Saints head coach Sean Payton discussed the selections of USC T Charles Brown and University of Miami (Fla.) Jimmy Graham at the end of day two of the NFL Draft. Below is a transcript of his press conference:
Opening Statement:"Wrapping up today with the selection of Jimmy Graham, there was a guy that when you payed attention to the limited tape and yet the workouts, the character…People use the term upside. I like all the measurables we saw with him. I think he understands and will continue to get better. That's one of the things you saw this year with him playing. He has more of a basketball background. We're excited about the selection. He's a guy that when you start the process, there are a few guys you are very attached to. It happens every year during the draft. He was one of those guys for us collectively. The challenge with a player like that is you just don't know how others are going to see him as well, so as you try to visualize where a player like that gets selected. It's hard to predict. What's most important is you just have to like him and you have to have a vision for the player. We had a good visit with him when he was here, had a real good visit tonight. That finishes where we are at today with some more work tomorrow."
Can you discuss why you like him?
"Honestly in the process, I was probably the one who was skeptical in the beginning in regards to the idea, the area scout that had him, the cross check, Rick Reiprish, the director (of college scouting), the position coach and I think as the process evolved, you kept looking for a reason. You're waiting to hear that we have to develop his hands or that he's going to struggle learning at first. Certainly there's going to be a period of growth for the player. I think that was one specific player that everyone felt pretty good about. We understand that this is a three day period when everybody says they got their guy. How many times do you hear that, but we're excited about what we think he can do, not just three years from now, but what we think he can do now when you watch him."
Can you talk if this a guy with value on the board?
"This one is different because you probably don't have as much to grade and yet the process in evaluating workouts and everything you see. That all is probably one of the biggest challenges in doing this. It's exciting."
When you see guys with basketball backgrounds like Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez, do you envision Graham having some of the same skills as these guys when they came out?
"Yes. I think you just have to be cautious that you're not trying to make them somebody, but clearly, it starts with your vision. A question we ask all the time is who do we remind them of and now Antonio Gates was someone that wasn't drafted. I'm trying to think of who he reminds me of. I remember our workout of Jason Witten. That's different, because Jason had a lot more football experience at Tennessee than Jimmy, so when you look at watching them run and catch and see them progress…We spent a week down there at Miami at the practices. You continue to gather your information and everything that comes back is positive and you watch the improvement he made already and you look at some of the things you think he can do right now. You develop the things that need to be worked on. He has a unique skill set. He really does. He catches it very efficiently, so it's exciting."
Are you discouraged that you weren't able to address the front seven yet so far?
"I think prior to the draft with signing a couple of defensive ends, getting the corner yesterday, that definitely was coming into the draft something we wanted to accomplish and with a number of picks tommorrow we want to accomplish. We have to make sure we're really paying attention to the grade and not taking a player based on need only, so we'll continue to look at that. There's a lot still to go."
When you did your pre-draft mocks, did you ever have a scenario where Charles Brown was available at 64?
"Yes. There's a handful of players where when you're picking at 32, you feel you might not have a chance to draft that you think you're not going to take them at 32 and by the time you get to 64 they might not be on the board. There are players I could go through with you, the safety at South Florida, who we thought was a real good player, (Nate) Allen. There was a group of players that if they could get 32, we're not going to be selecting them, but by the time we go again, we're not going to have a chance to select them, like the TCU linebacker (Daryl) Washington, another great example of someone Arizona got. The player was going to be drafted where Roman (Harper) was drafted or Tracy (Porter) was drafted. There's certain players you have that sense on based on your grade. I think in fairness in relation to that selection and the player, we kind of saw that taking place maybe, where at 32 it wasn't going to happen, but at 64, it probably wasn't either. You don't know. We had talked and we know Mickey (Loomis) had mentioned it probably about moving up a little and it's always maybe a little easier said than done and we just kind of continue to try to sit tight and we were able to make the selection. That was good."
Was Brown graded higher in your grades then where you got him?
"We had him graded very high. His magnet stood out independently. I don't think coming in we identified tackle as a place where we had to select somebody but we felt like the grade was clearly different."
In regards to the trade speculation with Jammal Brown and the Redskins, can you discuss potential trade conversations prior to the draft and during the draft. Did you have them internally or with the actual teams?
"There are a handful; he's an unsigned restricted free agent. I think you try to go through the scenarios. For us, you say where do you have some depth on your team that you feel like you maybe have some assets. Tackle was one with the development of Jermon (Bushrod) and with Jammal over there who has been good for us. The receiver position is the same way where we feel like we have a pretty good group with some young players as well with Adrian Arrington. I'm not saying you randomly go out, but you try to look at some teams with other needs. It happens a lot more than is really reported. I think that process of trying to help yourself on the defensive front seven or maybe help yourself in other areas where you have maybe additional players and where do you feel you're light."
Would it be accurate to report you spoke to other teams?
"I think it would be accurate to say, because what happens is there's a lot that's entertained in there. What normally would happen is that I think teams would like to go through this process to see if they can make the selection. You can't make a trade with player right now that's unsigned anyway. The player has to be signed to trade him, so once you get through the first day, the second day, tomorrow, then teams that of couldn't fill a need possibly became more interested in certain players, no different than when we would pursue and continue to look at other areas where maybe we weren't able to draft, but with a player that's unsigned, you really aren't in a position to trade him anyway. You couldn't just say it about the one player. A lot is discussed in regards to rosters when you talk to other teams relating to picks possibly when the draft's over. We got through the draft a couple years ago and then traded for (Jeremy) Shockey after the minicamps, later on. In his case it just took more time. I think tomorrow you'll see some movement, but with the unrestricted players and restricted players that have not signed, there cannot be any.
Now that you have drafted Charles Brown, does it possibly encourage you to try to get some value for a player like Jammal Brown?
"We said after the selection, we're excited about having quality players that that position. Once again, we talked about corner yesterday and you talk about left tackle. It's another area that teams hold in high regard when it comes to the draft and we'll see. I'm anxious to see him come in and compete as a rookie, get stronger. He has a lot to work on and I'm sure he knows that. Going from the college level at that position, all of a sudden seeing (John) Abraham and some of the guys they have to see…But we like the fact that we graded him well. His magnet stood out there clearly from where we were at or where we thought we were at, but we have depth there I think. There's a lot of players. You're going to have to teach, train and get snaps. Jermon Bushrod, we felt progressed each game last year and he's a guy we've invested time and a draft pick in. Jammal Brown we've won with and he's been a two-time Pro Bowl player for us, but those are good problems to have, especially at that position, which is a position sometimes if you don't have the right player, it can really hurt you."
The Vikings moved back behind you guys into the second round. There was some speculation in Minneapolis today that that Patrick Robinson was going to be available to them at the start of the second round and that they wanted him thinking they would still get him. Were you concerned they would take Robinson before you and once they were behind you, were you still concerned?
"I think you're always concerned when you're looking to select a player. I think Detroit came in there. Right away you're looking at Detroit's needs. When it gets down to the two picks in front of you, the final pick, you're a little worried that all of a sudden you might lose your player. We had two players we were ready to select, but I had heard what you just said. We really weren't aware of it when they backed out. We weren't' concerned with Minnesota selecting him at the front of the second round. We were concerned with the teams in front of us and just knowing the nature of the position, like when Detroit moved up. Generally when a team moves up there's a player they have in mind and the running back from Cal was the player they had in mind, but when they move up, they have someone they were specifically going to draft and what happens over the years, you see it happen where someone moves up in front and selects maybe the player you were targeting. You wait it out. We did have two players. Patrick was the one we hoped stayed on the board. He did and we felt fortunate to be in a position to draft him."
Could Jimmy Graham's maturation be accelerated by the fact that he considers Jeremy Shockey to be a mentor?
"There's plenty of snaps. You guys know there are a lot of snaps and stuff we do formationally. It's not so much the conventional one tight end offense. I think Jeremy and one of the things he said after we had selected him was that he knew of Jeremy's history there. Those guys are kind of a little bit of a fraternity. I think it's beneficial for a younger player to watch and see what's happening in front of them, someone with the experience Jeremy has and even David Thomas. He's going to come in here and be hungry to learn. That's the thing that's exciting. You look at the workout, you match it with his ability to catch. I kept looking for reasons to not like the player and couldn't find any. I think it will be a good fit and I think it's important at that position when you look at the quarterback and the smaller windows and spaces they operate in and the routes from the outside. He's a guy that I think that provides a big target that we can take advantage of him."
When you speak of Graham's skill set are you referring more to pass catching than blocking?
"I think that would be accurate. He's got real good size. He has a frame that can continue to gain weight. I think he can become a real good run blocker. He has very soft hands. He's fast and he's extremely intelligent. You start there and try to feature the things he does well and work at the things that he's not as proficient at. That's kind of where you start from. To answer the question, that's the area you see initially. It's hard to work out a tight end. Usually the ones you would grade as real good run blockers, you have evidence of film on. It's hard to work a tight end out with limited exposure and say he's going to be a good run blocker. I think when you watch him in his college tape, he's willing, and he's strong. He's very athletic and we'll try to get him up to speed quickly. You guys will have a chance to see some of what we're talking about I think.