NEWS

Press Conference Transcript: General Manager Martin Mayhew and Head Coach Jim Schwartz, Round 1

Posted Apr 22, 2010

LIONS GM MARTIN MAYHEW

Opening statement
“Another great player. This guy is exciting – he’s lightening in a bottle, really going to help our offense. We needed a running back, we felt that there were three running backs in this draft that we really liked, the other two guys got drafted and we felt we could move up there and get Jahvid Best, so we made that move.”
On the concussion issue and what process they went through to make sure it was taken care of
“He’s been cleared at the combine. He’s been cleared by one of the best specialists in concussions and our doctor’s cleared him and we feel good about it. I don’t remember the guy’s name, but he’s one of the best in the business, according to our doctors.”
On whether Best went through extra testing at the combine
“Yeah, I’m not a doctor, he’s been cleared and all of the doctor’s said he’s fine and the specialists said he’s fine, so we’re fine with his concussions.”
On how Best said that the Lions previously hadn’t shown much interest in taking him and if he was laying in the weeds
“You know, yes. We really liked him and Jim (Schwartz) will talk more about it. It’s been a process. Jim and Scott (Linehan) have been very excited about the guy and we felt the smart thing to do was to not say too much about him.”
On whether he thought that Best might get taken
“We weren’t scared.”
On whether there was any hesitation on trading with a division rival
“No.”
On how aggressive they’ve been in the draft
“Yeah, we’re in this thing to win it. We’re trying to win football games and I think you have to be aggressive. You can play it safe if you want to, while other teams are being aggressive. If you have a good feel for what you want to do and you’re confident in your scouts and in your evaluation, then you can be aggressive.”
On whether he felt Best wouldn’t last in the second round
“Well, our concern was with a night to sleep on it and this guy’s ability being what it is, that either somebody would move up in the bottom of the first and take him, or somebody would move up to St. Louis’ pick and take him, or we thought he might be a good selection for St. Louis. We wanted to get up there and get him.”
On how DT Ndamukong Suh and Best improve their talent
“They’re very talented guys, both of those guys are probably in the top 15 on our board. We were able to get two of them, that helps our offense, helps our defense. They’re both great character guys and both great additions to our franchise and to our football team.”
On upgrading more than just the bottom of the roster
“Yeah, I think so. That’s the idea, to get more competitive and if you can add guys with great character and great talent – I think both of these guys have rare skills as football players – if you can add those kinds of players, then you want to add those guys.”
On whether he can confirm what the trade entailed
“We traded our second, we flipped picks in the fourth round and we gave them a seventh round pick.”

LIONS HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ

Opening statement
“I’ve mentioned my blood pressure a few times and I’ve also mentioned how calm we were when we made the Suh pick. Well, I was the exact opposite. First, I want to thank Tom (Lewand) and Martin (Mayhew) for going up and getting this guy.

“This was a target guy; this was … we considered (him) a blue-chip player. I think things get hectic on the sideline, but Tom was on the phone making this trade and I wanted to grab the phone from him and start beating him with it to get him going (laughter). But I’ll tell you what, Martin and Tom did a great job on this.

“This was a player that is a weapon for us. With so many other weapons that we’ve added on offense and with a quarterback that we drafted last year, we have the makings of some fire power. He’s a guy that can go the distance. We struggled with 20-yard runs last year; he’s got a lot of them. The folks at YouTube are very happy because a lot of Googling on Suh’s highlights. This guy’s highlights are a lot and if you check my Internet records, you’ve seen me hit them quite a few times, too.

“Great kid like Martin said and, quite honestly, if it hadn’t been for that time he landed on his head, we probably wouldn’t be even talking about him at this point in the draft. But we feel real good about getting a premier offensive player and a premier defensive player in this draft.”

On what he sees when he looks at the talent the Lions have amassed on offense
“Makings of some special things. Tough to defend. This was a player that, again, we had a lot of really good feeling for and a guy that we had a plan for exactly how we were going to use him on offense. I was hoping for two things in this draft: one was to be able to get him – I’m talking about Jahvid Best – but if we didn’t get him, just praying that he didn’t go to Green Bay or Minnesota or Chicago and have to defend against a guy like this.

“We see a lot of tricked-up coverages on Calvin Johnson. A running back that can beat a linebacker one-on-one can raise hell with those kind of coverages. Like I said, he’s a home-run threat. He averaged I think over eight yards a carry as a sophomore and over six yards a carry last year. He’s a human highlight film. He’s got some special abilities. He’s got magic as a runner. It’s stuff that you don’t coach and he can stop and start in a heartbeat and this guy is super fast.

“A lot of people mention (C.J.) Spiller as the fastest guy in the draft, or the fastest running back – Jahvid Best ran a better 40 time at the combine. This guy won the 100 meters in California. He was productive right away at the University of California. He returned kicks; he catches passes, he’s got great hands. He’s an all-around really, really good player. Again, that gives match-ups. You can line him up as a wide receiver, you can put him in the backfield, you can hand him the ball, you can throw him the ball and we have a quarterback that can get him the ball.”

On if he will return kicks
“We’ll see. It’s something he can do. I don’t know. I do this all the time, mention Tennessee. I was in Tennessee and we drafted Chris Johnson and we were like, ‘Well, your know, he’s going to be our running back and he’s also going to return kicks.’ And after about two days of training camp, Jeff Fisher told the special teams coach, ‘He’s not returning any kicks.’ That’s where that is.”
On how excited Scott Linehan was about the pick
“There’s a couple things: a guy that works in our pro personnel department, does a great job, Joe Pirucki, did a project at the end of the season last year where he was taking the top five offenses in the league over the last few years. And he did a lot of research, spent a lot of time – he’s really a smart guy. He came up with, ‘What do they all have in common?’ They all had a wide receiver, they all had a quarterback, they all had a running back and they all had a tight end.

“It was funny that left tackle wasn’t in that group, but the top five offenses over the last three years had those things in common. Well, we drafted a pretty good tight end. He’s injured, but he’ll be back. Trade for another tight end that’s a match-up threat for us; a guy that can run 4.55 as a 6-5 tight end. We have the wide receiver and we drafted a quarterback last year. The running back gives us that other weapon. It’s exciting.”

On if there is a concern with Best’s size, durability and ability to run inside
“Well, he runs inside; watch his highlights, he runs inside all the time. He just doesn’t run over people, he just runs around them. He’s a little bit over 5-10, he’s 199-pounds. He’s bigger than C.J. Spiller; he’s bigger than Chris Johnson by far – he’s 20-pounds more than Chris Johnson. Durability has been a little bit of an issue for him. He dislocated his elbow and missed a game as a sophomore then had the concussion. Ray Rice went to the Pro Bowl last year and he’s not very big. This guy is not a ‘little guy.’ He’s not real tall, but 5-10, 200-pounds, he’s pretty well put together. He’s compact and like I said, he’s almost the same size and actually weighs more than C.J. Spiller.”
On at what point in the first round did they start trying to move up to take Best
“There was back-and-forth between a lot of teams probably about half-way through the first round, just for different reasons. The quarterback situation came up and there was some people moving up for d-linemen and some people looking to move back and that stuff happens all the time. Being where we are as a team, the one thing that happened with it is we sort of set an idea – Martin (Mayhew) and Tom (Lewand) set an idea – of how far we would be willing to go and that’s where we ended up going.”
On if they would have had to attempt to trade for a veteran running back if they couldn’t get Best
“I don’t know. I’m certainly not thinking about (that now). I was always hopeful that we could come out – I knew it would be close in this draft with this kind of player – but that’s not much of a concern now.”
On whether he was surprised that Minnesota helped them out by trading with them
“They helped us out and we helped them out. They moved up in the fourth and they picked up an extra seventh round pick; everybody has different agendas. I think that there’s a lot to trading a player (within) a division but, like I said, I’m glad that Minnesota, Green Bay and Chicago (didn’t draft him and) that we don’t have to see this guy twice a year.”
On how they envision a running back rotation with Best
“That will play out. It’s too early to sort of put that in and say this is exactly how we’re going to use it. We’re going to practice; we’re going to go through training camp and we’ll let that play out as we go. We won’t predetermine it.”
On how aggressive the team has been throughout this whole offseason, including the draft
“Well, I think that’s really been a big thing, starting in free agency this year. I mentioned Tom (Lewand) and Martin (Mayhew) but all of us have to thank Mr. Ford also. Because what we’ve done – moving back into the first round to take Jahvid (Best) – that took a tremendous financial commitment. Let’s not let that fly under the radar. We were aggressive; we weren’t bargain hunting. We were going after players that we consider blue-chip players that we can build around. I mentioned where that offense is; I mentioned when I was here a couple of hours ago where that defensive line is. I think the one good thing is: we’re addressing positions not just with band-aids, but with plugging them pretty good where you say, ‘Ok, we can move forward with that acquisition.’ It wasn’t just us evaluating the players; it wasn’t just the luck of guys falling in the draft or making deals with Minnesota or picking No. 2, we owe a great deal of thanks to Mr. Ford for being able to make a financial commitment. In all of those (moves) there’s a tremendous financial commitment and he wants to win and we do too. No matter how much we want to (win), if he didn’t give us the ability and the tools to be able to do that, we wouldn’t have been able to do it.”

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