Head Coach Hue Jackson discusses the first day of the draft with the media. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
Q: Anything get close in terms of trading up?
Coach Jackson: There was so much phone calling going on in that room like you wouldn't believe. There was a lot of opportunities but nothing that really fit for us in exactly what we wanted to accomplish. Obviously the player has to be there when you want to trade with somebody and there were several phone calls made but it just didn't fit for us at this time.
Q: How high were some of those teams; were they in the top half of the draft?
Coach Jackson: Oh you would be surprised, a little bit of everywhere. I mean I think the first round for a lot of people I think a lot of people wanted to get out of the first round, and like you said it is a different type of draft obviously because of what has been going on and I think a lot of teams wanted to make sure. Value of a player was very important so I think from everywhere there was about every team really truly discussing trying to move out and some teams trying to move in.
Q: Were you in draft rooms at your past stops?
Coach Jackson: I have always been in draft rooms. I have been fortunate enough to kind of sneak my way in but this one obviously being able to run it and being a part of it with coach was awesome just seeing all the different dynamics that happen; getting a phone call, moving a phone call, slide it to the side talking to him what do you think about this or what do you think about that. Then we would talk about a few more things. Maybe then you talk about a few more things; so it was fun, a lot of fun.
Q: What surprised you from that first round, either an individual pick or position?
Coach Jackson: When you know, truth be told I think this draft kind of went about like I think I told you the other day. It was heavy with the defensive line, it was heavy with the offensive line, there wasn't a lot of running backs. There was one running back drafted, there were three receivers, there were more of a run on quarterbacks as I told you guys there would be quite a few that go in the first round. So obviously I don't think that there were any surprises. I think there are some young men that might be disappointed that things didn't go the way they wanted to go in the draft but that is part of the draft. It is a process you work through and keep going.
Q: You feel good about the players that are still left?
Coach Jackson: There's no question, there is no doubt that I do. We already have our first round draft pick, I told you guys that the other day. His name is Richard Seymour and I am very excited about him being back here so we have our number one now it is time to get our number two. Obviously if we could have found a situation that best fit us today we would have had a number one. It didn't work out that way and it is ok. We were preparing for two through seven and that's what we are getting ready for.
Q: When you're so consumed with the draft and on the periphery now you could have a lot of stuff happening very quickly as far as free agency and players back?
Coach Jackson: I love chaos. That is probably when I am at my best. There was all kinds of stuff flying around today. We get our players back then all of sudden they say hey you get to talk to them now and that's what we did we tried to talk to every last one of them or text them. We have done it all today.
Q: So you have done that?
Coach Jackson: Oh my gosh. Are you kidding me? I have tried to call every last one of them. I called them. I texted them. I have got calls back.
Q: So you expect to see people here tomorrow?
Coach Jackson: I expect to see people filtering in here tomorrow through the weekend and definitely to be here by Monday.
Q: And what will they be doing?
Coach Jackson: I think when they get here they will get acclimated to our off season program, getting acclimated to our coaches, just getting back into football. Being back in the building and us getting to know them and them getting to know us again and starting this process on our journey towards our goal
Q: You anticipating a mini camp in a week?
Coach Jackson: I don't know. There are still some rules that need to come down from the league and you know obviously I came right out of the draft room and all of sudden they grab me and said you have to go downstairs and I didn't get to read anything. So my thing is once I find out about all the different rules that are going to be in effect for what we are trying to accomplish with the league, we're going to do everything the right way, then we will make that decision when mini camp will be and when OTA's will be and all the different things we have to do.
Q: Did you get a sense that players you have talked to or communicated with were excited?
Coach Jackson: Yeah, there is no question, there has not been one player that I have talked to that even mentioned the lockout. The players I have talked to are excited. And coach, I am all in, when do you want me to be there? When can I get there? What do I need to do? Who do I need to talk to? Let's schedule a flight and get me there. And, I think that is what is most important. And, I think all of our players are very excited about where we are headed.
Q: How depressing has this lockout situation been for you personally? Since it is your first coaching?
Coach Jackson: Honestly, I mean I know everybody talks about that. I have not looked at it like that. I mean obviously, I wish our players were here. We all wish it never happened. And you worked the same process that you have known throughout your career in coaching. But, sometimes I have learned in football that the norm is what is in front of you. Sometimes things do change. Change is the norm is what I should of said and you just have got to be prepared. I think that we have done a great job in the offseason of preparing. We knew potentially that there could be a lockout. We dealt with it and now it is going to hopefully get behind us totally. We will get our players back in here and move forward.
Q: At what point did you transition from calling players to focusing on the draft or did you juggle it?
Coach Jackson: I think the draft started at 5:00 about, 4:59 and 59 seconds. I sat in the draft room. Turned that hat and let's get ready for the draft. The number one thing that I have to do is get to know our players and have our players back in this building and have them get to know my vision and what I have to have happened here with The Oakland Raiders. Number two is making sure we put the next best players that we can through this draft on our football team. Number three, close out this draft on a high note. Make sure our players are here on Monday, and let's get into coaching some football.
Q: For as much has this whole lockout labor thing has consumed the news of the NFL. How much have you actually really missed though? I mean you do not start at mini camps anyway until the end of the draft.
Coach Jackson: I mean obviously there has been some time lost. There is no question. There has been some offseason time that has been lost as far as conditioning. Again, the pros in this league understand what they need to do to get ready to play. I think that every player has been training. Have they been training under the watchful eye of somebody within the organization? No, but I think that a pro football player knows what his job is. And if he wants to continue to make the money and support his family he has to make sure that his corporation is ready to go perform. And, I think that is what they do .I think that they prepare themselves. Now, we are going to get them back in here under our watchful eye and now we have got to make sure that the guys are ready and prepared to go to the next stage, which will be mini camps, which will be OTA's and which will be at some point and time preparing for a training camp. So, obviously there are some things that we wish we could have done for six seven, seven weeks whatever it has been that we have lost. But, hey we will make it up. And, I think we will go out and play the way I think we know how to play.
Q: How important is it to get playbook and film, and especially the new defensive coaches talking to the defensive guys talking to them about what they want?
Coach Jackson: I think that it is important that everybody, every one of our players, are here that can be here and are around myself and our coaches because it is going to be different. There is a different expectation here and we are becoming something here. Truly becoming something that I think we all will be proud of. I think that it is very important. Whether it was going to be seven weeks ago or now, I believe that it is truly going to happen on Monday and we will move forward from there. But at some point and time when it happens, it happens together as a unit and then we just march forward and go on from there.
Q: Is every player going to be here on Monday?
Coach Jackson: Well, I think that they will be trickling in. It is like anything. You call them, there are some guys that have a few loose ends that need to be tied up. The word I love to use is fluid. We just kind of got to kind of roll with it. 'Cause some guys need to get out of some other obligations they had. Some guys need to move some things here. Some guys need to drop some families off here. Hey that's okay. That's part of it too. So we're going to be flexible and make sure that our players are here. I've said to our players "I want to see you in this building at some point in time next week." And I think our guys will get here. They're excited about getting here. And they're doing everything they can to get here by Monday because that is when our team will start. That's when our off-season program will begin.
Q: How confident are you that the guy that you want right now is going to be there at 48 or are you going to move up?
Coach Jackson: I feel pretty good. There are still a lot of good players on that board and a lot of guys that we've evaluated and that are sitting there for us. But obviously, again, this is a process. It can change. You can wake up in the morning and after that first pick, that whole board can go upside down or it can stay consistent and just keep on flowing. So, there's a lot of good players for the Raiders to choose from, starting tomorrow.
Q: When you've got some positions on your team that are fairly stable, Quarterback, D-Line, so forth, but your O-line, think it needs a little more fluidity to it. Do you feel the need to concern yourself a little more with getting those guys together and getting those positions going in terms of getting those teams to- getting those groups together to get ready for the season?
Coach Jackson: Oh, there's no question. I mean, I think that's a great question. I think all of them – obviously, there's some players missing in some of those areas that you're talking about. And obviously, we're going to address that as we continue to move forward. I mean, obviously we have the draft to address it in, the free agency to address it in. There's coaches developing players to address it in. So there are so many other different areas to address that issue, but we have to keep solving them through everything we do and now we're in the draft. Then all of a sudden we got to get these guys together as you mentioned, and then coach them. And coach them and get them prepared to play. But I think the most important thing is that as we move forward, there's no a position, as I said, that if a player is there that can help the Raiders, and will help the Raiders be what we envision them being, which is a very, very good football team then we're going to grab him and put him on this team, because I think that's what we're after.
Q: So to be clear, you don't know quite what you can do with your own free-agents?
Coach Jackson: No, not own. No, that's still – those rules still have to be passed down to us and obviously we're going to abide by those rules and once we know, then we will act accordingly.
Q: Is that where Nnamdi falls in that mix, then? Because you know he's definitely a free-agent.
Coach Jackson: Oh, boy. That's where a lot of guys fall in that mix. He's one of them, no doubt. And we'll continue as we know more and then we'll start to take care of those situations as they present themselves.
Q: And not knowing when free-agency exactly starts and everything, does your post in the draft change at all?
Coach Jackson: No. I mean, because we can't – we know it's going to happen. Obviously there are decisions that the league has got to make as far as what those guys are. I mean, are they free agents, or are they not free-agents? So we'll find that out as we go. But the most important thing is still putting the best players on your team that's in this draft. And just like I tell our coaches, we're not talking about the 2012 season – we're talking about the 2011 season. So we have to do what is best for this team, right now, for us. The rest of it is going to take care of itself.
Q: Do you think the recent drive back to success for the Raiders had anything to do with why you didn't trade up into the first round?
Coach Jackson: No, because we didn't have an opportunity to, it just didn't fit for us. That's what we talked about earlier. I don't think it was a success, we were 8-8. I don't call that success, we were in the middle of the pack. But no, that wasn't it. There were chances, but it's got to fit. The right player has got to be there when you make that trade, that you truly want. If a guy, somebody picks them before then, and you made a trade, you think why am I making a trade. So it just didn't work out. But what you would have been surprised by are all the phone calls that get made; that's what I was most surprised about. Watching Coach try to work that phone and me trying to work a phone and us trying to get together and talk about is this good, is that bad, that's amazing how that works; wow.
Q: What time did you get here today?
Coach Jackson: I'm not going to tell you; you'd probably laugh at me. But no, these are good days, these are good, long days. Obviously our coaches, we still have so much to do preparing. Myself and Tom Jones, who's my assistant, we spend a lot of time going through scheduling because now all of a sudden there's the next hat you've got to wear. Now all of a sudden there's all this scheduling that comes into play because the league says, "go players, you're back in the building." So now we have to prepare for all that, so it's been a fun day. It's been a good, long, fun day, and I'm going to sleep and sleep well.
Q: Can you talk about your experience operating a draft room with Coach Davis?
Coach Jackson: Yeah I sure can. My experience, normally, being in a draft room, is whoevers the GM kind of works the room, works the board, and prods the scouts and coaches about information and that's what our Coach does, that's what he does and I think he's great. Now who was it that said why do I call him Coach Davis, who was it in here that mentioned that? Because I want to make sure that I make that clear right now because I think it's very important that I get this off my chest. Here is the deal, he's Coach Davis to me for this reason; didn't he coach in this league at one time? Absolutely. We as coaches respect coaches by calling them what? Coach. He was a coach, he was a GM, now he's the owner. But when I talk to the man we talk about coaching, we don't just talk about all this other peripheral stuff, we get down to the X's and O's so my relationship with him is as coach, and that's not going to change. As long as I'm here you guys can write whatever articles you want to write but I'm going to call him Coach Davis as long as I'm here because that's who he is to me because I respect him as a coach, as the owner, and as a man. Here's my experience; what he gets to do is work the room. He works the room with the scouts, with me, we play off each other, we play off what about this guy versus this guy, what about this scenario versus that scenario, a lot of different scenarios that go on in the room, a lot of different things that we talk about. And then finally, tomorrow, I'm going to see them come to fruition. Today it didn't have to because we didn't end up making a pick, we didn't make a trade. But tomorrow, I have a very good idea how this is going to unfold and what it is we are going to be trying to do before we make that decision. And hopefully there'll be five or six guys that are there, we'll wrestle with them, and find out who's the best guy to wear the Silver and Black for us.
Q: Do you take guys off your draft board because of character issues?
Coach Jackson: We're concerned about it all; we don't let anything go. We're going to turn every rock, stone, issue, player issue, whatever it is. We want guys that have great character. Obviously guys make mistakes. We all have made some, so my point is you've got to take into account what is the situation that happened with a young man. So we want the right players here, we're not just going out there looking for a bunch of guys that won't do the right thing here within the community and within the organization, we want great guys that have great character, integrity, discipline, and desire to be Raiders and want to be Raiders.
Q: Is your entire coaching staff and all your scouts in the draft room?
Coach Jackson: No, there's selected people in the draft room because there's other things that people need to do, and that's kind of what it's been everywhere I've ever been. Everybody can't sit in there, it'd be too many bodies and it'd be too hot. So I kind of like it like that; you guys stay over there and I'll go talk to you if I need to and then we come in there and again, you'd be surprised at the information that gets passed in there, it's amazing to me how that works.