Adam Gase – May 5, 2017 Download PDF version

Friday, May 5, 2017

Head Coach Adam Gase

(As the draft was unfolding and the team kept going for defensive players, how was your inner offensive coordinator reacting?) – “I was good. I wasn’t worried about that. I felt good about where we were at on offense. There were a couple of pieces we were looking to add, but if it didn’t happen, I wasn’t going to be in a panic. It was just more about seeing how it fell and not trying to run up the board and go grab somebody that we shouldn’t at the wrong time.”

(And what’s your reaction to what you came away with?) – “I was very happy with how everything unfolded. There were a couple of moments where we were … It got to a point on a couple of picks where we weren’t really sure what we were going to have to do because the guy that we wanted, he was really the last one left before we picked, and a couple of times where we had a couple of different options, and it worked out the right way.”

(Regarding DE Charles Harris, do you have a role in mind for him? Is he third-down pass rusher? Is he a three-down player and does it matter to you to have a role for him right now?) – “No. He’s been here for about 36 hours. He’ll be on the field at some point this year. When we have a general idea of what we want to do and we’ll see how everything plays out … We’ve got a long ways to go. To say that we know how many snaps he’s going to play and exactly who’s doing what right now, that’s ridiculous to think that way.”

(What kind of an impact do you hope the top three picks can have with a longer lens?) – “That’s hard for me to think that far down the road. We’re focused really right now on getting those guys better in this rookie orientation. For me to think how it could be two years down the road, I can’t even put myself there.”

(Did you have a good feel for DE Charles Harris before the draft? Do you know him at all? How much do you get to talk to him?) —   “We spent time with him at the Combine and then our scouts do a really good job. They dig probably deeper than any group that I’ve been around. It just seems like they almost have personal relationships with a lot of these coaching staffs and when these kids are coming out and at the Pro Day, I always see our guys kind of lingering over there and talking to them. You feel really comfortable when our scouts put their stamp of approval on a guy. You don’t really question that.”

(You have a lot of options now at linebacker. How do you see that shaking out?) – “We’ll go through the process and see what happens. It’s hard for me to say who’s playing where. I know they’re all going to play linebacker. So that’s the best I can give you right now. (laughter) We’ll figure it out as we go and we’re going through our meetings with the vets, and then once the rookies come back, then we can figure out where everybody’s going to be at and who fits best where and who is going to play where in base (packages) compared to sub (packages). There’s a lot of moving pieces we’ve got to figure out.”

(I know you’re 0-0 and last year doesn’t count. I know that. And you haven’t played and you haven’t practiced. But do you feel like you have more talent at your disposal now than you did last season or last year at this time?) – “I don’t know if I would say talent-wise … Any time that we get a chance to add more players – younger players – that we feel really good about, I think that’s a good thing for us as coaches; but I think the different feel for myself and a lot of the guys in the building, even the players is, you know our routine a little bit. There’s a little different swagger about what our guys have right now in a positive way. There’s no indecision as far as what they’re supposed to do, how they’re supposed to do it, what they’re responsible for. I mean guys are really … kind of can get from point A to point B really quick and there’s no issues with any kind of gray in our building right now. Guys are really wired in on what we want to do. I know that’s not really what you want to hear, but there’s a different feel with what we’ve got going on right now with our day-in and day-out.”

(And does that make you better?) – “I think it does because you know what you’re supposed to do. You know your responsibility. You know how things are supposed to be done around here. It allows you … I look at it as it’s going to allow us to play faster (and) make less mistakes. We had a lot of guys get so much experience last year that you never really thought would get experience. When you look at our depth chart right now, you start seeing a lot of guys played last year. That’s a good thing for us.”

(The experience of having gotten to the playoffs for a lot of these players and that taste of postseason play, how does that affect your expectations going into this year for yourself and for the team?) – “We don’t really … we don’t talk about it like that. We are so focused on what we have to do in the spring. Just looking back at last year, I think what hit me more than anything was after that last game, just seeing the emotion our guys had. You could tell it meant something to them and they were all disappointed that we didn’t play as well as we thought we would and that it was over. So really, it’s going to come down to how does that transfer over once we hit OTAs and then training camp and then the preseason, to see if we have that ‘Oh, I’ve got it attitude,’ or if it’s a legitimately one day at a time, get better type of team. Right now, our main focus has been one day at a time again, and hopefully we stay that way.”

(TE Julius Thomas had his best years in Denver. If he’s healthy, how much can he add to this offense?) – “I think any time you have a tight end that can really cause issues in the passing game, especially down the middle of the field, it benefits the run game and the other players on the field. Any time you can single a guy up and there’s a matchup problem there, whether it’s a safety or linebacker on him, now you’ve got man-to-man and if he can win, there are some big-time issues. We had a lot of success doing that and teams quit doing it against us. The next thing you know they’re playing Cover 2 or some kind of quarters and then we start running the ball and then the next thing you know, you’ve got a 1,100-yard back that nobody thinks can run the ball.”

(When you have a chance to address rookies, whether it’s in a group setting in a room like this or individually, what is a part of the key-central message that you want to make sure you impart to them?) – “Just learn the way we do things, respect people in this building and really come to work every day and understand it is a one day, one day at a time league. If you go outside of that and you start worrying about things you can’t control, that’s where you get in trouble. I think the biggest thing we emphasized yesterday was that this is a prove-it league. It doesn’t matter what round you were drafted – if you were drafted – nobody really cares. If you can play, you’ll be out there. If you’re a rookie over a 10-year guy and you’re better, you’ll play. No one cares. I think when you’re a rookie, if you hear that, then you know to get to work and see where these chips fall.”

(Talking to General Manager Chris Grier last weekend, it seemed like Charles Harris was kind of a no-brainer, especially when he was there at No. 22. Why? Why was he such a consensus pick?) – “I think when you watch him, the way he gets off the ball is a unique trait. I mean, that’s what you look for. That’s what we talk about with Cam Wake all the time about how tackles have such trouble getting to him because he comes off the ball just at the right time. He has a similar trait in that, and I really like the feel he has as a pass rusher. I know that was something that we kept talking about compared to some of the other guys, that we felt like he had a game plan going in there. His football intelligence was very impressive to us. He’s the type of guy that we like a lot of what he already brings to the table and we feel like there are some areas we can help him get better.”

(What is the biggest thing you want to accomplish during this three-day minicamp?) – “For us, it’s really get them acclimated to what we’re doing (and) what we expect of them between lifting (and) meetings. We try to educate them on all of the things that can help them. Our sports science group speaks to them; player engagement does. We usually have a couple of players (and) ex-players come in here to talk to them about what they’ve experienced. So we’re trying to get ahead of it. That was the one reason why we did this. We always just felt like when we have these rookie minicamps and you’re practicing, you’re coming back in, you’re installing more, you’re watching practice. By the time they leave here, they don’t remember anything. So our biggest goal was how do we get these guys to where we can get them to leave here, come back and have an idea of what what they’re going to go through in the next phase, but also retain some information and really try to catch up to the vets as much as possible. We felt like last year it did matter for us, because when we hit OTAs, our guys knew what to do. They knew where they were supposed to be. They were able to actually contribute and practice. They weren’t just standing in the background just watching.”

(Can you give us some specifics on what you’re seeing from QB Ryan Tannehill as far as where he’s at right now physically?) – “He looks normal to me. He just looks like he did last year. The difference is he’s got a better grasp of the offense at this point compared to last year. He moves around fine. He’s got a good edge that I like to him right now. You can tell that he wasn’t real happy about getting hurt last year. I like the way he’s working right now, and we’ll just keep doing what we’ve been doing. I know he’s really trying to make sure that he’s one of the reasons that we’re taking the next step. He’s really been pushing himself.”

(Is there any level of uncertainty for you that you just don’t know until you actually see QB Ryan Tannehill out there?) – “No. Nope.”

(You’re fully confident with QB Ryan Tannehill?) – “I’m good.”

(To clarify, physically QB Ryan Tannehill is 100 percent?) – “I don’t know all the percentages and stuff. All I know is he looks good to me.”

(Is C Mike Pouncey doing as much as the others or is he being brought along …?) – “No, he’s going to be brought along slowly. I know we kind of joked about this in the past about how I’m going to handle him this coming season; but our goal is to make sure that he plays every game plus more. So if that means that he doesn’t practice as much, I have no issues with that.”

(T Ja’Wuan James, the fifth-year option was picked up on him. What has he done to earn that in your eyes?) – “I think he’s worked … Where we were at, at the beginning of the season, and as we moved along, I think he’s done a good job of trying to head in the direction we need him to head. I still think we have a lot of room to where we can help him, and I think there are some things that he can help himself on, to where he can make … There are still big strides for him to make. I don’t think we’re even close to where his ceiling is. I don’t even think we’ve even come close to reaching it. I see a guy that’s really coming every day and he does, he has a little bit a different look to him trying to do what we’re asking him to do. It will start in OTAs, and that’s really not the best time to really evaluate our offensive and defensive lines; but once we hit training camp, that’s really what those guys are preparing for; to make sure when they hit that, it’s reactionary. They’re not thinking. They’re doing what they were trained to do. If we can get him better, that’s going to be real beneficial to the entire line.”

(General Manager Chris Grier said when G Isaac Asiata was drafted and he addressed the media, he talked about his toughness. Are you excited to see if this guy fits that bill as much as Chris Grier was talking about just how tough he is?) – “Any time that you can add pieces that increases the toughness of our team, no matter what position they play, that’s a positive. When you have a bunch of hard-nosed, never-die type of players, you’re always going to want those type of guys, because that’s how all this league is. It comes down to the last drive of the game, one side or the other to win or lose. Whether its physical toughness or mental toughness, those are going to be critical factors. When we evaluate guys, we’re looking for that.”

(So as you bring C Mike Pouncey along slowly, what do you do at center?) – “Well we’ve got four guys that play guard/center. So we’re just rotating these guys through and we just keep working. I guess we’re kind of in the boat of we did it so much last year that nobody’s really affected by it. We just move around and whoever pops in there, the quarterback has been really comfortable. He’s done a good job. We’re able to kind of do a couple things where we work some – really everything’s on air – but just kind of the mechanics of running plays and protections and things like that. It has been a smooth transition.”

(Between the moves that you made in the draft on the defensive side of the ball and in free agency, how much more improved do you feel your defense is?) – “I don’t know if we could go much further. We could, but not too much further down. Both sides of the ball, we were just bad. We were bad statistically, however you want to look at it. We had a rough stretch there with five games – or five or six games – where we were just terrible. We had a couple of rough ones versus some good teams. We have a lot of room to improve, which is a good thing for us.”

(I’ve got to ask you this one, but if we were to go back to a couple of years ago when you were in Chicago and I told you QB Jay Cutler would be going into TV work, what would be your reaction?) – “I wouldn’t be surprised.”

(Why wouldn’t you be surprised Bears QB Jay Cutler would be going into TV work?) – “I guess I know a different guy than what everybody else portrays. I think a lot of things that have been said about him in the past have really been (BS).”

(Are you surprised he didn’t latch on with a team?) – “I don’t want to speak for him. I really don’t know all the situation with what happened with him.”

Isaac Asiata – May 5, 2017 Download PDF version

Friday, May 5, 2017

Guard Isaac Asiata

(Did you hear how General Manager Chris Grier describe you when he addressed the media after you were picked?) – “Yes, I heard. And that’s pretty cool that the GM says that about you. I plan on living up to that. I hope that I can keep that identity with myself throughout my career.”

(Which part of the way that he described you did you enjoy the most? He said you are tough.) – “Oh yes. I feel like as an offensive lineman, you have to do both. Where I come from at Utah, the defense is kind of the identity. Everybody knows Utah football for their defensive line and how physical their defensive line is. And when my o-line coach Jim Harding came in there, he wanted to change that. He wanted the o-line to be like that and he wanted us to have that kind of play – just not play patty cake, do our assignments, be assignment-sound and be okay with it. He wanted us to play whistle-to-whistle, sideline-to-sideline and finish our blocks. Being tough and playing physical, that was kind of our trademark that we established this last year and I hope to continue that.”

(General Manager Chris Grier said don’t be fooled by the tears that we saw when you got drafted.) – “Oh yes. You guys saw when I walked in, I’m really a happy guy. I’m very excited to be here. I love being here and I’m a very cheerful guy but, like you said, don’t get it twisted. When it’s time to put the helmet on and strap it up and go, that’s not me anymore. Now if we win, maybe. If we win a Super Bowl or something crazy like that, I don’t know, I’ll probably cry. Maybe. (laughter)”

(The face painting, is that…) – “I’ve been doing that since little league. That’s like the … I don’t know. It started out just kind of my deal. I loved it. That’s kind of my trademark thing. There’s no real reason behind it. I did just a line across my face because my high school mascot was a ‘Don.’ It’s kind of like a ‘Zorro,’ and he wears that mask. That was really the only inspiration behind that. And then I kind of just did more traditional war paint and some other stuff around my eyes. But the fans like it and I like it. It’s kind of an identity thing.”

(Are you going to keep the face painting  up?) – “Probably. I feel like now I’m a rookie. Those are the kind of things you have to earn. I can’t just show up and expect everything to just come to me. Those are things you have to earn. They put me in 68. I plan on earning that jersey number. Just because they give me something doesn’t mean I’m going to take it without earning it.”

(Some folks thought you were going to be drafted a round or two higher. What have you learned or what do you suspect is the reason that maybe you ended up going a little lower?) – “To me, I wish I would’ve went in the third (round). All it really is, is just to get you in the door. Third, first, seventh (round), I don’t really care. I was happy to be here. It was important to me because I came here on my 30-visit and I fell in love with this place. I fell in love with the coaching staff, (Head) Coach (Adam) Gase, the o-line coach, the players. I knew that if I was going to go there in the first round or the seventh round or undrafted, that this is where I wanted to be.”

(What is it about them that made you fall in love…) – “So when I went to the University of Utah and I took a trip out there when I was in high school, what was appealing to me was the kind of guys and the atmosphere of family. I know that football, it’s huge now that guys are kind of, not necessarily about themselves but it’s a job. You have to provide for your family. It kind of takes the aspect from the team. I’m not saying that guys take away from the team but guys who generally care about each other, guys who are willing to go through a wall for each other, that’s not everywhere I guess. When I came here, I felt the same way I did when I went to Utah in high school. I felt that camaraderie, that brotherhood. You can just tell that everybody in the building loved their job. They loved coming here because they care about each other. They want to be successful. They want to win games. That’s a really attractive trait to have, so I fell in love with that and the culture that they’re trying to build here, (Head) Coach (Adam) Gase is trying to build here, and I’m looking forward to being a part of that.”

(What’s your first impression of Head Coach Adam Gase?) – “He’s awesome. He’s not your traditional head coach. A traditional head coach is kind of a stern, hard dude, and I’m not saying that’s not Coach Gase, but he’s a guy. You can relate to him. He’s very open. He’s a really approachable guy. It’s kind of intimidating for players, and I feel like players know that when you walk past a head coach or somebody in the hallway, it’s kind of intimidating. You don’t want to do one thing wrong. You don’t want him to think a certain way about you; but I just passed him on my way in here. And he just … like I said, he’s an approachable guy. I love him as a head coach. I’m excited to be working for him.”

(Did you know any of these other guys? Other rookies?) – “Other rookies, no. I reached out to some of them. I knew Vincent Taylor. We trained together at EXOS in San Diego. I kind of reached out to some of the other guys, Isaiah Ford and Charles (Harris) and them, and kind of start, as rookies, to build that bond, I guess.”

(What have your conversations with them been like or what have you picked up from some of those guys in your first few hours of knowing them?) – “Just that they’re ready to work. The draft’s over. All these Combine workouts and these evaluations and stuff like that, they’re all behind them. I can tell that they’re ready to work. I’m ready to work and we’re excited to get after it this year.”

(Head Coach Adam Gase said he told the rookies it doesn’t matter where you were drafted. It doesn’t matter that you’re a rookie. If you’re better than some 10-year veteran, you’re going to start. How will that impact your approach to maybe compete to start?) – “I think it’s a great mentality to have here and in a program. A lot of the coaches talked about it last night that he said that and he really means that. They gave some examples throughout this rookie orientation about how he really means that because some guys will say it, but they don’t mean it. I think it’s awesome. It just brings up the elevation of competition and competition brings out the best and the best are going to play.”

(What has been your experience with zone blocking and how do you feel like you fit in to that?) – “Like I said, at Utah we ran a spread offense. We ran heavily on inside-zone and gap schemes. We also ran a little bit of outside zone – not that much this last year, I guess; but in years past I’ve had, I want to say, like three or four different offensive coordinators. A lot of them were zone-base schemed. I’ve had some experience in the past. I know I have to learn some new things that they want and what they’re expecting from me and I’m looking forward to the challenge of that.”

(You went away for two years on a mission with your church. Did you learn anything more about yourself when you were doing that and why did you do that?) – “Well, what I learned about myself was that I was a punk kid who thought he had everything figured out when he was 19 years old. I got a nice reality check. I grew up. The mission for me was to go and serve the Lord, but most importantly, people. It’s not really for me to just go out there and say, ‘I’m a missionary. This is about me.’ It’s about serving others. It’s about spreading the Gospel and that’s what it was for me. It was to go out and mature and develop and become a better person.”

(On Sundays, which most people go to church, you view it as ‘I’m going to work.’) – “I have to go to work. Steve Young is probably the biggest example. Steve Young is Latter-day Saint – same as me. I don’t know if anybody is familiar with that, but he talked to a person in our church and they said it’s okay. So I’m going to play football on Sundays and I’m okay with it. My wife’s okay with it. My mom’s okay with it. So I think I’m in the clear. (laughter)”

(What part of your experience told you that you were “a punk kid?”) – “Well I came in, I approached my freshman year of college the wrong way. I rubbed a lot of the veteran guys the wrong way. I thought I was something special. I thought I was coming in to start I guess. I knew I had a lot of things to learn. It was kind of a time for me to step back away from everything that was going on in my life and to look at the bigger picture of life and about caring about other people and helping out other people. So that was nice for me to kind of take a selfless perspective on life.”

(Against that backdrop, how did you feel signing your contract and how would you have felt signing it maybe four or five years ago? Did that change you?) – “Yes, it did. I’ve grown. It did. I believe the mission for me was something that was a real humbling experience. Like I said, it helped me get out of my element, step back and kind of look at things that I might’ve been wrong about and cared too much about myself. It’s more about caring about other people. Life’s about relationships, how you treat people and being a good person. That’s what I believe in. Now signing my contract, I was excited. It’s a nice, exciting thing in life. Now that that’s done with and like I said, the Combine and all that stuff is done with, I’m excited to look to the future and go to work.”

(Would it be fair to say or kind of say that maybe before you would’ve signed that contract and felt it was about you but now you feel it’s about everybody who helped make you?) – “Yes, I mean back then, like I said, (I was a) 19-year-old kid who thinks he has figured out life and thinks he knows more than he actually does. Now I’m pretty old – not old, but I’m 25 this fall – being married and kind of experiencing life with and without my wife, this is the bigger picture. I’m the one who’s going to be playing football, but this is for my wife, this is for my kids, this is for my grandkids and the legacy that I can leave behind.”

Charles Harris – May 5, 2017 Download PDF version

Friday, May 5, 2017

Defensive End Charles Harris

(What do you hope to accomplish from these three days?) – “(I hope to) really get acclimated to the system. There’s a difference between collegiate and professional. (I’m) just really taking after the guys (and) learn the system. (We’re) getting acclimated to the workouts, to the schedule (and) the routines. (We’re) getting to know all of the staff (and) making sure all of the resources are being utilized.”

(Since you landed in Florida, what’s been an eye-opening or cool moment for you?) – “I guess the change in temperature. I think that’s the biggest thing – the humidity and everything like that. Coming from Missouri, it was 40 degrees and raining when I got on the plane. Now, I stepped out here and it was 80 degrees and hot and sunny. So that’s probably the biggest change.”

(Can you talk about that transition of the circus of the draft and then getting here and how that transition has been for you?) – “It’s been real smooth. I believe Miami did a great job of making sure everything’s easy and well going. It wasn’t hectic; it wasn’t overwhelming or anything like that. I’m glad the cameras and everything is over with the whole draft and stuff is over with. So now, it’s all about work. Behind these doors, we’re all going to work and that’s what it’s all about.”

(Have you talked to DE Cameron Wake?) – “I haven’t. He texted me though. That’s the biggest thing I got. I think I’m supposed to speak to him later on today, so that’s pretty exciting just to finally meet the legend in person.”

(Through training camp and through the season, is DE Cameron Wake a guy you’re just going to observe and what he does?) – “Hands down. I’ll be that little brother. You can’t get away from me – the little brother that mom’s tell you ‘He has to go with you up the street.’ That’s what I’m going to be. In every way, shape or form, I’m going to make sure I take after him. That’s a guy everyone around here pumps up and hypes up and I want to be the best so I’m going to learn from the best.”

(Anybody you know back home underwater or are you away from that? The flooding?) – “No, I do not. I haven’t gotten any news of anybody that I know personally. But it is a pretty bad situation either way, so prayers up, for sure.”

(Head Coach Adam Gase was just in here and said, ‘We’re going to get DE Charles Harris better?’ What is it that you need to get better at?) – “Whatever coach wants me to get better at – whether it’s stopping the run, whether that is parts of my pass rush, technique, stance, all shapes or forms. Whatever they want me to improve at, that’s what I’m going to do – on the field, off the field, things like film study. Things like that, that you can’t improve in if you don’t really know about. All coordination, in terms of training, strength and conditioning. All phases of the game, (I want to) make sure I get better.”

(What are your initial impressions of Head Coach Adam Gase now that you’ve gotten to meet him and his style?) – “(He’s a) real laid back coach. (He’s) on you when he’s on you. You can tell he’s got that other side of him that he’ll snap on you. So far, he’s been real cool, real laid back. He told us his rules. He told us his demands. It’s up to us to meet them. So that’s kind of what it’s all about.”

(We hear a lot about your first step as a pass rusher. How quick is your first step?) – “I think it’s one of the best you’re going to see, for sure.”

(Have you seen anyone with a faster first step?) – “I don’t know if I can compare and contrast, but you’re going to see when I’m on the field, for sure.”

(What did Defensive Coordinator Matt Burke say that he hopes you bring?) – “He didn’t say anything specifically. Of course, (he wants me to bring) a humble mindset and willingness to learn. I think things are going to be a lot different coming into a new system so an open mindset and willingness to learn and to adjust.”

(You keep saying ‘to learn’ but you’re also quoted as saying, ‘I’m going to dominate.’ What makes you believe that?) – “That’s the part. I’m willing to learn and I’m also willing to apply. I think I’m easily motored. I can play any way the coach wants me to play. Once I get everything down, the basics of the game and the system and the defense and things like that, everything else is just second nature. That’s when our athletic ability comes over. So once I learn the plays, once I learn the system, learn the technique and all that stuff, the rest of it will be cake for me.”

(Do you feel pressure to start, to be a three-down player, to live up to whatever first-round expectations people might have for you?) – “No, I have no expectations for me. I feel like everything is repeating itself. So coming out of high school, I was a zero star. I know how it feels to be at the bottom. I have the same mindset now. I feel like I’m not in the first round. I don’t feel like a first-rounder, second-rounder or anything like that. I feel like another player, another rookie that just came in – we just had a rookie meeting just a few hours ago – and working my way from the bottom. We’re on the same level across the board in terms of our knowledge of the game and our experience on a professional level. Coming into this level, it’s a whole other game. I can’t come in with that mindset, ‘I’m a first rounder. I’m this. I’m that.’ Like I said, I’m willing to learn, willing to adjust and just get better.”

(When I spoke to your former position coach and University of Miami Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach Craig Kuligowski … Have you seen him yet?) – “I haven’t.”

(University of Miami Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach Craig Kuligowski is not far away. But I asked him why you have so much success on the field and he said because it’s important to you. Can you explain why football, performing well, why is it important to you?) – “It’s just intrinsic. I want to be the best. Nobody told me to. I didn’t have a father or mother tell me to pick up the ball or go run as fast as you can. That’s just me. I feel like I’m blessed with a mindset to want to be the best. I just want to get better. That’s why it’s important to me. I have the opportunity, why not capitalize on it? The Miami Dolphins took a chance on me so it’s time to make their investment pay off.”

(General Manager Chris Grier was saying right after the Dolphins selected you that the team kind of played it cool so that, I guess, they didn’t let other teams know how interested they were in you. Looking back, did you sense some of that?) – “I didn’t. At the Combine, I had a meeting with them. It was a great meeting – probably (one of) my top three, in terms of the feel of the atmosphere, the feel of the room, the feel of the coaches. Post-Combine, I didn’t really have any contact with them. Shoot, they just selected me. I was surprised when I got the call, but I was also happy.”

(The Dolphins talked about maybe moving … I know you just got here. But they said that you’re capable of going inside on pass rush downs. That could be pretty cool if it’s DE Cameron Wake, DE Andre Branch, DT Jordan Phillips and you. How comfortable do you feel with the inside on third down stuff?) – “Anything. Whatever gets me to that quarterback. Whatever it takes for us to get off that field and for us to win a game. At the end of the day, whether I have to play three-technique, two-technique, five, nine … It doesn’t matter what it is. I’m going to do what I have to do. Whatever coach asks me, I’m going to do, for sure.”

(Have you thought about this yet? this is early … You play the Patriots twice. QB Tom Brady back there. Have you thought about…) – “I haven’t, but shout out to all of the Miami Dolphins fans telling me over and over ‘You have to hit Brady.’ But I’m going to take it one game at a time for sure – one quarterback at a time. They’re all the same at the end of the day. It doesn’t matter if it’s Tom Brady or the bottom of the bottom, it doesn’t matter who it is. We’ll take it one game at a time. We have Tampa first and we have to handle that.

(But you did smile when you said hit Patriots QB Tom Brady.) – “Oh yes, you have to.”

(Speaking of looking far ahead, the Dolphins are in Kansas City on Christmas Eve. Are you aware of that? You’ll kind of be back at home, right?) – “I’m aware but, like I said, there’s not any more importance to that game than it is the first game of the season or the last game of the season. I feel like when you start stacking chips on one game, that’s when you start looking towards them and you don’t focus on other ones. So I’m going to take it one game at a time, for sure. Of course it’ll be a blessing to play in my hometown, my home city; but the Chiefs are my enemies. I can’t have no love for them at all.”

(What number did you get?) – “I got number 90.”

(How do you feel about it?) – “I feel great. I feel great.”

(Have you ever worn that before?) – “I haven’t. Mr. Wake got 91, so I’m going to take one step down. But I guess it’s alright, I’m the little brother. Number 90, number 91.”

(You see some of these first-round picks get cars for their moms and things like that. Do you have any plans to do anything like that?) – “Yes, I’ve got something in the works. I can’t really say right now because she’s probably going to be seeing this. But I have stuff lined up for my family, for sure.”

Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier – April 29, 2017 Download PDF version

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum
General Manager Chris Grier

Mike Tannenbaum:

(What do you feel that you overall accomplished in this draft outside of adding football players?) – “Generally, just competition and depth. That was kind of our plan. I think (General Manager) Chris (Grier) and the personnel guys really did a good job, just going back to as early as late January, early February, trying to anticipate the strengths and the weaknesses of the draft. Obviously you never know how things are going to go, but some of the things we did up until the draft signings-wise was kind of in contemplation of how things could go (this weekend). I feel like from an offseason process standpoint, things are headed in the right direction. I think we have more competition, certainly at the interior defensive line position and obviously a couple of other spots. So overall, I think we added depth, competition and we’ll go from there.”

Chris Grier:

(For you guys, which pick kind of surprised you the most that he was there when you were on the clock?) – “I’d say probably Charles Harris. He’s a guy we targeted and we really liked. As soon as we made the pick, Mike (Tannenbaum) and I were getting texts from coaches, scouts and players and people were saying we got a really good player. So, probably him.”

Mike Tannenbaum:

(The folks out there projecting and assessing this group, some may not necessarily see a starter in the first game of this season. I assume you all are okay with that and are taking the big view. Can you just talk about that?) – “I completely agree. Again, we were trying to put the best team together we could heading into the draft, so we could operate from a position of strength and, within reason, I think we did that. So if Charles Harris plays one play or 50 against Tampa Bay (in Week 1), that will all sort itself out. (It’s the) same thing with Raekwon (McMillan) and you go down the line with the rest of them. I do feel it takes about three years to evaluate the draft overall; but I think we got good players, good people. They’re smart. They’re tough. I think they’re really good culture fits for what Chris (Grier), (Head Coach) Adam (Gase), (Owner) Steve Ross and myself believe in, and what you need to put a winner together. So from that standpoint, I think they’re the types of guys, as people, that we’re really excited about.”

(G Isaac Asiata, are you expecting him to compete for a starting job or be a starter as a rookie?) – “I think the expectation is they all come in and compete for it. You’ve heard that here. (Head Coach) Adam (Gase) and the coaching staff do a great job of preaching that: everything’s competition. And you guys saw that last year when Rashawn (Scott) did a great job and got called up at the end for the playoffs. Again, it’s an open competition, so the best players will start and they’ll play.”

(What was it that you saw from G Isaac Asiata that made you say that he can be a good fit for this team?) – “We spent some time with him. He was a 30-visit guy for us. He’s very smart with a passion and a love for football. His life story, he’s had some adversity in his life that he’s overcome, so you’re kind of drawn to those guys. He’s really made himself into a man and how he handles his life. On the field, he’s a nasty prick, and that’s what you like about him. He’s a tough, physical, nasty mauler. We just wanted to add more of that to us.”

(Regarding DT Davon Godchaux, the player you took in the fifth round, there was a very serious allegation against him last fall. What did your investigation of his background and his character and that incident tell you about him?) – “Yes, again, it’s a very serious allegation. It’s something that we spent a lot of time with. (Director of Team Security) Drew Brooks and (Team Security Emeritus) Stu Weinstein did a great job of background information. The incident happened with him and his girlfriend. They were both arrested and then two days later the charges were dropped and he was reinstated to the team. Once everything … We got the facts, interviewed the kid, talked to people in Baton Rouge about it and we felt comfortable with the result and with the information we got from the  background.”

Mike Tannenbaum:

(Could you talk about, between free agency and the draft, the mix of talent on the front seven? You drafted a linebacker and re-did them a little, and then the defensive tackles as you mentioned earlier and DE Charles Harris. What do you see now with that group?) – “I think if you just go back after we lost to Pittsburgh, we were sitting here with Cameron Wake under contract. I think we were fortunate to trade for William Hayes, who’s going to be a player that I think we’re going to be really happy with, both against the run and the pass, and his versatility. And then we were able to re-sign Andre Branch, and he did a nice job for us last year. I thought the coaches really were able to develop him and he took the next step. Then adding Charles Harris and Lawrence Timmons and being able to extend Kiko Alonso and drafting Raekwon (McMillan).  So I think the front seven, we were able to solidify some players that we wanted back, in particular Branch, adding Hayes and some young guys in Harris and McMillan. We really feel like that was an area we wanted to address and I think we certainly did that.”

Chris Grier:

(You guys brought in a whole slew of safeties for 30-visits and end up taking none of them. Is there any one that you were close to getting and they came off the board before you picked? Was there any near misses there?) – “No. For us, it was how the board fell. We had the opportunity to take the players we liked and a little bit of what (a reporter) was talking about (earlier), we are always looking to add and upgrade the speed, the size and the athletic ability on the defensive side, so we felt that at that point, it wasn’t anything that we planned not to take any. It’s just the way the board fell.”

Mike Tannenbaum:

“And sometimes with the 30-visits, it’s a way for us to eliminate a player as well. Just because they’re in the building doesn’t mean … Sometimes that’s just going to solidify a position or a concern that we have. Sometimes it’s a positive, sometimes it’s ‘Hey, this isn’t going to be a good fit,’ and we’re going to move on. Sometimes we bring a guy in, we think he may be a free agent and we want to start recruiting him. Sometimes these 30-visits serve more than one purpose.”

Chris Grier:

(Ideally, how would the five defensive players, that the team added today, have a long-term impact on the success of the defensive unit?) – “We hope it will be long term. It’s up to them now to prove that we were right. From all the research that we’ve done, in terms of the coaching staff and the personnel staff … Raekwon (McMillan) is that quarterback on the defense. It’s been that way his whole life. The expectation is that he’ll prove that he can handle that here at this level. Then adding depth on the d-line. Like we talked about with Charles Harris, you can never have enough d-linemen in this league, especially rushers. For us, it’s adding depth and hopefully these guys all become starters for us.”

Mike Tannenbaum:

(How would you describe Defensive Coordinator Matt Burke’s reaction to this weekend?) – “He became a permanent member of the personnel department. (Laughter) I think we saw on TV that we were the last team to take an offensive player. I think Matt sees that as the start of something, not an aberration. (Laughter)”

Chris Grier:

(With the defensive tackles, what was it you saw from them individually that made you decide that they were a great fit for your defensive line?) – “With (Davon) Godchaux, he’s a physical run defender. When you see how he looks, he’s a big square body. He’s tough. He’s played in those wars in the SEC, the Alabama game, those 9-6 games, the Wisconsin game. This guy is a physical, tough guy, that enjoys getting dirty, getting in there and being physical. With him, those were some of the traits we liked about him. Then with Vincent (Taylor), for a big guy, he’s had production. He’s been a pass rusher there. (He had 6.5) sacks last year, 13 tackles for loss. (He’s) a bigger body guy that can be a one-gap penetrator and create a little havoc in the backfield at times. Those are things, when you’re at the point in the draft, (if) you can get guys with size and production for a couple of years, they are interesting prospects. We are happy to get them.”

Mike Tannenbaum:

(Going back to the offense for a second, you almost made it through the entire draft without adding to your skill players on offense. Is that a statement on the guys you have and how comfortable you are? Or are you a little bit nervous in the fact that you didn’t add to the skill players?) – “We added Julius Thomas and we were able to re-sign Kenny Stills. So again, we look at it as more of what we have done in the offseason and what you do in free agency sometimes complements what you do in the draft. We were able to add Isaiah Ford in the seventh round; but again, we are taking more of a longer view of the whole offseason.”

(Kind of piggybacking off of that, is RB Damien Williams signed yet or is he still unsigned?) – “So we have his rights. He hasn’t signed his tender. He is a restricted free agent and our tender is still out there.”

(Is there a reason that this has not gotten done?) – “You would have to ask him.”

(Is it frustrating that it is not done, I guess?) – “I mean, for us, we worry about the players that are here. And again, just to keep it in context, we are in the voluntary part of the offseason program. We are thrilled with the people that are here, the players that are getting coached. When Damien (Williams) comes, that is obviously something you would have to ask him.”

(You said to ask you after the draft, and it is after the draft, if T Ja’Wuan James would get the fifth-year exercise. Do you know?) – “We are close to getting that finalized. I know we have a little bit more time and you guys will have nothing to write about for Monday (laughter); so we will just keep that suspenseful for a couple of more days. But (Head Coach) Adam (Gase), Chris and I have talked about that. We are pretty close here. We just want to get through the weekend. We are in the midst of finalizing 14 free agent signings upstairs, so there is a lot of paperwork going on as we speak.”

Chris Grier:

(Head Coach Adam Gase had said at the Combine that the draft itself, making picks, is actually really easy because of all the work you do leading up to, and it is really just determined for you once you get to those picks. With the way you described it the last couple of days it sounded like those picks – your first two-day picks – were very straightforward. Was the draft, overall, just a very smooth, and straightforward and almost easy process for you this year?) – “Yes, it was. It is funny that (Owner) Mr. (Stephen) Ross was laughing. He gets anxious sometimes. ‘If you like him, go get him! Go get him!’ For us, it is. The players fell off the way we had them on the board. There were some players there that we were surprised were still there at that point in the draft. For us, we really just went right down the board and so for us, it was fairly easy. (Head Coach) Adam (Gase) would come in and out, and he would be texting Mike, ‘How many picks are we away? Alright.’ He would come back in and then he would come in five picks earlier, then we make our decision and go.”

Chris Grier:

(You found a very good receiver in WR Isaiah Ford. What was it in particular that you guys liked about his game?) – “First of all, he’s been productive for a couple of years there. If you watch Virginia Tech, he was a player that was always kind of the go-to guy. It was always the plan to stop him. (We) like he’s a very good route runner. He’s a very smart kid when you talk to him, so he really understands leverages, coverages, running routes, finding the open spots in zones. So (we had) the opportunity to add a good player that late in the draft. We were surprised he was still there. I know again, he fell, because probably people said how he should have run faster; but at the end of the day, we just like to draft football players. It worked out with Jarvis (Landry). We’ll see if it works out with him.”

Mike Tannenbaum:

(Was Owner Stephen Ross okay with you taking an Ohio State guy in LB Raekwon McMillan?) – “Just like he is with a Michigan State head coach (laughter).”

(How much better do you guys believe the team is in run defense then at the end of the season, based on all of the guys you added?) – “For me, you start where you start. We have a new defensive coordinator and the whole team is going to be a little bit different, and hopefully we’re making progress. How we quantify that, we’ll see at the end of the 2017 season. We’re encouraged by some of the pieces we’ve added. Again, I think the thing that we’re really proud of is they’re really culture fits. They’re smart. They’re tough. They’re competitive. Most of them came from big schools and good programs. So that’s the part we’re really excited about. How much better we are? We’ll see. We’re 0-0 but we’re excited about where we’re heading.”

Isaiah Ford – April 29, 2017 Download PDF version

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Wide Receiver Isaiah Ford

(What are your thoughts on being drafted by the Dolphins?) – “I’m just excited for the opportunity. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been dreaming about this opportunity since I was five years old and just for it to come, it’s truly a blessing. I’m ready to get there and get to work.”

(How would you describe your playing style?) – “I think that I’m a playmaker. I’m someone that can be trusted when a play needs to be made. I’m a great route runner. I love to snatch the ball out of the air or I can catch it and do something when I get the ball in my hands. So anything that needs to be done, I feel like I can come in and work as hard as I can to do it.”

(I saw that you averaged 37 points as a high school basketball player. How difficult of a choice was it then to go the football route in college?) – “I initially intended on playing both in college but once I got there, football kind of took over and once basketball season came, I just decided to give it up.”

(What made you come out early this year?) – “After the three years of production I had back to back, and talking over with my family, with looking at the team we’d have next year at Virginia Tech, I just felt like it was the best decision.”

(Do you have any special teams experience?) – “In high school I returned punts. In college, I returned punts as well; but they never put me back there all for the sake of not wanting to risk me getting injured or anything like that. But I’m perfectly fine with getting on special teams.”

(What do you feel is greatest attribute as a player?) – “I think it’s my route running. It’s something that I paid a great deal of attention to and worked really hard to try to perfect my craft.”

Vincent Taylor – April 29, 2017 Download PDF version

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Defensive Tackle Vincent Taylor

(What was your reaction to getting drafted by the Dolphins and have you had contact with them prior to the draft?) – “It was a blessing. When I got the call, they told me, ‘How (do you) feel about being a Miami Dolphin?’ I told them, ‘It’s a blessing. I’m grateful. It’s an honor. I’d love to be a Miami Dolphin,’ and when I told them that he said, ‘Okay, we’ll turn in the card and I’m going to become a Miami Dolphin.’ It was just a special moment for me and my family.”

(What was this draft experience like for you?) – “It was fun. Throughout the whole process it was fun. It got stressful and nervous at times but through it all, having faith and having my girlfriend around and my parents and my family, they just told me to stay patient and my time is coming. Miami came calling, and like I said, it’s a blessing to hear my name called by Miami.”

(You have a pretty impressive sack total. How would you describe yourself as a player?) – “I’m just a player who when I’m out there, you can tell I’m having fun. I like to have fun, make plays and go out there and compete. I think me coming to Miami, I think they’re an organization that likes to win. They play hard. So I’m looking forward to see what the future holds for me and this team.”

(Did I read that your family was displaced by Hurricane Katrina?) – “Yes, we were. Coming up as a kid we got relocated because of Hurricane Katrina and then I moved to San Antonio and then I started getting looks from colleges. I wound up going to Oklahoma State and now, today, I am a Miami Dolphin.”

(Did your family lose their home?) – “We did. We lost everything we had at that time. We just got new furniture, my house – my roof fell in – got caved in and we lost everything. Losing everything and now hearing my name called is a blessing. It is a testament.”

(You blocked five kicks in your college career. Is there any special trick to that or is that one of the units you enjoyed working on?) – “I did … I don’t take plays off: special teams plays, field goal blocks. I treat that just like a regular defensive play. At Oklahoma State, that was one way we started practices off, with field goal block. Every time we did field goal block, I gave it my all and it all paid off. My teammates were able to help.”

(What NFL player would you say you model your game after or your style resembles?) – “Growing up, I used to always tell myself I liked the way Ndamukong Suh played. I’m not saying that just because I got drafted by Miami but I’ve been saying that in every interview that I did. They would (ask), ‘Who do you model your game after or who do you look up to?’ Ndamukong Suh was always that guy I looked up to and for me to be able to be on the same team with him and just learn from him, I am looking forward to see what God has in store for me and what I can learn from him.”

(Can you talk about your emotions right now? You sound like there are may be some tears of gratitude going on.) – “I am very emotional. When it got down to the second round, I told myself going through this whole process, I do not care where I go. My coaches told me it’s not where you get drafted – whether you go first round or second round – it matters what you do when you get your foot in that door. For me, to be able to get my name called, it was a dream come true, hearing my name called in the NFL Draft.”

Davon Godchaux – April 29, 2017 Download PDF version

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Defensive Tackle Davon Godchaux

(Were you surprised to be taken by the Dolphins? Did you have any interaction with them before the draft?) – “I was very surprised to be taken by the Dolphins. They called me a couple of times but I didn’t know that they were going to pick me. I thought I’d be going somewhere up north but I’m so very excited to be a Miami Dolphin, to learn from guys like Ndamukong Suh and other guys. I’m just ready to get to work, put my head down and get to work.”

(Did you meet with them either down here or on campus?) – “I met with them at the Combine. I came in there, I was very honest about everything and watched film with them. I love the coach, Dan Marino and (Head) Coach Adam Gase. So I was very excited to have appointments with them.”

(What do you think is the best thing you bring to an NFL team?) – “Leadership and just bringing a smile every day and my work ethic. I’m going to work each and every day, learn from the older guys in the system and always be a team player. Things like that.”

(You had 6.5 sacks last year. That is a lot for a defensive tackle, why do you think you were able to get after the quarterback so effectively?) – “Just really getting off the ball and technique. I had (six-plus) sacks in my sophomore year and junior year. I think that’s pretty productive. Just getting to the ball and moving the quarterback off his spot, that’s something I can bring to the Miami Dolphins.”

(You came out of the draft as a junior. Are you disappointed that you lasted until the fifth round?) – “Yes, I thought I was going to be taken in the third round. I can tell you this, the Miami Dolphins got them a steal … I thought I was going to go in the third round and be taken Day 2. I was kind of disappointed I was picked in Day 3, but it worked out for the best. I’m a Miami Dolphin.”

(Is there an NFL player you model your game after?) – “The kind of guys like Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, guys like that in the inside who I can model my game after. I’m excited to be going to Miami, getting to work with Ndamukong Suh, arguably one of the best inside defensive tackles. It’s going to be a very humbling experience.”

Isaac Asiata – April 29, 2017 Download PDF version

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Guard Isaac Asiata

(What is this experience like for you having to wait until Day 3 to be selected?) – “It is a humbling experience. I knew that God had a plan for me wherever I was going to go and I knew that it didn’t matter when or where I went; but what is important is to report to minicamp and doing what I can to contribute to this team to win the Super Bowl.”

(Are you primarily a guard or do you play guard and center?) – “I am a guard/center. Really, wherever they want me to play, I will learn the position. It doesn’t matter to me. Like I said, I am ready to come in and contribute to this offensive line and to the Dolphins organization.”

(How would you describe your style of play?) – “I am a real, real hard-nosed football player. I believe that an offensive lineman needs to play with intellectuality and brutality. He needs to be smart and he also needs to put guys in the dirt. That is the kind of style of play that I bring to the table, and I am ready to bring that down to Miami.”

(How was your visit with Miami when you came down here and did you have an idea this might be your ending place?) – “I was excited man. I was down there and I met with (Head) Coach (Adam) Gase and the whole staff and I told them before I left that I really wanted to be a Dolphin. They have shown a lot of love to (University of) Utah guys in the past and I am very blessed, very honored to be the next Utah Ute to go down to Miami. I am very, very excited.”

(What do you think is the best thing that you bring to an NFL team?) – “The best thing that I bring to an NFL team? I would say I am a hard worker. I am an accountable guy. I believe in winning. I believe in this program. I know the Dolphins are on the up and are about to do something here in the next year. I believe this is going to be a Super Bowl-caliber team and I am excited to be a part of it.”

(Have you always played on the left side?) – “I played on the left and I played on the right. Sometimes in games I played on both.”

(Schematically, are there things that you did at Utah that you feel mesh well with what you are going to be asked to do here in Miami?) – “I think just the outside zone (and) zone schemes … We ran a spread offense (at Utah) and we ran a lot of inside zone, outside zone and gap-power schemes at Utah – counter schemes, everything. I have kind of run it all and I feel like it will mesh really well with what Miami has.”

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