New York Giants' Director of College Scouting Marc Ross spoke with reporters Friday night regarding second-round pick Marvin Austin and third-round pick Jerell Jernigan. Following is the transcript of his remarks:
A: I'm surprised again. I thought at the top of the second somebody would go after him, but not totally surprised or concerned. Obviously, the well documented issues. If you didn't do your homework on him, you could easily dismiss him. I thought somebody would take a chance, but definitely not a surprise.
Re: checking out a prospect's character
A: Our scouts, that's why they go out there, away from their families for. I get out on the road. Those guys dig deep. They have contacts at all of the schools. Coaches, trainers, strength coaches, equipment people, that's what they dig all year long, during the fall, pro days. We meet with these kids at the combine, bring them in. We do a thorough job. The scouts, they do all of that. Obviously, I'm a part of that as well, but we get all of that information.
Q: Players with character issues, why are certain ones okay?
A: Certain people, you take a chance on if they aren't habitual problems. For instance, we took a chance on Mario (Manningham). We thought his were isolated incidents where he made bad mistakes. We thought he was a good kid. We did a lot of work on him. He loved football and he was a good kid who made bad decisions. Whereas other people, you don't look at it the same way. With Marvin, we think this kid loves football. He loves to compete. He's genuinely remorseful about what happened. I think he wants to prove to everybody - himself, his teammates, his new team - that he learned from that and that he's going to go on from there.
Q: From football point of view?
A: The first couple tackles taken were Dareus and Fairley. Talent wise, he's right up in the mix. If he was clean, he would have been a top 15 pick - I believe.
Q: What did you like about Jerrel?
A: His versatility. He's a little guy, but he's extremely fast. He's versatile. He's a wildcat quarterback, slot receiver, returns punts, returns kicks. I think the conference's all-time, all-purpose leader. High school quarterback. You love those types of guys. A great feel for the game. We had him in here. We did him at the combine. A great personality. A nice kid who's going to add some speed to our team on offense and special teams.
Q: On special teams, will he contribute on returns only?
A: No, he's tough enough to do the gunner stuff. They didn't have him do it there. You watch them play, he's on the field all the time - offense, wildcat, like I said. He's got the speed and toughness to run down as a gunner. He's going to have to earn it and he knows that. He has that mindset to do it.
Q: How much speed have you added to the team?
A: You always look to get bigger and faster. We didn't consciously say we have to get faster. We just happened to get two really fast guys - really, really fast guys. It's going to help us tremendously.
Q: Offensive linemen - weren't that high on the board?
A: As we always say, we value, we put the value, we do the work, we put the grades on the guys. If they fall at the right time in the right spot, we'll take them. We're not going to force the issue. We had the guys we took, these three guys as sitting out there like guys we had to take. We considered other positions, we consider all positions. When we're about to pick, we have a group of guys and we felt we took the best players, who had the most value at the time.
Q: Surprised about Jernigan?
A: We got him right where we thought he would go, in this range.
Q: Do you think you helped the team today?
A: Of course we think we did a good job. I think we helped our team in a lot of different ways. We got three completely different players, versatile players, competitive players. I think we got better.
Q: Usually you have free agency before the draft, but that flip flopped. Are you thinking, if we don't draft a certain guy we can always pick someone up in free agency?
A: I don't think like that. Jerry, Coach they might go over those scenarios. For us, we're focused on the best guys we can get over this weekend. We're not up there saying, let's not take him because we're going to sign such and such. We're just going, taking the best guys.
Q: Did you evaluate Marvin Austin last year?
A: This year, you had to go back to his tape to watch it. So, yes. We went back and looked at it after this year, but when he was a junior, no.
Q: Regarding Manningham and Bradshaw - the fact that you all have done a good job with them, does that give you confidence when you evaluate other college players that they will be okay?
A: Yeah, because I think we have the foundation in place with this organization - the coaching staff. You have to know your coaches, you have to know the support system you have. And I think we have a strong foundation with dealing with that. But again, we don't want to go too far off and just bring in this guy we have just seen who is a bad, bad person. So we will never do that. The guys that we have taken, we don't think they are bad people.
RE: College defensive lineman missing a whole year.
A: Yeah, you can only speculate. He did play in the East West All-Star Game. He did go to the Combine. He did have a pro day. And if you didn't know anything about him, he would check out just like anybody else who had played a whole year. He looked good at each stage of it. He was one of the most impressive guys at the Combine. The guy ran a 4.89, 309 pounds, benched 38. At his pro day he and Quinn were working out together, tons of d-line coaches, people there. He is moving around, you wouldn't know the difference. So postseason, everything looked the same. Now, of course he didn't have a senior year tape, you have to go back and watch that. But we have seen a lot of things to think that this guy is going to get back in shape.
Q: He was benched for two games in 2008. What did you find out about that?
A: Yeah, we ended up figuring in all of that. We have great area scouts, we find out all of that information. Things that happened, we felt comfortable that it wasn't going to be a problem.
Q: The defense got a lot better.
A: Definitely; definitely. When you can add a quality corner and a disruptive defensive tackle, I think Perry (Fewell) is happy right now.
Q: Did you have some offensive coaches knocking on your door?
A: It is an open door policy, they just walk right in. They don't have to knock.
Q: How fast are they compared to what you have now?
A: They are fast. Who is the fastest? They have to get here and play on the field - see who plays fastest on the field. I can say their times - just check their Combine times compared to guys we have had. But field speed and time speed are totally different. We hope these guys will play as fast as we have seen them play and ........
Q: After the seven rounds, are you allowed to call undrafted free agents?
A: As of right now, I think we can't do it. Just like the weather - see if it changes. Who knows what is going to happen tomorrow. Hopefully they tell us we can do it, but as of right now we can't. We really hope we can do it.
Q: Do you feel you have gotten two good top picks in the last two days?
A: Yes, we really do. We had those two guys very high up on your board and we are happy we got them. But, yeah, we think we did.