Coach Mike Smith Press Conference

2014 Senior Bowl NFL Draft

Here are paraphrased excerpts from Head Coach of the North Team, Mike Smith of the Atlanta Falcons.


On challenges of bringing players from across country into one unit here

First challenge Is to figure out what positions that they truly play – gotta be able to cross train some of these guys – we need to be able to improvise and adjust – some guys that scouts may think they play a different position than what they played in college, so we need to be able to work that out – some of the OLB’s are guys who played DE in college so we’ve got to try and showcase their strengths – a lot of juggling going on in practice – some of the RB’s wanted a chance to line up as a slot receiver so we wanted to make sure we gave them an opportunity to showcase their skills.


On moving Michael Sam from OLB to DE

We gave Michael the opportunity to rush the passer against RB’s and TE’s as well as going down and rushing against the OT’s – don’t know how much it will be able to happen in the game because of the rules negating use of a true nickel package – have to have 3 LB’s in game at all times – majority of his pass rushing will happen in practice – evaluation really takes place in practice anyway – we try to put our practices together where it is advantageous for the players and for the people doing the evaluations – same situation for Marcus Smith – he’ll play LB in the game but get rushes as a DE in practices – want to make sure we get enough tape on him for us and rest of league to evaluate.


On giving advice to these players

We tell them that this is the beginning of a very long job interview – begins now and ends in May – not just on the field but off the field as well.


On impression of Aaron Donald

Very impressed- he’s short by NFL standards but very explosive.


Re: their approach to coaching at the Senior Bowl

Want to press them in practice and give them opportunity to show their physicality – won’t always be able to do that in the game because of rules on coverages, etc. – so we use drills in practice to showcase the abilities they will need to play in the NFL – since can’t always do that in the game we need to manufacture that in the practices.


On the decision of some players not to accept the invitation to play in this game – could that change the impression you have of a player?

Aren’t fully aware of who gets invited and who turns it down.  Personally, he thinks you should always take advantage of every opportunity to showcase your talent.


On advantages for him and his staff to coach in this game regarding evaluation and prepping for the draft

They have gotten more information in the past 36-48 hours than we’ve ever got when we’ve been here for the 3 or 4 days as an observer. – it’s invaluable to coach in this game because you get to observe and evaluate the guys in settings that the other 30 teams don’t get – watching tape, in meetings ,riding bus etc. – also get to observe guys from the other team since they share the cafeteria and hotel – spend a whole lot of time with these guys and can learn a lot about them.


On impression of Ra’Shede Hageman

Big, strong, tall and athletic DE – he’s done some nice things.


On the fact that there are a record number of underclassmen coming out

 Each draft class is different – don’t know why it is increasing – puts the scouting/personnel staff under a lot of pressure – they don’t evaluate until the guy declares, so that shrinks the evaluation process – with the draft being a couple of weeks later, that will give more of an opportunity to evaluate the underclassmen.


On the need to caution his staff not to fall in love with a guy they see here since there are others out there to be evaluated

They do get to see guys at the combine and had staff at the E-W Game and other all-star games – but in talking with other coaches who have coached in the Senior Bowl, they have told him that they have had one of their best drafts after spending a week with the seniors here.


On impressions of the offensive line group on the North team

They are big and physical – saw big improvement from 1st practice to 2nd practices regarding the intricacies of the blocking schemes, verbage, etc. – very impressed with their physicality and athleticism.


On what are the coaches/scouts looking for beyond just the talent

FBI – football intelligence – offensive players have a bigger playbook because they are not limited by the game rules – we give them a lot to test them – On defense, because of limits can’t do as much but we still put them in situations where they have to think and think on the fly.


On Falcons lacking a strong pass rush last year – is there anyone on the North squad that stands out as a pass rusher?

Not going to comment on that – that’s a strategic thing.



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