Friday, May 1, 2015

Washington Redskins Coach Jay Gruden press conference comments on 2015 NFL Draft Day 1

Head Coach Jay Gruden
 On the selection of Brandon Scherff with the No. 5 overall pick:
“Well, there was a lot of things happened, obviously, with the first four picks that had a lot of impact on what we were deciding to do. Then when it came to our pick, we thought that he was the best person for what we wanted, the best player available. If you’re talking about offensive linemen, you’re talking about a big, physical guy, and we want to bring that mentality back to this football team and it starts up front. We addressed the defensive front a little bit in free agency, and I think we had to address the offensive linemen, the offensive line room, and we did that tonight.”
Washington Redskins Coach Jay Gruden
On if he sees Scherff at tackle or guard:
“That’s the exciting thing about Brandon. He’s very versatile. Heck, he could probably play center if
he wanted to. But I think Day 1, we start him out at right tackle. Obviously we have a Pro Bowl left tackle. We’ll start him out at right tackle, see how he does and I’m sure he’ll pick it up quickly. The thing we liked about him also, he’s a very smart guy. He loves football, studies the game, knows a lot about it, has been well-coached in college. He has a lot of experience playing the position, so I think the transition will be smooth for him.”

On if the team came close to trading the pick:
“Well, you know, we had the phones in the room. Not a lot of action. We had phone calls here and there. When it comes right down to it, if you have the guy you want, you’ve got to take him and that’s what happened. With Brandon, we had high grades on him all across the board. Our scouts did, our coaches did and if you trade back too far, you risk not getting him. It’s very exciting for us to get an offensive lineman – a guy that’s going to play here for a long time. Tough, physical, get us back to the glory days of running the football and being physical.”
On if that speaks to how highly the staff thought of Scherff:
“We thought very highly of him, yes. We understand that there’s a premium on great offensive tackles. They’re hard to find nowadays, and when you have a chance to get one of his caliber, you have to stand up and take him.”
On what was most impressive about Scherff:
“His toughness, his relentless tenacity. He’s a non-stop motor, plays every snap, he’s physical, he finishes blocks. He’s good in pass protection. There’s some things he can clean up. Obviously, he’s not a finished product yet, but he’s the closest thing we saw on tape. He can pass protect, he’s great in the run game. His double teams are ferocious. Physical, and most importantly, you can tell he has a great passion for the game. We’re looking for guys that really love to play this football game, because when it’s all said and done, you’ve got to have fun playing. I don’t think anybody has more fun at the tackle spot than Brandon.”
On if the pick was for the purpose of upgrading the team’s pass protection:
“We’re just looking at upgrading our football team. We felt that Brandon was the guy to do that right now at this pick. There’s a lot of things that we need to fix, obviously. We were a 4-12 football team. We’ve addressed some in free agency on the defensive side of the ball. We’ve made some changes, but we still have a long way to go with this draft. Very, very important – Round 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 – and it’s important for us to be right.”
On bringing in a player with Scherff’s demeanor:
“When you have a guy that’s this tough on film and it just echoes every time you watch him play, every play that he plays, you see the toughness and you’re like, ‘Man, we could use a little bit more toughness.’ Not to say we weren’t tough last year. We had some guys that competed and played very, very hard, no doubt about it, but when you add another guy of his caliber, his size, his strength, his tenacity, that only makes your football team better. It’s going to help our defensive line, it’s going to help our offensive line, it’s going to help our running game, obviously, and it’s going to help our passing game.”
On why he thinks Scherff is best suited to play tackle:
“Well, he’s played left tackle. He’s proven he can play left tackle. He’s smart enough. He’s obviously athletic enough to move over to right tackle. I don’t think that will be an issue. So when you go through the process, Coach [Bill] Callahan has been a line coach for a very, very long time, he sees that it ought to be a very smooth transition for him, and we trust in the fact that it will.”
On if the game is changing to where right tackles are valued enough to be selected early:
“I don’t think there’s any question about it. Offensive linemen, in general, it’s important to have the big guys up front, especially when you want to run the football. They’re tough to find, especially athletic ones. You know, there’s big bodies you can throw in there that are pretty successful and can get by, but when you have a guy that can be dominant, those guys you have to take. Those guys can play on your football team for 10, 12, 13 years at one position, or he can play left tackle if need be. He can play guard if need be, and those guys are hard to find. Brandon is a perfect fit.”
On making a draft selection with General Manager Scot McCloughan for the first time:
“It was great, very smooth. A lot of dialogue, Scot takes input from everybody. The area scout who does him, the coaching staff, the coordinators, we all had our input. Ultimately, Scot went through the due diligence, looked at a lot of players, a lot of background checks, did a lot of work, man. We appreciate that and we feel like the worked paid off. We got a heck of a player.”
On who had the final say on drafting Scherff:
“It’s the Redskins’ decision. We’re all happy with the pick. It’s in and Brandon is a Redskin and we couldn’t be happier.”
On areas where Scherff can improve:
“There’s not a college player that’s entering that doesn’t have some things to clean up. Everybody does. I just think getting used to the speed of the game. It’s going to be a heck of a difference for him. Blocking guys at Northwestern and Michigan State, it’s going to be a little bit different than blocking [Ryan] Kerrigan on Day 1 when he comes to training camp. We’ll see how he does but we feel like the type of guy that he is, he’s very competitive, No. 1. He’s diligent. He has great work ethic. For somebody to transition fast, we need him to do that. We think the character that he has, the ability that he has, it will be a smooth one. Obviously, Coach Callahan will be on him like he is on every offensive lineman. Believe me, he is going to grind on him. He’s going to make him a better player. ”
On how much Scherff’s status as a team captain at Iowa weighed in his evaluation:
“A lot. If you have a lot of guys that are ranked pretty closely, then you have a guy that is that type of leader, that type of character, it might set him apart. It takes him to the top of the class. That just plays into it. He’s a great kid, he’s a leader, he’s tough and he loves the game.”
On Scherff returning for his senior season:
“It was impressive, he wanted to be a captain and he wanted to finish his year at Iowa, and not a lot of people decide to do that. It shows what type of guy that he is. He wanted to finish what he started. He loved his teammates, he loved his coaching staff, has a lot of respect for them and that’s why he chose to stay. Luckily for us, he stayed and we got him this year.”
On Scherff’s footwork:
“His footwork is good. There’s going to be some tweaks here and there, but for the most part he’s a product that been well coached, well versed in the game of football. They do everything at Iowa, more so than a lot of teams in college football nowadays, Iowa Hawkeyes, they run conventional offense. They run power plays , they run outside zone, they run inside zone, they drop back, they throw screens, they throw the ball down the field, so you can see the transition won’t be as great for him as it would be for somebody else because he’s done a lot of these same core concepts that we have here at Washington.”
On not selecting defensive lineman Leonard Williams:
“He’s a great player, no question about it. There was a lot of discussion. There was a lot of other guys who were in the mix. I’m not going to go through names and how the grades were, but ultimately it was about taking the guy that we thought was the best fit, the best player for this football team and Brandon was it. Obviously, Leonard is a big man and a good player and I think the Jets got a good player with him.”
On McCloughan’s demeanor:
“He’s been great – very poised, very calm, not very chaotic up there. A lot of times, ‘Ah, you’ve only got three minutes to pick, hurry!’ It’s been very good, it’s been a great, smooth process. Bruce [Allen] did a nice job hiring a heck of a guy like that. You can see he’s been experienced, he’s been through this process before. He keeps everybody involved, he asks for input, ultimately it comes down to making the pick and we made a good one.”
On if speaking with Scherff at the combine was enough to feel comfortable with selecting him:
“There’s no question about it. We had a 15-minute interview and we’ve done a lot of work on him, don’t get me wrong, but the type of character that he is, talking to their coaches and getting to know him a little bit at the combine and Coach Callahan spent some time with him at the combine, there wasn’t a lot more that had to be done before the draft. ”
OL Brandon Scherff (Round 1, No. 5 Overall)
On his selection:
“I just sat there waiting for a call and my phone started vibrating and I was just absolutely ecstatic.”
On the phone call he received:
“Coach [Jay] Gruden, he said, ‘We want you to be a Redskin. How do you feel about that? ‘I said absolutely and just talked about that. I talked to Coach [Bill] Callahan and then went on stage.”
On if there was any surprise in being selected by the Redskins:
“Yeah, I’m just happy. I really didn’t talk to the Redskins after the combine. But, you know, I’m happy to be here and I’m happy to be a Redskin.”
On if the team gave him any idea whether he would play tackle or guard:
“I have not heard anything yet.”
On if he visited the Redskins prior to the draft:
“I did not, no.”
On where he believes he is best suited in the NFL:
“I feel tackle or guard. Either way wherever they want me to play, I’ll do my best and I’ll jump right in and try to get that spot.”
On returning for his senior season:
“Yeah, I just got another year with [Head] Coach Kirk Ferentz, [Offensive Line Coach] Brian Ferentz and our strength coach back in Iowa City, Coach Chris Doyle. I felt like I played a lot faster, smarter, and that knee injury kind of hurt me, but I tried to play through that and just try to finish people.”
On if Offensive Line Coach Bill Callahan mentioned anything about the team’s blocking schemes:
“No, he just said, ‘We love the way you play football and we couldn’t be more happy about this decision.’”
On what ‘having a nasty demeanor’ means to him:
“I think that’s what everybody – every lineman – wants to be known for. They want to be known for tough, nasty, physical [play]. I think that just goes to show what Coach Brian Ferentz says back at the University of Iowa.”
On how he would describe his play:
“Nasty, physical, likes to finish blocks, likes to get after people.”
On if there was any NFL lineman after whom he patterns his game:
“I grew up – at Iowa, I watched Marshall Yanda play football. I got the pleasure to play with Riley Reiff next to me at left tackle – I played a little guard. Just trying to do what they do on the field and seeing how they became so successful and trying to incorporate that into my game.”
On his off-field hobbies:
“I just love to hunt and fish. That’s pretty much it.”
On playing tennis in high school:
“I was a tennis player. Freshman year, I went from track practice to tennis practice to baseball practice, all in the same day.”
On if he was a finesse or power tennis player:
"You want to do a little bit of both. People thought I was a power guy, then you come in and finesse them a little bit and catch them off guard. But you’ve got to have both of those in your game.
On how big he was as a freshman in high school:
“Playing tennis, I was 250 [lbs.]."
On his participation in track and field:
"I threw the shot put and discus."
On if he played basketball as well in high school:
"I played basketball. Yep, that is correct… All four years."
On if he was recruited to play basketball:
“No [laughter]… I had post moves, yeah, but I’d rather play football.”
On if he has earned his degree already:
"Yeah, I got it in sports studies. I want to get into coaching when it is all said and done."

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