Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Rick Smith
Head Coach Bill O'Brien
RB Tyler Ervin Conference Call
S K.J. Dillon Conference Call
DT D.J. Reader Conference Call
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF FOOTBALL OPERATIONS AND GENERAL MANAGER RICK SMITH
HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN
Why was it significant for you guys to get faster on offense in the draft this year?
Bill O’Brien: “You know, one of the things we did, and you’ve heard me say this a bunch, is right after the season we sat down and we evaluated our team. Rick (Smith) and I sat down and that takes a lot of time, then based on that that’s how you start the strategy of the free agency period and the draft period. I think one of the things we identified while we were evaluating our team was how can we become a little faster, a little bit more athletic in certain areas? I think that’s a goal that we had, but that wasn’t the only goal. Obviously with the drafting of D.J. Reader, we’re not drafting a guy that runs a 4.3 40 there, but it was part of the strategy heading into the offseason and give Rick and his guys a lot of credit. They really identified a lot of guys that fit that mold.”
Take us through the three picks today.
Rick Smith: “Well the first young man out of San Jose State is another dynamic player. Again, if there’s a theme to the draft, I think it’s adding dimensions, adding speed, that kind of thing, and he is a very versatile player, a young man that has some return ability, but actually dual-return ability in the sense that he could do some punts and maybe even kickoff, so he’ll be in that mix of guys that will be competing for that as well. The versatility aspect of what he adds was what was attractive to us for him. Then the second two picks, we did a lot of work on the West Virginia safeties, both those guys, and we liked both those guys and really (K.J.) Dillon was a player who really took over that secondary when the other young man went down and he’s just an aggressive player. He’s got some dual ability to come down in the box and also play in space. He’s got some coverage ability, really competitive high energy type of player so we really like his skill set and like his playing temperament. Then the big nose is a really good scheme fit, high-character young man, a really aggressive player. If you watch those last few games this year, he really has the ability to dominate and really play at a high level. We think both those two later picks are good value picks for us.”
Bill, if you had to start tomorrow and play a game who’s the right defense end?
Bill O’Brien: “Well we don’t have to play a game tomorrow, so that’s a hypothetical. We have a lot of candidates. We have a number of guys on the defensive line job that are versatile guys that can play defensive end, that can play nose, so there’s a number of guys. I’m not going to list the names. I think that’s something that we start to think about as we head into the first week of Phase Two. Monday is the first day we can actually go out on the field and work with our guys. There are a number of different things that we’re going to look at, and we’ve really had a good weekend here and we’ll begin that process of putting it all together on the 90-man roster when the rookies get here. Lot of moving parts right now and we’re looking forward to Monday and getting going.”
This is the first time since 2002 the Texans have gone with offensive players in the first four rounds, can you talk about the focus on offense and why it was important?
Rick Smith: “Well I think a lot of it has to do with what Bill (O’Brien) articulated with respect to how we looked at our football team and some of the goals that we had going into the offseason. That had something to do with, again I talked last night about how the draft, some of it is just how the board falls. We were fortunate to be in multiple positions where we had guys that we really liked at the corresponding values. We were able to take those guys and they spoke to the intent that we were looking for with respect with trying to get faster. That’s really what it’s about. It was something that we were wanting to try to add to our football team and were fortunate that at those places where we took those players, that they were available.”
You guys have a lot of guys who have overcome a lot, K.J. Dillon with diabetes and D.J. Reader’s dad passing away, what does that say about players who can overcome personal adversity?
Bill O’Brien: “There’s a number of guys that, really that’s one thing that’s struck me about a number of guys even in the last three drafts that I’ve been involved in is how many guys are out there that have really been able to overcome adversity and mature and grow. I think you see good examples of that in our draft class. Every one of these guys has faced adversity at some point in time during their college career whether it was brought on by themselves or something that happened with their family, whatever it might be, an illness like you said, and I think all these guys have that trait of being able to overcome adversity and be better for it. They’ve all matured and I think they’re all excited about being here.”
A lot has been said about speed but what about versatility?
Bill O’Brien: “That’s one thing that you guys know that we talk about all the time on the 53-man roster and really eventually looking towards the 46-man roster on game day which we’re way away from that but you have to have guys that have versatility, because if you have one-hole players at a number of positions that’s a difficult thing if somebody were to get injured or there was something that you had to make a move during the game, the versatile player is somebody that really helps you out a lot whether it’s a receiver or a defensive lineman or an offensive lineman or so on and so forth, so versatility with a number of these positions is important to us.”
Having QB Brock Osweiler and all this speed now, how can it change your offense?
Bill O’Brien: “Yeah, that’s something we really have planned for. Just looking at the candidates that we may draft before the draft started. We really had a good plan for a number of different guys that if they were there and Rick (Smith) decided to draft them, then we had plans for these guys. We have a lot of things we have to work on tomorrow, really starting tomorrow to get ready for Monday. But especially next week getting ready for when the rookies get here for Rookie Minicamp because we have a number of different guys that we’ve added now this weekend that make our offense a lot different in a number of different ways. Then there’s certain parts of our offense that will be the same. I’m talking about personnel groups. I’m talking about scheme. I’m talking about the whole thing. We’ve got a lot of plans that we’ve already discussed and now were able to focus in on the ones that were going to use on the players that we drafted.”
Does not having a sixth or seventh round pick help you with college free agents?
Rick Smith: “Well, obviously, we’re restricted to what we can do until the draft is over. So the work and preparation has already been done. Relationships have been built and the opportunities – these players know. What happens is as we have added these players that impacts some of the other guy’s potential feeling about their ability to be here. Those are things that we will just have to adjust to. Our coaches and scouts have done a great job of being organized. As soon as the draft is over, we’ll be ready to roll with that.”
Tyler Ervin contributed on offense and special teams. How much does that impact your thinking?
Rick Smith: “Yeah, he’s a dynamic football player. That’s exactly right. Those stats are impressive. For a smaller stature guy, he’s not a little guy. He doesn’t have a lot of height, but he’s a tough, durable football player. He does have good ball security, like you mentioned. Again, I just think with his skill set and his versatility, there are a lot of things we can do with the young man.”
Is it tempting to throw a lot at WR Braxton Miller and will you focus on certain things with him?
Bill O’Brien: “That’s something we talked about really late into the night last night when, like I said before, when Rick (Smith) picked Braxton. We picked Braxton, that was something that we immediately stated discussing because, as I said in the other answer, he was a part of a number of these candidates that we knew if they came here, we’d have a plan for them. So we have a plan for Braxton. You can’t throw everything at these guys right away because you have to give them a chance to learn and to be able to play fast, to be able to play the game at a good pace, the way that they played in college. We’re going to take it day-by-day with him and try to give him things that he can handle on a day-to-day basis. One thing about him is he’s football smart. When we spent time with him, he was able to – because of his quarterback background and moving to receiver, he’s got really high football intelligence we believe. We’ll be able to give him a lot, but not overboard.”
WR DeAndre Hopkins expressed excitement on Twitter yesterday about the draft picks you made. How do you see some of the moves you made impacting the way you use him?
Bill O’Brien: “First of all, these guys need to come in and do it, so that he doesn’t get double-teamed. Until they actually go out there and do it –and that’s what they’re going to come in here and do – they’ll be some double teams on a guy that caught 111 balls. He’s a great player. You know, I think one of the things that we looked at was, in some way, shape or form, trying to give him some help. Trying to get it where he could be more one-on-one and things like that. I think that’s what we’ve done with this offensive skill draft class. We’ve taken some guys that we think can really help us in space, help us at the receiver position and help us do a lot of different things, which in turn will help DeAndre and free him up a little bit more.”
How confident are you guys in the tight end position right now?
Bill O’Brien: “We’re confident. We see these guys, they’ve been back here for a couple of weeks now. Ryan Griffin, C.J. Fiedorowicz, those two guys have really come back in great shape. They have a much deeper, better understanding of our offense, now going into their third year with it. We feel confident about that position and where we’re at right now. Of course, as time wears on, roster management and all those different things, we’re not even close to training camp. Anything can happen. But of the guys we have in the building right now, we’re confident in those guys.”
RB Tyler Ervin Conference Call
How does it feel to be a Texan?
“Oh man, I’m so, so excited, truly a dream come true. I was just talking to my dad and the rest of my family, and everybody is just super excited. Crazy story a lot of people don’t know, but my brother lives about 15 minutes away from the stadium, so he and his family are out there. I have a few cousins and a lot of family out there, so I’m really excited to be a part of the Texans organization. It’s really a dream come true.”
How much do you feel like your versatility helped you get drafted by the Texans?
“Well I think people that are able to do a couple more things in their natural position are always going to be valuable. I’ve always prided myself on trying to be able to do as much as I can on the field, so it’s paid off and hopefully I can continue to contribute with the Texans organization.”
How do you happen to have so much family down in Houston?
“It just happens to be that. One day, a lot of them just picked up and they found jobs out there, and they never looked back. It’s something that’s really positive for the family, so that’s kind of how it happened. A lot of my family is from out here in California, a good chunk of them just moved to Houston I want to say about five or six years ago. It’s really exciting.”
Is there an advantage for you being a smaller running back?
“I think that it just allows me to be a little bit more shifty and allows me to not take as many punishing hits, so when it comes to being able to navigate yourself through the line and all that kind of stuff, it’s more of a mentality. I really don’t care about trying to be the biggest back or even trying to be the fastest back. I know my game and I’m just really happy that I can get the chance to play with the Houston Texans.”
Tell us about your visit here and did you get a good feeling from the Texans?
“Well no, so actually the Texans came and worked me out. I got a chance to meet the running back coach, great guy, and I’m just really excited because it’s one of those times where you kind of see something coming to fruition and like I said, I’m just really excited.”
Do you want to continue the success you’ve had in returning kicks?
“Yeah, most definitely. Hopefully I can contribute in that aspect. Whatever the coaches want me to do, I’d be willing to do.”
Is there anyone in the league that you’ve patterned your play off of?
“I don’t think there’s anybody in particular. I’ve been compared to a lot of different people whether it was Jamaal Charles, or Darren Sproles, so just being in the conversation with guys like that, I think that we have something that’s really in common is - I think we’re all playmakers. I’m just excited to get the chance to have an opportunity, especially for a great organization.”
What do you think being drafted is going to do to your barber career?
“Oh man, you know what, I’m not really sure. Hopefully maybe some of the guys will let me give them some cuts, but you know I’m excited about that too.”
Since you have family here, have you spent time in Houston?
“Yeah, I was actually in Houston not too long ago, a few months ago. Whenever I have a chance to go down and visit my family, I make the time.”
What’s it like to be the youngest of four siblings?
“Oh man, it’s awesome. My family is all here except for my brother. He’s out there in Houston right now. I had a chance to talk to him right after the pick. He’s like, ‘man, what are the chances of this happening?’ So me and him will have a chance to be around each other more often and see each other. I’m really happy about that.”
How big do you think the Senior Bowl was for you?
"I think it was big because playing at San Jose State, we might not necessarily get as much exposure as some of the other conferences. Getting a chance to play on such a big stage was awesome.”
How did you become a skilled barber?
“Oh man, it just happened out of nowhere really. Actually, one of my good friends is my barber. He’s been cutting my hair for about 10 years now, so ever since I was a kid. But once I got to high school, I really started getting curious. One day, I just went to Walmart. It’s crazy because my first pair of clippers were a pair of wall clippers that you get - I think they were like 12 bucks. Then after that, I had to find somebody that will let me cut their hair. I didn’t want to mess up on myself so I chose my little nephew at the time he was about four-years old. I cut his hair and sure enough it came out pretty good, so I was like, ‘you know what, I think I can do this.’ I just kept getting better and better and turned in to being a pretty good barber as well.”
S K.J. Dillon Conference Call
Are you excited to be joining the Texans?
“I’m super excited to be part of the Houston Texans.”
How much contact did you have with the Texans before the draft?
“I talked to them at the Senior Bowl and then I talked to them at the combine, but they didn’t work me out or anything, but you know I’m glad they picked me.”
What do you bring to the table as a safety all around?
“I’m versatile, man. I can cover guys, I can play deep, I can play in the box, I can blitz. I do a lot of things, so versatility is one of my best attributes.”
Is there a player you model your game after?
“The player I like the most is Sean Taylor. I just like to model myself after him, but he’s a great player and I just want to be like him.”
Everyone talked a lot about Karl Joseph, so what is your relationship like with him and what do you bring to the table in your own right?
“Karl is the man, like I said I look up to Karl. He’s like a big brother to me, that’s my brother. We always did things together, but now it’s going to be funny how we do things apart from each other, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Can you talk about your relationship with West Virginia Head Coach Dana Holgorsen?
“Holgorsen, you know he gave me a chance coming out of Apoka. He wasn’t the coach that recruited me, he was the head coach but he wasn’t my recruiter, so I didn’t really know him, but then when I got there we had a funny relationship because we were knocking heads at first because we are the same guy. We both like things our way. Then I had to really grow up and realize that he was the head coach, but for now I love him for giving me a chance.”
What do you think about getting the chance to play with DE J.J. Watt?
“Man, J.J. Watt, just saying his name brings me chills to my body, just to be able to be on the same field as him with (Jadeveon) Clowney and Vince Wilfork and other guys like that, it’s awesome. I think we can really do some good things on this defense.”
Does K.J. stand for something?
“My real name is Kimlon Dillon. I’m a junior, so I didn’t really like going by Kimlon because that’s my father’s name. I wanted to be my own person, so I just created the K.J.”
Can you tell us about the season that you battled severe dehydration?
“It was just after the Texas game my sophomore year. We had played over 100 something snaps and it was hot out there. You know how people say they give it all, well I really gave it my all. I didn’t have anything left in the tank. Since I’m type-one diabetic, they thought it was something to do with my diabetes, but it wasn’t I was just extremely dehydrated.”
How do you deal with your diabetes and play football?
“It’s no problem at all. I just go about my day like a regular person just as long as I take my medicine, so I’ve been on that ever since I got it. I’m doing good now, you know that, and now that I’m in the NFL I’ll probably be even better.”
DT D.J. Reader Conference Call
What do you think about being drafted by the Texans?
“Just excited, it’s a great program and a great team and a great group of coaches.”
What do you think about getting to play with DE J.J. Watt?
“Oh man, it’s crazy. You know, that’s a guy you look up to, especially one of the best to ever play. The best in my opinion to ever play defensive line. The best doing it. You look up to him and a guy who brings a great work ethic to practice every day and just lives his life the best way he can, so it’s going to be good to be able to study under a guy like that.”
Can you talk about your journey and what you’ve been through to get to this point?
“I’ve through a lot, from a young kid, people telling me I couldn’t do things, going off to college and losing my dad, and just working for everything I’ve ever gotten and even now still dealing with missing the few games this year. It’s a been a big battle but it’s something that I dealt with, that I took in stride as a man and it’s made me a better person.”
When you decided to step away, was that because of the grieving process?
“It was a lot of the grieving process. It was due to me just getting help and grieving, something I needed to deal with.”
Do you think going through all this has made you stronger?
“Oh yeah, I think it definitely has made me a better person. It’s helped me out a lot as an individual and helped me grow as a man.”
Did you have any idea the Texans had interest in you?
“Yeah, I took a visit out to the Texans, so I thought they had interest but I didn’t know. A lot of teams showed interest so I was just trying to stay level-headed and see where things were going to go.”
What other teams did you visit?
“I went to Tennessee, San Francisco and the New York Giants.”
Do you think you’ll be a nose tackle or a 3-4 end?
“I think I’ll play nose tackle.”
Is there anybody in particular you followed in your career that you look up to or pattern yourself after?
“Vince (Wilfork) is definitely a guy that you look up to, especially playing defensive line, he’s done it for so long. Guys like J.J. (Watt) and Star Lotulelei a bunch of guys around the league that you look up to. It’s not a glorified position so you know the guys who play it, you look up to a lot of guys.”
How much do you weigh right now?
“I think I’m at about 333 right now.”
Have you lined up anywhere else other than nose tackle?
“I’ve played anywhere on the defensive line, anywhere from the zero to the five. In Clemson’s scheme we play every position on the defensive line depending on what package we’re in, so I’ve played everywhere out there.”
When’s the last time you picked up a baseball bat?
“Last night actually, just got tired of listening and waiting and watching the draft, went out and took some dry swings and hit some balls off the tee.”