On Saturday, the New York Giants made three more selections on the final day of the 2021 NFL Draft, including linebacker Elerson Smith (University of Northern Iowa) in the 4th round and running back Gary Brightwell (University of Arizona) and cornerback Rodarius Williams (Oklahoma State University) in the 6th round.
LB Elerson Smith Scouting Report: Smith is a tall, lanky, athletic rush end who projects to outside linebacker in the Giants’ system. He combines good size, arm length, big hands, initial get-off quickness, bend, and closing burst. Good pass rusher who makes plays in the backfield. Raw, Smith will need some time to develop and reach his potential. He will need to continue to get stronger and be more consistent at playing off of blockers in the run game. Smith is a hard worker both off and on the football field.
Sy’56’s Take: Fifth year senior from Minneapolis, Minnesota. One-year starter that had his senior season canceled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. 1st Team All Missouri Valley Conference and 1st Team AFCA FCS All American in 2019. Smith broke out in his redshirt junior season, netting 21.5 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, and 2 blocked kicks. He plays the game with a level of ease and smoothness in traffic. He gets off the ball in a hurry with great leverage and upper body positioning, his hands are exceptionally fast, and the foot quickness is elite. Smith is just scratching the surface when it comes to his true potential. He needs to sleep in the weight room for a year before he can be an every down asset, but he will be a solid rotational pass rusher right away and has the upside of being a solid starter in multiple schemes.
*If you haven’t seen Northern Iowa play but you want to get a feel for what this kid looks like on the field, think about Jayson Taylor. He has the really long, borderline thin frame but plays with tremendous burst and bend for a player his size. Smith impressed me a ton at the Senior Bowl in the practice tapes. Really twitchy, plays low to the ground, and easily changes direction. His 2019 tape is something else, too. Good player here that may need more time than others but presents more upside than most guys in this tier.
RB Gary Brightwell Scouting Report: Brightwell is a big, physical, no-nonsense, downhill runner with good speed and acceleration for his size. He is not a particularly creative running back, being more of a one-speed, one-cut slasher. His biggest negative is ball security. He needs to protect the football better.
Sy’56’s Take: Sizeable slasher that can put his foot in the ground a burst upfield. Will push defenders back on contact, shows decent late wiggle. Hard nosed kid that will get yards after contact. Has fumble issues, mechanical.
CB Rodarius Williams Scouting Report: Williams has good size for a corner and has experience in both press and off coverage. He is a competitor who plays a physical game. Williams lacks ideal speed and quickness but he is instinctive in coverage. He breaks up a lot of passes.
Sy’56’s Take: Smart and instinctive. Supports the run and knows how to play physical in coverage without getting flagged. Plays faster than he times because of knowledge, feel, and reaction twitch.
Media Q&A with General Manager Dave Gettleman (Video):
Opening Statement: Obviously we had three picks, the 7th round is still going, I didn’t trade back so we could get to this sooner. Elerson Smith, who we took in the fourth round, is a kid that played at Northern Iowa, didn’t play this fall obviously because of COVID. He didn’t opt out. They just didn’t play. And he played the Senior Bowl. He’s long, he’s athletic and we watched him on his Northern Iowa tape and what sold us on him is they played Iowa State and he must have played about 85, 90 snaps. He’s a real tough kid, athletic, long, has some pass rush potential and he’s instinctive, so we really liked him. With the first sixth round pick, we took a running back out of Arizona, Gary Brightwell. He’s a big kid and he’s got a heavy body, he’s a heavy body runner, he’s in the 215, 220 range and he really is a quality special teams player. So he’s got dual value. Then our last pick was Rodarius Williams out of Oklahoma State. We had a solid value on him on the board. He’s athletic. He’s fast. He can carry the vertical. He plays our style. He’s a press corner and we were just very pleased to see him there. So those are our last three.
Q: When you talked leading into the Draft and you also talked about free agency, I think Kevin Abrams said you wanted to be aggressive. Did that carry over into the Draft and maybe lead to some of the trades?
A: I think it did. You know, we’ve had that mindset. And you know we just felt like, it’s all about calculated risk. You know, you go to Vegas, go to Atlantic City and some people are aggressive and some people aren’t. It’s just sometimes it’s instinct. Sometimes it’s just looking at the board and seeing where it’s going to take you. You know, we felt we were aggressive in the off-season and in the roster building season — there’s no off-season here. We were aggressive in the roster building season in both free agency and the Draft.
Q: Didn’t make any picks on the offensive line and really weren’t aggressive in free agency, but do you think that position is good enough and why did you feel that way if so?
A: First of all, you don’t want it to be good enough, you want it to be good, plain and simple. It’s really apparent that we have a little more confidence in our offensive linemen than you guys do. So I’m just going to say we’re happy with the group that we have. Obviously you’re always trying to get better and you’re not going to take a player just to take a player, you take a player because you think he’s going to improve the value of your team. Right now, our offensive line is what it is, the players are who they are and we’re going to move forward.
Q: You’ve invested either draft picks or trades, why so many corners and does that mean somebody has to be the odd man out here?
A: As the media says, and as the public perception is, this is a passing league. So why not a lot of corners, okay. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you can never have too many good players at a position, and when everybody comes in, let the games begin.
Q: Did you realize you had to wait 80 picks?
A: I knew it was going to be awhile, and I was going to have time to do a number of things, my taxes, etc., etc. It’s a long wait, but listen, that’s the way it is. That’s the way it turned out.
Q: The perception, and you hear it already, that Joe in his second year, his influence is increasing, his fingerprints are all over some of the philosophical things with the trade that never happened before. Wondering what you think of that?
A: I think that we have a great collaborative group going here. It’s not about me. It’s not about Joe. It’s about the New York Football Giants.
Q: How much did his role change in year two?
A: We collaborate. We’ve been collaborating since he walked in the door. It’s about the New York Giants.
Q: Elerson Smith, you said he’s got some pass rush. He was a skinny kid who became a not-skinny kid, obviously, very long arms, big hands, things like that. You have a lot of guys, you drafted two of them, you have two guys coming back, X-man (Oshane Ximines) and Lorenzo Carter, where do you see that edge rush situation?
A: Well, there’s a lot of competition there. Listen, I’ve said this a million times; fundamentally, the college kids are further behind than they used to be. So at the end of the day, it’s about do they have the talent, the physical talent, the feel, the instinct, to develop as pass rushers. Both of these kids do. Elerson definitely does. That’s why we drafted him and at the end of the day, it’s about competition. It’s about competition. And we just feel like with those two draft picks, we’ve upgraded.
Q: The Giants have not done well in the last 10 years, you haven’t been here for all of that, with that third, fourth, fifth round stab at a pass rusher. Do you think with these two guys, one or two of them, you got it right?
A: I always think I got it right. Listen, we’ll know in three years whether we got this right. And that’s what it is, okay. It’s perception and it’s what the media writes about players. We put a ton of time into this. We don’t do this for a hobby, all right, and in three years we’ll know if we’re right or not.
Q: You were on ESPN earlier and said that you feel like you guys are close to being able to compete. What gives you the most optimism and how much of that is from guys you were able to pick up this weekend?
A: I felt we’ve had a very good roster building season.
Q: Anyone in particular or any philosophical —
A: We feel like we’ve added a strong group of players at a variety of positions. We’ve added playmakers. We’ve added pass rushers. We added corners. We feel good about what we’ve done.
Media Q&A with Head Coach Joe Judge (Video):
Q: In regard to the secondary and specifically, Rodarius Williams and Aaron Robinson, how much adding guys like that change what you guys can do schematically and coverage-wise?
A: Look, we are always looking for different skill sets that create versatility within our defensive schemes and look ultimately throughout the draft and free agency you’re looking for the best players available. We happened to go through the Draft and we had the opportunity to add two good corners, coming to compete with our current roster. We’ll see when they get here how it shakes out. I tell the guys all the time, truest thing I can say, it doesn’t matter how you get here; it’s what you do when you are here. We are excited to get these guys here and at the same time excited to work with everyone on our current roster, and again, look, our goal is to make every position as competitive as can be and that’s when you really get the best out of your team.
Q: You drafted five guys that were Senior Bowl participants this year and a few talked about the conversations they had with you and Rodarius mentioned. How important are those face-to-face conversations, especially in a year like this where you didn’t have the combine to meet with the guys?
A: For me, they are crucial. I don’t really like adding someone to our team or I can’t really have a strong enough opinion on someone if I have not had good enough interaction with them as a person and there’s no better opportunity to sit down with somebody and look them eye to eye and really ask them tough questions and get an answer and get a feel for them as a person. A number of guys at the Senior Bowl we came away with obviously the ability to have a strong opinion. To be honest the guys you only see on tape, if you don’t have enough interaction with, you may like them as a player and there’s just something missing that you can’t stand on the table and say, this guy fits our locker room, this guy fits our culture. So the interactions are definitely crucial for us.
Q: Is it possible at this point to gauge how much better you’ve gotten with this draft? And secondly, do you look at the other teams in your division in terms of what they have done and maybe whether you’ve gained on them or not or is that too early to do that at this point?
A: I don’t think you can ever make a team on paper. I don’t think you can ever really win in the offseason. To me it’s about adding competitive players each position. And then when training camp starts and the competition truly starts, that’s when we’ll know how much we’ve improved. We’ll know when we start the preseason games and truly know when we get into the season. It’s a fair question, I fully understand it. We are looking to add a raised level of play at every position. But by adding competition, one of two things happen: You either bring somebody in who you improve because they are good enough to take someone else’s job or you bring someone in who pushes the guys in front of him to keep their job, and either way you get a raised level of play.
Q: Gary Brightwell sounded like you talking about special teams and all the hidden yards and importance of it. What did you like about him in those roles while he was in college?
A: He’s a guy that definitely jumped out. A few weeks back, me, Tom Quinn and Thomas McGaughey were sitting in the staff room on a Saturday about 5:30am in the morning and Tom Quinn brought his name up and we watched his kick game and this dude was flying down the field and it was early enough that it woke you up and you really got excited about watching him. You start watching a lot more of his offense and start talking with our scouts who have done a lot of research on him and talking to Burton (Burns) as far as the running back value. Look, he’s a guy that jumps out from his skill set. You are always looking for good versatility and depth at those positions, running back and the kicking game. To be honest with you, the opportunity I had to really speak with him and spend some time with him even though it was over Zoom with Gary was very, very impressive. He has an tremendous story. This dude had the utmost compliments given to him from everyone who has been around him at every level. He was the guy that was available at the time and he was a guy we guy we could bring on on our roster and compete to be on the roster and make us a better team.
Q: From the outside there’s a lot of surprise that you guys didn’t address the offensive line throughout the three days of the Draft. Dave talked about this but I’m curious from your perspective on the guys that you have and whether you’re completely comfortable going into the season with the group you’ve got.
A: First off I’m encouraged by the guys we have on our roster right now. They are working hard. We don’t have them in the building just yet, not all of them. As we get closer to the mandatory minicamp and training camp, we’ll get a feel for them on the grass. I would say we are always looking to make every position more competitive, but right now we are committed to working with the guys on our roster and approving each one of those guys individually and that should help the unit collectively.
Q: Elerson Smith, lower level of competition, gained a lot of weight, big hands, good athlete. This team has been looking for an edge rusher for many years. You think you got it right with these two guys?
A: I think we added two guys between Elerson and Azeez that are going to be able to come in that have a skill set to develop and work with, both guys really fit our outside linebacker category. In our defense, our outside backers have a variety of skill set. Some guys are more stout, set the edge guys better in early down run setting and some guys are more third down sub-package pass rushers. Elerson is a guy, I got to sit down with him in Mobile at the Senior Bowl and was impressed with him down there playing. You watch his tape, the one thing I would say about guys from small schools and low level of competition, I think sometimes people over-evaluate someone because where they played in college. And this is a guy you look at his story, he weighed 195 pounds coming out of high school, was built more like a receiver. So someone obviously at Northern Iowa did a good job evaluating this guy and seeing his upside and potential. That’s what I think we did a good job as well with, and we’re going to have an opportunity to develop it. But he’s gained a lot of weight. That just shows his commitment to body and really developing over time. Some guys are late bloomers. But I know when Northern Iowa plays, whether it’s him or Spencer Brown another guys who was drafted along with other guys, those guys play tough. You watch their tape. They are a competitive team. So to me I look at a lot of lower competition, per se, quote, or smaller schools as really more of an opportunity to grow these guys as guys that really weren’t always in a program where they had great nutrition plans or maybe the top-tier strength program or assets available to them. Sometimes you get a guy from a really good program and you have to look and say, how topped out are they. They have been coached very well, had a resource at all times; what is their ceiling and how much higher can they go. A guy from a smaller school, you can say, we can really develop this guy. You know, let’s be patient with this guy, give him time, throw them in, let them compete and if they have upside, all of a sudden you really see them competing on your roster.
Q: Last year was a whirlwind. How is this year, the whole process and your involvement any different?
A: No, I think from the day I got here we all worked together very well. That’s one thing that I talked about from the very beginning. It’s been very open on both sides of the building. It’s just one building. It’s not separated personnel and coaching. Everyone is working together. Right now we have our scouts working with the coaches on the free agency process after the Draft, me and Dave (Gettleman), Kevin (Abrams), Mark (Koncz), Tim (McDonnell) and Chris (Pettit), we always talk fluidly throughout the entire process. There is more involvement because I wasn’t here last fall, or two falls ago. The ability to talk about who is in the draft, who we are targeting, what kind of bodies, change of the scheme and further understanding on both sides what we are looking for and how we work together. After going through a cycle last year, you knock off some of the newness and this time through it was a lot more fluid.
Media Q&A with Director of College Scouting Chris Pettit (Video):
Q. You drafted five guys that were at the Senior Bowl this year and a lot of those guys talked about those conversations had with them and the things you learned about them. How important was that this year, especially, when you didn’t have the combine and all the traditional visits? Was there extra value added on meeting guys there?
A: Every year, we’ve taken guys from the Senior Bowl. Senior Bowl does a great job of recruiting and bringing in really good players to get a look at. There’s, you know, every year I feel like we draft guys from there. This year, it really was — I said it the last couple nights was our really only time to be face-to-face with the prospects and how important that was to the process of just seeing them, feeling them, getting close to them. So yeah, it was super important, but every year they do a great job of bringing in really good players down there for us to evaluate.
Q. And then one guy that wasn’t at the Senior Bowl that you picked was Gary Brightwell who was a little more under the radar. Joe talked about how impressed he was with the special teams tape. Was that something that stood out to you?
A: Yeah, absolutely. Especially, one of our special teams coaches, Tom Quinn, ran into me one day in the hall and said he really saw some good traits in him. So we threw on the tape. Also as a runner, this guy will help us as a running back, as well. He’s competitive. He’s tough. He’s got good hands. Good athlete. So yeah I’m looking forward to seeing him run and also contribute on teams.
Q. Obviously Joe told us that the process was already starting with you guys trying to get together and worry about after the Draft and free agency. If you can explain what this year’s process looks like compared to obviously last year where you were not bringing guys in and going virtual. How different is this year and do you have a number in mind of how many guys you will look to sign after the Draft?
A: Between the scouts and coaches, we’re collaborative and we work together on recruiting and really trying to get these guys signed up after the Draft is over. It’s definitely been a better process this year than it was last year doing it all virtual. It was difficult. I’ll be honest, it was difficult. I’m sitting there looking, trying to organize it all with about 60 faces on the Zoom and the communication was hard. I think we did a great job last year and this year is going to be even better. We have the coaching staff here and we can communicate face-to-face. We have some of our scouts that live locally around and that’s helping out and then we have our scouts Zoomed in the room. It will be better this year but we’re not at full capacity when we are all together working as a team face-to-face.
Q. Rodarius Williams is going to be 25 in September. Some teams are drafting guys who are 20. How old — how do you look at age in the draft process? Is there a number that’s too old? Is there a number that’s too young? Are you aware if a guy is 22 versus 23? Do you know that number off the top of your head? How do you see age?
A: I mean, I think it’s a piece of the puzzle like every measurable is or every skill is. Obviously it didn’t affect us, his age and why we took him. You know, it’s case-by-case basis when it comes to the age to be honest with you. But no, I mean, actually he’s more mature. We don’t have to — some of these guys that are coming in, maybe don’t have the life skills being younger players, really straight out of high school almost. But no, it’s part of the puzzle like everything else, like I said, every measurable, every skill.
Q. You just spent the last year of your life devoted to these three days. What is your takeaway of this class and how does it compare to what you might have expected coming in?
A: This has been going since really our BLESTO meetings last May, I had my mind on this date. So it’s been good. It been a difficult year for all of us. But it’s been a great process. We’ve learned a lot. We learned new ways to scout. I think that’s going to help us going forward. I’m really excited about the class. There’s guys that we kind of targeted way back in February and we’re happy they were there for us at the time they were. So you know I feel good. I feel good about every draft class. We put a lot of work in both — all the scouts, all the personnel, all the coaches, we put a lot into this, so it’s a big day for us.
Q. When you look at a guy like Elerson (Smith), Joe was just talking about big school, small school. Is he a little more of hey, you look at him and say, he is not what he’s going to be and you project him and just what kind of potential as a pass rusher do you see him having?
A: I think there’s a lot of potential. The biggest thing with the smaller school guys, we always start at step one, do they dominate that level. They have to dominate that level of competition to get in the conversation. And the great thing about Elerson that, again, reference the Senior Bowl again, but we got to see him on the same playing field with guys from Power Five schools and the higher levels and he fit right in. He competed his butt off and looked the part. You got to compare apples-to-apples there. That was a great venue for us. There were times when he had to play a Division I team. He played Iowa State this year, played over 90 plays in that game and competed to the last whistle and it was really impressive to see. But I think there’s big upside there, with all our players, they are going to have to come in and develop and become pros.
Q. I know you’re finishing up and probably haven’t turned the page yet but you spend your whole year to get to this date. What’s the mindset you take when you are going to be leaving moving forward knowing, okay, next year now, we have all these extra first, an extra third, an extra fourth (picks in 2022 Draft).
A: Yeah, kind of what I alluded to last night with the class next year being so large, to have the extra picks is really beneficial going forward. To be honest with you it makes it fun knowing that we have all these opportunities to take players next year. So I’m looking forward to it. With a big class, it’s going to be a lot of work for us. Our scouts are going to have to be as thorough as ever and start work earlier with such a big class and guys moving all around. We know that and we are ready to take on the challenge but now at least we have the picks to hit it out of the park next year again hopefully.
Q. Did you get any directive or direction from the defensive coaching staff about the cornerbacks you were looking for as opposed to in years past and can you talk about sort of how Rodarius (Williams) and A-Rob (Aaron Robinson) line up with each other? Are they a similar type of player?
A: Number one, first day here with our coaching staff, is let’s sit down with the personnel and coaching staff and talk about what kind of players they want and what works in the scheme. The last thing we want to do is, you know, give them players that don’t fit their scheme and type of people. It’s collaborative. I’m sure Dave has said that many times but it’s true. We work together. It’s our job as personnel people to provide them the players that work. As far as Rodarius and A-Rob, they have some similar skill sets, both long, both physical and both competitive, instinctive minds. I think they fit our scheme. They both are good in press. Ball skills, they both have ball skills which we emphasize. I’m excited to see those guys work together.
Media Q&A with Elerson Smith (Video):
Q: Obviously, the Giants were at the Senior Bowl and I’m curious about how much you talked to them there? Do you remember those conversations? What was your impression of the Giants when you met with them?
A: At the Senior Bowl, I just had a brief 15-minute interview just like any other team there. I didn’t really get to know them much or meet with the other coaches and people on staff until later when we had a few meetings. First impression was. obviously, I just know that the New York Giants is a great, historically great, organization. I’m excited to be able to contribute to what they have.
Q: When you arrived in Northern Iowa, you were really thin, like 215 pounds or whatever it was. Then you put on all that weight. How would you describe what this journey has been like for you going from that skinny kid to being drafted by the New York Giants, which has a pretty rich history of pass rushers obviously?
A: It’s been a process. I’ve had to take advantage of each day early on when I wasn’t getting a lot of acknowledgement or recognition. It was a process. I was just kind of working in the dark and just making sure that I was getting the most out of every day. It has been a whirlwind the past few months. I’m excited to kind of take that same approach when I get to New York – just making sure that I’m getting better everyday and not letting days get by where I’m not getting better because if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. I’m really excited to be a part of New York.
Q: Technically, you called it an opt-out from last year, but clearly, that’s not what happened until the spring anyway. What was it like to have that senior season taken away from you?
A: It’s tough because your senior season is what you look forward to, you know, for all four years really. We had a great group of guys playing together in Northern Iowa and we really had a chance to make a run for it this year. But, obviously, with Covid and everything going on, it’s not the worst thing that could have happened to me. I just tried to go with the flow and understand that it is what it was and I had no control over the season being canceled. So, I just wanted to make sure that I was making the most out of my days and continuing to work toward the Senior Bowl and our Pro Day.
Q: How important was that Senior Bowl because nobody had been able to see you on the field since December of 2019?
A: It was huge. I think at that point, it was the only film I had where I played around 260. All my other film I was around 240 or 235. I just wanted to show teams that I could play with the new weight and to show them I was working hard on my body and my game and that I am able to contribute to an NFL team at this point. It was an important week because I didn’t have the film like everyone else had from the 2020 season.
Q: Obviously, being 6’6″, you have a size advantage off the edge over a lot of tackles, but is there a pass rush move that is kind of your go-to or one that you’ve really refined and you think is your best trait?
A: I like to work moves together. I love a good bull rush. I think my get-off is what starts all my pass rush moves. I love driving offensive linemen off the jump, get their feet moving and really get them scared of my length and my get-off. From there, depending on what the offensive line is giving me, it’s going to be a bull rush or I’m going to take the edger or coming underneath. I love pass rushing, though. I have a lot of fun doing it.
Q: I just wanted to ask you – the Giants also took an edge rusher in the second round in Azeez Ojulari. Are you a little bit surprised to land in New York? How much do you know about the edge rush situation with the team?
A: I’m not surprised to land in New York. I had a decent amount of meetings with them before. The edge rush situation is something out of my hands, but I’m excited to get to know the guys. I’m excited to work with them. I’m excited to get better with them and try to make the pass rush better as a whole unit. I don’t know much about Azeez, but I’m sure he’s a great player and I’m excited to get to know him and get after it and get to work with him, too.
Q: How much football have you played in the last like five years? It seems like ’16 and ’17, you didn’t play, ’18 was limited and ’19 was a big season. Is it only two years in the last five?
A: Yes. I mean, other than practice, which I treated like those were my games because that’s what I needed to get better at, my first few years of college, I started one year. Then, I was in a reserve pass rush role my sophomore year. I just like to make the most of my opportunities and I was able to do that my junior year. I think that’s a result of me treating those first few years like those were playing seasons for me or preparing for every game throughout those seasons, so I was ready at that point.
Q: I noticed you blocked two kicks. Are we talking about placekicks and you’re coming up the middle, I assume?
A: Yup. Just right on the ball, getting off and driving through the back.
Q: You’re being drafted as a pass rusher here, but have any teams asked you to play tight end or told you that they would like you to? I know you’re such a well-rounded athlete. You did it in high school. Is that something the Giants and other teams talked to you about?
A: No, not the Giants. I heard a joke about it, but no serious talk about me playing tight end.
Q: When the season was cancelled, I think you entered the transfer portal but then pulled your name out. What were those couple weeks like and what was that specific decision like for you? How did it go and how did you come to the decision to not transfer and not play?
A: Honestly, that was one of those things that were out of my hands again. I entered the transfer portal a few days after our season got cancelled because I thought it would be best for me to be able to boost my stock at a bigger school or maybe just find somewhere to play because I knew I wanted to enter this draft. After the FCS season, I entered the transfer portal and was talking to some schools. I had some schools in mind, but then the FBS cancelled, or postponed their season for that brief little stint there – a brief few weeks a day after I was into it – so, at that point everything was so up in the air. I was like, ‘I’m just going to declare and start training for the Pro Day and Senior Bowl.’ That’s kind of how it happened.
Q: I know you’re from the Minneapolis area. Do you know Carter Coughlin at all? I know you grew up near each other.
A: I actually don’t, not personally. I played against him in high school, football and basketball. I know he’s a great athlete. I know he did great things at the University of Minnesota and I’m excited to get to know him in New York.
Q: You probably posted him up pretty good in basketball.
A: I wasn’t very good at basketball. I was a wrestler most of my life. I played basketball a little bit later, even though it’s funny because I’m 6’6″, I’m not a basketball player.
Media Q&A with Gary Brightwell (Video):
Q: What does this moment mean for you to get drafted by the Giants and considering your journey here and everything you’ve been through? What does it mean to get picked by them?
A: This moment is special for me. My family grew up as Giants fans, so I mean this is everything I dreamed of.
Q: So does that mean you’re a Tiki Barber guy? Who was your favorite running back growing up?
A: Tiki Barber was my favorite running back.
Q: Tell us about your game, Gary. What are you going to bring to the team?
A: I’m excited to bring some special teams to the field. I’m going to bring a lot of explosive plays, but my priority right now is getting the playbook, getting on special teams and dominating.
Q: Did you talk to [Head] Coach [Joe] Judge about that already? He’s a pretty big special teams guy.
A: Nah, that’s my thing. That’s been my thing since high school. I’ve been a special teams guy.
Q: What do you like about that?
A: I feel like special teams starts the game and also finish it. Special teams has all the hidden yards. I mean, you need special teams to dominate.
Q: How can your parents be Giants fans when you’re from Chester?
A: I don’t know. I mean, my parents are not Giants fans. My mom is an Eagles fan, but obviously she’s got to be one (Giants fan) now. And my uncles and aunts are Giants fans.
Q: You didn’t get a chance to play a lot because of Covid. Is that good or bad or what?
A: I mean, it could be good or bad, but to me I think it worked out just right. I’m a Giant.
Q: How much did the Giants talk to you about special teams and how do you show them? How does the draft process go about in providing to them that you can do special teams and showing them?
A: I mean, we didn’t really talk about special teams. We broke the film down and we mentioned special teams, but honestly special teams impacts me. I like to be the guy that starts the game off like on kickoff at Arizona. Unfortunately, I couldn’t play it last year as much as I wanted to, but I feel like special teams starts the game. Without special teams, it could be a win or lose situation. It’s the hidden yards.
Q: What units did you play on at Arizona?
A: So last year, I got to play punt pro [protection] and I also played kick return because I was the starter last year. But years before, I played everything.
Q: Just your thoughts on being in the running back room with [Running Back] Saquon [Barkley].
A: Honestly, my thoughts about it is I get to play behind a guy who’s very competitive. I’m going to make him work and for sure he’s going to make me work, but I just can’t wait to see how he approaches the day because I know some guys have different ways. And he can help me a lot, honestly. I mean, he’s been there for a few years now, so he can help me a lot. He knows secrets that I might not know right now, so I want to learn from this guy.
Media Q&A with Rodarius Williams (Video):
Q: Hey Rodarius, congratulations. So you’re actually Greedy Williams older brother, but he got to the NFL two years first.
A: Yes sir.
Q: What’s that like when you’re the older brother and he’s there first? Are you thirsty to get there? Now, what’s that moment like?
A: It’s just a humbling moment, man. Everything that he felt on his day, I feel. I’m just ready to get in and get the work done.
Q: What has he told you about NFL life?
A: Stay healthy, stay on top of things and don’t get in any trouble.
Q: Hey Rodarius, congratulations. Can you describe your game a little bit? And also, a lot of guys down at the lower part of the draft have a lot of special teams value. Are you one of those kinds of guys?
A: I wasn’t a big special teamer, but I did play special teams. I’m coming from a four-year starting experience, so whatever needs be I’ll adjust. Whatever you guys need of me is what I’m going to do.
Q: What kind of player are you? How would you describe yourself? Obviously, you’re very durable. You play all the time.
A: I’d say durable like you mentioned and definitely high confidence in myself. I believe that I will go down as one of the greats.
Q: Hey Rodarius, congratulations man. You’re 24 years old if I read correctly. That’s usually on the older side, so I’m wondering what that was like throughout the process and how much teams harped on that or you heard that or you had to fight that perception of, ‘Hey, you’re already old or older,’ I should say.
A: I’ve never had any run-ins or anything as far as things like that. My coaches used to tell me, if you could play, you could play, regardless of age. Teams definitely can see my durability. I don’t miss too many games. I don’t miss too many practices. I’m a guy that’s going to show up to work.
Q: Hey Rodarius, did you speak with the Giants at the Senior Bowl and what was your impression of them when you had conversations with them?
A: Oh we had a great talk. They were one of the teams that showed a lot of interest in me when we had meetings and stuff like that, drawing up plays and stuff like that. I was just showing them my knowledge of the game. They really took a lot of interest in me and I’m just – I’m not really shocked that you guys picked me. I kind of had expectations to go to the Giants leading up to the Draft.
Q: Yeah, so I was going to say, when you left your meetings with the Giants, did you say in your head, ‘I think this team might try and draft me’? Was that in your head right away?
A: Yes, most definitely. I was like, ‘This is going to be one of the teams that definitely gives me a call.