General Manager Joe Douglas and Head Coach Robert Saleh, 4.29 (2023 NFL Draft Day Three)
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Joe Douglas: All right. Well, it is an exciting day, busier day than the first two days of the Draft. Little bit more wheelin’ and dealin’ – a few more moves made, but at the end of the day, excited, really excited to add these guys. A tackle in Carter Warren with really good length, really good lateral agility that has huge upside and is a good fit in our scheme and then getting his teammate, Izzy (Israel) Abanikanda – two local guys and Izzy is a home run threat with size, speed, and production and then adding Zaire Barnes from Western Michigan – another guy who is going to be a really good fit in Robert (Saleh) and Coach (Jeff) Ulbrich’s defense with size, length, speed, toughness, versatility and then a couple of freaks at the end of the Draft in Jarrick Bernard-Converse, JBC, versatility – he can play safety, he can play nickel, he can play outside. He’s played a lot of football and obviously, the talent speaks for itself. Then, Zack Kuntz from Old Dominion, another size speed freak, so excited about the guys we added. Busy day, lot of moves, but can’t thank the coaches and the scouts enough. This is their day. The scouts know these players like the back of their hand and it comes in handy on days like today. I can’t thank these guys enough, the teamwork that was involved throughout this entire process with the scouts and coaches. It led to a really good day.
Antwan Staley: Carter Warren, can you just talk about, it seems like if it wasn’t for his injury he might have been a Day Two pick or at least higher in the Draft?
JD: Yeah, I had a chance to go to the Georgia Tech vs. Pitt game before our game against the Steelers and he was already out, but just seeing him on the sideline, you’re like ‘Ok, this guys fits the body type build,’ and then going back and watching the tape on him last year, you see all these traits and you see everything that really good offensive tackles are made of in the National Football League – the size, the length, the pass pro ability, the balance, so feel good about hopefully getting a steal here in Day Three on a guy with a lot of upside.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Is (Zack) Kuntz one of the more athletic tight ends? I think he tested as good as any one ever has.
JD: Yeah, he tested through the roof, so we were sitting there at the top of the seventh round and just going through some of the guys who just had that freak factor to him and he was right there at the top – the size, the speed, the length, the jump, just everything and another guy who may have been drafted a little sooner if not for the injury this year.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: What’s his status for his injury?
JD: Well, he tested through the Spring. He’s going to come in and he passed a physical and we’re ready to get him here and get the ground running.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Joe, can you sum up what this past week has been for you?
JD: Yeah, I think I talked about it on Tuesday. The last couple of weeks have been highs and lows with the losses we had and then adding Aaron (Rodgers) and then this draft weekend. I don’t want to speak for Coach, but it’s been a bit of a roller coaster the past two weeks, but I feel like we’ve all been able to lock arms as an organization and stay together and I think brighter days are ahead.
Dan Leberfeld, Jets Confidential: Robert, with (Jarrick) Bernard-Converse, how much of the Oklahoma State tape did you watch? How much of the LSU tape did you watch? Does it help seeing a guy who has played in two different schemes?
Robert Saleh: Yeah, you watch as much tape as you can on all of these kids and one thing that Joe hit on is that he has tremendous versatility. He can play all three spots in the backend, so we’re excited to get him here. One thing I will tell you is he does fit the mindset that we play with on defense and very smart, good communicator, very smart. We’re excited to get our hands on him and see where we can best use him.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: Do you see him as a corner/safety or just a hybrid type of role?
RS: We’ll see. We know he can play multiple schemes. He’s very, very smart, extremely instinctive, so like Joe said, he can play corner, he can play nickel, he can play safety. Once we get him here and see him move around, we’ll see him in rookie minicamp, phase two, and we’ll build from there.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Robert, as the guy who has to coach them all, your week started with getting a Hall of Fame quarterback and then you go through the Draft, could you just describe personnel wise to go through it?
RS: It’s been a fun week, it’s been a fun week. To get Aaron here, it’s a blessing and then for this Draft, to get who we felt was one of the better pass rushers and then to add to the o-line, and then get the (running) back from Pitt who just has so much juice and breakaway speed and then to add these guys on Day Three with Joe turning three picks into six and to add depth and versatility and add smart guys who fit our build in terms of character and mindset, so we got better this week, a lot better this week, so excited to work with the group. We finally get to hit the grass on Monday with the varsity, so it’s all good things.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: What was it like, I guess it was Wednesday or Thursday, the day after you got Aaron (Rodgers), he’s out here throwing to your guys already. What was it like? You were able to see that and look out the window and see that.
RS: Well, we need windows for the coaching staff. Just being in meetings and his presence in meetings and all of that stuff. We’re a really, really young team, especially on offense and just to watch him and Nathaniel (Hackett) and the way they communicate together and he’s already made his presence felt with regards to meetings and input, just discussions on all of the different things we’re trying to get accomplished on offense, so he’s a tremendous human, first and foremost, Aaron is. Just listening, there is little, subtle things I’m not going to get into, but he definitely cares about people and you can tell in the way he speaks to people, so really fortunate that he’s here.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Joe, could you describe how the trades came together today? Was that something in the back of your mind knowing that you only had a few picks coming in that you were angling to do this?
JD: There’s a game plan going in and you wanted to multiply these picks anyway you can, but it takes two, right? The phone was ringing today, and it was a good thing. I feel like we were able to get pretty good value on some of these trade backs and, more importantly, have more swings. Excited to have those conversations, get those trades done, and add some more players.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: On the offensive tackles, with Mekhi (Becton) in particular, how are they lining up right now?
RS: It’s a good question. The one thing we feel like we have right now in the offensive line room is a lot of versatility. We have guys that can play multiple spots. We have time between now and training camp. We’re going to see them. Keith Carter is getting his hands on them for the first time starting Monday. Nathaniel Hackett is going to get to see all these guys moving around, so it’s really just getting our best five on the field and just making sure it’s an open competition because it’s got a chance to be a really good group, but again, we have to figure out how best to utilize each player and it’s going to take time between now and training camp.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Joe, has a decision been made on Mekhi’s fifth year option?
JD: We’re going to announce that next week. The deadline is, I think Monday. So, we’re going to announce that in the next couple days.
Dan Leberfeld, Jets Confidential: Robert, with Zaire Barnes, a lot of people don’t see MAC games. You have a background in that conference, it’s from your neck of the woods. What can you tell us about him as a player and about that level of competition?
RS: For him, he’s got a really good combination of length, speed, size. He is incredibly smart, very instinctive. He played a style of defense that’s a little bit different than ours and they asked him to blitz a lot. They do a lot of stuff at Western (Michigan) and it was good, they play good defense over there. We just felt like with his makeup and his versatility and speed, especially his speed, and length, that he would translate really well into our system, so he’s going to come in here and get an opportunity to compete for that third spot and contribute on special teams and see where he takes it. Really, really excited about that kid.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: We got a full taste of Will McDonald’s personality yesterday. He told us he used to ride unicycles and jumping over cars and has ADHD and all this stuff. I was just curious if that personality stuff kind of came out when you guys were looking at him and talking to him and stuff like that?
RS: You want your d-line to be a little bit on edge. He’s got one of those edgy personalities, in a good way. He loves ball, it’s important to him. So, again, he’s going to be a kid that fits really well in that d-line room.
(follow up) No more jumping over cars though, right?
RS: No more jumping over cars.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, who will be competing for the third linebacker spot? And is the door still open for Kwon (Alexander) to return?
RS: You’re looking at obviously (Jamien) Sherwood, Naz (Hamsah Nasirildeen), I know I’m going to forget someone, but Zaire is here, (Chazz) Surratt is here also. We got a lot of guys that can compete in that spot and as far as adding a veteran, I’ll defer that to Joe as always.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: As far as your running back room now with the addition of Izzy, how would you characterize it?
RS: There’s a lot of gas in that room between Bam (Zonovan Knight), Michael (Carter), adding Izzy, and then Breece (Hall), who has looked really good, knock on wood, over phase one. There’s a lot of versatility, a lot of juice in that room. They’re big, they’re fast, they’re strong. Michael has versatility coming out of the backfield. It’s an exciting group to work with.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Joe, could you answer the Kwon (Alexander) question?
JD: Again, we’re going to keep the doors open to the possibilities of adding good players at every position, linebackers included.
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: I have a long snapper question, the extension of Thomas Hennessy. Extending his contract, how important is that to keeping him in the locker room?
JD: Having stability at that position, we saw it last year, just being able to bring back Greg (Zuerlein), having some stability at kicker. Obviously, Thomas (Hennessy) has been here since before I arrived. One of the more consistent, one of the best long snappers in the National Football League. Having that type of consistency and stability at that position, it’s huge. I know how important he is to our unit, I know how important he is to Brant (Boyer). Unbelievable teammate, unbelievable person, great father, brother, husband. We’re very fortunate to have him on our team.
Dan Leberfeld, Jets Confidential: Joe, I just want to ask you about Carter Warren. You have a long reputation of being a great offensive line scout. Can you give us more of a scouting report on what he brings to the table?
JD: Again, his athleticism. It’s feet, balance, lateral agility. He’s a natural pass protector. Really good bend in his lower body, hips, knees, ankles. The length, 35+ arms, so he can keep those edge rushers off his body, out of his frame, so the natural pass protection ability is evident. Those guys are good at left and right tackle. Again, a smart, versatile guy, which is key for our unit.