The following is a transcript of Drector of Player Personnel Terry McDonough's press conference following the selection of Mike Thomas in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
(on Mike Thomas) "Mike Thomas is a guy that we coached at the Senior Bowl. He was also in the East-West game. He's short but muscular. He's the all-time leading receiver in the PAC-10 with 259 catches. When you meet him you're going to like him. He has a bubbly personality. He's very fast. He ran 4.29 at Indy."
(did Thomas run a 4.29 at the combine?) "Yes. We had him in two bowl games, the East-West and the Senior."
(was that a hand-held time?) "Yes. It was fast. It was one of those oo-ee times. He also returns punts. He's a heck of a kid. You guys will like him. He's a playmaker; he's just 5-8. There's been some Steve Smith comparisons with him. Obviously everybody says, 'whoa, wait a minute, there's only one Steve Smith.' But this kid will kind of physically remind you of Steve Smith when Steve Smith was coming out, not the Steve Smith we know now as one of the best receivers in the league."
(he must be pretty physical at 195 pounds) "Yeah, he is. They threw a lot of bubble screens there at Arizona. He is strong, you'll notice he's thick in his upper body. A lot of his catches and production came in the middle of the field when he was run-after-the-catch. He wasn't one of those receivers who caught a ton of balls down the field and got tackled and got high yardage that way. His stuff was more inside, underneath, catch it and run."
(will he be a slot receiver?) "Yes, he'll be a slot receiver. What we thought last year when we had Reggie (Williams) and Matt (Jones) and all those receivers, we didn't have a guy that could catch it and do anything with it. And the coaches said we need a player that when you throw him the ball, they can get fast quick, and that's what this guy can do. He can get off the spot. He has burst. So we're excited. It'll be a little different than what you guys have seen around here the last couple of years, and he's a lively guy. Where he was, we thought he was probably going to go maybe a round earlier. So he was the top rated player on our board when we got him."
(was there another player that you were close to considering?) "There was another receiver, and the quarterback from A&M was in the discussion just as a potential backup developmental quarterback, but he went to Dallas the top of the fourth so he was out of the discussion. But this was the guy. This was the guy that was sticking out."
(on the change in the wide receiver philosophy) "What I will say is this kid can run and it's not one of these… We test the guys who are running the fastest but we bring them in here as fast guys but they really weren't fast. They ran fast on the watch. When you guys are out at mini-camp you'll see, this guy is fast. His speed is evident and his speed is quick. Where Matt (Jones) ran that time at Indy but then you never really saw his speed when he was out here, and you really never saw speed with Reggie (Williams) but you'll see speed on this guy."
(why do you think Thomas lasted to the fourth round?) "5-8. Those short receivers don't really go that high. And there's been a lot of receivers taken ahead of him, but I think when you're short like that you get pushed down on the board."
(a 5-7 running back in Maurice Jones-Drew with a 5-8 receive in Thomas) "If we could get half the results out of this guy that we got out of that running back, we'll be happy."
(is Thomas another Troy Williamson?) "No, different style. Troy is a guy that's a taller guy that is a vertical speed guy. He caught balls coming out of college early, down the field. You saw speed but Troy needed some route polish. This kid is more of a slot, underneath, tough, kind of like a running back with the ball in his hands. Not really built like your prototypical receiver, if that makes sense."
(would you compare him to Antwan Randle El?) "I don't know about Antwan. That's a pretty good comparison. I'd like to call him Steve Smith without Steve Smith's hips. Steve Smith has tremendous hips. But they have a similar personality. I think Steve was a third or fourth round pick out of Utah. This kid is very cocky but in a good way. He's confident. He believes he's going to be good and that's half the battle. Again, he had tremendous production in the PAC-10 over four years."
(does he have a little Eben Britton in him?) "You know it's funny, I think it'll be a reversal. I think when Eben gets here he probably won't say much, and this kid might say a lot even though he'll say a little. So you might see a little role reversal."
(did you see Derek Cox play live?) "I watched every game tape he played this year and last year, and I think he's really good. I'll tell you quickly about Derek Cox. It's funny; the Steelers head coach went to William and Mary. Al Davis loves to take size-speed guys. When you put tape on Cox, if you guys want to watch some tape, watch the two best teams they played against, NC State this year and Virginia Tech last year, or put any game on. He's 6-1 and change, about 190 pounds and he ran a legitimate 4.39. A lot of times when you have taller corners like that, they either have an issue or two ,especially at a place like William and Mary. They're either stiff, non-instinctive, can't find the ball, not tough. When you watch all the tape on Derek Cox, you didn't see any of that. You saw a fast, fluid corner with knee bend, quickness, burst, ball skills and toughness. So I know it might not be a sexy pick, but I think if our eyes speak the truth, I think in the end we got a good player there."
(why is it you can't find any draft reports on Cox?) "You know, here's how the process begins for these guys. When your 1-A, you're findable. When you're a 1-AA… There's a process in the spring called the combine and what the combine is it puts your name on the radar. So if you have a high grade from the combine guy, you're going to be on the radar all the way through. If you don't have a high grade what's going to happen is you're going to be over at William and Mary, a good football player, and people aren't going to go in there to see you because there is nothing on paper that says you're a heck of a player. So the process goes through. He's a four-year player for them, a really good player for them, a team captain, then he runs, jumps, does all this great stuff but most of the time that just means he's a test guy."
(who was the combine guy? Blesto?) "I don't know who did him in the spring but my point is then you put the film on and most of the time you put the film on and then you think this guy is just a height-weight speed guy, nine times out of ten. When you put Derek Cox's tape on, you say whoa, what do we have here? And you keep watching more tape and more tape waiting for him to be a guy you're not going to be interested in. So at the end of the day for all of us – Jack, Gene, Terry – we said this guy is worthy of picking him and we picked him."
(was he worthy of giving up a second round pick for next year? A second round pick means a player in your mind is going to be a starter.) "Yes, this guy will be a starter."
(will Cox move Brian Williams back to safety?) "Yes. He's going to have to earn that. If you're asking me here in front of you today..."
(that must be what you think otherwise you would have not made that investment) "Absolutely. You do not give a next year's two unless you think that guy is going to start and make you better. And that's what we did. We'd be crazy to give a two for a guy that's a maybe backup. We basically said, it's this simple, we believe our eyes. And if our eyes are right, it's going to be a great pick. If our eyes are wrong, then you know what happens. You'll be talking to someone else up here in a couple years. In this business, you have to listen to what other people say but you can't…the magazines and the press… What you do is you've just spent eight months of grinding as much film as you can and at the end of the day you want to pick players that you think, and that's what Ozzie Newsome did when I was with him in Baltimore, he didn't care what other people think, who he thought was going to be good and I think that's what we're doing here. And we want them to have top notch character."
(on selecting Eugene Monroe in the first round) "To get Eugene there, because we all know he could have been the second pick instead taking the kid from Baylor. So to have him fall to us…"
(how exciting was everyone in the room when Tyson Jackson went to the Chiefs and then Oakland did what they did?) "Yeah but then we started getting a little nervous because (Mark) Sanchez went. There were two or three players in a row that went that was going to hurt us, but finally when Al (Davis) took (Darrius) Heyward-Bey, we breathed a sigh of relief and took the guy we wanted."