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Mike Shanahan Pre-Draft Media Briefing

Posted Apr 27, 2011

TRANSCRIPT: Head coach Mike Shanahan addresses the media in a pre-draft briefing at Redskins Park on April 27.


On the lockout:

“I think what we’re looking for is a little clarity. You know, exactly what the rules are so we can operate on the same page. So we’ll just have to wait to see what those rules are, I don’t think anybody knows at this time.”

On the draft being held after free agency this year:

“I think my first 10 years in the league, we didn’t have free agency at that time, so I’m kind of used to having the draft and not having free agency at all. But for a while, we’ve had free agency, so it is a little bit different, but it’s something everyone is working with under the same guidelines therefore, it’s not a big deal.”

On the team’s draft preparations this year:

“Well, to be honest with you, what we actually do as a staff is we’ve got the same schedule every year because it takes about five or six weeks of seven in the morning to pretty close to that at night, seven in the evening or five or six at night for about five or six weeks of going through all of these players. So it’s a process that takes some time and usually you start your OTAs in the middle of May. The one thing that you do miss is seeing your players as a part of the offseason conditioning program. They come in, everyone’s a little bit different in the middle of April or the first of April, so they’re getting back in football shape so you’re missing that aspect of it. But, in preparation for the draft, it’s the same as we’ve always done. It’s a long and tedious process, but one that you have to do.”

On the impact of the labor situation on the Redskins:

“I think any time when you come into a situation where you don’t have free agency or you can’t go out and get a guy that’s beyond six years, [it’s different]. The first year that we came in, free agency was the player that already had six years in the league, so you’re dealing with a player that’s already in his seventh year. It’ll be interesting to see what happens here in the near future. Whatever clarity we get, obviously we’ll operate under those guidelines. But, it is a little bit different for those people who have gotten into a new job.”

On drafting the best player available this year because of the labor situation:

“I think every [team] is going to approach it a little bit differently, but obviously if you had hit free agency already and filled a number of positions your mindset would be [to draft] where your needs were. Obviously, if you haven’t had any free agency, you’re going to take the best player available that you think can help your football team. I think every team has some depth at certain positions or they may not go that way the first couple of rounds, but overall, obviously you’re much more ready to delve into the whole draft.”

On drafting the position of quarterback:

“Well, number one, you better have a lot of confidence in whoever you’re drafting because you want them to be a part of your organization and team for a long time. I think there are probably more mistakes made on quarterbacks if you look through history. If it’s first, second, third round, all the way through the draft, everyone looks for something differently in the quarterbacks and sometimes it’s a hard one to figure out.”

On the importance of player visits during the draft process:

“We had a chance to sit with and talk to 60 players in Indianapolis so we feel like we get a good feel of a lot of players. [We talk] anywhere from 15-20 minutes in a group setting and then in private settings for another half-hour or 45 minutes with as many players as we possibly can. When we do bring those players in, usually it’s people projected in the first couple of rounds. You’re not exactly sure who will be available at your pick, but it’s important and I enjoy it. You get the chance to go out to dinner, a chance to spend some time on the blackboard, get a chance to feel who you’re talking to. So it’s a process that I’ve enjoyed over here for the last couple of years.”

On trading in this year’s draft with the different rules in place:

“I’ve been in situations before where we haven’t had a lot of picks and all of a sudden you’ve got the 10th pick in the draft and all of a sudden you get a couple of phone calls and you make a decision you want to go back because the player you were looking for is not there. Somebody wants to move up or a couple of people want to move up and all of a sudden it’s pretty easy to make a trade. Other times, you’re sitting there hoping someone is going to call and nobody calls and the guy that you wanted just went the pick before, but you have to pick somebody. So you have to have a plan for all of those scenarios. Sometimes, maybe it’ll be the seventh or eighth pick in the draft and you’re sitting there, a guy that you think will be there is there and you want to move up and make that decision. But obviously, it’s a little bit tougher when you don’t have multiple picks, especially in the third or fourth round.”

On altering plans for offseason practices because of the lockout:

"I think most people do. Well, I shouldn’t say most people. What I’ve done through the years is when you take a look at your OTA days, if you have 14 or you have 10, whatever the number may be, you actually go through your instillation schedule just like you’re going through camp. So what we would do, say we have a three-day mini-camp, we’d put in our first three days of instillation from an offense, defense and special teams perspective. What we’d do if we had another mini-camp, we’d go back there and review the first three days. If you felt comfortable with that, maybe the next mini-camp, especially if you had a new coach, you’d work on days four, five and six. So once you did go to camp, everyone would have a good feel of the terminology so you feel a little bit more comfortable going into your first preseason game. Now, if that does not occur, then once you hit camp, it’s the same for everybody, you’re getting ready for the season. If you have 15 days before the regular season or your first exhibition game, whatever it may be, obviously, you work accordingly.”

On the defensive line position in the draft:

“I think [versatility] is a big question. Guys you have to project, a guy that plays the defensive end position…if you want to look at him possibly as an outside linebacker. Is he a good fit? Some teams, it’s the opposite, you’ve got a big linebacker and somebody might have him work as a 4-3 defensive end, usually, it’s the other way around. So there are a number of 3-4 teams now in comparison to the past, so there are always those type of projects with the defensive ends, outside linebackers. A lot has to do with speed and pass rushing ability, and the ability to drop in coverage as well.”

On coming out of this draft with a quarterback:

“Well, I’m not going to go through our philosophy, but, we have a gameplan. We’ve got a gameplan with free agency, we’ve got a gameplan with the draft. You really don’t know how the draft is going to unfold, so you’ve got a priority of picks and, if guys are there, you may go in that direction. Your guy might be gone, you’ve got one guy you’re interested in or maybe two. Sometimes, you don’t have anybody that you’re interested in and maybe you’re interested in somebody if there is free agency at some time. We do have a plan though and hopefully it works out for us that our guys are there when we have our pick.”

On trading back in the draft:

“I think, like we talked about before, if somebody comes up and, all of a sudden, at the 10th pick, they have somebody that they want and we’re willing to move back to pick up extra picks, yeah, that could happen very easily, especially if we get good value. It could be a wide receiver, it could be a defensive end, a linebacker. A team that feels very good about their football team and they have multiple draft picks and they said ‘hey, we need that one guy or two guys that are going to be the difference in our football team,’ then a lot of times people move up and make that decision very quickly. If that happens, obviously, it’s best for both teams.”

On the importance of evaluating quarterback accuracy during the draft process:

“Well, there are a lot of issues. You’re taking a look at every quarterback, you’re spending a lot of time evaluating everybody. Sometimes there may be a quarterback who throws out of the shotgun formation and you’ve got to project him. What can he do underneath the center? You may have a quarterback that runs a short passing game, not a very sophisticated type of offense. You have to go through all the scenarios that you normally do and project them in your system. A lot of times, you have to adjust your system to the talent of the quarterback, and that’s normally what you have to do in the National Football League because you are not going to get that perfect guy, but you have to be able to do what he does and adjust your offense accordingly.   

On certain physical and personal traits being more significant than other physical and personal traits when drafting a player:

"There's always those flags and that's why when you take a look at all of these guys there's a lot of difference of opinion. Which guy will be the second round guy, first round guy?  Everybody looks at people differently, but at the end of the day you got to find somebody that fits in well in your system and you got to believe in that guy."

On the depth of the quarterback class in this year's draft:

"This is deeper than most of the drafts that I've been in at the quarterback position.  In fact, it's much deeper than I'm accustomed to since I've been in the National Football League."

On if they have a player in mind to draft at No. 10:

"There's always differences of opinion.  You go through these mock drafts because you're never really sure what's going to happen.  You present one scenario where you say, 'Hey, that's our guy.'  All of sudden the next scenario, 'Hey, that guy is gone and that guy is gone.  Hey, we weren't expecting these two guys to be here or these three guys to be here.  Which person would help our football team the most?'  When you are at No. 10, usually, you have a pretty good idea of the few choices.  If you are picking at 30, 31 or 32, you got to have a number of different scenarios. That's why some people move up, some people move back, a lot of different directions you can go. Obviously, it's much easier with the 10th pick than it is right there in the mid-20s."

On if they have selected a guy to draft at No. 10:

"There are about three guys, three or four guys that could wind up there that we've talked about.  There's the talk about the possibility of moving back to get an extra draft pick or multiple draft picks.  We've gone through all different scenarios that if we got the right offer, could we move back two picks, five picks, 10 picks, depending on what the reward would be - what people are willing to give up.  We go through all those scenarios and get a game plan ready just in case that does happen."

On why this year's class of defensive ends is deeper than usual:

"You really never know.  One year it may be offensive lineman, next year it may be defensive ends, secondary.  This year it is not as deep at the safety position as it has been in the past.  All of sudden, there are more defensive lineman than I've seen in a long time.  You just never know.  Year-to-year it seems to fluctuate.  You just got to take advantage of when those guys are available."

On the team's biggest area of need:

"We can go a lot of different directions.  Where we have a lot of depth obviously is our tight end position and our safety position.  With the addition of OJ [Atogwe] and with LaRon [Landry], obviously the safety position, one wouldn't expect we would go there in the first or second round especially with the depth of the draft. So I think that's common sense right there.  Take a look at our three tight ends who played last year.  We got some depth at the tight end position and tight end is not one of the deepest [positions in the draft].  Two situations there I feel pretty good about.  Other than that, we're pretty open.  We could go a lot of different directions with the needs of our football team."

On if he has been monitoring Albert Haynesworth's legal situation:

"To be honest with you, unless I can really talk to him or his agent - I think they would be able to speak on their behalf - without me being able at least to talk to them, I hate to, obviously, give my opinion on it without being able to speak to him or, obviously, his agent.  That wouldn't be fair."

On his reaction as a coach to Haynesworth’s situation:

"Anytime that somebody's name is out there that’s associated with this organization that's not positive, obviously, you don't feel very good about it, but you want to get the facts first.  I haven't been able to talk to Albert so therefore I don't feel comfortable talking about it."

On if the organization has reached a decision regarding Haynesworth's future with the team:

"Like I said, when you're not able to talk to somebody it's kind of hard to answer your question because I owe it to Albert and his agent to talk to him first because if someone said something about me and it wasn't proven, I would be very disappointed if somebody had me guilty before I had a chance to talk to them.  Albert is not guilty at this time.  I know it's alleged and I'm definitely going to give him the benefit of the doubt until I talk to him and he expresses to me exactly what did happen from his perspective."

On if a decision has been made regarding Donovan McNabb's future with the team:

"Pretty much the same thing, I'd like to be able to share with you, but when I can't talk to Donovan or I can't talk to his agent for the same reasons, I can't really give you an honest answer exactly what we are going to do or what direction we're thinking about going until I'm able to speak to him."

On teams drafting players based on raw potential:

"It only takes one person to like you and feel that you can do the job and help their organization win.  At least my experience with quarterbacks, you got to take a look at a quarterback and you can say, 'hey, can that quarterback work within our system?'  Or you have to change your system.  I think everybody sees what type of an athlete Cam Newton is.  Obviously, he's an off the charts athlete.  Time will tell how successful he is, whatever system he runs, but I'm sure whoever does pick him is going to run a system that he feels comfortable with because he's one heck of an athlete."

On if the team is allowed to contact undrafted free agents following the draft:

"I think everybody is going to do that.  I think it's part of the process since you're not allowed to sign free agents after the draft everybody is going to do their due diligence during the draft knowing that if somebody is a free agent that they got a spot on your football team.  We had three people last year who were undrafted that were part of our 45-man squad the majority of the year.  You take a guy like Keiland Williams, you take a guy like [Brandon] Banks, Logan Paulsen, here's three guys that aren't even drafted that we had targeted and all of a sudden they are part of your 45-man squad.  Hopefully, we can do the same this year."

On what he asks quarterbacks when he interviews them:

"Everybody is a little bit different.  When I sit down with a quarterback usually what I'll do is I'll talk defenses.  We'll sit down and go through different coverages and we'll talk a little bit about philosophy.  We'll talk a little bit about coverage reads.  More so, just getting the feel of the guy.  It does take some time though.  It takes some time to get a good feel."

On the effects of the lockout:

"Obviously, it's always disappointing when the players aren't around.  You're hoping that you would have a good offseason conditioning program, but for me, it's been business as usual.  We don't normally start our OTAs until the middle of May.  I'm always hoping, I'm always optimistic that the CBA is going to get done. It’s right around the corner.  So we got our gameplan for everything being done, hopefully it is soon."

On his draft philosophy as compared to the draft philosophies of the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots:

"The two teams you mentioned, obviously, they have won a lot of football games and have done a good job in the draft, good job in free agency.  To be consistently on top, that's what you have to do.  You got to run an organization.  You got to minimize mistakes and when you do make mistakes you got to be able to go on, jump ahead, and that's what the good ones do.  That's what we'll being doing hopefully here in the near future.  Limiting some of those mistakes, making some good decisions in the draft.  The free agents that do come in, hopefully they're the type of quality guys that get you over the hump.  Hopefully, you do your homework and you got the right type of guys, and do the things that give you the best chance to win."

On if he is pleased that the team organized a mini-camp:

"That just shows you what type of guys we've got.  We've got some great leadership out there and when you watch it you're always proud of your players that they take the initiative to go out and do something as a team.  You are always hoping guys are working out individually, but to see that does put a smile on your face.  It should.  Everybody should feel good about the guys that we've got out there trying to get things done together."

On if the team has an idea of which free agents will return this season:

"Like I said, there are a number of scenarios.  Is there a new CBA?  If there is a new CBA, then obviously, we're talking about different statuses for free agents.  If it's the same as last year, there is a different status for free agents.  We've got gameplans whichever direction we're able to go, obviously, we're going to go that direction that works best with the scenario, but there are two or three different ways we could go with the free agency.  We should find out here shortly what direction we're going.  Hopefully, there is a decision here today or tomorrow."

On if the team has a sense for which free agents will return:

"You get a good feel.  You don't know for sure, but obviously, you have conversations with their agents.  You're planting a seed that hopefully they come back, and they are excited to come back and be a part of our organization, our football team, and yet you're not really sure if somebody is going to go out and maybe, according to you, really over pay.  You got to make decisions on what's the best for your football team based not only on maybe the skill of somebody, but also the salary because we're still potentially dealing with a salary cap depending on what the rules are."

On O.J. Atogwe:

"I liked everything about him.  I liked the way he played.  I liked the way he handled himself.  I loved him out of college.  I just loved the way he handled himself on and off the football field.  I think he's a natural leader.  Everything you looked for in a guy I thought he brought to the table, so when he was out there available, and we were able to land him, I felt very, very good."