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TRANSCRIPT: LA Rams HC Sean McVay, GM Les Snead React To 2017 NFL Draft Day 2 Haul

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The Rams’ HC and GM pulled in their first three prospects of the 2017 NFL Draft. Here’s what they had to say.

Los Angeles Rams GM Les Snead and HC Sean McVay
Los Angeles Rams GM Les Snead and HC Sean McVay
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Sean McVay and General Manager Les Snead

(Opening Remarks)

McVay:

“I think the one thing that’s good, when you talk about what we were looking to do. You talk about adding three quality players and these are guys that Les (Snead) and his staff have really targeted for a long time. Once our coaching staff got into the evaluation process, we felt excellent about these guys. Being able to add a tight end, receiver, and a safety that’s played some corner, played as a nickel a little bit – done some different things. We know we got better at three spots. These are high character guys that will get us better, overall as a football team and players we had targeted – kind of exactly what we wanted to come out of tonight with. That’s a great start for us.”

(On the decision to drop back in the second round and whether that was a possibility going into the day)

Snead:

“It was a paradigm that we thought would occur and I think if we go back a couple of drafts ago, we had an early pick in the second round and it was the year that we drafted (OL) Rob Havenstein – late second round. I do remember, we had an early pick in the second round – we were going to draft some OL (offensive lineman) – we had already done (RB Todd) Gurley. And there was just a lot of OL on the board – it was just hard to pick who we would want. At that moment, there was a lot of teams – the phone just started buzzing. I think I remember writing a note down then, ‘you know what, if you ever have an early second round pick, it’s a good spot to be in.’ Usually there are a lot of teams that want to move up and we felt like that was going to occur and throughout the day it did. Basically, based on what we did last year, we felt like adding more picks to the stock was a smart move.”

(On if Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett can complement each other rather than take time from each other)

McVay:

“I think when you look at it, any time that you have some depth at that tight end position it enables you to be a little bit more versatile in terms of some of the personnel groups that you want to present to a defense. I thought it was great for us to be able to get out and see those players perform on the field, see how they were able to translate it. I thought we saw some encouraging things from Tyler Higbee, he did a lot really good stuff this past in our minicamp. We were also encouraged with Temarrick Hemingway. Being able to add a player like Gerald Everett, I think those three complement each other very well. When you can do some different things out of that 13-personnel package, where you’re playing with one back, three tight ends and a receiver, you can do some different things especially when all those guys have the ability to catch the football and run. So, we feel very good about adding Gerald to that mix and I think it will help us overall offensively in the way that we’ll be able to attack people.”

(On if Gerald Everett was the guy that they had targeted all along)

Snead:

“Sean (McVay) did a nice job saying last night, there were players, but I can tell you that through this process and you’ve gotten to know Sean, what his scheme requires and as you eluded to with the tight end, I have a feeling that Gerald’s one of Sean’s favorite players in the draft. Now, we had a lot of them and we knew we were focusing on offensive skill, whether that was tight end or wide receiver. Gerald was one of those guys that was, let’s call it scenario A, scenario one. You always prepare trying to figure out where you can get players in the draft but that’s the guesstimate at times and you can lose him, but we thought that if we did move back, get an extra third round selection, we could also still get Gerald.”

(On how they approach the draft process for players who came from small, non-powerhouse conferences)

McVay:

“I think when you look at it, it is something that you always take into consideration. You’re just trying to evaluate the traits and characteristics. One of the things that was unique about both Gerald and Cooper is that we got a chance to both work private individual workouts with them last week. I think being able to see them up close and personal, watch the way that they move, they’re able to catch the football. These are both guys that can separate and catch the football. In order to be an efficient receiver or a threat in the pass game, you have to be able to create separation and catch the football. Both of these guys have done it at a very high level, even though they might not have played at what’s deemed that top level of competition. There were games when they played against that top competition and they both performed extremely well. I think you go back to Cooper a couple years back when he’s playing against Washington, they’ve got (Cardinals S) Budda Baker. They’ve got guys like (Chiefs CB) Marcus Peters that are big time players. Budda is an early second-round pick tonight, who had a great college career. Against Oregon, you’re watching Cooper produce. So, he’s played against big-time competition. Maybe not as consistently, but when he has that’s when you saw his best stuff. Then you saw Gerald against Mississippi State this past year. When the ball is in his hands, good things happen. When you have guys like that, you have a chance. That’s what we felt like we got with both of those players.”

Snead:

“I think to add onto that, both of these players were at the Senior Bowl. That really helps when you can go down and see those guys dominate their conferences, their level of play. But, when the do go to the Senior Bowl and stand out – you look back historically, if you stand out at the Senior Bowl, you’re usually going to have a good career in the NFL. So, one, it does show that – guess what – you can step up to a next level of competition. And you would’ve had fun at the privates (workouts) we did last week. Trust me, there was no power fives that we went to. There was no really nice facilities. We had to dodge some rain storms, and there’s no indoors to workout. I won’t tell you exactly where we went, but we did go on a nice little jaunt, and we saw some good parts of the country.”

(On the elite skills that allows WR Cooper Kupp to make up for his lack of speed)

McVay:

“I think the first thing that you notice when you get a chance to meet with him in Indy (Indianapolis), he was one of the guys that we brought into the hotel room where you’re interviewing these guys for that 15-minute window – very impressive. You felt like you’re almost talking to a receiver coach. I looked over a (Rams WR) Coach (Eric Yarber) ‘Yarb’, I siad, ‘You’re lucky we just hired you man. We might have to hire this guy if he was coaching.’ But, his above-the-neck approach, in terms of the way that he sees the game, it’s almost through the quarterback’s perspective. He understands that, he understands route distribution. Then, I think he’s wired the right way. You can see he’s always got a plan at the line-of-scrimmage with how he’s going to work versus different coverages and where the holes are in that coverage, and he’s got great hands. I think you see a guy that understands the game. You watch him play, you see he’s got those pre-snap plans that, a lot of times, you don’t see. He is one of the more polished college receivers that I’ve evaluated coining out in a while, and that’s why you feel good about him. We’re excited to see how when we get him in that building, and then he’s able to go compete with our players how that translates. We’re excited about Cooper.”

Snead:

“Too add onto that to let you know how the combine helps is, a kid like him, there’s no doubt he can separate. Obviously, in terms of running A to B in a 40-(yard dash) in a 4.6 is not the fastest. Usually when you’re not the fastest, you learn how to run routes. But, you take his agility work, the three-cone and the short-shuttle – they’re elite. They match-up with some of the elite slot receivers in our league. You can use the combine to go, ‘Ok, you’re seeing this on film, but he also did it when you were measuring him at the combine, and it matched some elite slot-type receivers in our league.’ So, that’s what the numbers can do for you sometimes.”

(On if they see DB John Johnson as a safety or cornerback)

Snead:

“He will come in and play safety, but what’s nice about him is he’s a former corner. He does give you flexibility, because there at B.C. (Boston College), he could down and, let’s call it, cover the slot in college football as an inside nickel guy. Our special team’s coach, you all know John (Fassel), John really liked him, valued him as one of the top core players in this draft because when he did play core special teams, he made a difference. A lot of upside, he’s a great kid, just a football player and there’s versatility there. So we added depth in the secondary.”

McVay:

“Yeah, a lot of the same. When you talk to our defensive coaches in (Defensive Coordinator) Coach (Wade) Phillips, (Safeties) Coach (Ejiro) Evero, and (Cornerbacks Coach Aubrey) Pleasant, they did a great job evaluating him. Then when you look at John, what you’re able to see from him is a big body of work, where he’s playing underneath as a safety, he’s playing in the hole in the middle of the field, he’s playing over the top as a hat-field player. He started games at corner. So you have a lot of good things to evaluate and those will be things that we ask our safeties to do. At any given time, you might be asked to play in the middle of the field, underneath. You see him compete in the run game, and those are the things that excite you because of that versatility that he provides. He’s a smooth safety, so when you’ve got guys that offer some athleticism and then that (special) teams value is big for us as well. John’s going to be a nice addition to our team.”

(On if they see Everett and Kupp as guys who can come in and play right away or guys they have to develop)

McVay:

“Well I think the first thing is, is we’re trying to always have great competition within the framework of our team. We had a lot of good things that we saw from our players that are currently on board. Those guys will come in, they’ll get a chance to compete, but we saw really good things from our receiving core. When you talk about guys like (WRs) Mike Thomas, obviously Tavon Austin, I thought Robert Woods was excellent, Pharoh Cooper did some good things. So when you really look at what our guys did, just being able to evaluate them last week, we feel that Cooper (Kupp) will offer a nice amount of depth and then if he’s able to show that he’s one of the better players, then he’ll play. And it’s the same thing with Gerald (Everett). Going back to just talking about Higbee and what you saw from Hemingway, those are encouraging things. I don’t think you can ever have enough playmakers and if those guys merit it by the way that they compete in practice, then those guys will be on the field as well.”

(On if they see Kupp as somebody who is more of a slot receiver or can play on the outside)

McVay:

“I think he’s probably more in the mold of a slot, if you will, but we move guys around. I think he’s shown that he can win on routes from width as well. I don’t want to exclusively say that he is a slot, but once some of those traits and characteristics, in terms of the ability to recognize coverage, be able to recognize if I’ve got an option route, working one way or the other. I think those are some of his best assets and qualities. He’s a football player and we’ll move guys around. I don’t think you want to exclusively say somebody’s only a slot or only an outside receiver. So he’ll do both, but he’ll certainly have an opportunity to compete in the slot. That’ll be one of the things that he will do, for sure.”

(On if Everett is primarily a receiver or somebody who can play inline as well)

McVay:

“I think when you go back, even watching a couple years back when he played against San Diego State, he had a bunch of production in the pass game. I want to say he had like eight (receptions) for 164 (yards). (National Scout Ted) Monago does a great job looking at some of those guys in that area and he brought Gerald to our attention a year ago with Les and his staff. You start looking at Gerald, you see toughness without the ball. It’s hard to evaluate and project a lot of these guys inline because they might not have their hand in the ground, but some of these things where you’re coming across a formation and cutting a guy down, stalk blocking in space, just the way that you finish, you might insert on a second-level linebacker. He’s shown play-toughness without the ball in his hands. I think anytime that you’re not really asked to do certain things, there’s always going to be a developmental period that takes place. And those tight ends, when you look at the way that spread offenses influence and affect some of these college players and the way that it projects to what we’ll ask them to do, the tight end position is one that’s been affected. I think what you see with him, both with and without the ball in his hands make you think he’ll be a willing blocker. And we’re encouraged about that.”

(On if they gave any consideration to former USC WR JuJu Smith-Schuster)

Snead:

“He was definitely in the mix. I know we had a local workout here – great place to have a local workout. There’s a lot of talent here. So, we did have a Saturday where there was a lot of players on the field. But we were able to use that as a chance to do a more intimate visit with JuJu. So, he was definitely somebody that was on our board, in the mix. It didn’t work out, that’s how the draft goes, he was definitely somebody in the mix.”