DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE ON FIRST-ROUND SELECTION DB ERIC BERRY
SCOTT PIOLI: “I appreciate everyone sticking around late here. Seriously, thank you everyone for sticking around late today, I appreciate it. Obviously everyone’s seen the day and we drafted Eric (Berry). Happy about the player we drafted, happy about the person we drafted and I just wanted to open it up to you guys for questions here because I’m sure you have plenty of them if you’ve waited this long, there’s got to be plenty of them.”
Q: What was the deciding factor in Eric over everyone else that you could’ve taken?
PIOLI: “There were a couple players we felt really strongly about and similarly about and there was a number of players that had some of the same things that we’re looking for – players that improve our team talent-wise; players who can improve our locker room; players who can help us lead and there was a number of those players. Eric was someone that we had spent a lot of time with along with a couple other players, a lot of time with and a lot of time on them in terms of studying them and some of the deciding factors at that point in time were we felt he was a player in a position of need and the best player. Essentially that’s what it came down to.”
Q: When did you come to the decision that if he was there, he was the guy?
PIOLI: “I don’t know what the exact timing way but I know Todd (Haley) and I have talked about it the last couple of days. I think the problem was for us, we didn’t know how things were going to fall. Even when you’re that close, we had no idea what was going to happen ahead of us. You go through those couple of scenarios as to what might happen, what might not happen and we felt if he was the player that was there when we were getting ready to pick, he was the player we wanted and that we were going to go with. We talked about it again this morning. We spent a lot of time, Todd, myself, Joel (Collier) and pulling different coaches in at different times talking about different players, different scenarios and different situations.”
Q: When did you get comfortable with him as a person?
PIOLI: “As a person? We were comfortable with him the entire time. We had a lot of information – this process starts, like we’ve talked about before Adam, the process has already started for the 2011 draft. The scouts are all in here now looking at 2011 tape. They’re gathering information on the players. The process is very long and Pat Sperduto and a number of other of scouts – I mention Pat, there were four scouts that were through there specifically, spent time with the coaches, the player and they had the first line of information. We started getting comfortable with him as soon as we found out information. This guy has been captain as a sophomore, captain as a junior, his father was a captain at Tennessee I think in 1981. In terms of his makeup and who he is, it’s very easy to get comfortable with him quickly. When exactly, I don’t know if there was one moment where we said ‘Wow. We know we’re sold on this guy.’ We spent quite a bit of time with him at the combine. We spent some time with him; we had him in here as one of our visits. We spent time with him in workouts. I will say this, there are a number of other players that we did that with too because we were getting down to the bottom with a lot of these guys.”
Q: If you are continually impressed with someone, do you want to keep going to see if there was something that you were missing?
PIOLI: “Absolutely because here’s the thing on that Bob, and I think I’ve talked about this before, a lot of these kids are trained now for interviews. They’re trained, and when you get them at the combine, you get them for 15 minutes in that interview and it’s not too difficult for people to fool you in just 15 minutes and these kids are trained well. That’s why we wanted to spend a little bit of extra time with him. Every single person that we talked to about this guy talked about his makeup and it’s the first thing they‘d talk about. They don’t just talk about him the player; they talk about him the individual. It’s something we talked about upstairs, in terms of the character of a player; I want to make sure that people understand: the character that we talk about it multi-faceted – It’s not just the character in terms of him off the field. Character to us has to do with football character. What kind of professional is he? We’ve talked about since the time we got here, we want guys that are professional: who are accountable to their teammates; who are going to work hard; do the right thing; pay attention; be on time; be accountable to their teammate; be accountable to this entire organization and all the people working in it and be accountable to this city. When we talk about character and what we’re looking for in character, this guy has it. It’s not simply that he’s a good guy and going to be the Boy Scout leader. He’s going to be the guy that is on time, he’s going to be working extra after practice, he is going to be working extra in the weight room. That’s some of the character that we talk about too. He’s going to be a true professional and we feel good about that.”
Q: What does it tell you when he played the 2008 season with a bum shoulder and didn’t miss any time, practices or anything?
PIOLI: “I think it tells you that football’s important to him and that’s something we’ve preached since the time that we arrived here is we want football to be one of the most important things in these players’ lives. This is their job. This is their craft. This is what they do. We want them to have football be one of the most important to their family. A long-standing belief of mine is if family, football and faith, in whatever order they are in your life, those are the three most important things in a players’ life, in a persons’ life, they generally have a chance to succeed pretty well.”
Q: What does it tell you that he only had one penalty in his entire college career? That’s pretty extraordinary.
PIOLI: “Yeah it is. Yeah it is. If you see him play, and he plays very passionately, he plays hard and he plays tough, it tells you that in watching him on tape, he’s willing to let loose but he’s also smart. He doesn’t make dumb mistakes and I think when you see someone that has few of penalties or one penalty as we talk about intelligence is…you go back to what we’re looking for: big, strong, fast, smart, tough, disciplined football players. Smart comes up on the radar when you see something like that.”
Q: With all of the offensive moves made in free agency, is it fair to say that you guys are looking more defensive in the draft?
PIOLI: “I wouldn’t say that we’re leaning one way specifically. I think it’s going to be ‘how is this going to fall?’ Again, it goes to the combination of best player available and need. Depending on how things fall tomorrow, we can’t predict how that’s going to happen but if there’s a dynamic offensive player that we think is going to help us, we’re not going to run from an offensive player at all.”
Q: You mentioned at the pre-draft presser that you were open for business with the number five overall pick. Did anyone call and were you close to any deals?
PIOLI: “We had a number of calls come in before the day started and as the draft went and we talked to a number of different people not only before our pick, but after our pick people wanted to know if we wanted to move up from the second into the first, so we talked to a number of different teams. Part of what came up today near the end of the first round, you have to into consideration what are you going to be giving up to move into the first round in terms of pick and who is the specific player that you want to move up for because as we talked about the other day, you don’t necessarily just trade up to trade up. You trade up for a specific player. So as we saw things maybe get into a range of player that we were interested in that was there or maybe disappeared, like I said, just because you want to make trades, you have to find a trade partner who is willing to do some of the things that you want to do and that doesn’t always mesh. We were open for business but a lot of people were walking past our storefront.”
Q: What would you have had to get for that fifth overall pick?
PIOLI: “You have to consider what you might be trading away from as well. I don’t know if that makes sense. It wasn’t about what we would get, it was about what you would walk away from. Based on what was available in terms of the player or players available at that time and what might have been offered, we were more concerned with sticking with the player that we chose.”
Q: Are there league trends that you have to be sold on to take a safety that high in the draft?
PIOLI: “We have spent a lot of time on that because trends are trends. Sometimes they make sense, sometimes they don’t always make sense. Especially when the game evolves and there has been a lot of things overtime where the game has changed from an offensive perspective and what you have to defend. You watch a lot of teams now that are getting very talented tight ends and they come out with regular personnel groupings and you have to try and cover a tight end like Antonio Gates or Dallas Clark, these receivers/tight ends. There ends up being a lot of mismatch issues. The game has changed and the game has evolved and you get into teams that run multiple receiver sets and you are running sub packages on and off the field or regular. I spent a lot of time and Todd (Haley) spent a lot of time in separate conversations with a lot of different football people on this and trying to come to the arrival. If you stay entrenched into one way of thinking over a long period of time or if you think you have all the answers and don’t pay attention to other people and trends that are changing the league, you may set yourself up for failure. Yes a lot of time was spent on that.”
Q: Do you look at other safeties from past drafts and consider their success in the league before drafting Eric?
PIOLI: “I think you do that with every position, every player. What you have to be careful about in those evaluations is, what system was that player playing in and what were they being asked to do? With every position across the board there are guys who make it, guys who don’t make it, guys who were draft, guys who were over drafted so to speak. There is a lot that goes into that and we looked at those things. There are guys at every position that you can look at like that. The comparisons to the other players really get tough. I try to stay away from comparing players’ skill sets and or production of what they do because players are very unique. There are some similarities, but again I think you have to be very careful when you make comparisons. If you make a comparison that is focused on one player, you are setting expectations that may be unrealistic and it may be unfair to a specific player.”
Q: Is Eric going to be very versatile in his role with the Chiefs?
PIOLI: “I think that is part of where we believe Eric is a little bit unique. He has played close to the line of scrimmage, he has played deep, he has done both things. Again, I think it is not just a matter of how he is going to be used, it is a matter of what we are going to be matched up against.”
Q: Do you think safeties going higher in the draft will become a trend?
PIOLI: “I don’t think that we are going to be trend setters. I don’t think that Eric is going to be a trend setter. I don’t want to get into saying that the player is that exceptional or that he is that great and he is going to change the face of football. I think these are the set of circumstances and the way it was this year. These were the players available and these were the circumstances that we are in, in trying to improve certain parts of our football team. I understand the question but I also think this is a confluence of a number of dynamics that are different from year to year.”
Q: Does Eric have as complete of a resume as you have ever seen?
PIOLI: “I don’t know if I would go as far as ‘if I have ever seen,’ but I will say this, I think it is a really strong total package because there is a breadth in a number of different areas where he has very strong points. In terms of saying, ‘as good as I’ve ever seen,’ I have always pulled short of saying things like that because he hasn’t done it at this level yet. In terms of makeup, professionalism and how important and mature this guy is; his maturity level is pretty special. The opportunity that he has because of those things, I think guys like this generally have a better chance.
Q: Have you ever drafted anyone with as great of a resume as Berry?
PIOLI: “I will say this, Jarod Mayo was a pretty darn good package in terms of makeup, maturity, how passionate he was about football and is about football. He is a really good football player. I would say Eric has had a different set of circumstances and I think that is part of this kid’s maturity. His dad was a captain in ’81 at Tennessee. This kid was raised right.”
Q: Did you get a chance to talk to the Kiffins (Lane and Monte) at all about Eric personally?
PIOLI: “I would never reveal my sources, Bob, or who I talk to. I had conversations with a lot of people and again, I wouldn’t get into that specifically. I know Monte (Kiffin) feels very highly about him. Monte publicly has talked about how he feels about him.”
Q: Are you open to all offers tomorrow when it comes to moving up or down the draft board?
PIOLI: “Absolutely. I am going upstairs and I will be open for business and then I will be in here early. I think there will be because there are a number of players up there. We are all going to sit back and look at our boards right now; everyone who is not doing this is upstairs looking at their boards. You get a good night’s sleep, you come in and you have a bunch of hours to look at the board again. They are going to see players that they want to target and there are a couple of names out there that I think people are going to be looking to move up and we are fourth tomorrow I think and I believe there will be a lot of action tomorrow. When we say a lot of action, there are times where there is a lot of action going on in the draft room, but business isn’t getting done and you never know how much action there is or there isn’t. But yes, I think there is going to be action tomorrow.”
Q: I know every team has their own board. Are there ever any wow moments for you when it comes to viewing other team’s selections?
PIOLI: “As a matter of fact, we had a conversation about midway through the round and then about three quarters through the round and we were saying that this was pretty much how we had a sense it was going to fall. There didn’t seem to be anybody that was that far off the radar that was picked or where they were picked. Now sometimes we may have a guy stacked on our board relative to the system that the player probably has a chance to be most productive in but didn’t see the player as a, ‘I can’t believe they actually took this player.’ There wasn’t any of that. Are there some years? Yeah. So far it is different, we are only through 32 guys but yes, there have been times in the past. I don’t say that a whole lot because there have been times where I was like, ‘wow, I can’t believe they took that guy,’ and that guy goes on to a Pro Bowl or sacks our quarterback or beats us. I have done a little less judging.”