Jerry Reese – © USA TODAY Sports Images
JERRY REESE’S 2016 PRE-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese held his annual pre-draft press conference on Thursday. The following is the transcript from the event (video is also available courtesy of Giants.com):
Opening Statement: Good morning. It’s draft time again. The scouts are (upstairs) working hard on the draft board. Coach (Ben) McAdoo is in there, Marc Ross, Chris Mara and all of our personnel people. It’s an exciting time for us like always and we’re looking forward to next week to try to help our team in the draft. Before you ask the question, we’re open to moving up, we’re open to moving back, and I’ll take any questions.
Q: Last week John (Mara) said that this draft is more important than others have been. Do you share that philosophy?
A: Not for me. All the drafts are important for me. I understand why John would say something like that, but all of the drafts are very important to me and I think all of the drafts are important to John as well. I think when you say something like that, I think it gets taken out of context a little bit, but I understand what he was saying. All of the drafts are important.
Q: You said you were willing to move up and move down. Have you had any offers?
A: I can’t talk about that, but we’re willing to move up or move down.
Q: Do you sense more activity in the draft this year? There already has been three trades in the top 10.
A: Not really. In the draft you never know what’s going to happen. You just try to prepare yourself for everything. There could be a lot of movement. There can be not much more movement. Who knows?
Q: In regards to trades, you’ve traded up more than you’ve traded down since you’ve been General Manager. Is that you’re philosophy?
A: It’s just how it unfolded. The draft changes after every pick. Sometimes you can move up and sometimes you can move back and so it happens we’ve been able to move up a couple of times.
Q: Back at the combine you said you would pick the best available player. Have you stuck to that philosophy?
A: Best player available.
Q: Two of your last three first round picks have been used on offensive linemen. Do you take that into consideration at all of how much of your resources you can put in a short period of time into one specific position group?
A: No. We’re just trying to put the guys up there in the best order that we can and pick the best player available when we pick.
Q: What is your philosophy when you look at rounds three, four and five?
A: It’s the same thing. We put guys in the first row. We put guys in the second row and the third row. When it’s our time to pick, we try to pick the best player in the row. Sometimes we can get two players out of the first row. We like it when we can get two players who we’ve got in the first row. We like it like that. In the first row, all of those guys are not really first round picks because we call them rows.
Q: How much of a difference has it been working with Ben and his staff versus former head coach Tom Coughlin’s staff?
A: Our coaches have always been a part of the process since I’ve been with the New York Giants for 21 years and nothing has changed in respect to that.
Q: After the season you and John Mara said you would study what went right and wrong in past drafts. How extensive was that self-analysis?
A: We looked at a lot of things. I’m not going to sit here and divulge what we talked about and what we discovered and what we looked at, but we worked hard on some things. I know this. I know our scouts work their behinds off. They do all of the work. They’re on the road for almost 200 days out of the year. They do the legwork for us and they do a tremendous job for us.
Q: Did you find anything interesting or things you can tweak moving forward?
A: There’s always things that you find interesting when you do some research and there were some interesting things that we found.
Q: How much does your team’s recent history with injuries affect the way that you evaluate the draft process?
A: I think we’ve had some bad luck with injuries. We had a medical meeting last night and we talked about the guys that are injury risks. We try to minimize our risks, but it’s football. It’s grown men hitting each other with helmets. Guys get injured. It’s a part of the business.
Q: There are some guys in the draft who have had injuries and missed a significant portion of the year. What kind of factors go into assessing that type of player?
A: We listen to our doctors. If our doctors say the risk is too high or reject guys, we don’t take them.
Q: You wouldn’t just drop guys in the round?
A: If the injury is so significant… It’s like school. F is bad and A is good. Anything in between… If it’s a C, there’s some risk. If there’s a D, there is a lot of risk, and if it’s an F, we’re not going to take them. It’s hard for us to take a D. We rarely take a D.
Q: Does it matter where you’re picking? Is it more likely you would take a risk if you were picking at the bottom of the first round?
A: You’re not going to take a risk on your first round pick if your guy is a D. You’re not going to take a risk like that with your first round pick. If you’re in the sixth round and you’ve got an extra pick or if you’re in the seventh round and have an extra pick, you can take more risks in the later rounds because the value is not the same.
Q: What was your impression of the trades that the Rams and Eagles made?
A: What other teams do is not really my business. I’m just worried about the Giants. If they felt like they needed to do that, they did what they had to do. That’s their business.
Q: Does that change your projections of who might be available to you?
A: We always thought that there were a couple of players up top that would push some players down to us and give us more players to pick from.
Q: If you stay at your current position in the draft, will you get a player who can instantly start and can be a contributor?
A: We sure hope so. If you pick inside the first 10, 12 picks, you’d like to get a starter who you can put out there to start to play right away and we sure hope we can get one. We believe we can.
Q: Aside from punters and placekickers, is there any player who you wouldn’t take with the 10th pick because of his position?
Q: That includes the quarterback?
A: That includes any position, except punter and kicker.
Q: Do John Mara’s comments put any sense of urgency on this draft?
A: No. I put the urgency on myself. I know I come to work everyday and I work my behind off and that hasn’t changed since day one. I see how hard our personnel people work. The pressure is always there. Nobody puts more pressure on me than me.
Q: Do you take the criticisms of recent drafts personally?
A: You guys have your own opinion on the draft and you get paid to do that. It’s okay with me.
Q: What’s your opinion on recent drafts?
A: We work hard every time we draft and my opinions are my opinions and your opinions are your opinions. I’m not going to get into that.
Q: You have a lot more information at your disposal than we do. So your opinion on how you drafted is probably going to be much more valid than ours.
A: That’s your opinion.
Q: Ben McAdoo has been with the franchise for a couple of years now and has been involved with the draft. Now that he’s the head coach, what would you say is the biggest difference in terms of his involvement in previous drafts and this one?
A: He was the coordinator last year. In this draft, he’s in on all of the meetings. He’s in the defensive players, offensive players and the special teams. He’s in all of the meetings. Last year, he was just in the offensive player meetings. So that in and of itself is different.
Q: Some people have said there is a drop in talent after the 10th pick. Do you agree with that?
A: I think there are good players in all seven rounds.
Q: With what you were able to do in the beginning of free agency, does it become more challenging to not look at the draft and free agency as separate entities as far as building the roster or is it still possible to say it this serves one purpose and the draft serves as another?
A: We’re not oblivious to what we did in free agency, but the draft stands alone. We’re just trying to pick the best players out of this draft when we’re picking.
Q: How important is football character and personal character when you’re looking for guys who can come in and be sound draft picks, but also contribute to a winning and healthy culture?
A: That’s a part of building a football team. You want to get guys who are good team players and who want to be good locker room guys. Not a lot of “me” guys. A bunch of team-oriented players that are big, tough and smart guys who want to play together as a team. You win as a team and if you don’t play as a team, it’s hard to win in this league.
Q: Do you think you have a starting caliber right tackle who you’d be very comfortable with on your roster right now?
A: Sometimes the answer is on your roster. We do have some guys that we like. We’ll see moving forward.
Q: Do you view Bobby Hart as a guard or tackle?
A: I think Bobby has the ability to play guard and tackle.
Q: Are there any players in this draft who are off your board for non-football reasons?
A: Not right now. We’re still in the process and I’m sure there will be some guys that we take off.
Q: You used three high picks on that offensive line the last three years. Is that a position where you will target in this year’s draft?
A: We’re just trying to get good players every time we pick.
Q: Is your objective to leave the draft with players at a certain position?
A: No. We’re looking at it that we need help on offense. We need help on defense. We need help on special teams and we’re trying to get good players in every aspect of those positions. Offense, Defense and Special Teams.
Q: The top two quarterbacks in the draft seem like they’re going to go one and two in the draft. If you’re not looking at a quarterback, does it make it better for you?
A: If two quarterbacks get picked in front of us, that pushes some players down to us. That gives us a better chance to get the player that Kim (Jones) talked about, a player that can come in and impact our team.
Q: Eli Manning is getting up in age. Are you close to the point where you need to start thinking about drafting his replacement?
A: We think Eli has plenty of years left, but we’re always conscious of if there is a player in this draft or previous drafts or a draft coming up that there is a quarterback available because you always want to try to have a quarterback in line ready to go as your quarterback gets older and is on the backside of his career. You’re always conscious of that.
Q: How do you assess your running backs?
A: We think all of those guys are good enough to play in the league. All of these guys are pros. I think we have five guys that can play in this league.
Q: Josh Norman is a free agent. Is there any interest there?
A: We investigate everything.
Q: How surprised were you to see he became a free agent?
A: Nothing surprises me in this business.
Q: Are you basically finished with free agent signings?
A: There are still some free agents out there. Free agency really never stops. It’s the way we’re wired. Everyday there are guys on the waiver wire, but there’s a few more veterans out there that are still waiting around and we’re still taking a look at that we can do something.
Q: Will money play a factor?
A: Money always plays a factor.
Q: We haven’t had a chance to talk to you since free agency started. What was it about those three guys that made you go out and get them?
A: Those guys were really good players. We had them high on our free agent board. We had some money this time. We felt like we had a chance to go out and get some guys with the caliber of the players that we got. We went for them and we were fortunate enough to get some of the guys that we targeted.
Q: How important was it to you to bring back Jason Pierre-Paul for another season?
A: Jason is a terrific football player and we’re hoping that the procedure that he had on his hand after the season will continue to feel better for him and he will be able to play with that hand in the condition that it is and we expect him to do that. I said at the (combine) that it was kind of a miracle for me that he played last year. He’ll be that much better now, we think.
Q: Do you think you have a starting free safety on your roster right now with all of those young guys you brought in recently?
A: We have some guys. We’ll see. In every position somebody has got to be developed and at some point we hope that one of those young safeties can step up. There are a few more guys out there in free agency that we’ll take a look at, but we’re hoping that some of those young guys can step up and play a role here.
Q: Where do you stand at linebacker?
A: We’re still going to upgrade every position. Linebacker, safety, corner, defensive line, offensive line, tight end, receiver, running back and quarterback. All of them. If I left out something, those guys, too.
Q: How is Victor Cruz doing?
A: So far so good. He’s been out there. I’ve been peeking out the window and watching him run outside. We had our medical meetings last night and all of our doctors are pleased with his progress so far and we’re hoping that he’ll be the Victor that we know.
Q: What’s the plan with Victor Cruz moving into the summer?
A: We’re going to take it easy with him and make sure that he’s ramped up a little bit at a time and when training camp comes around, we’re hoping that he’s a full go. We’re expecting him to be full go.
Q: Last year at this time you weren’t counting on Cruz. Is that different this time?
A: He hasn’t played in two years. But he’s probably more healthy now than he’s probably been in the last couple of years. What we get from Victor will be a bonus and we’re hoping it’s a great bonus for us.
Q: How much does age play a factor for you guys in the draft?
A: We’re conscious of players’ ages, but how many players have played over four, five, six years? Age is not a huge factor. We don’t want to draft a 30-year-old in this draft, but I don’t think there are any 30-year-olds in this draft. We do look at what the age is.
Q: In spite of all you did in free agency, how much do you need the guys from the last couple of drafts to step up and become what you expected them to be?
A: We always expect those guys. You’ve got to develop players. In the last few drafts that we’ve had, we expect players to step up and continue to develop and be a core part of our football team.
NEW YORK GIANTS PLAYER MEDIA SESSIONS…
Transcripts and video of Thursday’s media sessions with the following New Giants players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:
GIANTS.COM INTERVIEW WITH JOSH BROWN…
The video of an exclusive interview with New York Giants place kicker Josh Brown is available at Giants.com.