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Transcript: Julio Jones Introductory News Conference


Arthur Blank

Opening remarks:

"Two of the past three years these gentlemen (Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff) have been named Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year, which is pretty special. All three of the past seasons have been winning seasons and two out of those three years we've gotten to the playoffs. They have done a really incredible job. I also want to say that since the end of last season, which didn't really end the way we wanted it to, but it ended and we've moved on, I have worked very closely side-by-side [with Smith and Dimitroff] and have watched the incredible commitment they have made in terms of the evaluation of our roster, in terms of the combine, getting ready for this draft and I have never seen a better effort. Not only by Thomas and Smitty, but by the coaching staff and the entire personnel department, they have done an outstanding job. The amount of analysis, thought, depth and quality of their thinking has really been something that I've really appreciated. I want to say publicly, what I have said privately, to them on behalf of our franchise and our fans, not only in Atlanta but across the state and across the country, I want to thank you both personally. I want to thank our coaching staff and our entire personnel department, many of whom are here today, for the efforts that they have put forward. There are a couple of things that I want to say before I turn this over to Thomas to talk about the strategy. One, I want everybody to keep in mind that we have six more picks. That's this year, not in the next 10 years. We have six more picks in 2011, we have five picks in 2012 and we have a very young roster. A roster, which save a couple of more senior more experienced players – not quite my age, but a little bit older than the average. [We have] a very young roster. The other point I'd like to make, and this is an article that came out today by Peter King, who is a senior writer for Sports Illustrated and his point about our draft and I am quoting him 'I love this trade for both teams,' he said and he goes on to say. 'This is the kind of trade a timid general manager can't make and wouldn't make.' I would say to you that Thomas is not timid, but I also want to say that this was not a decision that was made by our general manager. This was a decision that was made by the organization. This is an organization that is not timid. This is an organization that is concerned about winning today, concerned about winning on a sustainable basis. This is an organization that works together, with our coach, with our general manager and with everybody in this building to make the kind of thoughtful decisions that Thomas has made. When we made this trade yesterday, Thomas was the gentleman that actually did the trade and took the name off of the board, Julio Jones, who we are thrilled to have here. That was a decision made by this entire organizations and I couldn't be happier with the gentleman that is here today and is now a Falcon, but also to represent these gentlemen who have been part of this decision making process. With that I will turn it over to Thomas, who will talk a little bit about our views on this and how excited we are about having this young man here and then spend some time with Julio, who obviously you all want to get to meet and spend some time with, so thank you very much."

Thomas Dimitroff

Opening remarks:

"Thank you Arthur. I appreciate the kind words, as always. That was an eventful day. We kicked off this offseason talking about how incredibly important it was for us to add an explosive, play-making element to this team. We feel, on the offense, we have done that this year beyond what our expectations were from the beginning of the offseason. This was obviously a very bold and aggressive move. We moved up, as you all know, 21 spots. Not often does that happen in the National Football League. To Arthur's point, we worked very hard as an organization over the past month and a half, this wasn't a haphazard decision in the fury of the draft. This was a full on concentrated, concerted effort to dial in on a player that we think can impact our offense explosively, can continue to help QB Matt Ryan and this offense move in the direction and obviously compliment what we already have in WR Roddy White and the rest of this receiving group. We are very, very fortunate to have an opportunity to have Julio as a part of this organization for hopefully a long, long time. I do want to mention something that is very important and it's something I have mentioned in a few of my interviews over the last day and a half. We are extremely fortunate to have an owner who is going to be as aggressive as Arthur has been in this instance, because this obviously doesn't happen every day in the National Football League. This is something that takes us from one zone, from a financial perspective, to a very different area as far as the financial parameters of the deal that Julio will smile about when the time is right. You don't want to hear me up here, what you really want to do is get a chance to see this young man up here and get a chance to talk to him. He's a joy to be around. I think you'll quickly realize why we were not only enamored with, not only his skills on the field, I could go on and on about his athleticism, his size, his competitiveness, his skill set that to me is unmatched in this year's draft, but you get a chance to see what he is as far as his commitment to the game and his passion. Without further discussion I would like to introduce our first round pick, the sixth overall pick in this year's draft, Julio Jones."

Julio Jones

Opening remarks:

"First I want to thank Mr. Blank, Thomas and coach Smith for giving me the opportunity to come here and be a part of this organization. They win and I came from a place that wins and I will continue to try and do that here."

On his reaction to the Falcons moving up to draft him with the sixth overall selection:

JJ: "My agent was sitting beside me, Pat Dye, he was on the phone with Atlanta and he said he was 70 percent sure but it wasn't 100 percent [that I would be drafted by the Falcons], so I didn't want to get too excited about the situation. I wanted to keep it open just in case Cleveland stayed there and took me. I was so happy that Atlanta took me. It's a winning organization and all these guys up here and the guys on the team as well, they are hard-working and I'm a hard working guy. I'm going to try and bring that to the team."

On what he knows about the Falcons offense and where he seems himself fitting in:

JJ: "It's an explosive offense. Everybody, they have Roddy, they have everything. Tight ends, receivers, running backs, a quarterback and wherever they want to use me I'll contribute to the best of my abilities. If they want me to go in and block, come in on third down, wherever they want to put me I will be more than happy to go out there and produce."

On when he began playing football and when he realized he might be a talented player:

JJ: "I started playing organized football at the age of 12. I started playing earlier than that, just playing in the streets and running around. I knew I was going to be good in my 10th grade year. We got new coaches in and they converted me from a running back to a receiver and I started getting noticed. College's started sending me letters and I started visiting places. Right then and there because of my work ethic, I've always been a competitor growing up. I would never let anybody beat me at anything and if they did I was going to get my revenge."

On whether he feels any added pressure because the Falcons moved up so high to draft him:

JJ: "Not at all. I'm just going to give it 100 percent. I'm going to come in and work hard. Wherever they want to use me, I am more than happy to help the team out."

On whether he considers himself to have a defensive mentality because he is a physical player:

JJ: "I love to compete. I dislike defensive guys who don't like to compete with me for four quarters. I got that in college but this is another step. I know those guys are going to be bringing it, so I'm going to be bringing it to."

On whether has a hero in football:

JJ: "I really didn't have one. I watched Barry Sanders a little bit. I think I could say him because he got me to go outside and start playing the game. I never really watched anybody or had an idol or anything like that. These past years, WR Hines Ward and LB Ray Lewis because those guys dedicate themselves to the game of football and I kind of feel like I do the same thing."

On how his athleticism has helped him in the past:

JJ: "Just being flexible helps with speed and body control as well. Being a big body, I can do some of the things that a smaller guy can do. I have great hips. A lot of big guys don't have that."

On whether playing for Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban will help him adapt to the NFL:

JJ: "Yes sir. We had NFL practices, he kind of ran an NFL program there. As far as the meetings, we were in there all day learning. Being up early, taking care of business, you have to be responsible. Coach Saban always teaches you to be accountable for your own actions. If you are late you get punished, here you get fined."

On whether his family is happy that he will be playing close to home:

JJ: "Yes sir. My mom is very excited. You know how moms are and I'm the baby. When the baby goes off she gets upset. 'I want to come see you. I want to cook for you.' She's very excited for the whole situation."


On what number he is planning on wearing in Atlanta**:

JJ: "I don't know yet. Whatever number is available for me I will wear. It doesn't matter, the person makes the number."

On what the past 24 hours have been like for him:

"It's been great. Hearing about what happened in Tuscaloosa was difficult. I have friends there, I have teammates there. I was devastated about that. I was excited leading up to the draft, but then I heard that news. I got a little relief because coach Saban came and told me that everybody was okay and that everyone on the team was okay. Unfortunately, one guy on the team lost his girlfriend and broke his arm, but other than that it was a great experience to be in New York. Going through that is a once in a lifetime experience. Being able to go through that moment with your family and you work so hard to get there and achieve that goal, words can't explain."

On being the sixth overall pick but getting to play for a team that was 13-3 the year before:

JJ: "I was fortunate. These guys took a chance on me to come here. I love it. I won't disappoint. I am going to come in and work hard. This is a winning program and I know everybody here works hard. You don't get success just by being average. In this program right here, I am trying to be great. I want to come in and just work and try to be the best I can be."

On his performance at the scouting combine despite having a foot injury:

JJ: "It didn't surprise me. I thought I ran a little slow. Working out at API in Arizona I turned out some times that were probably a little faster than that, but they never tell you. I felt it in my start at the combine, I slipped a little bit but you can't get that time back so you have to finish through. I ran 4.39 but I thought I could have run faster than that. With my foot situation, it wasn't hurt. I didn't have any symptoms or anything like that but with 32 teams and all of those doctors pressing on that one spot, like 'Does this hurt? Does this hurt," After a while it started to hurt. I got up that morning and I was thinking, 'I'm feeling my foot now.' I never felt it the whole time and then when all those guys were touching my foot it started to hurt. I went out there and performed. I didn't want to put it off until the pro day. It was the big stage, the lights were on and all the competition was there so why not go out and perform."

On whether the Falcons will open up their passing game more with the addition of Jones:

MS: "We're excited about adding Julio and the thing that was most impressive was when we talked to people and watched Julio is not just him being a pass catcher but what he does when the ball is not coming to him. He is a competitor and you've heard it over and over again today. This guy is going to compete. He's going to make everyone around him play harder. He comes so highly recommended from the University of Alabama, he's going to help us not only in the passing game but he's going to help us in the run game as well."

On how much more difficult it will be to get rookies up to speed with the lockout in place:

MS: "You're not going to get the time that you normally get and we are making plans to try and help ourselves the best we can with the situation that we have. Julio has a wonderful football IQ. When you sit down and talk the game of football. He understands it. I think it goes back to his time there at the University of Alabama. He talks about them running a pro-style offense and them running pro-style meetings, when we sat down and had our visit with Julio, you could tell that he has a very high football IQ. That is going to help him in his progression to get him on the field and helping us."

On whether making the move to draft Jones changed the strategy of the draft going forward:

TD: "We had outlined four or five different scenarios and this was our number one scenario if we could broker the deal like we did. We have it mapped out, we are pretty definitive about where we are going and we are going to sit down, check it all out here in the next round and in the third round we will obviously focus on a number of positions. This move here was not a move for us to make a statement that we are one player away. That's not what we are saying. We are not one player away from anything. This is a player that is going to add to our explosiveness as a dimension to add to our team element. There are still a number of positions, with six picks, that we really truly believe we can focus on. We are looking to both sides, defense and offense as well. We will be anchored in to see what positions up there may still be on the board. I know there are some positions that you think we may be interested in and we will be focused on those positions as well."

On how not having free agency affected the teams draft plans:

TD: "It really forced us to focus on the draft more than any other one. From the beginning of the time that we have been here in 2008, RB Michael Turner was a free agent move before the draft. TE Tony Gonzalez was a free agent slash trade move before the draft and CB Dunta Robinson last year. It allows us to be a little more creative in the draft. This year we really had to focus in on the draft we can't control the other side, so this is our focus to make sure we pull together the pieces we think need going into this season."

On whether he thinks the Falcons can get additional picks in 2012 once players are able to be traded again:

TD: "No question about it. That was a real challenge this year, to not have the opportunity to talk players. Obviously, it led itself to appearing to be that much more at stake when we made the deal with four picks. Four picks, I want to make sure that's clear. Not five as it was advertised. This was an exchange of ones, obviously. It's something that we took into consideration and understood that since we didn't have players to deal with we were going to have to be very dialed in on draft pick compensation."

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