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TRANSCRIPT: Les Snead and Sean McVay Pre-Draft Press Conference
April 26, 2017 12:30 AM | TheRams.com


(Opening Remarks)

Snead:

"Welcome to the draft room. You can help us draft, right? I'm sure you have a few mocks, can help us look. You've interrupted the final stages of prep, hopefully we can turn this thing around soon and get it back to working mode. And then (Head) Coach (Sean McVay) has just got through his first walk-thru as a Ram. We have mini-camp practice today, so that's going to be fun. But, other than that, we'll turn it over to some questions."

(On if the analytic side of football plays into the draft)

Snead:

"The far right two computers - that's where our nerds sit during the draft meetings. At the end of the day, the answer is yes. I think it's another tool in the toolbox. There's a lot of data that comes our way. I think they do a nice job of being able to analyze it, maybe put it in a form that we can understand. It basically helps us make decisions, take risk out of decisions and add better probability."

McVay:
"I think, for us, it's one of those situations where you look at it - everything is always where you're trying to make a comparison. Being able to use some of that analytical data is very helpful in projecting the likelihood of the success of some of these players based on the measurables. Les has done a great job implementing some of those people on his staff, where they're able to give you information. And it's things that we'll use, football-wise, throughout the course of the year when we gameplan, as well. It's not exclusive to just the draft stuff, but it'll also be very helpful when we go into game planning and some of those numbers, just from a preparation standpoint. I think it's been very helpful and it's definitely a valuable tool to utilize."

(On if there is motivation to move into the first round)

Snead:

"It's almost like you're calling a game and it's first quarter, second quarter, third quarter, fourth quarter. You have to be prepared to, like I said, go up or down. We've been in the past, where we've sat still, there's been times we've moved up, there's been times we've moved back and there's been times, in the same draft, in the same round, where we moved up and moved back - I think that was (WR) Tavon (Austin) and (LB) Alec Ogletree (in 2013). You have to be prepared and as the draft comes to you - right now it's all speculation - but as things come to you, you never know. You never know who may fall that we think could help that might be somebody you go get. Or the price might be too high and you sit back. You probably go into it with this in mind, 'Look, all things are open - moving up, staying pat, making your pick, going back and adding, maybe more picks to the next rounds.'"

(On anticipating what their chemistry will be like in their first draft together)

McVay:

"I think one of the things that's been so exciting about getting a chance to get to work with Les is he's a football guy, he works hard at it. We've spent a lot of time together, just watching and evaluating. I think there's a lot of things, just the way that he assesses players when we're having that communication as we watch. It's been very helpful for me to kind of improve myself, where you look at some of the things that he might notice that I might not and then you can kind of try to offer a different perspective, just from a coach's standpoint with the overall schematic approach in terms of what's trying to get done on the actual play or whatever it is where you're evaluating a certain player. It's been a great rapport that we have. I think one of the things that's very unique about it as well is, from my family background, with my grandfather being in a similar role, you have an appreciation of the dynamic that is vital to exist between the head coach and the general manager. Ultimately, it's about us being on the same page. Once decisions are made, decisions are final and we're all on board and moving in the same direction. That's exactly how it's felt ever since I was fortunate enough to get here."

Snead:

"I can second that. Sean is a very instinctive evaluator. Like he mentioned, let's take on the offensive side of the ball, he knows exactly what each player needs to do for his offense to be successful and what traits they need to have. He does a great job articulating it, does an even better job making cut-ups of players in the NFL - probably specifically Washington - what they do well, what they do not so well and why they fit that role. We try to then go look for those traits from players in the draft. And also being an offensive coordinator, he has a good feel for what defenders look like and how they affect the offensive game. That's been great. The war games, we talk scenarios a lot and who may fall - trying to predict who falls to 37 is a little harder than predicting who may fall to (No.) 12. But, we talk scenarios and you really have a gameplan from there. Maybe we'll box or something later on (laughs)."

(On how needs of the team play into building the draft board and when needs override best player available)

Snead:

"I think you always try to set your board with not taking needs into play. Obviously, if you really need something, you might be desperate and then all of the sudden, you're making players better than what they are. So you try to do that, for sure. I always say this, 'Best player available is always speculative.' That's our best player available, time will tell - it's usually about three years later whether you were right. But I do think there's a blend of common sense in this thing where there's some definite needs that will help us as a team in 2017 and the future. Then, there are some times where, guess what, a really good football player falls that may not be your A or B need, but you can always use a really good football player, especially if there's buy-in and he's going to start and help us. It's a blend of that, I think."

McVay:

"Yeah, I think exactly what Les said. When you look at free agency and the draft, you certainly evaluate your own roster and then you develop your needs based on your evaluation of your current players in place. I think the thing that he said that is critical is that you do have needs, but you don't want to overreach for a need - meaning, if you have a specific player valued at that spot and you don't get a certain guy at that spot, you don't then go to the next guy because of it being a need. But I think when you look at it, there's a certain position that might have a little bit more depth at, you'll lean towards that need. But I don't think you want to reach for it. He and his staff have don't an excellent job of being able to listen to our coaching staff's evaluation of our current players that we have and how that dictates and determines how we'll move forward, both on offense and defense and with 'Bones' (Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel) on special teams. And I feel very good about where we're at, collectively, as an organization, going into Thursday."

(On how much of a voice defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has had on determining the defensive needs for the team)

McVay:

"I think it's been excellent. Any time that you have a coach, you talk about being able to have a clear-cut vision. He's been doing it at such a high level for such a long time. He knows what it looks like when you get certain players in his system, and they're able to flourish. His ability to articulate that to (General Manager) Les (Snead) and his staff is something that they've done a great job listening to, and kind of categorizing those guys in the draft with how they would fit. Whether you're a 'Sam' or a 'Will' , or you're a safety or a corner, based on some of the things that I thought our coaching staff defensively did a great job echoing to our members of the personnel staff, just in terms of some of the traits and characteristics that we might value, based on some of those priority calls. Wade is a guy that you definitely want to listen to. I think that's a strength of Les and his staff. You sit in here when we're having these meetings, they're healthy discussions. Nobody is afraid to admit how they see somebody and if there's a disagreement, it never feels uncomfortable. It's more about not who's right, but what's right. When you have everybody working in the same direction, you feel really good about kind of that unified vision that we're striving to have here."

Snead:

"What's great about it is the story, and Wade has got a great experience. And a lot of times, we'll put a lot information on the board, but we'll end up watching some film. As Sean can attest to, a few one-liners that come out of Wade's mouth are brilliant, that we had them written on the board, they've been erased. But, you do know when he likes a player and how he phrases it, it's definitely must-listen. I don't know if you call it must listen TV, but it's must-listen something."

(On if he takes divisional opponents into account when constructing the draft board, in an attempt to match-up with players within the division)

Snead:

"Here's what I'll say. From the standpoint of the board, you try to take, by position, best player to - I don't want call it worst, because the last player on your board is really, really good, all things considered. From a division standpoint, I think we're always aware that, guess what, we want to win that, and that one is the next step. I'll let Sean answer how he handles attacking, if I want to call it, the evil enemies to the west there."

McVay:

"I think it's more about figuring out what's best for us. But certainly, if you've got a guy valued and you see Seattle, San Fran, or Arizona get one of those players, you're thinking, 'Yikes, I don't want to have to see that guy twice a year.' I think those are things that you get into in the season when you start actually preparing. But, you're always aware of what your division opponents acquire in free agency and the draft just based on knowing you'll see them twice a year."

(On if he drafts a player to match0up against a particular player on a divisional opponents' roster)

McVay:

"Absolutely, that definitely is taken into account. When you look at specific match-ups and you feel like this is going to inhibit our ability to compete based on an offensive or defensive match-up. I think that's where those needs become a little more of a priority, knowing that the first goal is always to try win your division, give yourself a chance to play at home in the playoffs. You definitely want to be cognizant and aware of those match-ups."

Snead:

"Here's one from the past. You might've been in Tampa, but I was in Atlanta a lot of years and we were playing the Bucs, and they had (WR) Joe Jurevicius in the slot, and he was just tall. Usually, the slot guys are shorter, quicker guys. All of a sudden, we had this big giant. He was just shredding the division. It probably took us three drafts to find a nickel-corner to match-up with Joe. But, you definitely do that."

McVay:

"He made some big plays in that Super Bowl run they had."

(On what's different about his draft process now that he's the head coach)

McVay:

"The biggest difference is just being in all of the defensive evaluations. It was a great situation set up in Washington. Coach (Jay) Gruden allowed me to be a part of all those offensive evaluations and kind of setting that board and our priorities. Now you're just exposed to the defensive side of the ball. That's where going back to what was asked about Coach Phillips, having somebody of his caliber to be able to offer their expertise and evaluations, in addition to our defensive and offensive staffs. It's been great. It's been an enjoyable process and one that I know we're both looking forward to how things shake out Thursday, and then how that affects the way we go about Friday with being at (No.) 37."

(On the status of CB Trumaine Johnson and seeing how that might affect needs for the draft)

Snead:

"Today he's a Ram. First walk-thru, and then we'll get this minicamp going and it'll go through OTAs, and the plan I mentioned is still the same. It's not necessarily going to affect the draft at all. We'll try to rank the corners from top to bottom. You can always use more than one or two or three good corners. His situation won't affect it, but right now he's a Ram, and we plan to go from there."

McVay:

"He's done a great job. Getting around these players for the first time, starting out in Phase One a couple weeks ago, he's handled himself like a true pro. Great in the meetings - I've been fortunate to sit in a handful of defensive back meetings with (Cornerbacks) Coach (Aubrey) Pleasant and (Safeties) Coach Ejiro (Evero) - his attention to detail, asking great questions. And then you talk to our strength and conditioning staff, the way that he's gone about working. He's a leader and that's what you expect from a top-caliber corner like he is. And we're fortunate to have him."

(On if they are still open to trading Johnson)

Snead:

"No, right now, I think we're more into OTAs and let's see if we can get something done by the end of this thing. That's where we're at right now."

(On what it will look like Thursday night once the first round is over)

Snead:

"I think we've said many times that - I don't want to call it the real work, because the real work has already occurred and is still occurring - but we've said that's going to be the fun time or the most intense time because at that point, right now, we're trying to speculate who may fall to 37. After Thursday night, guess what, 32 are gone - so now you're down to five players. Let's say this, it's going to be foggy on Thursday night when the bell rings, but it'll be a lot clearer when those 32 picks are made. We'll have plans. We'll sit here, I'm sure, a lot, talk about what might occur, the scenarios, who's left, are all of our players left that we're really targeting or just a few. And then I think that will affect the strategy from there."

(On whether this year's draft is deep at the receiver position)

Snead:

"I think they're on to something and I think if I were to put in laymen's terms, I always say this, there's freaks of nature. Maybe, you know, the guy who's in Atlanta and they only come around so often. There's only a few of those on the planet, but I think the way offensives are going now with three and four on the field a lot and each one of those four has a different skillset. Same thing's going on in college football, so I think what it allows you to do is-it is a class with depth, maybe not deep in terms of guys who just tilt the field and defensive coordinators are up at night. But I think where the depth goes is, 'Hey this guy fits this role. This guys, you know, slot. Outside guy. Go deep guy.' Whatever that is, I think that's where, you want call it, the experts are seeing the depth."

(On social media providing a window into looking at a prospect and whether they monitor the social media for some of these prospects)

Snead:

"Definitely. I love these kids. They basically open the book and you don't even have to read it. They put it in pictures for you. So, just go to their Instagram account. You learn a lot, right?"

(On whether they ever see somebody say something or do something on social media that takes guy off the board)

Snead:

"I don't think there's anything that would cause you to take a player off the board for one thing. Now, that might send you on a trail of investigation that you find out other things that might lead to that, but I don't think there's ever one incident especially on that platform. These guys are young, they're having fun for the most part."

McVay:

"Yeah, I just to worry about keeping any eye on our defensive coordinator's twitter. That's it (laughs)."

(On McVay's grandfather and if he had any memories of the draft growing up)

McVay:

"You know when he was still involved in it, I was probably too young to appreciate some of the specifics and being around that. I was living in Atlanta when they were out in San Francisco, but I'll tell you what is a pretty unique, cool thing is just you look at the history and success and the epitome of class-that's a big reason why I was fortunate to get into this business because of the reputation that he was able to establish. You know, they named the draft room after him in San Francisco, which is a pretty cool thing. I owe a lot to my grandfather, but I think more than anything now being able to have those conversations with him, where he's never pushed any information on me. More just been so willing to share, only if I ask. And that's what's been a great resource for me, to kind of be able to utilize him now. He's living up in the Sacramento Bay Area now, but can't really remember anything because I was so young at the time."

(On last minute rumors and how they differentiate whether they are smokescreen comments in the final days leading up to the draft)

Snead:

"That's a great question, if you really got the analytics. It seems like the closer you get to the draft, anything that comes out, I would think would be smokescreen. But you never know. It's also the time of year where, you guys have got a job to do. You all would love to know what's going on behind the curtains and you do a nice job of it and sometimes you find the nugget that's helpful. But there's a lot of information out there. I can tell you it would probably take an entire department to break it all down - what's been said, whether it's aligned and all that. But you try to use every bit of intel that you can get to help you make decisions. And those Instagram pictures - you know when they're best for - is when you have this really embarrassing picture and you bring it up in a meeting with the head coach or something like that - that's when the ammo is really good (laughs)."

(On what they're looking for when going into the draft in terms of player attributes that will help the Rams right now)

McVay:

"I think it's a combination. I think it's specific to the positions. When you look at just both of the styles offensively and defensively and really special teams, that we want to represent - we want to be explosive, we want to attack people. So, I think you're always looking for players that can play fast. Especially skilled guys that can offer the opportunity to create big plays - those guys with the ball in their hands that can make things happen are invaluable. I think defensively, the guys that can get to the quarterback and can cover are at a premium. I know (Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel) 'Bones' would say the same thing with his coverage units and his returners. I think you're always looking for a combination, in an ideal world. But we definitely want to be a team that has some speed and has the ability to create explosive plays and kind of with our attacking mindset, that we hope to see on our tape."

Snead:

"I think from our standpoint, it's up to us and personnel, to find those guys that fit exactly what Sean (McVay) and his coaching staff want and need to go take on the division, win that thing and get to the playoffs. There's a sign right over here (left wall of Rams 'War Room'), the word 'Explosive' is there - kind of a reminder of what we're looking for, a little bit big picture. 'Explosive', I know it's in blue bold. That's one thing I think you'll see and hear a lot of us - on both sides of the ball."

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