough to play in the league and the league is always looking for cover corners. You're always looking for guys that can help slow down the passing game."

(is the message the fourth guy at USC is better than the first guys?) "He's pretty good. It's a pretty good group. I think when you look at the first rounders that they're playing ahead of him, yeah, I mean that's what it is. They're stacked like that. He's a good player. He can play all three positions and wasn't a fulltime starter but did start some games and did play well in his appearances and they did find ways to get him involved in the defensive packages. I spoke with not only with the linebacker coach who I played with, Kenny Norton, but obviously Pete Carroll and then our own evaluation of the tape. One of the happiest guys is Joe DeCamillis. He's extremely excited. This guy was voted Co-Team MVP in special teams. He was (voted) Most Inspirational Player. He's a good football player. This guy plays hard. The tape's real good, fun to watch. He's active and yeah, the guys that are playing ahead of him, the guys that when they were all healthy and all playing well, the three guys, they're all probably first round picks."

(how is Thomas Williams as a cover guy?) "Good. A good player, a good athlete, a good solid football player."

(it has been reported that Thomas Williams' 40 time isn't that great but that doesn't necessarily mean he can't be a good cover guy.) "Right. He's a good player. We're not looking for Pro Bowlers in the fifth round. We're looking for guys that come in and fill a role. Much like we did last year with Uche (Nwaneri) and Derek (Landri). We brought in two high quality guys that we saw traits in and we thought they would have a chance to compete for a role on this team. We're excited about these two picks. Trae and Thomas Williams both (are) really good football players. They were productive football players in college. In Trae's case, he got 16 interceptions. He was All Big East two years ago. He was second team Big East this year. Four of the interceptions he got he returned for touchdowns. This guy is getting his hands on the ball. Some of the measurable maybe aren't where you'd like to have them. (Brandon) Flowers, top of the second round, had similar measurables. Both are outstanding football players. We think this guy is a good player."

(were these two picks about taking the best available player to make your roster as opposed to matching a need?) "Correct, and I think in particular with the linebacker, I think he's just a really good player. Obviously we need corners but we're happy to have Trae, we're happy to have Thomas and we think they're really good solid fifth round picks."

(why do you say you need corners?) "Because we're going to take eight to camp and right now we have five. We're going to be busy signing guys afterwards. We're going to bring some guys in who'll have a chance to fight for a roster spot. When you take Terry Cousin out and Aaron Glenn out and you put back one, and that's just on the guys that made the team who were here all last year, you still have to go through camp, be healthy, battle through and all those things. So we're going to add some free agents tonight to fill in some of the numbers. Now, we're not looking for front line starters. We're set. We have three starter-capable corners but still there is depth. You still have to have depth on your football team. You still have to work a group. We're going to take eight corners to camp so they need to work."

(any temptations to take a quarterback to develop in the first round or did you think you can pick one up later?) "That temptation is being reserved for the seventh round. We're eyeballing. If there is a pick, something we're interested in, we'll take a look at it."

(Thomas Williams had 13 interceptions last two years; he's a really good player. Does he have a chance to be something more than just a depth guy?) "Oh yeah, without a doubt."

(what is the ceiling for him?) "We don't look to establish ceilings on guys. We want to let them come in here, understand they're joining a team and this is an unselfish team. And you're coming in here joining a good group of men and we just want you to compete, and I'm not going to place a ceiling on it. I'm not going to say because you're taken or not taken, because you were brought in here under whatever circumstances that you can't do certain things. I want to see what you can do. We're going to provide an environment where these guys get an opportunity to compete. If they can make the team, great. If they can make a role for themselves, great. If they become a star or starter, great, but I'm not going to try and arbitrarily put a ceiling on where these young men can go. I think we'll let them come in, join this environment and compete their tails off and see where it takes them."

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