LIONS EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF FOOTBALL OPERATIONS AND GENERAL MANAGER MARTIN MAYHEW
Opening statement: "Alright, Devin Taylor. You know, I talked to you guys yesterday about one of our goals coming in was to get bigger and to get more athletic. I think Devin's the guy who actually does that for us. You know, 6-7, 270 pounds, three-year starter in the SEC at South Carolina. Really had a phenomenal East-West game and coaches had an opportunity to spend some time with him. We think he's going to be a good addition for us on the defensive line."
On why it has been important to get bigger on both lines: "Well, as I talked about it before, the NFC North. You're talking about going and playing at Chicago, playing at Green Bay, playing Minnesota with their running game. So, it's just an area that really showed up a little bit over the last couple years where we need to make some improvement."
On adding big defensive ends in the Draft and free agency: "No, that was by design. We talked about that with our coaching staff and spoke at length with some of our guys about those guys being able to make more plays. Actually, I think Gun (Cunningham) did a study on that, on sacks and arm length and height. So, it was something that we were kind of focused on. I'm not saying we wouldn't have taken a guy who wasn't 6-7, but we like what those guys bring to the table."
On how not having big defensive ends can hurt you: "Well, I mean, I just think it's important now in today's NFL. I mean, especially having to go play at Minnesota, at Chicago with their run game. I think it's important for us to be able to match up with those guys size-wise."
On the fourth-round Draft trade: "Well, just moving down. We looked at our board, we thought the opportunity to go back and pick up one more pick would be good for us. We still have a lot of guys that we like in the draft in the later rounds. So, it was an opportunity to get one more player in the draft."
On if Michigan QB Denard Robinson was on his list: "Yeah, he's a very talented guy. He plays for another team right now. He's a very talented guy. We like him a lot."
LIONS HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ
On if Taylor is more of a left or right end: "He can play both. You know, he's 6-7, he's 270 pounds, runs real fast. He's a 4.6-type guy. This is a guy that was a state triple jump champ in South Carolina and for a defensive end, that's pretty rare. Got on the field pretty early with South Carolina. He's had a good productive career with them. Like Martin (Mayhew) said, he's kind of saved his best for last. He played really well at the East-West against good competition. Those were all good things, but we don't really niche him as a right or left. You know, he can affect the passer a lot of different ways."
On if he creates good competition at the defensive end position right now: "Yeah, no question. You know the way we play. We use a lot of those guys. We want starters on the field, but even backups there it's not like O-line or quarterback where you're playing in case of an injury. We get those guys a lot of time and there will be opportunities for those guys to get on the field for us."
On having defensive ends with long arms: "There's definitely that dynamic. I was a pretty good bench presser, but my arms are pretty short. Just go look at the best bench pressers and they're all short-armed guys. You know, it's a function of how far you have to move it. But those same long arms help him (Taylor) to ward off blockers. And also, when he does get blocked in the pass game, he's able to knock passes down. I mean, we've got a good chance to lead the NFL in rebounding with some of the guys we're putting out there."
On making the lines bigger and stronger this offseason: "Well, I mean, bigger, better, stronger, better, faster, better. That's no secret. You always want to do that. When you have opportunities, you need to be able to take advantage of them. Not that smaller guys can't be productive, not that guys that don't time well can't be productive, but when you can combine both of them, I think you're definitely going to take advantage of that. We've seen a couple real tall guys affect the passer against us. So, I think that dynamic played into it also. You know, you see the youths that some other guys have had with some guys like that. I think it also matches well with some of the other players that we already have on the roster, particularly, our two defensive tackles."
On if the team's previous two defensive ends were too small: "Like I said, there are all kinds of guys that are successful at a lot of different sizes. I wouldn't say that was any part of. We weren't drafting these guys as a reaction to the guys that we've had in the past because we drafted Willie (Young) a couple years ago and he has that height and long arms. There just aren't very many opportunities to get those kind of guys. Again, there are a lot of guys that are successful and can be productive. But we want to take advantage of the times that we did have chances there."
On having more emphasis of disrupting passes with having a bigger defensive end: "Yeah, I think it's just a byproduct of that length. I mean, we're not starting off our pass rush drills with getting our hands up. I mean, you're not going to sack the quarterback very much if the first thing you're going to do is think about knocking passes down. But it is a byproduct of it. It's also a byproduct of when you're engaged in a block that you can reach over and still make a tackle. You can still affect the play."
On losing the leadership on the defensive line with Avril and Vanden Bosch gone: "Yeah, I think that needs to be organic. It needs to grow itself. You can't force that. You can't appoint somebody. You can't put a hat on somebody and say he's the new leader. Those guys were leaders because of who they were, not because anybody put a C on their chest or did anything else. We have some very good leaders on the team. We've mentioned that it was important for us to get Nate Burleson back. Nate brings a lot of those things. But how that develops is going to be through our offseason program, through training camp, through the course of a season. That's where leaders are developed. It's nothing that a coach says or anybody else. You can't appoint captains. They have to develop on their own."
On if Taylor should have had better production in college playing off of DE Jadeveon Clowney: "You can look at it any way you want. I mean, Clowney a lot of time he could sack the quarterback before anybody else could get there. He didn't leave a whole of table scraps. You could say that. I don't want to go way out here with a comparison, but how come whoever, Scottie Pippen couldn't score more when Michael Jordan was scoring all those points? I mean, it's just a dynamic there. He was All-SEC as a sophomore. He's second all-time at South Carolina in tackles for losses. He even played as a true freshman. He split time with another player, Clifton Gathers, and I think he even got All-Freshman SEC and stuff like that. So, he's had a good, productive career. You can't judge him based on the other guy even though a lot of times when you watch, you do notice the other guy quite a bit."
On linemen from the SEC: "I mean, it's certainly a place that you want to look for players and a lot of them have been drafted the last couple of years. But every player's on their own. You don't just draft a guy because of the conference he's in. You draft a guy because of who he is and how he fits the job you have for him."