By John Boyle
OK, time to wrap up the blog coverage of the draft and get to finishing my stories for Sunday’s paper. Before I do, here is a partial transcript of Pete Carroll and John Schneider’s press conference after Saturday’s picks.
GM JOHN SCHNEIDER: “Obviously today was our most exciting day. I’m really excited about the toughness that we added to this team, the speed, the intensity of the guys. I think it’s going to be a great group to coincided with Coach Carroll’s philosophy of competition. We couldn’t be happier. I mean, we’re not going to say we were sad, but we are really excited.”
On trading up to get CB Tharold Simon and DT Jesse Williams with back-to-back picks: (note, this was Schneider’s first trade that involved moving up, not back) “Quite frankly we had a player who fits exactly what we are looking for in the corner position, and we didn’t feel like he would make it to us the next time, so we just wanted to go ahead and give it a shot.”
On what they like about Williams: “He’s really an intense, jump off the ball, strong—I think he bench presses 600-something pounds—he’s a guy who will really fill a specific role for us. Just his strength, his movement down the line of scrimmage and his ability to compress the pocket is really an intriguing thing for us.
Were they surprised he was available in fifth? “For us he was sitting alone on our board. Every year you have those guys who are supposed to go early and they fall for different reasons, and every team has to be comfortable where they take players at specific spots throughout the draft.”
On the difference between fifth-round pick TE Luke Willson, and his teammate at Rice, TE Vance McDonald, who was a second-round pick: “Willson was more of the down-the-field threat, but there’s no question that Vance was much more involved in their offense.”
“We like the fact that for us he was the second-best tester of all the tight ends in this draft. He’s 6-5 and running 4.51, great hands, he can get down the field, and he’s quick off the ball, gets his shoulders around quick. He’s a really interesting prospect for us.”
Carroll on if Willson is a tight end they would split out or use at the line of scrimmage: “We think that he can do both. The fact that he is so fast—he caught a lot of balls as a junior—we think he can get down the field for us, but we’d really like to develop him to do everything. He’s big enough to do it, he’s got a big frame, tough guy, blocks at the line of scrimmage, but he does have the speed that the receiving tight ends utilize for us.”
Schneider on Simon’s recent arrest: “We were able to speak with his attorneys and be comfortable with his situation. That’s really all I can say about it.
Schneider said seventh-round pick Jared Smith, a DT they are converting to guard, is athletic and “In similar mode as Sweezy.”
Schneider on seventh-round pick Michael Bowie: “Michael is just a big, athletic, great feet, long arms guy. He was picked where he was picked for a reason. He’s had a little bit of a background, and he needs to overcome those things, and if he overcomes them he has a chance to be an excellent pro.
Carroll on Bowie’s role: “We’d like to take a look at him at the right side. All of our guys have to be flexible, but we’d like to see how he looks there.”
Schneider on the versatility of seventh-round pick Ryan Seymour: “That’s the reason he had more value for us. He went to Vanderbilt, so he’s a pretty smart guy, smart football guy. We talk about smart, tough, reliable, and that’s what he is.”
On concerns about Williams knee: “He’s had work done in the past, but we understand what the situation is, and he should be all right. We’re expecting him to be full speed and going. He worked out at his workout in Alabama, and he’s ready to go.”
On the role of LSU RB Spencer Ware: “We saw him as a fullback as well as playing running back. So that flexibility is exciting for us. He’s such a tough guy, we really like his nature. We expect him to fit into a number of different areas, special teams as well. A real hard-nosed football player. We think he really fits our style.
“He’ll work as a fullback, but we know he can carry the football. We want to make sure to bring along there, but the fact that he can swing really helps us. He’s a big load and he runs really tough with the football, he catches the ball really well also. So we’re hoping that we can groom him as a fullback that can play tailback.”
On if there will be less of a role for a FB this year: “It’s a big part of our offense, it’s a part of the basic running back that we feature, the two-back stuff, so that’s a big deal to us. Mike Rob has done a great job for us, and we expect him to continue to do that, but he’s really played the position all by himself for a while. Fortunately we have a guy now who can play both spots. It does get tough on the roster to fit those guys together, so we’re expecting that Spencer’s got to do a lot, be a special teams core guy and all of that, as has Mike.”
On fourth-round pick Chris Harper: “Chris is a well-rounded athlete. He’s got a great background. He started as a quarterback and is a big-time basketball player. He made the transition to receiver, and he gives us a guy who’s a big, strong physical receiver, he’s different than the guys that we have. We like that the dimension was unique for us. He played in a run-oriented offense, he did not get as many balls as some of the teams that throw the ball all over the year, but he’s a very tough, physical kid, and so we really like that element he brings that’s different than the rest of our guys… He makes catches with guys hanging all over him.”
On the role for DT Jesse Williams: “We’d like him to play three technique. He played three-technique and five technique more so last year and more on the nose this year, so he does have great versatility. He’s going to be very stout at the line of scrimmage at the three-technique spot. The combination of guys that we can move through there now gives us a lot of flexibility. He is more like the big guys we’ve played with the last couple of years, so that gives us another new spot to fill with him. We think he’ll play a lot of first and second down, and we’ll see how he pushes the pocket on third down, but right now that would be a great role for him to play.”
On where they stand at linebacker with Leroy Hill gone: “We’re very young and we’re very athletic. The guys can run like crazy, we’re really fast at the spot… it’s a very exciting young group with Bobby and KJ taking the lead there. So we feel really good about it, we’re really strong with the guys we have.”
On if Malcolm Smith is the starter at weakside (Will) linebacker: “Malcolm’s the guy who has the lead spot at the Will spot, but we’re moving some things around to make sure we utilize everybody well. You’ll see how that looks when we come out of camp.”
“It was not necessarily a priority, but we’re always looking for players for competitive depth.”
On CB Tharold Simon: “He looks like a guy that is right in the same format as the guys that we have—very long, very aggressive. He should fit in very well.”
On if there is more flexibility between the strongside linebacker position at the Leo end spot this year: “We’ve always done it. With the guys that we have, we see that there’s reason to accent some of the stuff that we’re doing with those guys. Cliff is a very versatile football player, Bruce is a very versatile football player, Clem is. So those guys give us an ability to mix a little bit more. And it’s going to be very subtle, I don’t know that you’ll be able to notice how much that we will do that. We’ve been doing this for a long time, it goes all the way back to the SC days with Cushing and Clay Matthews and those guys. It’s nothing new for us, but we think now, Cliff really brings a great element of rushing the passer, an we know Bruce does too, and Clem. By the time Clem gets healthy, we should be in pretty good swing with how it’s fitting together, but we’re excited about it.”
On the Versatility of the D-line: “It’s really exciting, because even today, getting Jesse in here, he’s much different than (Jordan) Hill. That really gives us a chance just in what we’ve added—the addition of Michael Bennett is very exciting for us. Michael can play end, he can play on the guard, in third down situations, he’s a very active pass rusher. The addition of Cliff Avril with Clem and with Bruce already, we have a very good makeup to build around what we already have with Red and Mebane. This is a very good group, this should be the most competitive group we have, we have a lot of versatility and we have to figure out how it fits together. But this is not something we worry about, we can’t wait to see how it unfolds. Hopefully we can keep a big rotation going, keep guys healthy and keep them fast and playing at a high level. If we’re doing that then we’re on the right track. There is a variety of guys, and we love that. So we’ll fit them together as we move forward.”