Rams Head Coach Sean McVay and General Manager Les Snead Draft Day 2 Press Conference

 

Rams Head Coach Sean McVay and General Manager Les Snead – Media Availability – April 30, 2021

 

(Opening Statement)

Snead: “It was obviously fun to get rolling again, drafting, and maneuvering a little bit, trying to find some football players to help us. I think we were able to accomplish that tonight. Where we were picking, there was an element of waiting and letting the draft come to you a little bit because if you want to call it – there was a lot of ‘enemies’ in front of us that made decisions for us, but we were jacked the way it turned out and we’re jacked to add a fourth rounder for tomorrow and have three in round four.”

 

(On the trade with the 49ers)

Snead: “It is interesting. It’s not game day, so I guess it’s kosher to trade within the division (laughs). I think at that point in time, we did feel like moving back then, we felt like some of our favorite players would fall to (No.) 103 and it did work out because we would’ve picked (LB) Ernest (Jones) at (No.) 88 and we were able to land him at 103. So being able to add another fourth rounder and have three tomorrow, we felt like was a positive thing for the Rams.”

 

(On similarities of WR Tutu Atwell and WR DeSean Jackson)

McVay: “I think first of all, (WR) DeSean (Jackson) is a great player that’s been producing at a high level for a long, long time. I think he’s one of the all-time great deep threats, but he’s a great football player that provides so much value. So, we’re excited about having DeSean. That’s a huge compliment, that’s big shoes to fill, but I think there’s some similarities in terms of the ability to stretch the top shelf of the coverage. I think he really does an excellent job of tracking the ball effortlessly down the field. You know, one of the things that I think makes DeSean so special is just how quieted he remains in his lower half when the ball goes in the air and where he can go find it. You see some similarities, now DeSean’s been doing it for a long, long time. I like the competitiveness of (WR) Tutu (Atwell). I like everything that he stands for, the explosiveness, play-making ability. So, we’re excited about being able to add him to a really deep group when you talk about (WR) Robert (Woods), (WR) Cooper (Kupp) and you guys know how much I love (WR) Van Jefferson. So to be able to add another guy that can make plays in that room is a big-time get for us and being able to put players around (QB) Matthew (Stafford) was an important thing for us”

 

(On if Atwell has the traits for a punt returner)

McVay: “Yeah, I think it’s an option. The best way to evaluate is the opportunities and I think he has a lot of the skills that you would like to say project well. Tracking punts in live action, making those decisions, and then being able to create – once the ball is in your hands that’s usually pretty natural for a lot of those guys, but there is a specific, skilled, nuanced skill set that guys possess as returners. He has some of the things that project, but not a whole lot of experience there.”

 

(On Atwell’s size)

McVay: “I think that’s what it is. I see a player that plays a lot bigger than that. I’ve been around some of these guys that don’t measure as big, but they play big. He seems like a friendly target on those intermediate and down-the-field routes. I think he does an excellent job of playing big where he’s going up, I see him high point some balls down the field. I think that’s where we always talk about the tape guides our decision-making. You don’t want to be naive to the facts of some of the overall stature and size, but I’ve been around a lot of guys that have measured the same and different guys play big. (Texans WR) Brandin Cooks is supposedly a smaller player and I know he’s a lot stronger and more physical, but he plays big down the field and so we hope that TuTu does those same things. DeSean, I think that’s a fair comp. That is a big, major comp when you talk about what DeSean has done. I’m a big fan of those guys that might be small, but they do play big and are they friendly targets for the quarterback? And that’s what we see in TuTu.”

 

(On why there’s a portrait of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in the draft room)

McVay: “You know what, it looks good. It’s a good picture. I don’t know. I did not choose it, but I did like the picture and maybe (General Manager) Les (Snead) planted it when he got COVID (laughs).”

 

Snead: “It was in the (Australian actress) Rebel Wilson video.”

 

McVay: “Oh, see, in my Rebel Wilson video shoot she wasn’t even here, I was talking to nobody (laughs).”

 

(On if they know who they are looking to draft in the fourth round)

Snead: “We do have a list of players, but I think what we’ll do between now – because really we were working somewhat off of a board with second and third rounders. Now we’ll probably have to go add a few players to the list tomorrow. So, we’ll refine it over the next however many hours it is and determine where we’re at, who we picked, what we might need and things like that. It gets fun when you are at that part of the draft where there’ll be a lot of position coaches fighting for different players, just because you only have –  I think we got three (picks) in the fourth and maybe a six and a seven, so we have to figure it out.”

 

(On how they are communicating with each other during the draft)

McVay: “We are in constant communication, whether it’s us talking on the phone or having a video conference up that allows us to kind of consistently communicate. He did a great job today, you see the hard work that’s been put in by Les and his group, and then really our coaches as well, where you ended up with two players that we all really felt strongly about. I think the value where you end up being able to acquire a player like Ernest Jones is something that we felt really, really good about and then looking forward to attacking tomorrow the right way. Being able to pick up those two early fourths, I think it puts us in a really good position when you talk about how early you get to pick and you get a day to kind of really get everything together and get your thoughts and everything aligned. I think tomorrow is going to be another good day for us.”

 

(On what stood out about LB Ernest Jones) 

Snead: “You always have, when you start evaluating these players, if you want to call it, your favorite football players and I stress the word football, because he’s such an instinctive player, figures it out in there. It’s a tough little area to play behind the box there, especially nowadays with what Sean and the coordinators are doing, the jet motions and all the stuff going on, so things happen fast. He’s just got that knack to go find the ball, avoid blockers. He’s got some interesting traits where he’s a longer-armed human being, so that allows him to blitz, use his hands to probably bat those longer tackles, those arms down and get the QB. He’s tough to throw over. He’s really, really sound in zone coverage and has made some picks. I call it with guys with longer arms, it’s just tough to shoot over them as a QB. But I would say a fun football player because it’s just one of those guys, whether you draft them or not, make sure you watch him, because he’s just got a knack for going to find the football and one of our top leaders, probably rated No. 1 and there’s some guys that would have tied him. We’ve got this rating system that we rate potential leaders and he’s just one of those kids you pull for. He’s got those special traits, so I look forward to working with him.”

 

McVay: “Yeah, same type of thing. I think he’s got a great presence about himself. I thought it was really helpful too, our scouts’ background, but then also (Assistant Head Coach/Running Backs Coach) Thomas Brown, our assistant head coach, he had been with him at South Carolina, could really attest to the type of leader that he is, the communicator, the competitor. We started hearing our scouts and coaches talk about the comparisons and then you just watch the play energy and the way he brings it, everybody kind of elevates them around him. Those are things that we’re really excited about, being able to get him in the building and get to work with him and seeing what he provides for that inside linebacker group, where a lot of guys have got a lot of great production and playing time last year for the first time in their careers.”

(On the depth of the wide receiver room and how that will aid QB Matthew Stafford moving forward)

McVay: “Yeah, I think it will be a big deal. To be able to surround him with playmakers, keeping guys fresh. We have some really important players at that receiver group that have played a significant amount of snaps, but I think it’s important to be able to keep them fresh throughout the course of games and then also the season, playing 17 games and hopefully you give yourself an (opportunity) to compete afterwards, but the more weapons you can surround yourself with offensively, especially around a player like (QB) Matthew Stafford, that’s really important to us. I think what we’ve got is a great complement, guys that have different skill sets, but really valuable skill sets, almost as if you’re looking at it, when you got your five eligibles, it’s kind of like a basketball starting lineup to be able to really stretch people horizontally, vertically, and can kind of threaten people in a bunch of different ways. When you have a quarterback that can really activate all those parts of the field with the ability he has as a thrower, that was something that we wanted to be intentional about going in and attacking and TuTu definitely brings that as did (WR) DeSean (Jackson) and those two additions to our already solid group is exciting.”

(On how much they look into character when drafting players)

McVay: “Yeah, it’s huge. I think that’s a really important part of it. I think when you look at our guys, I think you can attest to this from covering us, we’ve got quality people. I think you want to find guys that have the ability, but they’re also wired the right way above the neck. We talk about the football character with the accountability and the coachability. I think if you don’t love football and you’re not about the right kind of stuff, day in and day out, you stick out like a sore thumb amongst our group of men that we have in our locker room and that’s definitely a big part of it. I think these two guys will fit in really well with the already really great group that we have.”

 

Snead: “One thing when you vet these two young men, passion for football always comes up. They love football. They’re the types that can’t live without it types, future coach types, football’s their North Star for good or for bad. But as we all know, when you’re passionate about something, that’s your North Star, usually it works out, but when you vet these two guys, you get that a lot.”

 

(On Atwell becoming an understudy of Jackson) 

McVay: “I think it’s a great opportunity. I think TuTu has a unique opportunity to do is, to come in and learn from really some great veterans that have produced at a high level. He’s going to get a chance to come in and compete and add depth to a great group. How big that role is, is up to him. We’re looking forward to seeing what he does. But you talk about being able to have great representations of what it looks like day in and day out to be a pro in this league. Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and being around DeSean are excellent mentors. And like I keep talking about it, I think that the ceiling is very high, and I think the future is so bright for Van Jefferson as well.”

 

(On if Jones will have a chance to start right away) 

McVay: “I think it’s about competing. Kevin. I think both of these guys, we saw tremendous value of being able to contribute to our football team that already has really a lot of depth. Like we mentioned earlier, think when you look at that inside linebacker group, kind of similar to our offensive line a couple of years ago, we had a lot of young players playing that gained valuable experience that really mattered. You look at (LB) Micah Kaiser getting the first opportunity to play snaps, what (LB) Kenny (Young) was able to do. (LB) Troy Reeder just stepped in and did his thing, getting a guy in (LB) Travin Howard, that we have a lot of confidence in coming back off of IR. Then you add Ernest Jones to the mix. That’s an exciting possibility for what that group can be a behind Raheem and Chris Shula’s leadership. We’re excited to add him to the mix. And again, what these guys’ role ends up becoming is a result of what they do when they come in and compete and if they earn it.”

 

(On how the day went for Snead and where he’s at) 

Snead: “It’s a garage, slash home office, slash weight room to my left, slash a lot of things happen in this garage. But it’s pretty cool. I ended up after the draft last year, when we basically went remote, what have you, I enjoy working out here just because I can open the door’s here and you kind of get that outdoor living, Southern Cal, enjoy the weather. But that’s where I’m at in the garage.”

 

McVay: “He looks too good to be having COVID, he’s faking it, man. He just wanted to stay at home and do his deal that he did last year. He looks too healthy to have COVID right now (laughs).”

 

(On if last year impacted the ability to draft from home and if he had any glitches today) 

Snead: “Last year probably propelled us to doing the Draft House per se, right? You knew you could take the show on the road from a technology standpoint. Now our IT group, they may vote against the Draft House, just cause they’re the ones that carry the load, so I give them credit too, because there was an element of an audible in that when Sean and I came in close contact early in the week, we knew we were going to be testing daily, and you know you were one strike away from all of the sudden, not only were setting up the Draft House, but also my garage per se, so give those guys credit. But I mean, just as we’re talking now, this is probably how Sean and myself chat and a few others during the draft, we’re talking about players, we’re watching the boards, we both got the same computer, so it’s about as close to being in the same room as possible. I appreciate y’all asking me, how I feel. I can tell you I’m not a huge pain, I call it medication person. When I say pain medication, Advil. So yesterday right before the draft, I took my dosage of Advil and felt really good. So today, I woke up and I knew I had the virus and what I did was go, ‘Okay. Let me, let me time out.’ I’m going to take two doses of Advil before the draft instead of just one. I schedule, my day, I’m going to feel bad up until I think it was about 11 or 12, and then at 12 took some Advil and started feeling good. So, I’m fortunate in that way.”

 

(On if he feels like he can get more creative on offense with Atwell and the offseason moves) 

McVay: “I think the biggest thing I would say is that we were able to add guys that bring an elite trade in terms of the ability to stretch the top-shelf of the defense. That’s not exclusive to the ways that you can utilize these guys, but we do want to become a more explosive offense. It starts with opportunities and I’ve got to be able to call those plays and give our players to make those plays down the field, or really create them. And it’s not exclusive to having to catch the ball down the field. You can get run after catches and things like that, but we do feel like these guys are nice complements to an already really good group that we had in place. I think their skill sets are great complements to the groups that we have when you look at the running backs, the tight ends and the already solid group of receivers. So how many different ways can we activate and really put pressure on the defense with our five eligibles and ultimately play really well as a unit collectively, all 11. And so those two guys, definitely we have a vision for them and then their ability to make it come to life is something that we’re looking forward to see.”

 

(On if Atwell is an insurance policy against DeSean Jackson’s injury history)

McVay: “I wouldn’t necessarily say that. I think it was just a player that we really like, when you look at it and you go back to Les’ work with his group and (Director of Scouting Strategy) James (Gladstone) and so many of our scouts that do an outstanding job – they had identified him as a guy that that could provide value. But there’s no limit on the amount of guys that you have that have that skill set in terms of being able to threaten the defense vertically. He was the guy that we felt good about. I think the receiver position was something that we anticipated potentially using a pick on fairly early with the picks that we did have TuTu was a player that we felt good about. But we’re optimistic and we’re hopeful that DeSean will stay healthy as well, because he has the production when he’s on the field, the way that he can contribute is something that we were really excited about adding him and hopefully we’ll avoid some of those kind of freak injuries that he’s sustained that kept them off the grass the last couple of years.”

 

Snead: “If I add anything, I think what’s interesting is like a lot of questions, right? Right after the season, I know a lot of y’all on this call asked about, ‘Hey, do we need if you want to call it, deep threat, probably meant fast.’ So, we identified TuTu and a few other receivers in this draft. Like they had like this rare, unique ability to explode off the ball and keep running fast the longer the down went. But that doesn’t happen every year, some years it’s a big receiver group. But this draft did have few receivers that we’re going to probably measure up near the top in terms of that, if you want to call it, that speed, that juice, that deep threat we were all talking about the season. So, it was one like, all right, whether you have DeSean or not you better attack while you can because it might be a couple drafts before you get a few of those guys.”