Q & A with LB Martez WilsonRound 3 pick 72Q: How did the Draft weekend go for you?
A: "The weekend was interesting. It first started off Thursday. It was a relaxing day. I was hoping I got picked in the first round, but if I didn't I was okay with it. The second day was more of an anticipation day. I was just ready to be called and excited that I was called on day 2. It was all anticipating and ready for my name to be called."
Q: You said you weren't looking to go in the first round, was that because of the neck injury? Did you think you were going to be picked earlier?
A: "I was thinking first, second, late first or early second. Then I knew teams had to adjust their picks by what they needed, so I'm still so happy to selected by the Saints. I'm really happy."
Q: So you are pleased with how it all turned out and that you're headed to New Orleans?
A: "Oh yeah. I'm going to be around a group of guys that know how to win. I'm around great linebackers, a great linebacker coach, defense in general, great offense, Drew Brees. I think this is one of the best choices. I'm happy."
Q: You said you visited with the Saints prior to the Draft. Can you talk about your visit to New Orleans? Who did you talk to? Did you talk all football?
A: "I took a visit there and we pretty much talked all football and business. They were trying to get to know me. I sat down with Coach Joe Vitt, the linebacker coach, and we watched film for about two and half hours then I met with the General Manager (Mickey Loomis) and the defensive coordinator (Gregg Williams) and other people that they had scheduled for me to meet. That's pretty much how my visit went."
Q: Did you meet with any other teams during the process?
A: "I did. I met with several other teams."
Q: Are you familiar with any of the Saints at all and especially with their defense and the scheme?
A: "Yes I am. Coach (Vitt) pretty much went over with me the scheme. If I was to come there what I would be doing exactly. And I hear a few former Illini players plays for the Saints, too (RB Pierre Thomas and LB Danny Clark)."
Q: Jonathon Vilma is a very highly regarded for his work ethic, intelligence and preparation, which has contributed him being a three-time Pro Bowler. Are you excited to work with him and what do you think you will learn from him the most?
A: "I think I'll learn everything I need to know and everything he thinks I need to know as a player. I think with him saying my knowledge and my hungriness and saying that I want to learn, I think he will be willing to help me more. He's one of the best linebackers in the NFL today. I'm happy that I can learn from a player like him. I have heard he's great with younger players and is one of the leaders of the team. I mean, I know he's the captain of the defense. That says a lot."
Q: Can you discuss what you did and what you worked on this spring and winter in preparations for the NFL scouting combine, your pro day, and the Draft?
A: "I pretty much worked on a lot of technique and making sure I had a lot of explosion coming out of hips, which is something that helps you out in everything you do on the football field. I got to focus on being strong with my explosiveness more than anything. I feel like I got that accomplished. I'm way more flexible with my hips and everything like that. My change in direction has improved because I was working on my weaknesses. "
Q: You mentioned being an Illini and Pierre Thomas is of course. Have you talked to him since you've been drafted?
A: "No I haven't talked to him yet. I'm pretty sure I will soon, but not yet. Everyone is telling me congrats and all that."
Q: At Illinois you played both on the outside and the inside but really made your mark as a middle linebacker as a senior. The Saints have said that they project you as an outside linebacker. Can you discuss some of the things that you have to learn and the potential adjustment both on the field and in the film room?
A: "When I sat down with Coach Vitt, I really felt I could fit in more so over the tight end. He was just showing me some of the plays that I would be doing for their defense. We sat down and watched some plays, on the runs, he was showing me why I fit and it was my responsibility. I knew I could do it, there's no doubt about it. I am comfortable with it."
Q: Do you think that your versatility is also a benefit because you have had to work both in coverage as well as tackling-intensive position in the interior?
A: "Yes. I think I benefit a lot. Not only do I play outside, but they can move me around and do other things with me throughout the defense. I think that's a great look. It'll just help the defense in general."
Q: A lot of young linebackers make up the bulk of special teams coverage units, in addition to working with the linebackers. Are you aware that special teams will be part of your responsibility? Do you think that your aggressive nature will help you in that?
A: "Oh, very much so. I played special teams in my past so I definitely thought special teams would play a role in that. They made sure they let me know special teams plays a role in that. I'm ready to take it on. I like special teams as it is already."
Q: As a freshman at Illinois, you were a part of a squad that went to a bowl game for the first time in six years and the Illini returned to a bowl this year. What was it like to be a part of a program that has made an impressive turnaround?
A: "Great. I feel like we now have word of mouth. Because now it just shows that coach is recruiting good talent over there. They have great coaches. The program is getting better and it got better every year. This is great for those guys."
Q: Head Coach Ron Zook, as well as his coaching resume as a longtime NFL assistant, including having a successful stint as defensive coordinator with New Orleans. Did he tell you anything about coming to New Orleans after being picked by the Saints and what was some of his advice?
A: "He just told me he had my support through this whole process. He's happy for me. He speaks highly of New Orleans and the coaching staff there and I know he is supportive and has my back."
Q: Can you discuss how he prepared you for this day in coming to the NFL?
A: "They just prepared me by helping me prepare as a football player. Knowing all my assignments, what to read out there, he helped me shape to a man on the field. He expected a lot from me. He never allowed me to think below myself at all. He always expected me to do greater things and more. For him to believe in me helped me push even further."