Coach Jackson Talks Draft

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Coach Jackson**: How's everybody doing? Good to see you all truth be told and I am glad to be sitting before you today and obviously were going to be talking about the draft and whatever else you guys have on your plate but good to see you and I'm sure I will see a ton of you this day forward, hopefully, very soon and get opportunity to talk about where we are headed…so what we got today?

Q: What are your odds of getting into the first round? Are there a lot of discussions in the building about that right now?

Coach Jackson: Oh I think we are throwing everything around. I mean we are not going to leave any stone unturned obviously we don't have a first round draft pick, quote unquote what the record books say but we think we have one and we think we have a pretty good one and he plays for us already so were excited about him but obviously right now it is a little early in the process to know exactly what we are going to do, we're still working through it and still making those decisions.

Q: Can you just sum up what has been going on in your life these last three months?

Coach Jackson: Work, lots of work. A lots of work with our staff, lots of planning, lots of decisions being made offensively, defensively, special teams, me getting to know our staff better, the staff getting to know me better. Understanding all the different rules because of the situation going on around the league right now, there are so many different rules that you have to make sure you abide by and obviously just excited about the schedule coming out. The schedule just came out the other day. There have been so many positives and obviously there is still a huge negative going on but there have been so many positive things that have happened. I have been out in the community quite a bit around town talking about Raiders football and our exciting season that were going to have this year and its been a great time. I want to get to what I truly get paid to do which is coaching football as soon as I can but it has been a great off-season

Q: Having hit up on the nine guys you got last year, has that taken off any pressure for you guys to hit on [your picks] this year?

Coach Jackson: Oh no, we want to be right every year. I mean we don't go into a draft, lets make a mistake here or there. We want to pick the best player for the Raiders and obviously it's been documented that there are some [drafts] better than others, but the bottom line is that there is no exact science to it at all. We're going to go out and make a decision and were going to make the decision work which ever one we decide to pick

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Q**: Going into Thursday is your biggest need offensive line?

Coach Jackson: Well, I will tell you it is one of our needs. We have a very young talented football team. There is a particular way that I want to play on offense. I want to continue to create the bully that you guys have all heard me talk about. I want to get a little bit more physical, tougher, meaner, whatever all those good words are on offense. We are looking for some quality offensive linemen but were looking for quality all across the board. I don't think there is a player that we haven't talked about, evaluated, or tried to make a decision about as we head into this draft but obviously we have a very talented team. I feel very comfortable about the team that we will have when we get back here. But if we could put a couple more pieces to that nucleus that we have coming back I think we have a chance to be a very special group.

Q: How difficult is it going to the draft and not knowing what happens in free agency not knowing what free agents your going to keep and guys that your going to bring in?

Coach Jackson: Yeah, it is different. There has been a process to it all and now all of sudden the process has changed. So it's different but it's different for 31 other teams too. We're all in the same boat, we wish we weren't but we are and we all will deal with it accordingly. You wish you knew what you had and didn't have, we all do, but you can't worry about it. You have to continue to press on and move forward and make the decisions that you need to make.

Q: Does it help that you locked up a lot of your defensive players?

Coach Jackson: You better believe that it does, I mean we have a defensive football team that can hit the ground running, a very talented football team that I feel very comfortable with putting out on the field and playing with, so you know, thanks to [Raiders Owner Al] Davis again for making those decisions to get those players locked up and back on our football team as we continue to move forward.

Q: The biggest leap with the players developing comes between year one and year two when they learn how to be a pro as a rookie and they hit the ground running in the second year of play. How concerned are you for this class after all that progress can hit a stopping point with no mini camps, no weight program and not the progress to really get them going in year two?

Coach Jackson: Well is that concerning, yes, but is it the ultimate answer to it all. At some point in time we are going to practice, at some point in time we are going to get ready to play a game. How much time we're going to have between all that will probably determine the answer to the question which you are asking but we know there is going to be some kind of practice before we play a game. I still think and I really truly believe this and I said this before… a pro football player knows what he gets paid to do and I think that a lot of players that play in the National Football League right now, today, are working on their skills to get better. That is what they get paid to do and you only get paid and stay in this league is if you play well and I am sure there are guys out there right now trying to get better. It's not under our supervision, we understand that, but I think players are working very hard so that when they walk back into this building they will be ready to go. **

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Q**: What are the strengths of this draft, would you say?  Is it weighted one way?

Coach Jackson: I think when you look at the draft, obviously all drafts are different but when you look at it I think the offensive line is very heavy, I think defensive line is extremely heavy, I think there are some very talented cornerbacks, I think there are some talented receivers.  People say this is a different draft class as far as quarterbacks are concerned; early people said there's not that many and now as many as seven may go [in the first round].  So it changes every day about what it is, but there are some strengths and there are some weaknesses in this draft, but again, it's still based on team, what a team needs and how they value a player and how they see the player when it's all said and done.

Q: How much of a luxury is it for you to be able to draft for need as opposed to being on of the top seven or eight picks and basically having to pick the best one available.

Coach Jackson:  I think it's tough, that's a lot of pressure in my opinion, when you're in the top half of the draft, because you've got to be right.  You take an opportunity and make a decision on a player and the expectation of that player goes through the roof, be it in the media, be it the fans, be it the coaching staff, be it everything.  And sometimes that's a lot of pressure on a young man.  This is a tough league and it is what it is but that is tough.  I kind of like being where we are, where we had an opportunity to be, either in the middle of the round because it means we had a decent season.  But hopefully this year we'll be drafting way late next year because we'll have a great year.

Q: Coach, you said that when you finally start coaching, you're going to make changes and put your imprint on the team are the words you used; could you give an example of what you mean?

Coach Jackson: This is what I mean; I think all of you a re kind of getting to know me a little bit.  I'm kind of a get after it, have fun, but kind of fiery and I truly believe that the game is won in the trenches, on the offensive line and defensive line.  I expect us to be a very, very physical, tough, athletic, mean football team.  I truly do, and that's what I dream about every day, that's what I envision and that's what I'm going to instill in the players.  And my personality is going to show and that's just kind of who I am and normally players follow the lead.  And I think their personality will show, and their personality will be one that they expect to win every Sunday, or Monday, or Thursday, or whenever we want to play.  I truly believe that and I think these players understand that.  I hope our whole organization does because that's what we're going to do and that's how I see it.

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