Transcript: Butch Davis Press Conference

Transcript: Butch Davis Press Conference

Proving once again that your friendly neighborhood Bernie's Insiders webmaster has a disturbed sense of fun, and no social life, here is the transcript of Friday afternoon's Butch Davis press conference, lovingly transcribed into genuine HTML for your reading enjoyment...

In the four pre-draft eras, I haven't felt as good about our football team as I do about our team right now. We've had so many positive things happen in the past couple of months. The springboard effect from winning that Cincinnati game has continued to flow and roll over the last couple months. We've had a very productive off-season from the standpoint of the addition of free agents – bringing in Jeff Garcia, Ebenezer Ekuban and Kelvin Garmon. We added one additional person today. We just agreed to contract terms to Warrick Holdman – a linebacker formerly of the Chicago Bears. We're very excited about his addition to this team. From a free agent standpoint, there have been some positive things that have happened to this football team.

The health of this football team is dramatically different than it was three or four months ago. With Ross Verba, Courtney Brown, Steve Heiden, Keith Heinrich and Phil Dawson – every single one of the guys who were injured with the exception of two (TEs Chad Mustard and Keith Heinrich) are currently on track to be 100 percent healthy and ready to take part in two weeks from today's mini-camp. That part of it is very exciting.

We also feel the off-season program has gone extraordinarily well. We're getting great participation from all the guys. They're here working out. We're averaging somewhere between 45 and 50 players four days a week. That is encouraging because I'm a huge big believer as the head football coach that a lot of the success you enjoy during the season is from the foundation laid in the off-season from the terminology and understanding what's going on to the changes we're making offensively to a better understanding of some of the defensive concepts we installed last year.

Some of the other things that are very important have been the fact that our coaching staff -this has really been an excellent mesh. Watching the new guys – the additions we've added - going about working players out. Not only the players currently on our team, but the players I've been able to see in draft preparations and watching how they interview guys and the charisma they have. The guys on our football team are going to really benefit from the additions to our coaching staff. That certainly is an extraordinarily positive thing.

I don't know how many of you are big NFL Europe fans, but through the first two weeks, the Cleveland Browns have 11 players there and those guys have played extremely well. There have been some extremely positive reports. We've had some guys that have been players of the week. That's fascinating because in previous years, maybe the level of the players we've put over there weren't of the same level, but Mason Unck and Corey Jackson and some of these guys, they've gone over there any they've really caught the eye, not only of the NFL Europe coaches, but they've certainly caught our own coaches eyes. They may have needed some exposure, some experience, and some playing time, they're getting that opportunity, and I think from that standpoint it's very positive.

The draft... this is a culmination - I'd like to say it's three months, but it really isn't three months - because our scouts, some of these guys who are going to get drafted next weekend are guys our scouts have been watching for two years probably. They've been on the radar screen in some form or fashion and, so, it's really the culmination of thousands of man-hours of work from our college scouts, director of college scouting, our pro personnel people... the last couple of years, one of the things we've been able to do is to utilize some of those guys when free agency starts to wind down... to be able to use Steve Sabo and Jeremy Green and some of those guys to be able to go out to some of the workouts. So, between them and our fifteen coaches, we've scanned the country as best as possible.

Today, sometime this afternoon and maybe tomorrow morning, we will actually finish our draft readings... going through all the readings, we're currently at the offensive guards and offensive centers. We've completed all the other positions. Monday, we'll start stacking the board, and we'll start massaging that and taking a look at that. Our scouts will return, probably next Wednesday, and we'll do some final evaluations of how we've got the board stacked as far as who is the best fit for the Cleveland Browns, and start trying to make all of our preparations for the draft for the following weekend. So, having said all that, I appreciate your being here and thank you...

Q: With all the injuries you mentioned, two guys aren't going to be ready for May's camp, who's that?

A: Chad Mustard, right now, it doesn't look like...  they think he'll be ready by the end of quarterback school, so he's not that far off. Keith Heinrich is just running in straight lines, it will be touch-and-go whether he'll be ready for the mini-camp or not. We're just hedging our bets.

Q: Chad... what's wrong with Chad?

A: Chad had shoulder surgery at the conclusion of the season, it was determined - actually, we had toyed with the idea of maybe sending him to NFL Europe for additional playing, and learning to play tight end and stuff, and then he had some kind of a tear - I think it was a labral tear to be honest with you. They fixed that, so he should be back. Keith Heinrich had a little bit of a scope on his knee.

Q: Can you give your instant role for Holdman. And the second part, does that eliminate linebacker as a position in the draft?

A: You know, Tony, it doesn't. We got involved with Warrick when be became available as a free agent, and we brought him in for a visit. Our coaches visited with him, I visited with him... he's kind of been one of those guys that's been dangling out there. He had some very, very productive years early in his Chicago Bear career, and subsequently he had a pretty significant knee injury, and he's been battling back from that. Due to a contract - where maybe (the Bears) didn't feel like the contract that he had, maybe he was deserving of... he became a cap casualty guy, or an injury protection guy - I don't know how they would have phrased it or termed it -so he was a free agent.

We were interested, and we wanted to try to bring him in to  give him an opportunity - very much in the same vein as we did with Ebenezer Ekuban - to add significant veteran player to the team, a guy who has had some success. His role is certainly somewhat yet to be determined, but we'll put him at the WIL linebacker position and let him compete.

Every great football team that I've ever been involved with... great competition brings out the best in players... and it pushes guys internally, it pushes guys for playing time... Certainly, he's a quality kid, he's a good young man, and so he's a very welcome addition to the Browns team.

Q: What kind of player is he?

A: I guess, probably... the forte is that he was a run and hit, chase, fast linebacker. A couple of years ago, I think he actually led - and don't quote me on this because all these stats went out of my head when we started studying for the draft, I knew it at one time - I think he actually led or was tied for the lead in sacks by linebackers in one particular year, like two-three years ago. I mean, he had a really extraordinary year. I think the year they went 13-3 or whatever, I think he had a very productive year and really developed a little bit of a reputation as a blitzer, but his real forte is that he's a very good cover linebacker, he's fast and athletic. He comes out of Texas A&M and they have had a significant history of producing very talented linebackers over the last 10 or 12 years. He's a guy who fell at the right time and the right place.

Q: Which linebackers are at WILL and which are at SAM?

A: Currently, as we speak today, he'll be at the WILL linebacker position with Kevin Bentley and Ben Taylor.

Q: Do you have an update on Dennis Northcutt, and is receiver now an area of need in this draft?

A: We just re-did the contract with Frisman Jackson, along with Ross Verba, along with Courtney Brown, along with Gerard Warren, along with (Robert) Griffith. All of those guys re-did their contracts, so whether or not receiver is a... with Andre King, Andre Davis, Frisman Jackson, Quincy Morgan... I mean, I'm not going to say that it's not something we won't consider in the draft.

The Dennis Northcutt thing, right now, it's still kind of somewhat yet to be determined. There's been conversations back-and-forth. I know that Carmen just mentioned five minutes ago that he received some calls and we've been talking to other clubs around the league. I've had four or five conversations this week with clubs pursuant to Dennis, so we'll see exactly what happens. Right now, I can't tell you.

Q: (inaudible - the question concerned dealing within the division, e.g., Northcutt to the Ravens)

A: In the history of this league, there has been an extraordinary reluctance by teams to deal with teams in their own division, particularly if you feel it's a player that has been valuable to you and could be very valuable to them. The most important thing is that if you make that deal to trade them to someone to your division, it has to be of commiserate value. You can't trade someone who is very productive that would help somebody for compensation that would be virtually not equal to what they might bring to that particular team. Then you have to think really, really hard about it. To say it would absolutely never happen would be wrong. It could happen, but everybody in this league wouldn't be telling the truth if they said they wouldn't prefer to send them somewhere other than their own division.
 

Q: Evaluate the talent in this year's draft. Are there a lot of immediate impact players?

A: I hear people say from year to year sometimes that well, "this draft is weak" or "this draft is strong". I think each draft has its own personality. I think that they have things that are extraordinarily - there's a lot of depth. We've just gone through three years of probably one of the most amazing runs of defensive linemen that I can ever remember. There's just a lot of first round, second round defensive linemen for the last three years. Hence you get to this year, there might not be, but maybe one or two first round defensive linemen. We went through years where there were virtually no linebackers - and now you may see three, four, five go in the first round. Every year has its own personality.

In my personal opinion, I would say that I think "impact players" - guys that are legitimately going to have a big impact on this league - this may be the furthest down the first round that I've seen since I've been here. There were years when you would say "Gosh, boy, if we're picking after six, seven, or eight, you might not...." But this year, I'm not sure that there won't be guys going all the way down to the 15th spot. They may not be the player that you want, but someone's going to get a guy who is about as good as been in the draft in the last three or four years.

Q: Let's talk about taking some of the current guys out onto the road on some of these interviews and stuff. It's been reported that you took a couple of receivers down when you worked out (Ben) Roethlisberger. Is that a new thing?

A: It's new for us. It's the first time we did it, and we did it because ideally you would like a kid to throw to his own guys he's used to and more comfortable (with). He's knows their speed and it gives him the best chance to showcase his own talent. But Monday of this past week, we went out and we worked out some of the quarterbacks. Each one of those guys, the ones we worked out, they had a lot of guys to throw to. But, unfortunately, Ben Roethlisberger at Miami, one of the guys that he really wanted to throw to, his tight end, had a pulled hamstring. He wasn't going to be available and you can't throw to underclassmen, so that somewhat limits who they were going to throw to, so we took Andre King and Frisman Jackson with us, just to ensure the fact that we would some really good quality receivers, to give him the chance to show what he can do. He also had a running back at his school that ran all the running back routes that we wanted to see. But, it was different for us. I think some other teams have probably done it, so I won't say we were the first to invent it, because I know that there are other teams that have done it before. 

Q: A couple of weeks ago, you remarked you were willing to move up. Has anything changed... what is the status of your efforts to move up or move down?

A: Tony, for the last two weeks, we have probably contacted every team that is picking before us. We've had conversations, some more serious than others, some just trying to test the waters to find out.... Some of these deals it would be impossible to pull off to go to a certain place if you waited until you're on the clock, because they can be too complicated. You have to find out the parameters.

If it's just straight picks for picks, you could do it in five minutes, potentially. But if it's picks and players or picks and positions or picks for next year's draft compensation, and stuff like that, you want to find out the parameters so you can start working with them today. We've done that for the last two weeks and we'll continue to do that.

Once we finish stacking the board on Monday and stuff, the whole remainder of next week, that's what we'll do: we'll work the phones and talk to owners and head coaches. I've had probably five or six guys call this week to ask if we're interested in moving up or down. It's probably almost 50/50 the number of calls we've had of people trying to get to No. 7 as we've had our calls finding out about moving up. I wouldn't discount anything today.

What everybody has to understand is that moving in the draft, as attractive as it may be to go up in some situations, you have to weigh it a to whether it's realistic compensation because.... when someone throws out astronomical numbers, you couldn't do that to your football team, but if its realistic, we're going to exhaust every opportunity to find out what it takes to go up or down.

Q: There are three guys who are probably around the top of everybody's Top Ten... Gallery, Taylor, and Winslow. Are you confident if you stay at seven that one of those is going to be available?

A: You know... you guys are doing the same thing I'm doing. I've read nearly every imaginable mock draft that's been written. I've seen them from all the magazines and the newspapers, and you try to put in... that's one of the things we do a great deal.

We have monitored all the additions and losses for every club. Some teams have lost as many as 13 players and added one. You look at their roster and what they've lost and you try to play the mind games. ‘If they've lost all of this, what's the priority? What do they need to field a really good team next year?' That might lead you to believe this is going to be their No. 1 priority in the draft. So, you go around what their losses in free agency have been and... it's speculative.

We did a mock draft last year, which we'll do again this year on Wednesday. We went through the first two rounds and surprisingly, I'd say about 75 percent we hit what we thought they were going to take. We may not have hit the kid they took. They may have thrown us a curve ball in that we thought it would be a defensive tackle, and it was a defensive tackle and it was this guy over that, which was a surprise to us but we kind of nailed it down. We'll do that again next week and that's when you'll start to speculate who will be available for you if you stay where you are.

Q: Is this the most you've been on the phone?

A: Every year, in previous years, you call people you have relationships with, you call people that you know... the longer you're in the league, the more relationships that you build. Some of the best information that you get, sometimes, comes from the agents. The agent is the guy the other clubs are calling and saying "If we take your guy at this place, how willing are you to doing a contract, so..." Some of the people in our organization who deal with agents are calling those guys and talking to them. "What is your client hearing?"... "What are you thinking...?" Were they taking trips to every team in this league?

You're afforded twenty opportunities to bring guys in. We brought in our last guy yesterday (Thursday). You debrief those guys.. "Where have you been? How much time did you spend?". Did they talk to the head coach or did you just meet with somebody in personnel? That means they thinking about drafting you first day, or are they thinking about drafting... so it's just a whole de-briefing, you're trying to get as much information as possible.

Q: Do you see yourself as being in an unusual position of strength, because you have a quarterback that has played as trade bait, you have a receiver that people want, you have three very talented running backs who can be...

A: Certainly, the status of Tim Couch and Dennis Northcutt play a potential role in this draft. You can't discount that that won't be potential factor. You can't say it's going to be the ultimate factor, but they have value and they're both proven players in this league. There are teams in this league that have no interest whatsoever in either of those guys because they already have their guy. Other teams might covet those guys. Any conversations we've had, to some extent, certainly their names have come up.

Q: If someone said to you now that you could have either Gallery, Winslow or Taylor... if they could tell you that now, would you say "Thank you, that's all I need to know?"

A: Well, I wouldn't say I would be disappointed... to steal a line from Phil Mickelson from other the weekend...

Q: Randy Lerner was emphasizing the need to win this year. Seemed to be pretty clear that he wants to win right now.... get a quarterback in the first round who is not going to play in the next two or three years?

A: You know Steve, I'm not sure...  If you looked at every draft over the last four, five, six years. Look at the large number of first-round guys last year that didn't play at all. There were several guys who were inactive all sixteen weeks. Does that mean that player was a bust or does it mean they're just grooming that guy for later? Sometimes that's the nature of the type of kid you take. Sometimes with first round players, it takes a while for the growth and maturation. Ultimately, that's what you have to do is take the best player for your team. If you wanted someone who is going to be an immediate impact for this year, you'd probably take that first round pick and trade it to someone else for someone who has been starting for four years. That would be the way to get immediate impact, because everything is somewhat of a crapshoot. There's as many as 50% of the guys who are going to struggle next year.

Q: Winslow and Taylor can play right away... probably same thing for Gallery... Whoever drafts Gallery will play him right away.

A: You think? We'll hire you!

Q: Are there any on-going talks involving Orlando Pace?

A: Certainly because he's under contract, I'm not at liberty to say, but it's pretty documented that we have had conversations. Whether they'll be more in the next eight days, it's possible, but right now, it'd be difficult to say anything more than that.

Q: Anything to say about Ron Wolf's position, especially the perception that he didn't feel used or appreciated?

A: Yeah, that's a good question Patrick. First of all, I have a great deal of appreciation and respect for Ron Wolf. Clearly, the man has accomplished a terrific amount in this league. When I brought Ron in 2001 for the first of a couple times to look at our team, we developed a little bit of a relationship. I had known him as I said months ago from when he visited the University of Miami, and the league and all kinds of different things. I regret the way it has terminated and ended. I'll take responsibility for some of that. As the dynamics of the organization changed, there were some things in his mind that were clearly changing. I'm the first to admit, I have some regrets for things I said. I'm human. I make mistakes. Sometimes out of frustration, sometimes out of anger, I'll say things off the cuff with a flippant remark, and I've done it to you guys, and hopefully I usually apologize the next day. I had a conversation with Ron this week and we talked and we both have a very clear understanding of the direction this organization is going now and of each other and it is what it is.

Q: Can a guy like that help you at this point?

A: Football is the absolute, ultimate team game. In this building, we have an excellent team. We have a great group of scouts and coaches. I rely a great deal on a lot of people. Ron was going to be a part of that, but as in the game of football, there are substitutions. You take information from a lot of people. Whether you're making a draft choice or a game plan, it's a collaboration of a lot of people, and a lot of people will have an input in it. We'll be able to get the job done.

Q: What's your biggest concern as you head into this draft, whether it's position or type of player...

A:  The biggest need, to paraphrase Steve, is to win. That's the biggest need.

I look at the draft, and you kind of get like the 10-year-old kid who gets the Christmas catalog in the mail. You look at all these things and you say "Gosh, I'd love the toy set, and I like this, and I'd like a drum set and I'd want all these things..." I'd like all of these things, because all of them would help.

I think, as our football team has moved forward, and , I think we have dramatically moved forward in the three years, the talent of the football team, the depth of the football team, the youth of the football team, the strength, the depth at different positions... instead of just having "one guy" at a position, we've started to develop some young guys behind him... whether it's the NFL Europe guys or the guys who are still here... it lets you be a little bit choosier when you go to the draft, that you could literally say "OK, it's one or two of these guys" where in the previous years it was "just throw a dart", everybody can help, now we can be a little bit more selective and say "Here's two or three things that would maybe really complement this team."

Without trying to divulge, without going on national television and saying "The Browns need this and this... " We recognize it. We've talked about it with our own staff. There are three or four things that "this would really make a huge addition to our football team". Hopefully, we're lucky again next week to get some of those.

Q: How do you feel about the offensive line from the end of last season to today?

A: I feel much better about our offensive line, Terry, to begin with, for a couple reasons. Last year was a struggle because of the extraordinary number of injuries. At the conclusion of the 2002 season, we were in the playoffs, we had a runner who in the second half of the season was right on the threshold of being an 1,000-yard rusher in almost half the games. We were running the ball well - ran really well against Atlanta.

Then, we lose Ross Verba. Subsequently, we lose Jeff Faine and Chad Beasley – we lost a lot of guys and they were difficult to replace. We might have survived to replace one, but to survive to replace four or five of them...). All those guys are back and healthy. The caveat to all of that, if there's a silver lining, is that guys like Enoch DeMar and Joaquin Gonzalez – a lot of those guys got significant playing time. It wasn't by design. You didn't set it out that way, but they got to play and we got to find out if those guys were good.

We added Kelvin Garmon. One of the things we have struggled with is size on the interior part of the offensive line. We have two guys who have played and started and been on Super Bowl teams at tackle. We feel like we have a very good offensive center in Jeff Faine. Adding Kelvin Garmon added a very athletic yet a... I haven't seen him this week but hopefully (knocks on table) 330-335. He played very well. He played in a run-oriented offense with the San Diego Chargers that allowed LaDainian Tomlinson to have some pretty good rushing years.

That's kind of what we were looking for – an athletic mauler inside that would add girth so when we went against a huge massive defensive tackle, you'd have more stability. Clearly, we have one position that's open. Some of all of those young guys may win that job. We may draft a tackle, which would give us the versatility and flexibility to maybe do something with Ross Verba. Right now, I feel better about our line, but would we conceivably look for help in the offensive line? Certainly, as we would in any place. We're not going to pass up a good player.

Q: Are there any plans of bringing in Larry Allen?

A: That thought really hasn't crossed our minds. No one has brought it up to us. I heard a rumor that they were shopping him around to some of the teams, but right now there's no plans today.

Q: What are your thoughts about Earl Little being traded, or Earl Little asking for a trade?

A: People say things sometimes when they're frustrated they wish they hadn't said. Earl is a good kid. I understand his frustration. He had a very good year. He intercepted a lot of passes for us.

I'm probably more familiar with Earl's talent than anybody in this entire league. He played for me at the University of Miami. I watched his career go to the Miami Dolphins and the New Orleans Saints. I watched him come here and start at the bottom of the pack behind Percy Ellsworth and Devin Bush and a host of other guys and work his way up and he became a starter. He was a free agent last year and we gave him a contract.

I think he's happier than sometimes he lets himself be known to be, but like anybody else, they see this extraordinary money being given to free agents and everybody goes, ‘how come not me?' Is it driven by the market, by positions and stuff? Prior to this year, for the past two years, the market for free agency has been flat. No one has hit a lot of homeruns. All the sudden this year, they've been giving money away like there was no tomorrow. He felt like he was maybe missing out on that.

Q: You talk to him recently?

A: Yeah, sure, I spoke to him on the phone. He's here working out and to the best of my knowledge, he's okay.

Q: You talk about Orlando Pace and the decision-making process and all that, does this come down to "Do we want to give away two first-round picks" or are there more things that add into that? Because I guess the prevailing thought is that he might be worth a seven this year and if you make the playoffs you're drafting in the twenties next year?

A: It's a very good point. But I think the one thing that everybody in this room has to understand is, as much as everybody here would love to make a trade, it takes two... and if they don't want to trade him, they don't want to trade him. I can tell you goes on in 32 different staff rooms around America. The minute that some General Manager or some President or some owner or some anybody walks into a room and says "Hey,  we've got a great deal for this guy", the first question somebody asks is "OK, who is playing that position for us when we lose this guy?". Then, as soon as the coaches look around the room and they say "We don't have anybody", the deal's off.

You can make it as attractive as you possibly want - sometimes the money isn't an issue, sometimes compensation isn't an issue - sometimes the issue us that the other team just doesn't want to trade. You can throw away just about anything, because when they say "Who's going to play that position for us?" and they don't have an answer, it really doesn't matter what you offer them...

Q: Back to Wolf. In some respects he seems like he's the type of guy you would want to rely on, and talk to him a lot and count on, and he said that you personally hadn't talked to him since February. What was going on there?

A: Well, without going into an enormous amount of detail, we did have some conversation... he came in, he evaluated our team, he was given some projects, he took a look at some projects that we asked him to look at in free agency. We had actually mailed him some projects where we wanted his help. He was actually scheduled to be here next Tuesday and Wednesday to come in and report on those projects for the draft. It's just gone awry, it's unfortunately, something that's not going to happen.

Q: Butch, do you have the change the perception that, or does it bother you that the perception that you are just "King" or just "Supreme Ruler over All"

A: I think it's an unfortunate perception, because I will go back and tell you this, I haven't seen one single decision in this organization in the three years I have been here that there isn't a lot of people. We sit in there with 15, 18 guys, from 7:30 in the morning until 7-8 at night getting ready for the draft, and everybody talks, and everybody puts input, but ultimately at the end of the day I'm the Head Football Coach and it's my responsibility. Randy Lerner wants me to be responsible for the football team and the football part of the Cleveland Browns and for me to move the organization forward. But it is still a team effort, and he's part of that team, the contract negotiators are part of that team, the scouts, the pro personnel, the position coaches, the coordinators. It's a collaborative effort.

I can't tell you how vital that is, and it's been that way... I'm getting ready to start my tenth year of head football coaching and every place and every second I've been a head coach I'm always doing a collaboration of ideas from everybody.

Q: Has William Green been put on the trading block?

A: We have not, uh-uh.

Q: Winslow, Taylor, this whole Miami group, does it represent your last recruiting group, or are there others...?

A: Well, they are a part, because Winslow and Taylor were the last group I made home visits on, and I was not there when they signed. I left a month or so before, but they're guys, and there are a few that are still there, I think there are five or six that have stayed because they chose not to come out. I don't know if it's legal to mention their names, but I was there and recruited Frank Gore, Antrel Rolle and some of the kids who are still down there. So, there's probably a small handful of 7-8 kids who are left from my last recruiting class.

Q: How good is Taylor?

A: I think he's a very unique athlete in the sense that, playing the position that he plays, very few people have had as big of an impact on ball games as he has as a safety. He's a superb returner, he's excellent on special teams, he's truly a policeman in the center field, he's got great range to break on balls. I remember going and watching, my son went to the same school system, and so we would go and we would watch some of their playoff games while we were in the process of recruiting him, and he just inevitably, he would play running back and he would score a couple of touchdowns as a running back, and he would return a kick for a touchdown, and he would intercept something for a touchdown. I think in the State Championship game, they won the state that year, I believe, if memory serves me right, he scored four or five touchdowns. He's always been productive, he's got a flair about him.

Miami has had, in my opinion, in the last twenty years, there has been some really unique and special guys at the safety position. Obviously Ed Reed was one of those, and I think Bennie Blades when I was there in the 80s, he may have been one of the most underrated marquee safeties to ever play in college or the NFL, and I think Sean falls into that same category of type of guy.

Q: Just to clarify, Robert Griffith re-did his contract?

A: I don't know the complete parameters of it, because it just took place a couple of days ago, and I know that they've worked it out with his agent where they've done some things and I think all of these guys, whether it's Gerard Warren, or Ross Verba - and I think we actually did add years to Ross' contract -  on some of these guys. I think that's an enormous vote of their willingness to make some sacrifices for this team. I know Todd passed out some stuff - We've got enough.. if you look at the dynamics of this year, right now as we sit, compared to a year ago... a year ago, we could have all put razor blades to our wrists... I mean, we were over the cap, we were losing players, there were all kinds of negative things happening within the organization. This year, as we talked about earlier, almost everything has been positive. We've got cap sanity, we've got the ability to sign a Warrick Holdman... eight days from the draft to go out and sign a guy that's a legitimate contributor and not be cash-strapped and not be cap-strapped and go "Oh, we'll not be able to sign another free agent for the next five years..." We've tried to position this football team to really take off these next couple of years. It's young, it's an exciting football team. I've got to be honest, I'm extremely excited for the fans, I think the fans are really going to like the direction of this football team.

Q: Roethlisberger and Josh Harris - the fact that they were in the MAC - are there any qualms about that?

A: No, I think you have to look at the success that Chad Pennington's had. We've had a lot of conversations about players and backgrounds and programs and supporting casts and all those kinds of things, and  there may be for some guys, and it may not apply to either of those guys, but there's sometimes a certain learning curve. I think one of the best analogies is Steve McNair from Tennessee. He has been at or near the top of the quarterback profession for this entire league for the past couple of years, and he came out of Alcorn. But I think the one great thing is that he didn't have to play at all until his third year. So, for some guys, I think that you would have said "In year one, is Steve McNair a bust?", what would everyone have voted? And then, in year two, he's still not playing: "Is he a bust?". And then, ten years later, he's the MVP of the league, a couple of times on the thresholds of Super Bowls and Man of the Year and all those kinds of things.

I think that's one thing that - if I can get one message across to everybody - is that the gestation period on some players is because of the position that they play, sometimes from the programs that they come (from), and sometimes because of the needs of the team and how they fit. Sometimes it just takes a while, and then all of a sudden everybody's opinion of them dramatically changes.

Q: If Garmon is one starting guard right now, then who's the other?

A: There is a pool of guys who are competing for that. All guys I mentioned I mentioned, Melvin Fowler, Chad Beasley, Enoch Demar, we've got a whole bunch of guys.

Q: Butch, you're picking seventh, if a quarterback is the best player on the board and the best fit, you wouldn't hesitate to take him?

A: Absolutely not. I think that we went out on Monday - not just so that we could walk in there and say the Cleveland Browns have done their due diligence. If a quarterback makes the most sense of the Cleveland Browns, and that's the best guy, and that's a guy we would be kicking ourselves in the behinds if you passed on that guy that one four Super Bowls. You have to do the work, and you have to look at it, and you have to realistically evaluate your options. Thanks very much and I look forward to seeing you next Saturday!

 

Material provided by the Cleveland Browns contributed to the production of this transcript.

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