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James Harris on Byron Leftwich


(were you concerned that Baltimore was going to jump ahead of you?) "We were concerned that several different scenarios could have happened, but we were prepared to go and select the next player. But Byron was our guy. We're excited that we got him and we're looking forward to having him as our quarterback. We thought this player was just too good a player to pass."

(what were your options if you lost Leftwich?) "We had a couple of other players on the board. We had two players in fact; I don't want to get into names."

(were you talking to Minnesota about trading up to No. 7?) "We had some conversations with Minnesota prior to the pick, but no trading was actually discussed."

(what was the conversation about?) "It was just a conversation asking us if we wanted to go up. We had that conversation and decided not to, and that was the conversation."

(was the price too high?) "The price was a little rich for where we were, yes."

(Mike Tice said that they cut a deal with Baltimore but Baltimore didn't get the card in on time. Do you have any doubt had they got their card in on time that they would have taken Leftwich?) "I know that Leftwich was one of the players that they were interested in. I know they liked Terrell Suggs. So I'm not really sure which way they would have gone."

(was Leftwich one of the last elite players on your board and so you were ready to make this pick right away?) "Yes he was. This was the guy that we were targeting out of all the players that would get to us at 8. Had he passed us, we probably would have been looking for a trade."

(at what point did you and coach Del Rio decide in your mind that if Leftwich was available, you were going to take him?) "We had decided some time ago that he was one of the three guys that we wanted to take. I think last week it became evident that he was the best pick for us, especially based on the players that we could target that would get to us. We thought that he was certainly one of the best players in this draft."

(why didn't you sit on the clock longer to see if anyone wanted to trade with you?) "We were trying to beat Minnesota. Minnesota passed and we were trying to get the card in before they could pick."

(does Leftwich remind you of yourself when you were a player?) "He's bigger and better than I am. He's a pocket passer with a great arm. He has a lot of intangibles. Highly productive. 89 touchdowns, 28 interceptions. 65% career percentage. All the things you look for in a quarterback, he has most of the intangibles. I'm very happy to have him."

(what do you like about Leftwich over Carson Palmer?) "What we liked about him was in terms of his knowledge of the game, in terms of his history, been a three-year starter). Every time we've seen him play, he's been productive. He's extremely tough. We've seen him in situations where he had to come from behind in many games in the fourth quarter and he's been able to do that in a passing offense. He's a type of player that runs the whole game. He tells the line who to block. He's direct to receivers. He's used the audible system. He was involved in a system that asks the quarterback to do so many things that we look forward to a player doing here in the NFL."

(was there a concern with Leftwich playing shotgun in college that he might not be as good a fit for the West Coast offense?) "It was not a factor because we see enough dropbacks on tape to actually know that he can drop back."

(on there being a concern that Leftwich is not a traditional West Coast-offense type of quarterback) "The West Coast offense asks you to make quick decisions. This is a player that is capable of making quick decisions."

(how high was Leftwich on your board?) "He was at the top of our board."

(did you think Leftwich was the best player in the draft?) "We thought he was the best player in the draft."

(when did you decide Leftwich was the best player?) "Actually he had the highest grade coming in out of the fall. He's been the highest-graded guy at the process that you go through. You put the grade on him initially and from there you keep evaluating him."

(on Mark Brunell's status) "Mark's a veteran. He's been an outstanding player in the league. We think he'll continue to be an outstanding player and help Bryon mature, and also David Garrard. We think Garrard has some abilities."

(are there any considerations to cutting Mark Brunell after June 1 after picking Leftwich?) "No. We didn't make that pick with that in mind. We certainly think that Mark will come back and be our quarterback and can help Leftwich in terms of his maturity. In evaluating Mark at the end of last year. We still thought that he was an outstanding quarterback."

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