General Manager Joe Douglas and Head Coach Robert Saleh, 4.27 (2023 NFL Draft Round One)
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Joe Douglas: All right guys, thanks for sticking around late. Excited to add Will (McDonald IV) to the team. Feel like he was one of, if not the most dynamic pass rushers in this Draft. Great combination of skill, production and athleticism. I think it was on full display at the Senior Bowl and all throughout his career games. Fired up to add him to a strong unit and keep adding to the line of scrimmage.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Joe, the Steelers jumping you there at 14, and taking Broderick Jones, did that change your plans at all there, were you guys thinking offensive lineman?
JD: We were going through a number of different scenarios, throughout the top 15 picks, but ultimately, we followed the board, let the board come to us and we’re very excited to add Will to the team to a very, very deep and explosive pass rushing unit.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: For both of you, you just mentioned this, you guys are pretty defensive heavy already, so how do you see him contributing as a rookie?
Robert Saleh: It’s the same thing, you guys know how we are with rotation and making sure that everybody touches the field. We come at you in waves, we dress 10 guys on gameday and with Aaron (Rodgers) here, hopefully we’re playing with a few more leads and we got a guy that can close the door on some offenses and get to the quarterback. He’s just got a unique ability to catch the corner and he’s got elite length to get the ball out, so he’s going to be special.
Steve Serby, New York Post: Does he need to gain a little weight, or no?
RS: Yes, he will, but that’s just a natural maturation of getting in the NFL and getting in an NFL program and all that stuff.
Steve Serby, New York Post: Does he remind you, is there a comp (comparison) for him in the NFL?
JD: Oh man, I mean his length, his bend, his athleticism, I mean there’s a few guys.
RS: I’ve heard names, at least from us in this building, Randy Gregory, Brian Burns, two guys that we think he kind of compares to.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Joe, you guys took it right down to the end there on the clock with a minute or two left, what we saw on the war cam (camera), was there trade talk, did you get some action?
JD: Yes, there were some conversations, I mean, I think any time you’re on the clock the phone’s ringing, there’s a lot going on, but ultimately, we felt really good about where we were and the player that was staring right at our face. Again, a guy with 30+ career sacks, unbelievable length, bend, get off and think he’s a great, great fit, plays our style.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Looking at his stats, Joe, the sacks in ’21, ’20 higher and last year lower. Was that them keeping him inside more scheme wise or was there something that changed for him last year, obviously?
JD: Well, I think there’s a few times that he might have lined up a little bit more inside, maybe a 4-technique or lined up a little bit closer to the blocker where I think he’s going to be – not to speak for Coach, but he’s going to be coming off the edge and he’s got all that God-given ability of length, the speed and athleticism. Again, he’s been productive his entire career in games.
Dan Leberfeld, Jets Confidential: Robert, with his size now at 6’3, 238, we know he can get after the quarterback, 33.0 sacks in college at the edge, what about first and second downs right now?
RS: Yeah, it’s stuff that he’s going to have to work on. He’s going to have to learn how to bring power, work with leverage and he did a lot of it. You look at his Iowa State tape, he played a lot of 4i where he’s head up on an offensive tackle, so he’s got the power to stand in there. Just learning our technique, our stance, our alignment, the angles at which we play and the get off. Not overly concerned about him learning all that stuff, and again, just to add an elite pass rusher, because at the end of the day, getting the quarterback on the ground is a premium. When you’re sitting there at pick 15 and you feel like you have your best pass rusher staring at you in the face, I think it’s just an easy decision.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Joe, with only five picks in this Draft, is it in your mind, is it more of a priority to try to accumulate more picks here in Day 2 and Day 3?
JD: Hey, look, we’re going to explore every opportunity if it means getting the team better. We’ll see how the next couple of days go, but I think everybody knows if the phone rings, I’m going to answer it and let’s have some productive dialogue.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Joe, do you feel like you guys need to add an offensive lineman still in this Draft?
JD: Look again, we’re not going to force anything. We’re always going to let the board come to us and take the best player available. I think tonight showed that and I think we’re all going to be happy. Coach mentioned it, with what we’re going to have, our team, we’re hopeful to have a few double-digit leads late and we can have different waves of pass rushers to attack offensive lineman, so fresh legs, fresh pash rushers could really help us.
Dan Leberfeld, Jets Confidential: Joe, do you like those Iowa State players? We saw last year, and now that you got Will, not just the standpoint of talent, but they have chips on their shoulders because a lot of them weren’t five stars, so they work very hard?
JD: Yeah, that’s a great program and getting a guy like Breece (Hall), so you feel pretty good about what you’re getting when an Iowa State player comes in here. I know Breece was excited, I think that was the first text I got once it was announced, so I know he’s fired up to be reunited with a friend and former teammate, now current teammate. So, it’s a great program, you know you’re getting tough, competitive smart guys that love the game of football.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, he (McDonald) started playing football his junior year of high school, wondering if you look at a player like that if you see some clay that needs to be molded?
RS: Absolutely, all of these kids anyways not just him, but any kid coming out of college with the style of game that’s played in college, the type of defenses that are played, there’s a learning curve to coming to the NFL, but when you look at him – it’s a passing League and if you can put the head of the snake on the ground, which is the quarterback, then it doesn’t matter what type of skills players you have, doesn’t matter what you have from an offensive perspective, if the quarterback can’t throw the ball, it won’t matter and this kid has an elite ability to get after the quarterback and that’s what excites us about him, but yeah, all these college kids need to be molded.
Steve Serby, New York Post: Mekhi Becton, where is he in progress, is he progressing according to plan, Joe?
JD: Yeah, he’s on track, he’s looking great, so excited to have him in great spirits and he’s looking tremendous.