BALTIMORE RAVENS DAY 3 DRAFT TRANSCRIPTS
GENERAL MANAGER/EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OZZIE NEWSOME,
HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH, ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER ERIC DECOSTA,
DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING JOE HORTIZ
Ozzie Newsome opening statement: "We just finished with three days of picking players. Now when the draft is over, we'll go to the second phase of trying to sign some undrafted college free agents. But we feel good about the three days' work. We've already talked about Thursday and Friday, and with today being Saturday. Za'Darius [Smith] is a player that we think can line up and play behind 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs] at that 'rush' spot. He's a guy that has played down on the inside at Kentucky a little bit like what Pernell [McPhee] did when he was at Mississippi State, and that will allow us to keep Elvis [Dumervil] over at the 'Sam' position still with the opportunity of Steven [Means] being involved. And with the second pick of today taking the running back from USC [Javorius Allen] that can play in all three phases, which means that he's good with the ball in his hands as a runner, protections, as well as a pass catcher. We think he will come in and complement the backs that we have. And moving down to corner [Tray Walker], a lot of credit goes to our scouts down in the Southwest, to [cornerbacks coach] Matt Weiss. He had a workout working the young man out. He came to Baltimore – we all spent the day with him – and to be able to get a size, speed corner in the fourth round is huge for us. Moving down beyond that to another tight end [Nick Boyle], he is a guy that can play on the line of scrimmage. As John [Harbaugh] has so noted in the draft press conference, we are a tight end-friendly offense, and to be able to get two of those guys in the draft – one being Nick Boyle – [is beneficial]. And then Robert Meyers, an offensive guard who played at the Senior Bowl, [he is] another kid from HBCU. We're looking forward to bringing him in. And then we finish with … We all covered big receivers, and [Darren] Waller, I spent about 15, 20 minutes on the phone with him today. And to get a big receiver – another big target for Joe [Flacco] – a guy we know … We know how tough it is facing receivers that are that type of size down in the red. He brings all of that. From my standpoint – and I'll turn it over to Eric [DeCosta] after that and he'll go to John and then to Joe [Hortiz] – we feel very good about the collective work that has been done in the last three days, but we do have one final piece to finish with, and that's the undrafted college free agents."
Eric DeCosta opening statement: "I think Ozzie said it all. I just wanted to thank the scouts and coaches for putting up with me, and I want to thank Steve [Bisciotti] and Ozzie and John for challenging us. This was an important draft, I think, for us for a lot of different reasons. But we had six picks at one time in a 54-pick span, and that became for us a really critical thing, a critical piece of this whole thing. I think as scouts and coaches, we felt the pressure to do the extra legwork, and I think the guys responded extremely well, so I'm proud of that."
John Harbaugh opening statement: "I'll echo Eric on that just to say thanks to these guys for putting up with me and the coaches. It definitely, I think, is always a great collaboration, but it's an honest collaboration, and we get after it a little bit. But in the end, we were on the same page, and that's very rare, and that's very valuable. Our needs and the types of things that are going to make our team better – specifically by position or by the type of player and where they were strategically found in the draft by Eric and Ozzie and Joe – I just thought it was masterful. So, it's a big success, and now we have to turn these guys into a football team."
Joe Hortiz opening statement: "Not really a whole lot to add. It's exciting to sit here at this point knowing we're getting ready to attack the final phase and seeing what all the work has accomplished between the coaches and the scouts and what we've been able to add to this team and what we're going to go and finish adding in the next two hours."
Ozzie, you've said that you win with defense and I would think that most – if not all – of league history would prove you right, but it's now two drafts in a row [with] six offensive and three defensive players [selected]. Is that just a matter of wanting to sustain the offensive momentum you have, or is it responding to changing coordinators, or what's the thinking behind that? (Joe Platania)
(NEWSOME) "I think that it's just the board, the way the board is stacked. We go in and we try to take the best player that's available to us when we're picking. And I didn't realize … What was it six and three, again?" (Reporter: "Six and three two-straight years now.") "I didn't realize that. All I knew is they're all players and they want to be Ravens, so I didn't realize that we had went that way for two years."
Joe, what's your take on Buck Allen? Just your thoughts on him as a player, how you see him fitting in with the backfield here. (Aaron Wilson)
(HORTIZ) "He's obviously going to come in and compete. He's a big back, he has deceptive speed. When you watch him, you don't realize he's gaining so much ground because he's kind of a smooth runner. And when he hits the line of scrimmage, he's rolling through it with balance, wide shoulders, ability to gain after contact. So, he's productive in the passing game as well. He's a guy we really liked as a collective group, and he's going to come in and battle for reps and some time with the guys that are already here."
With Darren Waller, he had a couple suspensions for violating team rules. What was his explanation to you guys with that? (Aaron Wilson)
(HORTIZ) "I actually talked to him at the East-West [Shrine Game] about that, and it was one of the things I hit him on – me and another scout from another team – and we did a pretty good job getting after him. He has made some mistakes when he was younger, and he was honest and upfront about it and didn't hide from it. He told us about his plan, and how he's dealing with it, how he has continued to deal with it. I came away impressed with how mature he became and his plan going forward. Sometimes you go into an interview with some of these guys and you're thinking you're ready to walk away and use it as the final dagger, and it was the opposite. I really was impressed with the way he carried himself and handled himself." (Reporter: "Was it a lateness thing or curfew? What did he say?) "I'm not going to get into it. I know what it is, and we know what it is and we're comfortable with him."
Eric, yesterday you said that the team's needs and your draft board really seemed to sync up. Do you feel like that was a draft-wide theme this year? (Ryan Mink)
(DECOSTA) "I think certain positions had a lot of players this year – running back, receiver. There were a lot of tight ends, even though they weren't, maybe, the number of like great tight ends. Fortunately, we got one. But we felt like we had players in every single round that we could have addressed. It just worked out well. I think we had a good board, and it's like a big puzzle – a mosaic – trying to figure out like if you take this guy, can you get this guy, or do you take these two guys and this guy? Do you trade up? Do you trade down? I just feel like this year it was easier for us to do for whatever reason."
Ozzie, you picked one defensive secondary player. Is that in any shape or form a statement of confidence in what you have? (Stan Charles)
(NEWSOME) "Yes, but it's also the way the players fell to us. Could we have taken a corner in the first round? We probably could have. In the second round? We probably could have. But at the point when we were picking, it wasn't the best player. But we do feel good. As I said at the end-of-the-season press conference, getting Jimmy [Smith] back healthy, Lardarius [Webb] having a year to train and then some of the young guys to have a chance to play being in the system for a second year [will be beneficial]. But I'll also say this: We're not done putting this team together right now. It's still two or three months – maybe four months – before we have to play Denver. We as a personnel staff, we're still going to be mining for players to make our roster to make us better."
Ozzie, on that note, do you feel like there's a good group of undrafted guys that are available out there, maybe, some guys that could have been draftable players that you still have a chance to get? (Garrett Downing)
(NEWSOME) "Yes, there are players that we will target after the draft that were draftable players for us that we could have taken if we had a seventh-round pick, which we don't have. So, there are still players on our board that we would have drafted. We run out of picks, so those are the guys that we'll try to target first to be the undrafted college free agents."
John, how do you feel that so many team needs were addressed in this draft? (Ryan Mink)
(HARBAUGH) "I feel great. I feel excited about it. I feel that was done, and we scratched a lot of itches, as we said. That's a positive thing and probably relative to what Eric said that the opportunity was there in this draft to do it, and that was very fortunate for us."
Joe, Tray Walker, he's a bigger, long corner – the only corner that you drafted. What was it about him that stood out to you and made you want to target him as your guy in the fourth round? (Turron Davenport)
(HORTIZ) "I think Eric may have mentioned, or Ozzie, [that] he was down at the College Gridiron, which is one of the new All-Star games. Our scouts that were down there came back and were raving about his performance down there – PBUs [pass breakups] every day, interceptions in practice, his size, his length. So, we had an opportunity to send Matt [Weiss] out there to work him out in a private workout. And again, the reviews coming back were just outstanding. Obviously, his film at Texas Southern is not [against] great competition, and he's a raw athlete, but when you watch the workout – watch it on tape – you see all the skills plus the size, length and speed are the things that really intrigue you."
Ozzie, how much did the uncertainty with TE Dennis Pitta influence you in this draft taking the two tight ends? (Jeff Zrebiec)
(NEWSOME) "Dennis is what it's going to be, and I still don't know what's going to happen with him. But Maxx Williams was way ahead of anybody that we had on the board when we picked him, and [Nick] Boyle was the same way. What John said, we have a very tight end-friendly offense, so having one or two is not enough. You need three or four or maybe even a fifth one if we can find a way to keep him, because we want to maintain the continuity of the offense in the way they want to attack people by having the tight ends on the field."
Nick Boyle, a big tight end at 6-4, 265, 270. At the Senior Bowl, did he surprise you with athleticism? (Turron Davenport)
(DECOSTA) "I think he had a good week. He stood out. You get these small school guys and you want to see how they do on a big scale. So, he went down to Mobile, competed very well, had a great week of practice, looked athletic, blocked extremely well. He is built strong. He is an NFL body tight end; he's a point-of-attack tight end. [It is] hard to find those guys. We have excellent connections at Delaware. The offensive coordinator [Sean Devine] there was one of my roommates in college, so we get a lot of information from those guys. He's a guy that we've been following for a while, and we liked him."
Eric, the running back Javorius Allen, what kind of running back can he be? (Stan Charles)
(DECOSTA) "Well, he's big. He has good speed, and I think he's physical. He's a guy who can run in the zone scheme. He has excellent hands. I think he had 450 yards receiving this year, almost 2,000 total yards this year. So, he's a very versatile guy. Again, we get good information out of there. We felt very good about the kid. We like his skill set, and we think he comes in and competes with Lorenzo [Taliaferro] and Justin [Forsett] and any other guys. It's exciting to have him."
With the offensive guard, coach, Darren Waller talked about the fact that he worked with Juan Castillo in a private workout. What was Juan Castillo … He likes to win with those small school guys. What did Juan come back and report from that workout with him? (Garrett Downing)
(HARBAUGH) "He does. He does like to work with the small school guys. Juan likes athletic, tough guys who are hardworking guys, and that's what he came back and told us. He really likes the upside. He thinks he has a chance to really develop into a starting offensive lineman in this league. That's always the goal when you draft somebody. Juan really felt good about him, and for us to be able to draft him where we did, it makes it even more valuable for us. So, we've had some success doing that the last couple years – small school, big school – and we're pretty confident that this player has a chance to do the same thing."
Eric, we usually get the baseball metaphor from you at this time of year. One draft I remember there were some triples, another you said there were a lot of singles. How about this year's bunch? (Joe Platania)
(DECOSTA) "It felt like it was extra innings for me. (laughter) I need to go home and get some sleep. I'm tired. It was a long weekend, but a very gratifying weekend I think for all of us. It couldn't have worked out any better. I think, just in terms of if we had imagined this draft beforehand, we'd be very, very excited. So, we got it, and it looks great on paper. But hopefully, it looks good in person as well."
Did you guys see a lot of visions of OLB Pernell McPhee in Za'Darius Smith? Is that something that immediately popped out to you? (Ryan Mink)
(HARBAUGH) "Absolutely. That's the first thing I told all three of these guys when we saw him, and we all agreed [on] that. I mean, he has the same hair, he has the same number – I think he picked No. 90 – so I'm not sure what that was all about. (laughter) But [he has] the physicality, the heavy hands, the high motor. He has pass rush ability even maybe more so than we saw from Pernell coming out. He has hips, and he can get around blocks. If he develops like Pernell did, we're going to have something. He's a great young man. He's a very hard worker, and he plays really hard. So, those are all characteristics that Pernell has as well."
TE MAXX WILLIAMS INTRODUCTORY PRESSER
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR MARC TRESTMAN,
TIGHT ENDS COACH RICH ANGULO & TE MAXX WILLIAMS
Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman opening statement: "On behalf of all the Ravens family, we want to, Maxx, welcome you to Baltimore. I'm going to turn it right over to Rich [Angulo]."
Tight ends coach Richard Angulo opening statement: "As a tight ends coach, I couldn't be happier. This guy plays with fire; makes you excited as a position coach to coach him. So, welcome, and man, can't wait to get on the field."
Maxx, how early in the draft process was Baltimore first in touch with you? (Joe Platania)
(MAX WILLIAMS) "I met with Baltimore first at the Combine, and I think I met with [Angulo] first in the 'bullpen' room, and then I met with them officially. And then after that, really – after the Combine – and my pro day and stuff, I really didn't have any contact with anyone. I was kind of going in blind to everything going into draft day."
Maxx, specifically, what is it about your game that makes everybody feel that you're the No. 1 tight end in this draft class? (Turron Davenport)
(WILLIAMS) "I would just say how I try. Everything I treat is like I have to do it the best I can, and no matter what, if I'm losing something or not winning a block or something, I try to make catches the best. I'm going to go out there and do the best I can. And just my work ethic, I feel like is what everyone looks at."
Marc, as far as your offense, you guys have always utilized tight ends. Do you feel like you see Maxx fitting into your scheme and what he can do for you? (Aaron Wilson)
(TRESTMAN) "Well, what he can do for all of us is … He has a great skill set. He has great football intelligence. We're able to move him around and do different things with him inside and outside. He can cut off on the backside and he can be a front side blocker as well. This is a young guy. He's just 21 years old, and he's still growing, he's still getting stronger, and yet, he has a skill set that's ready-made for this league. We're excited about the things that he can do. You've seen enough of him, we all have. He can get vertical, he can get in the seams, he's made plays in the red zone. He'll go to the ground and find the football, and he'll go up in the air. He has good catch radius for his size. So, he's going to get better. I know he believes that in all aspects, but we're excited to have him with us."
Maxx, what do you think makes you such a good vertical threat? (Jamison Hensley)
(WILLIAMS) "I don't even know how to answer. Just the fact that putting the little things in to work hard and get open and knowing [that I] have a bigger body as a tight end to be able to use it to make the catch."
Maxx, a lot of guys in the draft are second generation guys with athletic fathers. You have athletic parents; both parents were very good athletes. Can you talk about that and the influence of both of your parents on you as an athlete? (Peter Schmuck)
(WILLIAMS) "Definitely. It does help growing up in a house that had two parents who were college athletes, and then my dad, who was also in the pros. Just kind of having that, where they install work ethic in you from the start, because they always taught us that you have to work for what you want, and they obviously always did that with their careers. So, just growing up around that, knowing that everything you do, you do your best, and good things happen if you're doing that. Growing up around that, and especially having my dad being a pro athlete, being able to fall and lean on him when I needed him, it was a great way to grow up getting ready for this kind of moment."
Was your mom as enthusiastic about football for you as your dad was? (Peter Schmuck)
(WILLIAMS) "Definitely. Mom was the one that taught me how to kick and catch the ball and throw, actually, back when I was real young, because dad was always gone at practice then. So, she was actually the one who taught me how to throw."
Who is the best athlete in the family? (Ryan Mink)
(WILLIAMS) "Mom. (laughter) Mom would probably be it."
Richard, you guys drafted another tight end, Delaware tight end Nick Boyle. Just your thoughts on him? (Aaron Wilson)
(ANGULO) "It's a great get. You're getting two of the best guys kind of in different spectrums with pass catching with Maxx and Nick Boyle with what he can do on the line. But at the same time, too, he's very athletic. He's a threat in the receiving game as well. Man, as a tight ends coach, I couldn't be happier right now, I'll tell you what."
Marc, do you look at it as a situation where Maxx might have to step in and start or have a big role immediately because you guys did have a need at tight end? (Ryan Mink)
(TRESTMAN) "I think he has to earn it, like every player does coming into the league. We have high expectations of him to come in here and get involved very quickly, but he knows he has to earn it, and that's the way it will start from Day One. But we all know he has the skill set and the football intelligence to come in and play for us. It's really up to him and his effort level and his competitiveness that we certainly believe he has, to get involved early and be a big part of what we do."
Marc, people always say how important the tight end is in your style of offense. What makes the tight end so important for what you want to do? (Jamison Hensley)
(TRESTMAN) "I think one of the reasons [is] Joe [Flacco] likes tight ends. He likes to have a big-bodied guy in the middle of the field. But when you have tight ends in the game, it really applies to your run game and your passing game, because when you have tight ends, you can keep base personnel in the game, you can get away from a lot of the complicated nickel packages that teams play. You force them, No. 1, to defend the run, and it allows you to move people around and help yourself in coverages in the passing game. It's real added value to have those types of players. It's not a lost art, but it's something that certainly is relevant in today's game."
Maxx, have you watched a decent amount of Joe Flacco, and what are your thoughts about catching passes from him? (Ryan Mink)
(WILLIAMS) "[He's] one of the best quarterbacks in the league right now; how can you not be excited to go out there and try to make plays for him? You watch all football … Obviously, when you're in college you're at the complex on Sunday, so it gets harder to watch pro football, but you know him. He's one of the best quarterbacks around. So, it's almost an honor to be out there to try and make plays [for him]."
Marc, last year this offense had some struggles with the red zone. Can you talk a little bit about how Maxx will help improve that? (Turron Davenport)
(TRESTMAN) "Maxx has shown that [on] the tape. He's a very productive guy. In the two years that he's played, his touchdown production is very high per reception, as we all know. So, like I said, we've seen him extend and use his catch radius in the red zone. We've seen him go to the ground and make plays on touchdowns in the red zone. That just brings an added value to our entire offense, and it's going to open up other guys as well because of the threat that he should have to defenses in the red zone."
Maxx, when you were watching the draft the other night and the Ravens traded up, did you have a sense before Ozzie Newsome called you that this might happen? (Keith Mills)
(WILLIAMS) "Not a clue. When my phone rang I was just as shocked as everyone else at my house. It was probably one of the best moments of my life when that phone rang finally and I realized who it was."
Marc, you guys drafted a running back today in [Javorius] "Buck" Allen. Your thoughts on him and how you see him fitting into the offense? (Aaron Wilson)
(TRESTMAN) "We really like 'Buck.' We like his athleticism. He's got size. He's very good inside and outside. He can catch the football. He's a good blocker. We were very excited to have the opportunity to get 'Buck' when we did. We looked at a lot of tape on him, and there were some very, very good backs at his level, but he was our top guy coming into this morning's draft. [We're] certainly very excited to get him here."
Yesterday, [WRs] coach Bobby Engram made a comparison between Alshon Jeffery and Breshad Perriman. Now with Maxx here, do you feel he is similar to Martellus Bennett, and do you feel these are two players you can use in the same way that you used Alshon and Bennett in your offense in Chicago? (Turron Davenport)
(TRESTMAN) "We'll have to see. They've got a ways to go. They've got a job to earn, No. 1, but certainly Maxx has the ability to be a very productive. The two years he played [at Minnesota], his per catch was very productive – he was at 15, 16 yards per catch both years, his first and second year. He's still got a lot of growing to do and certainly has excellent hands to be able to catch the ball down the middle, on the edges and in the red zone. So, we expect productivity out of him, certainly. Breshad, the same way; he's got the size, he's got the vertical speed that Alshon had. Again, he's got room to grow and develop. He said it yesterday as well. But we are really excited to have both of these guys with us, no doubt about it. The coaching staff is excited. We spent a lot of time … Our scouts did a phenomenal job of educating us and coaches doing their work as well, and the whole group working together. We're excited about the guys that we got today, including this gentleman [Maxx Williams] to my left right here."
Marc, the Ravens haven't drafted this many offensive players for quite some time. Are you just very influential? (Ryan Mink)
(TRESTMAN) "I just stood back and kept my mouth shut and hoped for the best. (laughter) Like I said, our scouts, Ozzie [Newsome] and his staff, Eric [DeCosta] and the entire group of guys and our coaches, they did a good job of working together, and it all fell into place for us offensively, certainly. The day is not over – we don't know where the day is going to go – but certainly, we're excited about the guys we're bringing in here."
JAVORIUS "BUCK" ALLEN CONFERENCE CALL TRANSCRIPT
On whether he talked to the Ravens about how he will be used in the offense: "I met with them when I was at the Combine, and they pretty much said that they like the work I do out the backfield and that I have great hands out the backfield. And they said they were going to put my talents to use, so I'm ready to come there and do whatever I have to do to help the team win."
On the emotions he felt after being drafted by the Ravens: "A dream come true. As a little kid, this is always a kid's dream to play in the National Football League. And to be there with my little brother and [get] the call from the Baltimore Ravens was a blessing, and I couldn't ask for a better situation. My time came, and I'm going to take full advantage of it. [It is an] unbelievable feeling, unbelievable feeling."
On whether he has reflected on the journey that lead him to the draft: "Most definitely. I know when it all calms down later on, I'm going to sit [by] myself, and I just know I'm going to tear up and cry and think about all the stuff me and my family went through to get to this point. And like I said, it's a blessing."
On his touchdown celebration that began at USC: "It's a whole lot of emotions. When I first started out, I never had a celebration at all. But [it is about] pretty much letting it all out, and you have so much built inside. And that's the same celebration I did at the beginning of the game, which is something I'll stick with. It's a blessing to be a Baltimore Raven. [I am] speechless, can't even put it into a description."
On whether he had a sense the Ravens would draft him: "I had no idea. I know my interview went great at the Combine, but other than that, I had no idea."
On whether former USC WR Curtis Conway gave him any advice prior to the draft: "I talked to him when he came to the spring game. He told me, 'Believe in yourself. You know what you did to get up to this point, and only Buck knows. At the end of the day, Buck knows that he gave his 100 percent [and] that he would do it all.' And [he said] just stay true to myself, and that's what I've been doing my whole life, and it got me this far. It's just a blessing, just an honor."
On how he sees himself fitting into the Ravens' offense: "Great. For example, I feel like I can come in, figure things out for a while and eventually get the work done. I'm always competitive, always there to work, always there to learn from vets or go in [and] learn from great guys there and showcase my talent. Like I said, one of my biggest assets [is] I have great hands out the backfield. You never know what I'm going to [do]. [I am a] run-over-you guy, speed guy. I have it all, I feel like, and it's always hard for a defender to come down, [asking,] 'Are you going to run me over, or are you going to break me?' So, God just blessed me with so many talents."
On whether pass blocking is one of his strengths: "Most definitely. Right now, it's one of my strengths. It's something I worked on in college and as I've been going through meetings. Just because I get to the National Football League, there is nothing that I want to be comfortable with. I'm just going to keep working on it, and whatever I need to do to get the job done, I'm going to do it. I'm going to put the work in to improve. I feel like as a player, you always improve in all areas. So, that's definitely something I've been working on for the last two-and-a-half years, and I'm going to keep working on that."
On how much his past has prepared him for the next step in his career: "Pretty much I had to fight to get what I want. Stuff was never handed to me. Even growing up as a kid – even living with my grandmother – it was never handed to me as a kid. You always had to fight. You always had to figure out a way. Never give up on yourself. Believe in yourself. My situation at USC, I never gave up on myself. I never transferred, because me as a man, I know what I can and can't do. That pretty much has molded me and got me ready for this level. I have to thank all of the people that were there and that guided me along the path. God put me in great situations, and I always said, 'He's not going to put more than you can handle.' I never stressed – just get through the situation and get the job done."
ROBERT MYERS CONFERENCE CALL TRANSCRIPT
On when he got the nickname "Snacks":"Back in 2010 when I first arrived at the TSU campus from my head coach, coach [Rod] Reed and the linebackers coach."
On how he earned that nickname:"They said that I was the first one in the café, and the last one to leave it. (laughter) So, it just transpired so they started calling me, 'Snacks,' – him and coach Reed."
On what kind of a feeling he got from Ravens offensive line coach Juan Castillo before the draft, and if he thought he might end up in Baltimore:"Yes, sir. Coach Juan is a great coach. When he came into TSU to work me out, he was very positive and he just showed a lot of interest in me during that time we spent. We went out to eat and he just explained that he was very interested in me playing, and he knew the role of a small-school player to get to a big-time level. He coached at [Division] II first and he transitioned to a big-time program being a coach in the NFL. He has just been displaying interest in me throughout this whole process, keeping up with me and making sure I'm doing well, and I just had a feeling that they were going to pull me."
On his expectations of making the jump from a small school to the NFL:"I feel like I'm going to handle it pretty well. I went to the Senior Bowl and I stuck in, and I don't think … I know it's not going to be easy, but I know with a coach like Juan and an organization like the Baltimore Ravens, I think I'm going to go pretty smoothly. There's going to be some ups and downs, but I think I'm going to make that transition pretty smoothly, and my goal is pretty quick. But you never know what's going to happen. I'm in it for the long haul, and I'm hoping to be a Raven for a very long time."
On how his foot is doing:"I'm doing great. I'm progressing well on all my injuries and nothing is bothering me. I'm just ready to get to Baltimore and get to work."
On if he thinks he will participate fully in the rookie minicamp:"Yes, sir."
On how much he looks forward to learning from G Marshal Yanda and G Kelechi Osemele:"I'm looking to be influenced by a veteran more than being able to have … It's good to have two guys like that, and especially a coach like Juan, everybody combined, to put some time and effort into making me the player I can be and bring me along with the system the Baltimore Ravens run on the offensive side of the ball. I'm very excited to be able to have those guys as mentors to help me along my rookie path and get to a spot where I can be a starter on the offensive line."
ZA'DARIUS SMITH CONFERENCE CALL TRANSCRIPT *
On his ability to play multiple positions on the defensive line: "Just coming out of junior college, we ran a lot of 3-4 [defense], but getting into Kentucky, we ran a lot of 4-3. Being in both defenses, I felt comfortable with this team drafting me, because I can play multiple positions. And I feel comfortable playing outside linebacker, standing up some, and I also feel comfortable getting down there in that 3-technique on the pass rush in third down."
On how the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl helped develop him as a prospect: "I think it helped me a lot, because of our defense that we ran at Kentucky last year – our 3-4 defense – I played a lot of four-eye. But getting into that East-West Shrine [was beneficial], that 4-3 defense, showing my edge rushes and showing what I can do on that edge by stopping the run – also and rushing that pass. Those bowl games helped me a lot."
On whether he had a sense the Ravens would draft him: "I had a big chance that I would land there, because of the visit I took. Everyone felt comfortable with me, and just being there, I felt so comfortable. It felt like home. So, I knew then that I was expecting a phone call from the Baltimore Ravens."
On whether he watched OLB Pernell McPhee: "Yes, sir. I watched him a lot, and I think I can follow in his footsteps and become more like him. He just signed a new contract, and this team right here is replacing the other guy like Pernell McPhee. And I can tell you this: A lot of people are going to be hearing from Za'Darius Smith as a Baltimore Raven."
On whether the Ravens mentioned OLB Pernell McPhee to him during the draft process: "That's all they talked about. But I can tell you this: I'm going to follow in his footsteps. I'm going to do the right thing and be the best pass rusher and the best run stopper I can."
On what it means to be a part of Baltimore's historic defense: "It means a lot. I'm going to cherish every moment. The main thing [is] I need to get in and learn the defense and win some ball games."
On getting a late start playing football in high school: "The late start just came because of me playing basketball. I was a good basketball player in my community, and I thought that was what I wanted to do with my life was play basketball. But I figured that out my last year of high school that basketball wasn't for me. My coach told me, 'Go out and play football,' so I went out and played football my senior year of high school and had like eight, nine sacks. And then from there I said, 'This is the game I want to play. I can see a future in this game.' And from there I took it to junior college, and hey, look where I'm at now."
TRAY WALKER CONFERENCE CALL TRANSCRIPT
On whether he thought there was a high chance the Ravens would draft him:* "When I was going through the process, one of the [coaches], Matt [Weiss, cornerbacks coach] he was coming, and he was like, 'I like you. I'm going to try to help you get into Baltimore.' I spoke with the cornerback coach when they came out to the personal workout, and they were overwhelmed by my size and my ability to move the way I can. And I just kept faith that I'd be somewhere, and I ended up some place where the most interest was there."
On his ability to press at the line of scrimmage and redirect wide receivers: "From what I was told, I have the longest wingspan out of all corners, even that came out this day. I'm just blessed. I'm really overwhelmed right now. I'm just stunned. I really can't think right now, because it's a blessing for me. But as far as that question, I can read receivers really well. I can play off. I'm able to do a lot of things that most corners can't do."
On whether he looks forward to continuing the legacy of FCS cornerbacks like CB/RS Lardarius Webb: "Honestly, I'm trying to start my own legacy, but if that's what I have to do at the start – at the beginning – that's what I'm going to have to do. But at the end of the day, I'm trying to leave a Tray Walker legacy in Baltimore."
On how he ended up at Texas Southern and if he had offers from bigger schools: "No, sir. I was not highly recruited. I was overlooked. I was a safety in high school, I was recruited as a safety, and that was my only option. So, I took a chance, took advantage of it and made the best of it."
On whether he has a lot of room to develop his skill set: "Yes, sir. I believe I can get better throughout the process every day – day-in, day-out. There is more room to improve. I'm only 22 years old. I feel like I'll probably experience and grow, but I doubt that. But at the same time, it's more … If I have to take in whatever I have to do to get better and be the best person I can be, that's what I'm going to do."
On what he needs to improve on most: "Right now, I feel like I could put on five more pounds to be solid and then just basically get the feel of the game. And once I get the feel of the game, you can help me and tell me what I need to improve in. But as far as right now, [it's] just basically getting a feel of the NFL."
Transcripts: Ravens Day 3 Draft
BALTIMORE RAVENS DAY 3 DRAFT TRANSCRIPTS