2006 DETROIT LIONS DRAFT TRANSCRIPTS - FIRST ROUND SELECTION: LB ERNIE SIMS

Hondo S. Carpenter

Detroit Lions
2006 Draft Day Transcripts
RE: First Round Selection LB Ernie Sims

LIONS PRESIDENT & CEO MATT MILLEN AND HEAD COACH ROD MARINELLI
Opening statement:
MM:
"When we sat and spoke the other day, the one thing we said was that the guy that we were going to get was going to be a guy who was going to exemplify all of the non-talent issues. That's exactly what we picked. This is a guy, who on top of the non-talent stuff, has a lot of talent. Most importantly, he's got great speed; he's a great hitter; great range. He'll come in and he'll be able to add to what we're trying to do. I think the biggest thing here is that it's a piece. We'll put the piece in and he's got to work and make it work - and he will because he's a talented kid and it's important to him. That was important to us."

RM: "Like Matt said, he's a big piece of the puzzle. It's a process. The process continues to move along like everything else you do. He fits it and he's going to bring energy and great competition to our field; the energy and tackling - tackling with authority, which I like. We're very excited.

On Sims' concussion history:
MM:
"The first thing that that tells me: the kid hits. That's the first thing you're telling me. The second thing is, it tells me that we need to check on it which is what we did. We weren't the only one - he's been gone over with a fine-tooth comb and it was a non-issue. That was fine."

On Sims' off-the-field issues:
MM:
"That's another thing - you check into everything. Character is big. We've said that from the beginning. That turned out to be a non-issue on a lot of levels. We were fine with that; we never had to flag him. Believe me, we did our homework on him."

On how strongly they considered the two available quarterbacks (Leinart & Cutler) and whether we contacted for a potential trade:
MM:
"We didn't make our pick right away if you noticed. We did think about a quarterback, No. 1; No. 2, we did talk about trading with some other teams - the phone was ringing. We didn't have to check it this year. In the end, all of that stuff is moot. In the end, like when we ran our mocks the other day, that's the guy you look at and that's the type of player you look at. He was there, so you just say, 'hey, you know what, it's great, make the pick; it's the right pick for this team.'"

On whether they tried to move up:
MM:
"I called early, but the pick went fast. I did make one phone call but it didn't make a difference."

On whether it was a question of team not offering enough to trade out of the ninth pick:
MM:
"No, it was a question of: we got the guy we want. Teams had been calling, so you listen to everything. Then, at one point you just say: 'you know what, this is the right player.' So that's what we did."

On whether he was concerned that someone was going to leapfrog ahead of them to take Sims:
MM:
"No, because we were still okay with what was on the board. If somebody had taken Sims, we would have been okay there also."

On why the concussions were a 'non-issue':
MM:
"I can't answer that from a medical standpoint because I wasn't the guy that examined him. Now, when I went to medical school, and I watched Marcus Welby; I watch a lot of those medical shows so I felt pretty good about my diagnostic expertise (laugher). When we spoke to the doctors, they all said the same thing. They said it was a non-issue. Believe me, they went over him thoroughly and that's what we went by."

On what other positions do they hope to address in this draft:
RM:
"We're looking for the best available players - as we were going into this thing. Like we talked the other day, we still would like to help ourselves along the offensive line; we would still like to help ourselves in the secondary and overall depth. So lets go to the second round and see who's available, what we have and what we believe in. Like what Matt was saying: 'sometimes when the right guy is there for you, you don't move around because he may not be there.' When you hit the right guy, and we all felt good about him, then you make those picks."

On whether they'll try to bulk him up since he is 'undersized':
RM:
"When people say 'undersized,' I'm saying he's a little bit shorter. He's 234 pounds and he's thick. The linebackers I've been around have been 228, 227, 226 - something like that. You don't want to bulk him up. He'll be behind a nice big tackle and he won't have to take on a lot of blocks straight ahead with offensive line and backs and some of those things. He's in that 4.58 speed category so you don't want to slow him down. I like just where he's at. Tackling, he needs to get his head up a little bit more, but he's a collision hunter. I mean, this guy goes after collisions and he plays it all out just like we want it. I don't want to bulk him up. He's strong; he's physical and he's fast."

On the comparisons to Tampa Bay LB Derrick Brooks:
RM:
"The position would be very similar and he's got traits like Derrick (Brooks) - but Derrick has been to nine Pro Bowls. That's where the comparison stops right now. He's got some of the things that you look for in that Will-Linebacker position: the speed, the hitting. The guy can blitz; he can cover, cover a back; roam the field. He's relentless. There were three or four players in the whole draft that every tape that you put on it's the same; consistently he plays at the same level. That's something that you want out of your team. Hopefully, he reflects to our team, what we're looking for."

MM: "There were a couple of players on that Florida State defense that we're very interested in and there was a problem. Because whenever we put the tape on, all we kept on saying is: 'who's 34; look, there goes 34 again.' Your eyes went to him all of the time. He's a guy who's reckless; he's physical and he can run."

On the unexpected nature of the NFL Draft:
RM:
Maybe Whitner. You know, we liked him. We think he is a very, very good football player. He's a heck of a player, heck of a performer.

On Reggie Bush not selected first overall:
MM:
To be honest with you, I wasn't really concerned up there. I was more concerned with who was going, rather how they went, or when they went. They are basically the same names. The Whitner one was a little bit of a surprise, not so much that he went that high, because he's a good football player. I thought maybe they (Buffalo Bills) would take a defensive tackle, but they went otherwise. That's fine, he's a good player. They got themselves a real good player. Good flexibility at his position.

On Ernie Sims's love for football:
RM:
You know what, the first thing you do is watch his tape. That says a lot. He hits so hard. The energy he plays with every down. And we had a chance to meet him at the Combine and also up here and brought him up for a visit. You can feel it. Sometimes you just feel how important football is. I think when you see him, his eyes will light up. It's really important to him and it's important to us. And you have to ask him exactly the questions you want. We sat in a room and I asked the questions that I needed to be answered, or at least I made him tell me what I wanted to hear. And he did. I believe this is really important to him. The statement he makes is his film. It is high energy film. I think he is a very ambitious player, wants to be a great player and a team player.

On how important the Combine is:
RM:
It is a piece. It's just a part. You have a big pie and it is just a slice of the pie. There is his film and the evaluations you do with his coaches and the combines and then when I met him personally here. It is all that big circle, but then you go back at the end, the very end, and watch his film. Because that's what he has to bring us, is his film.

On the health of Boss Bailey:
RM:
He's doing some rehab and working at it. It's his knee.

On the health of Teddy Lehman:
MM:
He's doing well, really well. He started running this week and he's doing pretty good.

On the chance of Lehman and Bailey participating in mini-camp:
MM:
You know Michael, even if they were, I would probably hold them out and give them some time. Boss won't be, but Teddy probably could be, but we probably won't let him.

CONFERENCE CALL WITH LIONS LB ERNIE SIMS
On his reaction to being drafted and whether he expected to be selected by the Lions: "My agent had told me this possibly could work out, and when I saw on the TV, I was talking to their coaches and I was very excited and very shocked and I'm happy to be a Detroit Lion."

On becoming a top-10 selection after leaving FSU as a junior: "It has all to do with how I played during the season. The coaches really couldn't see me playing because I was a junior, so when I declared to come out, they started watching me on film and everything. Then all I had to do really was follow up on my career with the Combine and Pro Day - that's how I shot up so quickly."

On his history of concussions: "It's no big deal really, I took my neurological tests and everything, and [the doctors] told me everything was okay."

On how he earned five varsity letters in high school: "In seventh grade I started on JV and in eighth grade I moved up to varsity. I started at defensive end. I actually played against Max Starks, the offensive tackle for the Steelers, and I started the rest of my career."

On his parents, who were both all-American athletes at Florida State: "My dad played (football) at Florida State from '78-'82, my mom ran track from '79-'83. Her events were the 4x100 (relay), the long jump and the 100 (meters), and in fact she's still in the record books in the long jump."

On if his mother could beat him in a race: "(Laughs) No, she's not faster than me. I could blow her away now. We've got a real competitive family, so we'd always be talking about that."

On his phone conversation with Coach Marinelli: "He said he needed an impact player, he needed some fire on the defense. He needed me to come in and he wanted me to be the player I was at Florida State, bring a lot of intensity to the game and have a lot of fun out there. And that's the main thing I'm going to do, be myself on the field when I get up there."

On being called a 'collision' linebacker: "A collision linebacker? To me, that means I like having contact. That's the name of the game, having fun out there. So when I get on the field, I'm not looking to make any friends out there."

On questions about his height: "That's not an issue. People talk about my height and everything, but when I tackle a person they don't ask me how tall I am."

On the character he brings to Detroit:  "I grew up with a great family, and when Coach (Marinelli) says I've got great character, you talk to anyone on our team, my position coach and everything, and they'll tell you I'm a good person."

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