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Quotes: GM Joe Schoen and Coach Brian Daboll, S Tyler Nubin, CB Andru Phillips

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General Manager Joe Schoen and Head Coach Brian Daboll

BRIAN DABOLL: So just before we start, Korey Cunningham, our thoughts and prayers are with his family. You know, not much to add to it. Just unfortunate circumstances that happened, and it’s tough. Tough on the coaches. Tough on the players. And we’re just praying for everybody involved.

Q. Can you talk about the safety in the second round, there was a big run on cornerbacks.

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, there was.

Q. I’m sure you noticed that.

JOE SCHOEN: There was but we were very, very fortunate to get (Tyler) Nubin there, a guy that we spent a lot of time with. He had an injury. We went out to his pro day when he was healthy to see him out there. Obviously losing X in the off-season, to get Nubin at that value, a guy with high character, leadership, smart, tough, dependable, and then the 13 career interceptions. Just a good football player. Culture changer at the University of Minnesota and he’s going to bring that type of mentality here, and I think that will come out tomorrow when you guys meet with him and spend some time with him. Just a really special kid that’s a good football player.

Q. A bunch of teams traded up to get corners?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, there were.

Q. Was that ever a consideration for you?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, there were enough players there that we liked, and where we are, again, we have needs throughout the draft. And we were able to get a corner in round three that works out about as well in (Dru) Phillips.

Q. The top safety pick, the first safety, what separated him from some of the other guys?

JOE SCHOEN: I would say that he takes the ball away. 13 career interceptions. He’s a ball hawk. To me, the leadership, the character, the smarts, safety, the ability to communicate out there. To get guys to lined up I think is very important, and this kid is elite at those types of things.

Q. You mentioned the 13 interceptions a couple of times. Phillips had zero interceptions which stands out on the other end.

Q. Why is that not a concern, and what does he do well to make up for it?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, it is and some of these guys that are 5-11, 200, run 4-4 would be playing receivers if they had really good ball skills unfortunately. But no, I mean, he’s sticky. He’s in terms of coverage, he’s around the football a lot. And watching him down in the senior Bowl on one-on-ones, he has a lot of traits and those are things we are going to work on. He’s in position, but he just has to finish a little bit better. But I really like the athlete, like the kid, look forward to him getting here. Told Wan’Dale, he’s got to be ready for practice because Dru said he was going to be locking him up. That will be good competition there.

Q. Do you view him as a slot corner?

JOE SCHOEN: He can play both. He’s got the versatility to play inside, and outside. But we have options because Flott can play inside, and outside as well. If he goes inside, Flott can go outside or vice-versa. The versatility is also attractive for all these guys with the new defense.

Q. Sounds like you’ll begin with him in the slot.

JOE SCHOEN: Most likely. I’ve leave that up to Dabs and his staff. We have options with him being able to play both and with Flott being able to do both.

Q. Playing sort of the opposite with Flott, do you plan to start him on the outside?

BRIAN DABOLL: We just drafted this young man. So, we’ll figure all that stuff out when we get into practice. We’ll be able to play both those guys at different spots and see how it all unfolds.

Q. Coming into the Draft, cornerback, and safety would have been looked at as your bigger needs. Taking these guys, does that preclude you from still adding in free agency after the Draft?

JOE SCHOEN: No. We still can. I think continuing to add depth throughout the roster is important, and again, there was — when we picked in the second, there was, gosh, there were probably five or six players that we liked, and you know, a guy goes — you can’t take them all, unfortunately.

I wish we could, but we were able to get a good football player, and that’s the most important thing, and we’re excited about Nubin.

Q. Four years ago, this franchise, not you, drafted Xavier in the second round. Is this almost getting a younger, cheaper version of him or just the position value kind of thing?

JOE SCHOEN: Younger and cheaper, yes. This young man has not played a snap in the league yet, so he’ll come here. He’ll compete. We still have some guys in the safety room that we like and he’ll have to come and earn his spot but we like the young man. He’s a good football player, and again, he’s got a lot of dominant traits in his play.

Q. Was there any consideration to quarterback in round two or three?

JOE SCHOEN: We took the best player at both spots. The way it fell, the two guys we took were the best guys at that time.

Q. Nubin said that he played most of the year, or six games with a meniscus. You mentioned last night how you liked the toughness of Neighbors with the shoulder. I don’t want to say that’s a trend but that kind of toughness for you what did that mean for both of you guys?

BRIAN DABOLL: I’d say the college scouts, Joe, and his staff, have done a really good job of identifying these traits that we covet. Toughness being probably near the top. And all three of the players that we’ve acquired so far, really fit that mold in terms of, I’d say mentally tough and physically tough. I think that’s important. Defensively, tough tacklers. You know, Dru, he’ll bring the wood now. And Malik’s mentality, how he is, and then you guys talked to Tyler. Both Tyler and Dru, were pretty emotional when we called them. They care about the game. They have the right mindset, and it’s a credit to our college scouts, Joe, and his staff, for really identifying some of those traits and we’re happy to have both of them.

Q. There was a burglary arrest in Phillips’ background that got dismissed. I think the teammates even filed a lawsuit after. What did you learn about that in your research?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, there’s nothing there for him. You guys can read up on it but he was cleared and yeah, there was a lawsuit eventually after that. So yeah, we’re good with all that.

Q. Do you think the knee during the season may have slowed down and changed how Nubin played maybe if he was a hundred percent healthy?

JOE SCHOEN: I’m sure it was bothering him at some point during the season but again that’s the way the kid’s wired. You had the question about the injury, and again, it’s a long season, 17 games and training camp. These guys are all playing through nics and dings and whatever it may be. So it’s a testament to the kid’s character and toughness to play through that stuff because it’s going to happen here. It wasn’t a light injury. He was in some pain. So just the fact that he wanted to be out there his last year at Minnesota and not let his teammates down, I think that’s a testament to who the kid is.

Q. You have a new defensive coordinator, how much is what his vision for what he wants to manifest in these two players?

BRIAN DABOLL: I’d say that Shane (Bowen) has done a really good job along with the defensive staff of identifying the players that fit what we want to do, communicating with Joe and his staff, and like I’ve said, they have done a great job of putting people out there that we think can help us on both sides of the ball.

Q. From a scouting perspective, was there anything different you were kind of looking for for secondary players in these guys with Shane and the new defense?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, I would say that –

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, probably less man, not as much press. But still the versatility piece I think came up multiple times, whether it was if we would not have gotten a corner in the third, well, okay, Dane Belton has versatility, J-Pinn (Jason Pinnock), Tyler, like how can those guys play, (Isaiah) Simmons. The versatility and the chess pieces, I think Shane is going to do a good job moving those guys around. The versatility piece came up multiple times in our meetings.

Q. The Panthers traded up right in front of you in the second round for a running back. Do you think they thought you were thinking running back there?

JOE SCHOEN: I’m not sure. I’m really tight with Dan. Dan Morgan is one of my best friends in the world. We didn’t talk much about that. They called us, as well, so it was like, hey, would you maybe want to move back? I don’t know if he just got antsy. In some of those situations, it’s not always just us. Maybe other teams are trying to trade up with the team from us. So you don’t know, when you find somebody you like and you want to go get them and they are within range, you try to pull the trigger. I’m not sure if he thought we might do that or not.

Q. Were you contemplating running back at all today, and is it something you would like to fill at least at some point in this draft?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, again, just the amount of needs on the roster, we were looking across the board. Again, we were taking the best player available the first three days and that will shift. Maybe if there’s a safety, we like in the fourth round, maybe you look a different direction or if it’s — maybe receiver, so you kind of adjust your board as you — based on who you’ve picked before. So yeah, we won’t rule that out.

Q. Didn’t ask this last night, but did picking neighbors impact Darius’s stats? He’s in an unsettled spot. Does that make him more apt to be traded?

JOE SCHOEN: No, again, we’ve already paid a roster bonus. He had one that kicked in the fifth day of the league year, and you look at the P5, where that is, and you want to look at the production from last year to this year and you take all those things into account. Us drafting Malik Neighbors doesn’t affect where we are on that.

Q. What do you like about your defense now after the moves you’ve made?

JOE SCHOEN: I know the players that are under contract for more than one year. So again, Dexter is under contract. His contract status. Burns is for five years. Kayvon for three. Okereke for another three, Tae Banks for four, and just got Nubin for four years. You’ve got a young core group of players that will be able to be together for — and again, I know people want instant gratification, but it takes time to build this, and then over time, you have guys that are able to create continuity because they play together year over year. It was something we experienced in Buffalo. By the time we left, some of those guys had been playing together for four years in the same exact scheme, same defense, and playing together. I think that’s important from communication and just being on the same page when you’re playing as 1/11 and everybody knowing their job. I’m excited about the young core that we have together and the guys that are under contract for multiple years and even guys that may only have a year left that potentially we can extend down the road. But I do think we have pieces in place that I like that are going to be together for a couple of years here.

Q. Have you had any further clarification on Darren, whether he’s coming back or —

JOE SCHOEN: No, nothing’s changed there. We’re still giving him space and when he’s ready to make a decision, we’ll have those conversations.

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