PRESIDENT BILL POLIAN (Comments) *Saturday *
"With our first pick in the seventh round we drafted Ricardo Mathews, defensive end from the University of Cincinnati. He is a power defensive end. He can also move inside and rush in the forefront. He is a real physical, hard-nosed tough football player. We like everything about him in that role. We think some of the things we are going to do on defense this year, we'll have a specialized role for him and we feel really good about it. The next pick in the seventh round was Kavell Connor, an outside linebacker from Clemson. He is very smart and very tuned in. He can fly around and run and hit guys, which is typical of the kind of linebackers that we like. He is very similar to LB-Clint Session. Very similar. The final pick was Ray Fisher, a corner from the University of Indiana. He is well-known to everyone. He is a kick and punt returner as well as a very good corner. He played obviously at a high level of competition and had a lot of success in the return game. We felt he was a dual-purpose guy, and a guy that could very likely make our team and contribute in a lot of ways as a 'gunner' on special teams and things of that nature, in addition to the return game. We are real happy with the draft. Everybody is happy today, obviously. We think we have a really good class of collegiate free agents coming in. We'll announce those later in the week. All and all, very happy with the way things went. We think we have some guys that have a chance to come in and make the team and be good players. That's what it's all about in getting good players. We've done that once again."
HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL (Comments) Saturday
"We certainly are pleased with the young men that we have coming into the franchise and, without question, I think we strengthened our team. We added some skills, athleticism and also some depth at a number of different positions, particularly at some specialized roles. It's been a great three days. We'll get the young guys in this coming weekend. We'll have our rookie mini-camp on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We'll try to get them acclimated and headed in the right direction."
HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL (On why there is a rookie mini-camp) Saturday
"It gives us (coaches) a chance to really get the information to them that they need to get a good start. It's them (rookies) alone. They do not necessarily have to compete at this particular point in time with veterans for time with the coaches. It gives them some needed attention in terms of the details that are involved. We can go a bit slower than we ordinarily would with a group of veterans. Our coaches get a chance to really work with them and immerse them in our culture and get them off to a good start. It's a great benefit. When we all get together after the rookie camp, it gives them the idea of what we are doing from a schematic standpoint, but more importantly they have a real good idea of how we do things. The veterans usually come in and lead the way after the rookie camp. It's more of an informational setting for the rookies."
PRESIDENT BILL POLIAN (On drafting DB-Ray Fisher and if he can play corner back) Saturday
"He can play corner. Even though he's on the small side, he's a good cover corner. He can cover people. He can run. He's a good gunner on covering punts. He can block kicks and he's a dual returner. He can fill a lot of roles. When you're looking for a player who is not necessarily going to be a starter, you want one who can fill a lot of roles. Ray (Fisher) can do that. We are happy to get him."
PRESIDENT BILL POLIAN (On the importance of the success of lower-round picks) Saturday
We, more than anybody, the statistics show we have more second day draft choices and collegiate free agents who play critical roles for us than any team in the National Football League. In a salary cap environment, which I hope we'll be going back to in a year, you have to do that. If you have highly-paid stars that you keep, which we do, then you have to do that. LB-Gary Brackett, being this year's free agent, meant our free agents are our own free agents. We keep them and they make very good money. You have to balance the equation out with players who are younger players who make less money. The only way to do that is through the draft and collegiate free agency. We've done a good job of that. That's our model. Collegiate free agency is a big part of that. I think we'll have an exciting class to announce in that group as the week goes on. That's our model. That's what we've done. That's what we'll continue to do. It works for us."