Martin Mayhew wraps up Lions' 2014 NFL Draft

Duane Burleson

A look at what Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew had to say about his team's 2014 NFL Draft.

Below is a recap of what Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew had to say following the conclusion of the 2014 NFL Draft. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)

Opening statement: "2014 Draft is concluded. We feel good about the group of guys that we got. We're excited about having these guys here for rookie mini-camp next week, and I'm looking forward to the season."

On if he maintained his ‘best player available' strategy this draft: "Yeah, I think we've done that in the past. We've moved around from time to time in some other drafts and moved up or moved back to draft some guys. But certainly, there were some times when the need matched up with the guy who was on the board. We're happy with the process."

On his impressions of the players selected on the third day: "It was a long way down to those picks at the bottom, the compensatory picks. (Nevin) Lawson is a guy who ran 4.50 at the combine. You put the tape on, this kid can run. He's fast. His play speed is faster than his time speed in the 40 at the combine. He's very productive, solid in man-to-man coverage, very scrappy. (He is) a very competitive kid. When you watch him, he is the kind of corner that I like.

The other fourth-round pick we took was a defensive end, Larry Webster. We visited with him, had a great visit with him. Actually, I was with the Buccaneers when his dad was with the Dolphins. We put that together in my office and figured that out. We used to scrimmage the Dolphins during two-a-days, so I played against his dad. Just a really, really athletic guy, great combine numbers, great workout numbers. (He is) very raw. He obviously played some tight end. He's going to be a defensive end for us. We like him as a pass-rusher on the open side. We're going to play a closed end and open end this year, as you guys may have heard already, so we have an end on the tight end side. He'll be on the closed side. He'll be a bigger, more-physical, Jason Jones-type of guy, you know? And then on the open side, we'll have Ziggy (Ansah) over there, and we think Larry has an opportunity to compete over there as well. So, we're really excited about him. He ran 4.60 in the 40. He's 6-5, 260 pounds, so he's a big, good-looking athlete.

Caraun Reid from Princeton, we visited him at the combine. We felt great about him as a football player. He has some development he can do (from the) Ivy League. He'll be in an NFL program now, NFL training table. We're looking forward to having him on our team and developing him, so we're excited about that.

T.J. Jones was our sixth-round pick. I went to Notre Dame during two-a-days. I was very impressed with him. (He is) a clutch guy, play-maker for them. He converted a lot of third downs. He was a guy they went to in the red area. This is a guy, you know, he's probably going to be, and you can talk to the coaches, I like him as a slot guy running routes, getting separation. I thought he had really good hands and ran really nice routes, really crisp routes. We like him as a football player.

The seventh round was our kicker. Nate Freese, Boston College - He kicked outside his whole career. I think he'd be great in our division. He didn't miss a field goal last year. I think he missed two in 2012 I think, but a very accurate guy. (He is) very consistent, and I visited with him when he came here for his visit. He was not invited to the combine, so we brought him here for a physical. We talked about him in the sixth round and we decided to wait. He was still there in the seventh, so we're glad that we got him."

On selecting defensive players early in today's rounds: "We were targeting some defensive players. We had a list of defensive players when the fourth round started. Some of those guys went. We had a few offensive players there too, but we were leaning defense. We ended up getting two defensive players."

On the range he expects from K Nate Freese: "I think that will take some time to figure out when we get him here and get working with him. Bono (John Bonamego) will get working on his technique and stuff, so we'll see how he does. He's been very consistent and very accurate. He has not been a guy that's booming 58-yard field goals, but these guys develop over time and mature. We'll see how strong his leg gets when he gets here."

On if speed compensates for a shorter cornerback: "I think there are, obviously, corners of different sizes. This guy's (Nevin Lawson) not a tall one. I wasn't a tall one, so it's hard for me to be mad at him for not being tall. But he's a good football player. He's fast, he's got really good cover skills, quick feet. He can accelerate and burst to close on the ball, so he's got ability. I think in the NFL, a lot of times it seems like bigger is always better. At some positions like receiver and corner, sometimes it's better to be a lot quicker and move a lot faster if you're not so tall."

On the depth of the later rounds: "We were excited about the guys that we got. When you start getting into the sixth, seventh rounds we were seeing good players, so the depth was there. It's hard sitting there, especially the whole fourth round and watching that whole round go by because we liked a lot of those guys, and then see them getting drafted. There were still good guys in the fourth, fifth round."

On if he would have considered signing Missouri DE Michael Sam: "I think I'm going to treat him like every other player. He got drafted by somebody, so he's on someone else's roster right now and I wouldn't comment on anyone else's situation."

On having the extra two weeks before the Draft: "Once you get going, it's just a draft. The process is high-energy and you're talking about different guys and we're putting up video of different players and talking through different options at each pick, so I don't think it had any impact."

On the draft picks having special teams experience: "We took a lineman (DE Larry Webster) and Kyle (Van Noy) will be a starter and will be more of a limited role on special teams. We didn't really get that full-core special teams guy in this draft, but free agency undrafted free agents, we may end up with a couple guys there. I think (Nevin) Lawson can play a role on special teams, but we got quite a few linemen and a kicker."

On looking for a ‘closer': "I don't think that was theme in our draft meeting. Well, you look at the guys that we've got like Kyle Van Noy has made some plays to finish games out and win games at the end. T.J. Jones is that same type of player, and Caraun Reid, obviously playing Ivy League ball, made some big plays in fourth quarters of games. You watch tape and you want guys that can do that for you. That's going to be a big part of what we're trying to do this year, getting that extra first down, it's getting that third down stop when we have to have it. It's rising up in those pressure situations and making those plays, and that's what really cost us last year, I thought."

On the possibility of drafting a quarterback: "We talked about that throughout the process. A number of times we had quarterbacks in the conversation and then we see that they weren't there. We put some names up and by the time we got ready to pick, those guys were gone. It was a consideration this draft."

On how their board matched up with other boards throughout the NFL: "That's the process. That's what it is for everybody. You have to make decisions about moving up, moving back, staying where you are. You're counting players to see if you're going to have a guy at your spot. If you don't, you want to go back. I think everybody goes through that and that's what makes the draft interesting and makes you guys follow it and fans follow it. You see who can move around and get the guys who they want and what not. It's always like that. It's hard for me to describe exactly what it feels like. It's frustrating when you have a guy that you want and he's not there. And you feel great when you wait on a guy, like we did on Freese, and then he ends up being there."

On if there is any connection to getting multiple players from the same schools over the years (Oklahoma, BYU): "Just pure coincidence I think, honestly. There's no method to it. Just sometimes it happens like (that). I don't know who the last BYU guy was before Ziggy - was it Luke Staley or somebody like that? Sometimes you go a long time without having one and then all of the sudden you get two or three."

On whether there are still free agent playmakers available this late in the offseason: "Yeah, it's never easy. It wasn't easy to find those guys last year, but we'll be looking and we'll find them. We've done it before. That's what we do. We never stop looking and we'll keep finding talent."

On the personnel department's success with finding good defensive players: "A lot of credit goes to other people in the department. Sheldon White is obviously very involved; Charlie Sanders, Brian Xanders, we have a whole bunch of people looking... Cedric Saunders. We're always trying to find them. If you're looking long enough and hard enough, you're going to find good players and we keep doing that. We'll be okay. We've got time to add some more talent to our team, defensively and offensively. We'll keep looking for players to help us win games."

On this being the first draft with this coaching staff: "It was very smooth. Those guys did an outstanding job. Our entire coaching staff - the guys that were here before and the new coach did a phenomenal job and worked very hard, especially on this free agency eighth round that we're finishing up right now. Making calls, looking at film, ranking their players- They did a lot of work on this. Our college scouts did an outstanding job as well as I said before. Scott McEwen should be getting kudos for the hard work that he's done for us. It was a team effort. Everybody worked very hard to make it happen and we're looking forward to getting these guys here and seeing how these guys do."

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