On preparing for the Combine: Yeah, obviously, we had a little bit of time. We spent some time in draft meetings last week and just really, for me, familiarizing myself with some of these players so I'll have a good idea of what I'm looking at when we get a chance to watch them go through, not only the on the field stuff, but have a little bit of background information as we get in for the interview process. That has been a good process for me and I'm probably a little bit more ahead of schedule this year.
On contract negotiations with Darren McFadden: Yeah, this is the kind of time where we really begin those type of talks and those types of negotiations. We'll sit down with his people and kind of get a better feel for where he's at and kind of go from there.
On bringing back Raiders free agents: There are a certain number of those guys we're certainly going to try to get back. I think when you look at our situation, it's a little bit of a unique situation where we've got 18 unrestricted free agents on our football team. We had signed a lot of guys to one-year deals so there's still going to be some turnover on this football team. The thing that we have to do a great job of, although we have a lot of cap room, we have to make sure we make good, sound decisions because we're trying to build this thing not just for the one-year fix, but we're really trying to build this thing for the long term. I think that's the way you're able to sustain success that you're able to keep people that are on your football team, quality players, you're able to keep them on your football team. I think you supplement your roster by going out in free agency and acquiring some talent outside of your building. But I think you really build this thing through the draft. We're going to look at all avenues that we have open to us to try to improve the football team.
On addressing needs through free agency and draft: I think both those things are not mutually exclusive items. Obviously we've got needs we've got to try to fill and we've got a couple of avenues we can go about doing that. One is re-signing our own players. Another is through unrestricted free agency and acquiring talent off of other teams and the last is the draft. I think, as we go through this process, we'll have a better feel when it comes draft time what we need. I think when you get to the draft, you're still looking for best player available. I think need comes in when you've got players of kind of an equal grade, I think you take need more into account.
On Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel:Obviously he's accomplished a lot at the collegiate level and has been a very good football player being the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. I think that speaks in and of itself about how good a football player he is, so I think he's a very talented football player. I think he is a multi-dimensional football player. I think he's able to throw the ball. I think he's able to throw the ball from the pocket, but he's also able to create things with his feet. As we get more into the evaluation process, I think he'll be a fun guy to really evaluate.
On lessons from Miami Dolphins locker room situation: I think the thing that you have to look at is you can't ever take anything for granted. I think as a head football coach, the working culture in that building is really my responsibility so I think it's unfortunate that those things bring those things to light. It makes you more aware of making sure you're being diligent about monitoring your locker room, monitoring the working environment that your players are dealing with.
On if there is a greater sense of urgency being in the AFC West: Listen, obviously next year we've got the AFC West, which we had three playoff teams in that division. We'll play the NFC West next year as part of our schedule. So yeah, there's obviously a sense of urgency of trying to get better. I don't know that it's any more so than any other year, but we want to try to improve this football team and we're going to try to get this organization back to winning championships, which is what this organization needs to be able to do.
On how running quarterbacks hold up physically: I think when you talk about running, it's not really about how many times a guy runs, but it's really how many times a guy gets hit as far as having a multi-faceted quarterback that can move around. I think what you want to pay attention to when you have a guy like that is you want to pay attention to how many times he's getting hit and making sure he's being smart when he is running the ball and not taking the unnecessary hits.
On Terrelle Pryor's 2013 season: I think you saw a young quarterback that needs time to develop and that's what you see with a lot of young guys, guys that need time to develop. There was times where he went out and played exceptionally well. There was times where he didn't play as well. But those are all learning experiences. Those are all things that hopefully learn from those mistakes that we made and be able to move forward and not have those same mistakes.
On if the quarterback position is a position of need: I think that's one of the things we've got to ultimately determine. That's a position that we're going to look at very closely. In my mind, we've got two young quarterbacks that have potential. Hopefully they can develop and reach that next step, but I think that's obviously a position that we've got to look at.
On if next year's starting quarterback is on the roster: I don't know the answer to that yet, you know what I mean? I think that's obviously a position we're going to look at to try to improve as well as any other position. But that's obviously a position we have to…the quarterback position is the backbone of your football team and so we have to make sure that when we go out there this year that we've put ourselves in the best position to have success with the quarterback position.
On importance of intelligence test and player interviews: We put a lot into that. There's a lot of things you can see by watching tape in evaluating the tape, but I think the most important thing when you're evaluating players for your football team, a lot of times it's the intangible things you just don't see them on tape. So the psychological testing, the intelligence testing, the interview process, finding out about what makes a player tick, those are all the things that I think…I think when you make mistakes in acquiring talent, you generally make them based on what a player either does or doesn't have in his heart or in his head, not necessarily what his physical abilities are.
On FS Charles Woodson: I definitely think he's got something left in the tank. Obviously, when you get to that age, you never know when the tank is going to empty out. But obviously I felt like he brought a lot to the table this past season. I think he's a guy that we would like to hopefully be able to bring back. Obviously there's a business side to anything you do, but I thought from a leadership perspective, and I thought really from a playing perspective, I thought he brought a lot to the table.
On RB Latavius Murray: I think Latavius is one of those guys we're anxious to see be healthy and be able to get out there and play. He's a big back that's got excellence speed, excellent size. He runs tough. But unfortunately he had the injury this past year and wasn't able to go out there and compete. We'll find out a lot more about Latavius Murray as we go through the off-season program and into training camp.
On if he got any look at Murray before the injury: Yeah, but he was never fully healthy. Every time he kind of got healthy, the ankle reared its ugly head again and he was back down. But there's' a couple of plays…I'm trying to think. I think it was the Dallas game, maybe, where he got a run over on the sideline and was able to lower his shoulder and really finish off the run really well. So there's some plays in there that I can think of that are exciting and encouraging to me, but again, he's got very limited experience and limited exposure.
On SEC players in the NFL: I think the SEC is probably the deepest conference in college football and I think you do see a little bit of difference in those players just in the level of competition and the things that they've had to go up against. I wouldn't say it's all encompassing, but I think overall they're a little bit more NFL ready.
On reaction to Darren Sharper allegations: Shocked. I had the good fortune of working with him in New Orleans and my experience with him was nothing but the best. I haven't followed everything exactly what's going on, but that was a shocking thing to me.
On Lamarr Houston: He's certainly one of the guys that we would like to have back. I think anytime you have a young player that has the potential to continue to get better, and there were some things he was able to do this year, I think this year may have been the most sacks he's had in any one season. He's really kind of a multi-dimensional player. He plays the run really well. He's also got the ability to affect the passer. Although he hasn't had the huge sack numbers throughout his career, he has been up there as far as pressuring the quarterback and being able to get hits on the quarterback. He's certainly one of the guys that we want to try to get back.