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Matt Groh’s Post First-Round Press Conference Transcript

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
April 28, 2023 at 10:58 am ET

Matt Groh’s Post First-Round Press Conference Transcript(PHOTO: Screenshot: Patriots.com)
Posted: Apr 28, 2023 10:58
🕑 Read Time: 6 minutes

OPENING STATEMENT:

“Excited to be able to add Christian Gonzalez to the team.  This is a true junior, but a player that we have certainly been on here for the last year with Tony Kinkela as our West National Scout living out in Boise, knowing the Pac 12 really well from Christian’s time at Colorado and then moving with coach Martin, Demetrius Martin, to Oregon.  Tony, Chris Caminiti, those guys were on Christian early.  So, younger player, but certainly a guy who we’ve spent a lot of time watching here over the last year with the eye of him possibly coming out early.  To be able to pick up Christian and pick up an extra fourth-round pick, feel very encouraged by day one.”

On the predraft projections and if they were surprised Gonzalez was available:

“Talked a little bit about that in the predraft press conference.  These Mock drafts, they’re all well and good and look, we try and gather as much information as we can from the different teams. Our friends, our colleagues here across the league, I’d say overall, there probably was some surprise that he lasted as long as he did.  But we’ve got our players stacked the way we’ve got them.  We can’t predict what anybody else is going to do.  We try and get as good a feeling for that as possible, and then when you’ve got a certain amount of players that you still feel comfortable with there in the first round, to be able to go ahead and pick up that extra pick, it was a great job by Pat Stewart being in contact with different teams and Eliot Wolf working with the Steelers and moving back and still being able to pick up Christian.”

On how much they’re thinking about what teams in their division are doing:

“We keep tabs on all the teams, not just our division rivals.  With the trade that transpired here this week, the Jets going from right in front of us to right behind us certainly shifted things.  And then for us to kind of jump right behind them and give Pittsburgh the opportunity to come up and select the player who they selected, which when you make these trades, you don’t know who the other team is coming up for but again we try and do our research and try and have a feeling as far as positionally what a team might be looking for.  That’s Steve Cargile and his team really working hard on the team needs.  We’ve got all that posted in the draft room, and try and be cognisant of what the teams are looking for.  So, maybe had an idea of what maybe Pittsburgh was looking for, certainly didn’t know if that was going to be accurate and then certainly didn’t know what player it was going to be.  But there started to be a bit of a run there on the tackles.  That position group was thinning out.  If you wanted one of those guys, you have to come up and get them.”

On what Christian’s visit was like and what stood out about him:

“Didn’t get to visit with Christian when I was out there at practice in August, but we finally got to meet at the combine, very positive interaction in Indianapolis.  And then, I think you’re alluding to, we had Christian in here for a [Top] 30 visit, that seems like a long time ago.  I feel like he was maybe one of the earlier 30s, but it’s great to be able to have those guys in the building and we have so many people in the organization who then are able to get a feel for that player and really, Christian’s got, hopefully a little bit of a comfort level here.  He’s knows the layout of the building, he knows the nutritionist, he knows the different support structure that’s going to be here for him and try and put him in the best position to succeed and just gives us greater familiarity with him.  That comfort level builds up with that player.  So another player from a 30 list that we were able to select to go along with, you guys will have to look it up, maybe four or five of those guys from last year.  So it’s definitely, what we do and how we’ve got the schedule set up for the players, it’s really a productive session when we can get these guys in there.”

On the input Adrian Klemm had in the process, and how Gonzalez’s improvement tackling and ball skills made him more of a prospect:

“A unique situation when you’ve got a coach on your staff.  We’ve got enough relations with some great coaches across the country and certainly with coach [Dan] Lanning and getting to know him down at Georgia and Marshall Malchow, who really runs their personnel.  We’ve got great relationships there but you’ve got a coach who’s on your staff, you know you’re getting the truth on the player, good and bad.  So that allows you, again, there’s that comfort level.  Coach Klemm was with Christian for, call it eight months, so definitely a great resource just like I alluded to.  Coach O’Brien, being at Alabama, not only just college players but his time with the Texans, helping us out free agency-wise.  We spend a lot of time trying to get to know who these guys are as players and as people, so definitely appreciate coach Klemm’s input.”

On his tackling and his ball skills and his improvement in his junior season:

“So finished with, I believe, four interceptions this year.  Really came on towards the end of the year.  A couple of them against Colorado, one against Oregon State.  Some impressive plays, you saw his ability to catch the ball at the Combine.  So, feel pretty good about Christian, being able to bring him in.”

On describing how quickly things moved after Washington’s pick was in:

“Again, we’re trying to do our research, we’re trying to stay ahead of things. Had a pretty good inclination as to who Washington was going to take, so we were able to quickly discuss which direction we wanted to go.  Teams have to wait a little bit here in the first round before they get their picks in so we knew pretty … we didn’t know, but we had a pretty good feeling as to how Washington was going to play it out.  So that sped things along for us.  Again, it’s nice when you’ve got a consensus on a player.  So from the staff, to the coaching staff, to the scouts, we’re fairly unified grade-wise on Christian so that just sped the process along.”

On their thoughts while they’re evaluating corners given the early success some have had in recent years:

“A lot of that just depends on the player’s background, their experience.  So you’ve got a guy like Christian from Dallas, that’s pretty heavy football territory.  The seven-on-seven leagues, this is football.  In certain parts of the country, it is 12-months a year and you certainly see that in the development of some of these skill position players who are in these seven-on-seven leagues.  They’re on their own team and then once their regular season is over, they’re right back in it and they’re playing football all year long.  So I think that the proliferation of these seven-on-seven leagues has sped some of the development in the skill positions.”

On if he had a sense when they made the trade that Christian might still be there at #17:

“There was a feeling that he still might be available.  We thought he was a good player, would have certainly understood if he wasn’t [available].  You listed off those teams but we had just traded, so you can’t just count on, ‘O.K., well, we know these teams, they’re not going to take a corner, or whatnot,’ it changes so quickly.  So it’s tough to say, really, ‘O.K., well, this guy’s going to be there,’  I think it really came more down to having a comfort level on multiple players.  To be able to pick up a pick, and really just give us that much more currency in the fourth round, couldn’t guarantee that Christian was going to be there, but felt good that a player that we felt good about would be there.”

On looking at the talent left heading into day two and what he sees:

“I think it’s still fairly well-balanced.  I think we’re the 15th pick here in the second round.  Have, those fourth-round picks does give us a little bit of currency.  We’ll have to take a little more in-depth look here in the morning.  We’ll regroup, look at some of these players that we’ve got, go through a couple different scenarios as a staff and do our best to plot it out here for the second and third round just like we did in the lead-up here for the first round.”

On what the next 24 hours are like for him and his staff:

“Try and get home, try and get some sleep.  We’ll have lots of names, and different scenarios running through my mind.  Hopefully, most importantly, be able to kiss my kids good morning and then head on back here fairly early.  Start watching some guys, start doing some comparisons and again, looking at the teams ahead of us.  Different scenarios, moving up, moving back.  Moving up was in play today, we ended up moving back.  We’re always very flexible, [we] try and do what’s best for the football team and try and put the best team possible, whether that’s moving up or again, collecting another pick to kind of strike in the heart of the draft, they call it, the third, fourth rounds here.”

On how he’d describe Oregon’s defensive system and what Christian was able to do there:

“Yeah, he was playing for Tosh Lupoi, who’s got a really extensive background being at Alabama, having experience in the pros.  So Tosh is a very well-detailed coach with a lot of good experience, certainly with his time with coach [Nick] Saban down at Alabama and then with what coach Lanning has brought from Georgia, again, with coach Smart at Georgia and again their experience with coach Saban at Alabama.  He was able to be around some of the top coaches in college football and hopefully that experience and that knowledge, that education will only speed his development here to the NFL.  But for all these guys, it’s a big jump and it’ll be upon Christian to get up to speed as quickly as possible and looking forward to working with him and helping him do that.”

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About Ian Logue

Ian Logue is a Seacoast native and owner and senior writer for PatsFans.com, an independent media site covering the New England Patriots and has been running this site in one form or another since 1997.


Posted Under: 2023 Patriots Draft
Tags: 2023 Patriots Draft Christian Gonzalez Matt Groh

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