General Manager Thomas Dimitroff
"The final day of three and obviously a very busy three-day stretch here. We kicked off today focused on acquiring another offensive lineman who we feel is very versatile. Joe Hawley from UNLV is a center/guard, again versatility being the key for our offensive line acquisitions. That is very important for us going forward. After Joe Hawley we came back at 135 and traded up with St. Louis from 149. We had an opportunity to acquire a corner that, fortunately for us, dropped in the draft a great deal from where he was projected, in Dominique Franks from Oklahoma, an underclassman. He is a fast individual who brings us another good sized corner to throw into the competition in an improved secondary. We are looking forward to seeing how that competition works out with Dominique. He also has return skills which should not be understated. We felt that was a positive and worthy of our movement up to 135 from 149. After that we came back at 165 and went with a receiver in Kerry Meier from the University of Kansas. He is another very smart football player. He was a converted quarterback who has the skills. He has a nice set of hands. He is a very good concentration guy. He is a very smart football player who knows the field very well from his time at quarterback. We are looking forward to him competing for one of the receiver spots. He is a good size guy and a good target. You never can have enough of a receiver that is a legitimate target coming over the middle. Finally we finished off with another Montana guy for Kroy Biermann in Shann Schillinger. He was a safety that we were focused on a quite a bit. We brought him in here for one of our top 30 visits. He is a guy who we have a good feel for as far as his ability to move around and his speed. He is a fast guy, a 4.50 guy at 6'0, 200 lbs. and has the ability to fly around the field. He is a very smart player. He will hopefully have Kroy Biermann to help him out along the way to be one of his Montana brethren. This guy is going to compete for one of the spots at safety as well as be a legitimate potential core special teams guy."
On Kerry Meier's speed.
"He came in at a high 4.59 so he is right at the borderline into the 4.6's. That's good for a guy who is 220 lbs., a smart route runner and a guy who has a very nice feel on the field for getting to the open spot. Combine that with his concentration and hands. We were comfortable with that."
Why did Dominique Franks fall to you?
"Interestingly enough I am not exactly sure why he fell. We have done a lot of work on the secondary and we always will. Year in and year out that will be a focus position for us. It just is in the NFL. It is important that you are dialed in on your secondary. As we all know, we saw some of the repercussions of challenging situations last year. That said, interestingly enough, I have had number of conversations with a number of teams who were really surprised that he did fall to that point. As you saw right after that, to me and our organization we did the right thing there because there was a real run on corners after that. If you look back, there might have been five or six corners who flew off the board and the idea that we were able to get a guy who has good size, has proven himself in a pass happy league, and he has very fluid movement was good. He has speed and he has return skills that we think we can improve upon."
Have you talked to the Meier family about their loss and expressed your condolences?
"I haven't talked to them personally, but I have talked to Kerry when we delivered the message that he was going to be picked. It is a very unfortunate and heartbreaking story. To be honest, I had that proverbial lump in the throat. I think it was one of those things that you could tell how happy and excited they were. I could hear his family in the background. My heart goes to the Meier family."
Talk about not selecting a defensive end.
"We decided that with the movement up to us picking Sean Weatherspoon that we were going to go with a linebacker in the first round. Past that point there were a certain amount of defensive ends that we would have considered. It got to a point where you were talking about marquee pass rushers, people that we felt could be marquee players for years to come, those players usually go off the board quite a bit earlier than we might have considered. There were some good football players out there. There were other situations where other players might not have fit into our system. In the end, we feel very strongly about our young guys. We want to continue to develop Lawrence Sidbury. Obviously, Kroy Biermann is a guy who can get us legitimate pressure. We truly believe as an organization that John Abraham still has ability to get up the field, around the corner and to bend naturally. We are hoping through our continued concentration inside whether it is with Peria Jerry coming back or Corey Peters, that we are going to open up things on the outside a little bit. So as I mentioned before, there are a number of ways to eliminate the explosive plays in the pass and to improve our pass rush. Not just on the outside but through the inside, as well as being creative with linebacker blitzes. We have a linebacker who has just joined us through the draft who has legitimate speed and I think we can be creative going forward. In the end that is where our decision came in to focus on others spots."
What position will Jamaal Anderson play in 2010?
"He is still going to be viewed as a defensive end/defensive tackle. He is going to be a guy that has versatility. Coach Smith has talked about times where there will be scenarios where he will be reduced and other times where he will be expected to be on the outside in a regular defense. We will be creative with our sub defenses as far as getting up field and who we feel are our best past rushers from play to play."
Is Jamaal Anderson's bulking up foreshadowing for a defensive tackle position?
"Prior to making our decision on drafting Corey Peters and how I mentioned yesterday on how important it was for us to have a deep rotation inside, Coach Smith did focus on Jamaal continuing to gain some weight. I think Jamaal is a very fit individual so I am sure that he is happy that he is not going to be forced to be a 300-pound interior guy solely. Again, versatility is the key with Jamaal and I think that he is in a spot where he can go either way. That is fortunate for us and him with the way the draft played out."
What was the reaction to Tampa Bay's first two selections?
"When Tampa Bay picked that second defensive tackle we all looked around the room saying that this will be a team to be reckoned with against the run. We are a power driving type of offense. Hopefully, Michael Turner will be back and we are counting on him being back 100 percent. We are counting on having some girth and toughness on the inside by adding depth on the offensive line through the guys we drafted. They are definitely going to be a team with a very challenging and talented defensive line."
**While drafting did you take notice of your divisional opponents?
**"I think we do but that is not the driving force of what we do. It is a sidebar and a secondary issue that Coach Smith and I will look at and exchange a few comments on. It is not the driving force or a big point of conversation in the draft room."
Talk about the Panthers drafting quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
"Well let's face it, Charlie Weis is a fantastic coach and having been under Weis and his tutelage he is definitely pro-ready. I am never happy to see who we determine as being a good potential prospect in this league at the quarterback position going to a team in our division. Good for them that they got him, but obviously
we have to keep an eye on it closely."
What is your overall synopsis of the draft class?
"Just before Mr. Blank left the building we sat down and opened up my multiple-scenario screen on my computer. I showed him the number one scenario was getting the exact positions that we got with the players that we truly targeted. I know that sounds almost like I am pumping that, but it is the truth. There might have been a player or two fall off, but usually what we do at each one of the positions is have one or two players that we truly target and we determine through a lot of analyzing where that player might be. We are not unrealistic about it. If we are looking at defensive tackle we are not going to have the top rated defensive tackle in that group, but we came away with everything that we were truly looking for. Not only from a position stand point, but all of these guys on this list were definitely targeted. We are very excited about having their skills on the field, but these guys are all outstanding individuals as well. They are guys that we feel are going to be very nice fits."
Talk about some of the positions available at the end.
"It was incredibly refreshing. We had such great discussion and we really did pull back and look at everything. Today it was a lot easier to move some of those tags into an isolated area on the board that you are truly looking at going into the last three or four picks. The fact that we were able to contemplate from both sides of the board made it a lot easier and a lot less stressful. That makes the draft that much more enjoyable."
**Talk about potential undrafted free agents.
**"There is no question that we have been thinking about that. That is an art within itself and Les Snead and his group do a great job at it. They are game planning on it right now in our draft room. It is obviously premature because when you are slotting your potential CFA's those guys get picked. We had a few guys already come off our CFA board that were drafted. It is kind of interesting when you are in that draft room when that started happening with the gasps and the oh nos. There is a lot of work that goes into that as well and to your point there will probably be 11 or 12 CFAs that will come onto our campus here."
**Talk about Shann Schillinger's position.
**"He is a free safety with ability to be interchangeable, but most ideally he will be a free safety."
Where will Joe Hawley play?
"He is a center/guard. He has played both. He started this year at guard and last year at center. He is quite adept at the shotgun snap which is important as well. Again we can't stress versatility enough along the offensive line."
Did Shann Schillinger have a serious injury as a senior?
"He had an injury, but not serious enough to make us not consider him. He was a very clean medical guy for us. We were very comfortable with that."
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