Jaguars claim LB James Onwualu off waivers

The Jacksonville Jaguars have claimed third-year LB James Onwualu off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers, the club announced today.

Onwualu, 6-1, 232, originally signed with the Los Angeles Chargers as a rookie free agent in 2017 and appeared in nine games, posting six special teams tackles during his rookie year. In 2018, he played in five games with the 49ers and registered two special teams tackles and one forced fumble.

The Saint Paul, Minn. native attended Notre Dame and began his college career as a wide receiver before switching to linebacker during his sophomore season. As a senior in 2016, he registered 75 tackles, three sacks and led the team with 11.5 tackles for loss.


2019 NFL Draft sets records for fan attendance, viewership

The 2019 NFL Draft is in the books and has set new records in media consumption and fan attendance. With a combined 3.9 HH TV rating and average of 6.1M viewers across NFL, ESPN and ABC TV and digital channels, the 2019 NFL Draft is the highest-rated and most-watched Draft ever, breaking records established just a year ago. In total across Nielsen-measured channels, all NFL Draft telecasts combined to reach more than 47.5 million viewers over the three-day event, up +5% vs. 2018.

The 2019 NFL Draft featured the broadest ever distribution of official NFL Draft video with NFL Network, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN Deportes in addition to NFL and ESPN digital and social properties. This was the second straight year that all seven rounds of the live, three-day event were aired on broadcast television.

The collaborative distribution approach across NFL Media and The Walt Disney Company helped grow the combined rating and viewership by +11% and +8% respectively over 2018.

In addition to media consumption, the 2019 NFL Draft shattered records for attendance as over 600,000 fans fill the streets of Nashville to celebrate the newest class of NFL rookies, easily establishing a new record (250k in 2017 – Philadelphia). Many of those in Nashville not attending the NFL Draft in-person were watching from home, as the market delivered a combined for a 10.6 HH rating – up +104% versus Nashville last year, and up +74% versus the 2018 host city.

“The 2019 NFL Draft was a tremendous continuation of the celebration of the NFL’s 100th season and an opportunity to welcome the next generation of stars,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “Dramatic and emotional storylines played out in cities across the country with the energetic host city of Nashville serving as a breathtaking backdrop to hundreds of thousands of passionate fans who lined the streets and enjoyed a unique NFL Draft Experience. We congratulate our newest players and their families and thank the Tennessee Titans, the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp., the City of Nashville, the volunteers, and everyone who made the Draft such a memorable, entertaining, and successful experience.”

Viewership metrics reflect Nielsen Fast Nationals, Nielsen Fast Total Audience Estimates, and ESPN/NFL digital measurement.

Jaguars add 21 undrafted rookie free agents

 The Jacksonville Jaguars have agreed to terms with the following 21 undrafted rookie free agents, the club announced today:

Shane Bowman DE 6-4 290 Washington
Tyre Brady WR 6-3 211 Marshall
Khairi Clark DT 6-1 309 Florida
Donnell Greene OL 6-5 335 Minnesota
Joe Giles-Harris LB 6-2 234 Duke
Tae Hayes CB 5-9 188 Appalachian State
Raphael Leonard WR 6-2 197 Southern Illinois
Carson Meier TE 6-5 254 Oklahoma
Picasso Nelson Jr. CB 5-10 193 Southern Mississippi
Marquez Sanford CB 5-10 189 Murray State
Saivion Smith CB 6-1 199 Alabama
Dredrick Snelson WR 5-11 189 UCF
Bunchy Stallings OG 6-2 324 Kentucky
Connor Strachan LB 6-0 230 Boston College
Michael Walker WR 5-11 194 Boston College
Brandon Watson CB 5-11 198 Michigan
Papi White WR 5-8 188 Ohio
Andrew Williams DT 6-4 294 Auburn
Andrew Wingard S 6-0 209 Wyoming
Zedrick Woods S 5-11 205 Ole Miss
Roderick Young DT 6-1 307 North Texas

Cody Ford on Bills: ‘I could just see that this program is headed in the right direction’

Former Oklahoma OT Cody Ford is happy to be in Buffalo. Ford, who was selected in the second round by Bills after Buffalo moved up two spots(traded a second and fifth round pick to Raiders), was excited to hear the Bills call his name.

“One of the local reporters came up to me, and he was asking me about the process and things,” Ford said at a press conference on Saturday. “He asked which team I thought would be the best fit and where I wanted to play. I told him, I was like, “I really want to go to Buffalo.” And he was like, “Nobody wants to go to Buffalo.” And I was like, I was just feeling it right now. Me and the O-line coach [Bobby Johnson] really hit it off. We had multiple meetings between the combine and pro day. It was just a great interaction with him. I could just see that this program is headed in the right direction.”

Ford cites his relationship with Bills OL coach Bobby Johnson as one of the reasons he wanted to be with the Bills.

“Mainly, his coaching style kind of resembles the coaching style I’ve been used to,” Ford said about Johnson. “And what he expects from his players is kind of what I bring to the table. And just the family atmosphere here is kind of what really made me be like I want to go to Buffalo.”

At 6-3 and 329 pounds, Ford is a load, and before last season, Ford was a guard, and some believe he is better suited to play that position on the next level, but according to Ford, he believes he can play on the outside in the NFL.

“For me, it’s all about proving myself and proving to people what I can do,” Ford said. “For Buffalo allowing me to start out at right tackle, giving me a chance to prove my myself and prove my athleticism and everything I can prove at the tackle position to everybody else is a great honor. And then if need be, if they need me inside then I’ll move inside because I’m here to win football games.”

And Bills GM Brandon Beane agrees with Ford, he thinks Ford belongs on the outside.

I would say position one for us right now would be right tackle, but we do like the versatility to go inside,” Beane said during a conference call on Friday. “He’s smart and physical and would be fine in there.”

In 2018, Ford started 14 games for Oklahoma, and was a third-team All-American.

It’s not every day that players want to be in Buffalo, but the Bills seem to be moving in the right direction, and Cody Ford hopes to keep it going in that direction.

Jaguars grab Temple RB RyQuell Armstead in the fifth round

The Jacksonville Jaguars have selected former Temple RB RyQuell Armstead with the 140th overall selection (fifth round). Jacksonville obtained the 35th overall selection (second round), the 140th overall selection (fifth round) and the 235th overall selection (seventh round) in a trade with Oakland for the 38th overall selection (second round) and the 109th overall selection (fourth round). The Jaguars selected OT Jawaan Taylor with the 35th overall selection on Friday night.

Armstead, 5-11, 220, played in 47 collegiate games and recorded 2,812 career rushing yards and 34 TDs on 573 attempts (4.9 rush avg.). As a senior in 2018, he finished 10th in the nation in rushing TDs (13) and 11th in rushing yards per game (115.8) and earned first-team All-American Athletic Conference honors.

Armstead also recorded a sack in a game against Tulsa, becoming the third player in the FBS since 2000 to rush for 100 yards and register a sack in the same game.

Armstead is the second player from Temple to be drafted by the Jaguars, joining DT Terrance Knighton, who was selected in the third round in 2009.

Eagles RB Miles Sanders: ‘I’m ready to do whatever to help this team win a championship’

On Friday, the Philadelphia Eagles did something that they have not done in a long time.  Philadelphia selected former Penn State RB Miles Sanders in the second round of the NFL Draft. This is the first time Philly has selected a running back this high since they drafted LeSean McCoy in the second round back in 2009, and ironically enough, Sanders, who is from Pittsburgh, hopes to be just as successful as McCoy has been in the NFL.

“I heard about him(LeSean McCoy) when he came up from high school, broke a lot of records at his high school, too,” Sanders said at his introductory press conference on Saturday. “So I know a lot about his game. He’s still doing well in the league, so he’s just the type of player that you see as a real vet and as a guy that you can really look up to and get advice. I don’t know how long he’s been in the league, but he’s doing very well for himself, so the type of guy that I really look up to, and running backs in my list, too. But that’s the type of career that I’m trying to really follow.”

At Penn State, Sanders waited patiently behind Saquon Barkley, and finally got his chance to be a feature back last season. In 2018, Sanders rushed for 1274 yards and 9 touchdowns.

Recently, Philadelphia acquired RB Jordan Howard from the Bears. The Eagles also have Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, and Josh Adams in the mix. Over the past few seasons, Philly has rotated their running backs, which is okay with Sanders.

“I’m used to rotating. I’m not a selfish player,” Sanders said. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help this team win. High school, I split reps with another great running back. Penn State was kind of the same thing. I’m ready. I’m willing to do whatever, as far as special teams or splitting reps, it doesn’t matter. I’m ready to do whatever to help this team win a championship.”

Last season, due to injuries, Philly struggled at the running back position. It is clear after some of the moves Philly has made that fixing this issue was a big priority for the team. The additions of Howard and Sanders should improve the running game for the Eagles in 2019.

Vikings’ Irv Smith Jr.: ‘I’ve seen snow; I’ve never lived in it, but I’ve seen it; I’ll have to get used to it’

Former Alabama TE Irv Smith Jr. comes to Minnesota with a big game and a big name. Smith is the son of former NFL TE Irv Smith Sr., who played seven seasons with the Saints, 49ers, and Browns.

Smith Jr., who was selected in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Vikings on Friday night, gives Minnesota another option at tight end if they wanted to move on from veteran TE Kyle Rudolph, which some believe could happen. According to the NFL Network’s Albert Breer, teams are calling the Vikings about Rudolph, and if things go as some think, Smith Jr. could be a starter with the Vikings in 2019.

Last season at Alabama, Smith Jr. had 44 receptions for 710 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Growing up in New Orleans, and going to school in Alabama, Smith Jr. is not used to the cold weather that he will experience in Minnesota(fortunately, the Vikings play in a dome), which was one of the topics he discussed on a conference call on Friday night. Smith also addressed his relationship with his dad, Irv Smith Sr., Rudolph, O.J. Howard, and more:

Q: What was it like growing up in a football family?

Smith: It was amazing. My dad doing all the things that he’s done, as a young man having him as a mentor and seeing all his footballs, his helmets, his trophies and everything around the house, just seeing all that motivated me to put myself in this position I’m in today.

Q: What do you know about Kyle Rudolph, and how do you see the two of you working together?

Smith: I see him as a player that I definitely looked up to playing football, especially as a tight end. He’s done so much, been a Pro Bowl player, and I can’t wait to work with him and learn from him.

Q: Did you always want to play tight end, considering that was your dad’s position too?

Smith: When I was younger I started out playing receiver. I started playing football in eighth grade, and my sophomore year I started playing tight end. After that I switched over to the position.

Q: Did your dad try to steer you in that direction?

Smith: He definitely did. At first he said, “You can be a receiver, and be slow receiver, or a fast tight end.” I wound up being a fast tight end and it worked out.

Q: What kind of advice has your dad given you throughout this process?

Smith: He’s helped me so much, honestly. Just telling me some of the things to do, some of the things not to do, learning from his mistakes. Just picking his brain. He’s helped me so much and he’s going to continue to help me throughout this.

Q: Do you take pride in your versatility and your ability to play in the slot and out wide?

Smith: Yes sir, that’s really what I pride myself in mostly. All the best tight ends in the NFL and all the greats, they were able to do both; run block and make plays in the passing game. It opens a lot for you and helps the team in all phases of the game. It’s something I pride myself on and I’ll continue to work on and improve as a player.

Q: Talk about your ability to create mismatches.

Smith: It’s something that I really pride myself on. I believe no linebacker or safety one-on-one can stay with me, and I’m going to keep proving to people [why] that’s how I feel.

Q: What did you learn from O.J. Howard, playing behind him early in your career?

Smith: I learned a lot from O.J. I was a freshman and he was a senior, and the way he carried himself as a player and a person, the way he treated everyone, that’s something that I really took from him. On the field he took no plays off, was a complete tight end, I believe, and it’s proven that he’s doing the same thing in the NFL today.

Q: How do you feel you are as a run blocker? Do you think you’re still a work in progress in that area?

Smith: Yeah, I definitely think I’m a work in progress. I went against what I feel like was the top competition in college, and I did a great job of it, but it’s definitely something that I can always improve on and it’s something that is going to be a main focus this coming year.

Q: Have you ever been to Minnesota?

Smith: Never. I can’t wait.

Q: Have you seen snow?

Smith: I’ve seen snow; I’ve never lived in it, but I’ve seen it; I’ll have to get used to it.

Q: Are you going to go out and buy a car now? I heard yours broke down on the way back from Tuscaloosa.

Smith: Yeah, I was driving form Alabama to New Orleans and it ran out on me. I had it since my sophomore year of high school, so yeah, it’s time for a new lift.

Bills GM Beane on McCoy: ‘Before you ask that question, he’s still the starter’

The Buffalo Bills grabbed a solid prospect in round 3 when they selected Florida Atlantic RB Devin Singletary, and according to the NFL Network, the 5-9, 200-pound back, is a “mini LeSean McCoy” because of his running style. At some point, the Bills will have to replace the 30-year-old McCoy, and maybe Singletary is the answer.

In three seasons at Florida Atlantic, Singletary ran for over 4000 yards with 66 rushing touchdowns.

Bills GM Brandon Beane explained why the team chose Singletary.

“As I said earlier, we followed the board, and he was sticking out,” Beane said on Friday night. “We felt like he was the best player on the board and you’ve got to follow that. We know we’ve got some age there too, so to add a young guy, we felt was a smart move not only for this year but for the future. Again, Sean [McDermott] said it, we believe in competition. LeSean McCoy is still here. Before you ask that question, he’s still the starter. We roll the ball out; there’s no questions about that. Devin [Singletary], just like we said about Cody [Ford] and Ed [Oliver], he’ll come in here and compete. Wherever he slots when we get ready to play games is where it’ll end up being.”

With the addition of veteran RB Frank Gore, 35, the Bills are a little old at the running back position, and at some point, they need to find a replacement for their top back, McCoy, and as we know about the NFL, it’s about getting younger and cheaper, and Singletary is more youthful and less expensive. Also, the Bills signed former Jaguars RB T.J. Yeldon thIs offseason, which adds depth to the running back position. It should be interesting to see what role Singletary will have with the Bills in 2019.

Eagles’ Dillard: ‘I’ve been told that the media, the fans, everybody, are all about their Eagles’

The Philadelphia Eagles really wanted Washington State LT Andre Dillard, and on Thursday night, they made sure they got him. Philadelphia traded the 25th overall pick, and a fourth and sixth round pick to Baltimore to move up three spots to grab Dillard with 22nd pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

In Dillard, Philadelphia gets one of the top offensive linemen in this Draft. The 23-year-old Dillard could be the heir apparent to nine-time Pro Bowler Jason Peters.

Today, Dillard was introduced to the Philly media.

Here is what he had to say:

Q. So last year, according to Pro Football Focus, you were the top pass blocking tackle in college football. What adjustments are you going to have to make from the college game to the NFL game?

ANDRE DILLARD: Yeah, so coming from that [Washington State head coach] Mike Leach offense at Wazoo, we definitely passed the ball a lot, so I kind of got a leg up on the pass protection aspect of the game. There’s that question, can this guy run block? You know, there hasn’t been much film of that. I haven’t been asked to do that a lot but since the end of college, I’ve been working a lot on that part of the game and I’m going to continue to do that and I’m really excited.

Q. You mentioned Washington State head coach Mike Leach’s offense, you’re in a two-point stance most of the time and not a lot of run blocking in that offense. How do you think you’ll take the next step at this level doing three-point stance and run blocking? 

ANDRE DILLARD: Yeah, like I said, you know, at the Senior Bowl, I kind of got my first glimpse at being in a three-point stance and it felt pretty natural for me to do that and put the hand in the dirt and just drive somebody off the ball so if that was a lot of fun I can only imagine what the next chapter in my life is going to be like and I’m just really excited to get to work and improve in every way that I can.

Q. Along those lines of pass blocking versus run blocking, I think there are some thoughts that people question whether you are mean enough. Can you be mean enough on the field? 

ANDRE DILLARD: Of course. You’ve got a little taste of that over my film and over the Senior Bowl film. It’s just a switch. Like people will think I’m not capable of being a mean guy on the field because I’m nice right now, but there’s that switch and you’ve got to know when to be mean and when to be nice.

Q. I think I read that when you first started playing football, you described yourself as a “wuss.” Can you just talk about playing with a little bit of an edge? What changed during your high school career? 

ANDRE DILLARD: Well, by wuss, I meant, you know, when I first played in eighth and ninth grade, I had no idea what I was doing. I had never hit a person before, so I didn’t – I was unsure if that was okay and it’s like, yeah, you have a helmet on. Just go out there and – yeah, over the years of progressively getting better at the game I just fell in love with it more and more and just put more of my body and soul into it, and so, definitely gotten a lot more aggressive over the years.

Q. Going back to where you were when you first started playing in eighth grade there to where you are today, can you believe that, hey, I’m a first-round pick and you’re standing here with the Philadelphia Eagles today; if you go back to that point, would you have thought that idea would be crazy to be here today? 
ANDRE DILLARD: Yeah, a lot of the time I do go back and think about those times. It never even crossed my mind that I would even be like a college player. You know, so it just – thinking about the journey that I’ve had up to this point, it really is something special.

Q. So how did that happen? How did you get from that point as a lightly recruited player, as a redshirt player to a first-round pick? 

ANDRE DILLARD: Really I just – the coaches that I’ve had growing up, I’ve been blessed to have. Some of the best men in my life, with those guys, and they really took me under their wing and showed me everything about the game and always encouraged me to keep going, keep pushing, when times got really tough and I was discouraged in myself.

When things weren’t going well real early, what made you stick with it? Why didn’t you give up? 

ANDRE DILLARD: I’ve always just had this thing about me where I like to finish what I started. I don’t ever want to leave anything with regrets, and I just really kept trusting it.

You’ve already graduated, right? So how important was that to get your degree, too?

ANDRE DILLARD: Yeah, that was probably the most important reason that I stayed and didn’t go early, and it really was a benefit to me in all different ways, football included. I just think the degree is the most important part because that’s why you’re in college. That’s the main thing that you have to do. You have to have a plan B because you’re not going to play football forever.

Q. When you arrived, fans were waiting at the gate and cheering your arrival. What was that like for you, and then what have you been told about Philadelphia and what these fans are like?

ANDRE DILLARD: That was just an amazing feeling. I felt like some kind of superhero. It was a really good feeling and just to feel that passion from the Philly fans right there. I’ve been told that the media, the fans, everybody, are all about their Eagles. Very passionate group, community, and I’m just really excited to be a part of all that.

Q. So I think you only gave up one sack last season at Washington State. Do you remember the one sack and how much pride do you take in a stat like that, only giving up one when they pass the ball as much as you guys did? 

ANDRE DILLARD: I remember that same exact play. I sometimes like dreamt about it because I’m just really critical of myself and everything that I can do better on each play.

Q. The Eagles have T Jason Peters obviously at left tackle for now. Did they tell you what they would like to see from you this year and if there’s an opportunity and they really want to get you on the field, would you play guard or would you learn another position on the line at all? 

ANDRE DILLARD: Right now, I’m just kind of here meeting everybody, showing me the ropes around the place right now. Whatever they need me to do, I’m here, ready to do it and ready to work.

Q. Getting back to that one sack, what do you remember about it?

ANDRE DILLARD: I do remember that my weight was kind of forward and my hands weren’t all the way inside on that particular play, and so he kind of just got a hold of my shoulder and kind of pulled me down forward and went inside. I’ll always remember that play.

Q. A lot of scouting reports praise you for your technique. How have you kind of developed that technique throughout your career and has your dad helped you with that at all having his experience?

ANDRE DILLARD: Yeah, my dad played a huge part in my football development, especially in the earlier stages. I would always have him for advice throughout the years and not just football, but life in general. He’s been just the greatest role model for me and after every game, he would kind of critique me a little bit here and there. Tell me about certain plays and all that. But the technique standpoint, I used to watch a lot of [T] Jason Peters and, [T] Tyron Smith with the [Dallas] Cowboys and [T] Trent Williams, [Washington] Redskins. Just some good tackles, [Green Bay Packers T] David Bakhtiari. I just liked to watch some of those high-end tackles and kind of watch what they do with their technique.

And I’ve heard just lots of different pointers from different coaches everywhere.

Q. Coming from a program where you guys threw 50, 60, 70 times a game, was there a point where you really thought this is going to really help prepare you for the NFL, which every year is becoming more of a passing league?

ANDRE DILLARD: Yeah, I do think having a leg up on pass protection is helpful for me because it is something that is very hard to master. It takes a lot of precision, technique and just poise and everything. And so you really have to study and take lots of reps in order to master something like that. So I think it definitely helps me with that transition.

Can you take us through just how much your body changed over the course of your time at Washington State?

ANDRE DILLARD: Yeah, so I came into Washington State at 240 pounds, and that was the sole reason I didn’t was kind of under-recruited, and [Washington State head coach] Mike Leach and the staff over there just kind of took a chance with me. You know, let’s see if we can put some meat on this skinny kid, and it just turned out to work really well.

I gained about 20 or 30 pounds each year, and started at 290 my sophomore year; and then about 305 the next year; and then 310 my last year. So, it worked out pretty well.

Q. What did you do to put on all that weight?

ANDRE DILLARD: I just lived in the weight room, really. I’d go between class and fill my backpack up with snacks. I’d eat late at night because apparently that’s how people gain weight a lot. (laughter) I would set an alarm for two in the morning and drink a protein shake and go back to sleep.

Q. What kind of snacks?
ANDRE DILLARD: Those peanut butter and jellies in the bags, that was a popular one there. (laughter) And just little bars and bananas, all that good stuff.

Q. Did you have that make any changes to your game as your body grew? Did you have to learn to do different technique?

ANDRE DILLARD: I kind of kept the same general technique because when I first came in, I was as fast as the receivers because I was only 240. I tried to keep that same technique while putting on the weight so that I could be a fast big guy.

Q. Have you had a cheesesteak yet?

ANDRE DILLARD: I haven’t had a real one.

Q. There’s a lot of pressure and expectations that come with being a first-round draft pick. The fact that you will not likely have to be thrown into the fire and play right away and can learn from a guy like Jason Peters, will that help alleviate some of the pressure and expectations where you can really learn and focus and not have to worry about the other things picks have to worry about?

ANDRE DILLARD: Yeah, sure, you imagine that if somebody were to not have to be thrown in right away, you know, they would get a lot of extra time to develop their skills and learn from the best of the best. But like I said before, whatever they needed me to do, regardless of what it is, I’m ready for it.

Q. Of the great left tackles you’ve watched, is there anybody you’re specifically drawn to, because you compare yourself to them physically or anything of that nature?

ANDRE DILLARD: Physically, I like to compare myself to Tyron Smith. We have almost the same body. He’s definitely a lot bulkier than me, but I like to kind of compare my game to his a little bit.

Q. Was it difficult following in your father’s footsteps?

ANDRE DILLARD: At first, because I didn’t like football at first when I first got on the field. But, you know, I always just stuck to it. I love my dad a lot and I trusted his words a lot, so.

Q. Did he push you?

ANDRE DILLARD: In a way. Not necessarily push, but he was more of encouraging. He was always supportive of what I did in my life. But if I did ever feel like giving up on something, you know, he would kind of step in and be like, ‘Hey, you know, you don’t want to live life with any regrets.’ That’s kind of where I got that finish-what-you-started thing.

Q. At what point did you know that you were going to be a first-round pick? Was it during one of your recent years?

ANDRE DILLARD: Kind of. I didn’t start thinking about the NFL until maybe midway through college. And then that’s when my coaches were kind of like, ‘Hey, you know, these scouts are coming through asking about you,’ and I was kind of surprised. I was like, ‘Are you sure it was me?’ (laughter) But that give me some confidence, and then as the words started coming in more and more about NFL this, scouts this, it kind of just clicked in my head like, ‘Hey, you know, I can do this,’ and I started comparing myself to NFL players or just players that I played with that are in the NFL now, like Joe Dahl with Detroit and Cole Madison with Green Bay. I’m pretty good friends with Austin Corbett at the Browns. So, I just kind of compared myself to those players and I was like, ‘You know what, I can be as good as them and play at that level, too.

What happened at a younger age that got you to turn around and like the sport? Was it one specific instance or anything? 

ANDRE DILLARD: There was an instance when I got to my sophomore year because our high school was a three-year high school, sophomore, junior, senior – so when I got to high school those coaches were a lot different than what I had in junior high. The ones I had in junior high were kind of counterproductive, trying-to-bring-you-down type.

Then when I got to Woodinville High School, Coach Monan, the offensive line coach, and Coach Maxwell, they were really good to everybody and good to me and took me under their wing and that gave me a boost and they really were patient and worked with me. I think that’s what kind of flipped it for me right there.

Q. Did you ever think of quitting before you got to that point?

ANDRE DILLARD: Before I got to high school? All the time, yeah. It’s really discouraging when you come in late, all your friends have been playing the game since they were in third grade and I’m in eighth grade and they all kind of know what’s going on and I have no idea. It’s kind of scary. It’s scary like that. So you — it’s hard to want to keep going but something inside me just told me to keep going.

Q. Would you say that you benefit more from positive reinforcement and that type of coaching than as you said the more negative? (Jeff McLane)

ANDRE DILLARD: I think at that age, yeah, positive reinforcement would have been a lot better because you’re a young kid still and you don’t react to yelling as well as you would at an adult age like I am right now. And so I don’t think it carries over that much at all. Like right now, I’d take any kind of coaching because it’s all about what they say and not how they say it.

Q. What’s the reason you didn’t start football until later? 

ANDRE DILLARD: Mainly just because I liked basketball a lot and I thought that would be my sport, and I was a little nervous to start football because I knew it was a pretty aggressive sport. I didn’t picture this happening, either.

Q. You talked about the one sack you gave up and how much it kind of weighed on you. How do you deal with failure in general as you’re about to make a pretty big jump in your life? 

ANDRE DILLARD: Failure in general, in anything, not just football, I really take time to analyze what things went wrong and I just learn from it.

Q. We know Washington State University football head coach Mike Leach is a unique character, but you’re here, so what did you learn from him that has helped you reach this point in your life? 

ANDRE DILLARD: The biggest thing I learned from Coach Leach is really, it’s a thing that he says probably sixteen-ish times each practice, not that exact number but just an estimate [laughter]. But he says it a lot, and it’s just, “Play the next play.” Whether you did good or bad on a play, all that matters is the one in front of you because if you did good, you can’t showboat and be like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m the guy,” and then just get ran over in the next one. And if you do something bad, you can’t hang your head on it. That’s the biggest thing, have a short-term memory, but be able to adapt and learn if you did something wrong.

Q. If pro football wasn’t in the cards all along, so to speak, then five years ago when you first stepped foot in Pullman, Washington what were you thinking would be your life after college?  

ANDRE DILLARD: I had no idea, honestly. I was just kind of going where life was taking me.

Q. Have you thought at all about what your first, big purchase will be?

ANDRE DILLARD: Maybe a vehicle of some sort so I can get around.

Q. You mentioned that you have watched a lot of tape of Jason Peters. What impresses you the most about him as a player?

ANDRE DILLARD: The first thing I noticed was just how big he is and how he can move that body that well. How strong he is and athletic. I noticed his technique is just some of the best I’ve ever seen, and what other people have seen, so it was just — I instantly knew that this is a guy that I can learn from and little did I know, I could actually be in his presence as well.

Q. Have you heard from QB Carson Wentz or do you know about Wentz at all?

ANDRE DILLARD: Yes, he actually texted me when I got drafted.

What did he say?

ANDRE DILLARD: He’s just super excited for me and happy to have me aboard and excited to work with me.


Bills’ Oliver: ‘I feel like I could have played in the league after my freshman year’

The Buffalo Bills may have gotten the most dominant defensive player in the draft when they grabbed former University of Houston DT Ed Oliver with the ninth pick in the first round on Thursday night. With Oliver, the Bills may have found their replacement for the recently retired DT Kyle Williams.

Oliver finished his career at Houston with 192 total tackles and 13.5 sacks. He was dominant in college, and for Bills fans, hopefully, he can be dominant in the NFL.

On Friday, Oliver met the Buffalo media. Here is what he had to say:

Q: What are your first thoughts on the building and what you’ve seen so far today?

A: I’m just so excited to be here. It’s everything that I thought it was going to be, plus more. I’ve met everybody. I’ve met the Pegula’s. Great people in this building – defensive coordinator, head coach, defensive line coach, I met everybody today. Again, it’s everything I expected.

Q: Ed, you talked about yesterday that you prayed to be a Buffalo Bill, but it still took eight picks. When the Jets, when the Giants, when the Lions, the Jags were on the board, were you hoping that your phone wasn’t going to ring?

A: I mean, nobody hopes that. It was just… I knew if I was on the board and I got to the Bills, I pretty much knew they were going to take me. I pretty much knew that’s where I was going to go. It was just a waiting game. Just pick by pick, I just had to wait.

Q: Talk about how prepared you feel to make this next step and compete at this level.

A: I feel like it’s a long time coming. I feel like I could have played in the league after my freshman year. It is just another waiting game. I had to play two more years before I was able to come out. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for two years to actually get a chance to step on an NFL field and play and compete. I’m just ready to go.

Q: I heard a lot last night about how they think you’re going to fit into the system in the three-technique. Let’s hear it from your end – how do you think you’re going to fit into the defense based on what you know of it so far?

A: I just want to come in and compete and earn trust from the guys around me and earn my coaches’ trust. I haven’t set any real goals or expectations. I just want to come in and compete and ultimately help the team win.

Q: Ed, a lot of us in the media has looked at this pick as sort of a way of replacing Kyle Williams for the Bills. I would imagine that that puts some pressure on you. What do you think when you hear that – that you are Kyle Williams’ replacement?

A: What do I think when I hear that I’m Kyle Williams’ replacement? I think that Kyle Williams is a great player. I think Kyle Williams will wear a gold jacket one day. I just want to come in and compete and help the team in any way possible. I don’t even think about that. Kyle Williams is in a league of his own that I haven’t even come close to touching. I just want to come in and compete.

Q: Does it put an extra layer of pressure on you at all?

A: No sir.

Q: I’m sure you received a lot of congratulatory messages on social media, but have any of your teammates reached out to you so far personally? Have you spoken to any of them so far?

A: Actually, Kyle Williams hit me up last night and was basically letting me know that everything was going to be all right and if I needed anything, to hit him up. I told him that I wanted to pick his brain a little bit, see what kept him around for so long, see if he has anything he can teach me.

Q: Kyle is a legend here. How much does that mean to you to have him be that first person to extend that hand?

A: It’s great. There’s not much more to say about it. He’s gold in his own right. Just him taking the time out of his day, he didn’t have to do that. It’s an honor.

Q: Ed, how did Kyle get ahold of you?

A: I’m not sure how he got my number, but he got it, and that’s all that matters.

Q: There’s been a lot of talk about your weight and playing light, playing heavy. What would you like to play at in the NFL? Where would you like to be?

A: I just want to play. I don’t think weight is going to make a difference. I just want to play the game and help out in any way possible.

Q: You’ve had a lot of fans excited about this pick due to the fact that you fell to the Bills at no. 9. What is your message to Bills Mafia and Bills fans here?

A: I can’t wait to see them in action. I’ve heard about how crazy they can get and how fired up they can get. I just want to see it for myself and be influenced by it.

Q: You talked about how Kyle Williams is in another league. When did you develop that sort of humility in terms of guys who have been there and done that? Learned from them, maybe absorbed something from them?

A: You get the humility when the guy has been in the league for 13 years, when guys become the face of their organization. In no way possible am I Kyle Williams. He is great in his own right. I just want to come in and compete.

Q: What is your sense of this franchise? It went through a tough stretch in 17 years without making the playoffs, but they made it two years ago and are rebuilding through youth. What is your sense of what the Bills stand for to you before compared to now that you are here?

A: Before I got here, really before getting drafted, I really didn’t watch NFL football. But now that I’m learning a little bit of history, learning about what the guys have been through and things like that, I feel like they have a good thing going here. I know they had the #2 defense last year. Hopefully, I can just fit in in any way possible and help out.

Q: Sean [McDermott] said that he plans to use you differently here versus how he used you in Houston. Have you guys talked a little bit more about that in terms of what your role is going to be?

A: Not in depth, besides the fact that I won’t be playing nose guard. I’ll be playing three-technique or wherever he feels comfortable. I know it won’t be nose guard.

Q: What you think, from a technique standpoint, from a strengths-of-your-game standpoint, what you bring to the table and how you might fit in this defense?

A: Probably explosiveness, athleticism, something you can’t find in every defensive tackle. I feel like my skillset is rare. It’s a rare combination of size and speed. I feel I can help the guys rushing outside by getting pressure up the middle and helping the guys outside get sacks. Help out the team. You get sacks, you win games.

Q: Everybody that has seen you play extensively, one thing that keeps coming up is ‘motor.’ ‘He’s got a relentless motor. He never stops’ Where does that relentless work ethic come from?

A: It dates back from high school. For me to get on the field, I played in Texas high school football, and if you don’t know, it’s relentless. For you to get on the field, you have to be special in your own right. What I could do better than everybody else was run around and play as hard as possible. That’s one thing that just stuck with me.

Q: I’ve heard a lot of people comparing you to Aaron Donald, some comparing you to John Randall. Is there somebody that you model your game after that you’ve really watched?

A: I mean, I watch every defensive lineman. When I turn on a game, it’s hard for me to watch any DB’s [defensive backs] or anything like that. All I want to do is watch the D-line. It doesn’t matter who it is: if you’re playing good football and the moves you use are working, I’ll steal from you and try to use it in my game.

Q: You look a lot like Aaron Donald: your body, your size, your weight. Have you looked at him a little bit, studied his game tape, and compared yourself to him at all?

A: Of course. Everybody watches Aaron Donald. But I’m not going to say I’m going to circle my life around Aaron Donald. I’m pretty sure Aaron Donald gets some of his stuff from other guys. You have to be versatile in who you’re watching and you can’t just focus on one player and try to emulate him.

Q: How eager are you looking forward to lining up against men for the first time in pads to see where you stand? Is there any anxiousness or eagerness?

A: Like I said, I’ve been waiting since after my freshman year in college. Everybody talks about how I went to [the University of] Houston and is not a good talent, so I just want to see, ‘Was it true? Were the guys I was playing against not good?’ I just want to see.

Q: You’ve got a couple of those guys here on your team that you played against. Dion Dawkins from Temple, Zay Jones from East Carolina. Now, you’re joining them. What does it say about the American Athletic Conference?

A: It says that we’re taking steps in the right way and we should be a power-six conference. We played against good competition, so that’s why I’m just ready to play against guys who went to SEC schools, BIG 12 schools, wherever they went. There’s no hiding in the NFL. Everybody is in the same league. I just want to know what they’re going to say after.

Q: You had two seasons to play alongside your oldest brother, Marcus. What was that experience like in getting to call him a teammate at the college level? How did he impact your development? What type of role did he have?

A: As an older brother, he went to school first. I just picked his brain about everything to expect. That’s kind of how I was able to come in so fast and be so productive so early was because I knew what was expected of me. Basically, I had the cheat code, so all I had to do was come in and do what was expected.

Q: You’re going to be playing in front of Tremaine Edmunds, who is twenty-years-old. Have you had a chance to watch him at all on film? What have you seen of Tremaine?

A: I haven’t gotten a chance to watch him on film, but I’ve heard he’s a dog.

Q: Ed, how do you handle the doubters so far in this process? People who call you undersized and not the typical size for a defensive lineman, how do you use that as a chip moving forward as your NFL career begins?

A: I’ve had to deal with that since high school, coming out: ‘He’s a bit small.’ I never leave the house without the chip on my shoulder. It’s something that I walk around with every day. I know as quickly as it is given to you, the quicker it can be taken away in terms of your status on the football field. I go hard every time I touch the field.

Q: Coming to the AFC East, you’re going to be going up against the Patriots twice per year. What do you make of trying to get after a guy like Tom Brady in those games?

A: It’s an honor to even be on the same playing field as someone who is going to wear a gold jacket. I just want to play.

Q: What led you to Houston? What led you to a school that was maybe not one of the so-called ‘big schools?’

A: Ultimately, my brother being there. Just as simple as that. In its simplest form, just my brother being there.

Q: Ed, are you happy that this whole Draft process is over? What’s it been like over these past few months wondering, going on visits, things like that that now you know where you are going to be?

A: It’s just like I found my home. Or my home found me, rather. I got the call last night, I didn’t get to call them. I just found my home.

Q: When was the first time that it went through your mind that you wanted to stand on your horse?

A: Probably about five seconds before I stood on the horse.

Q: Why did you want to do that?

A: Because it’s different. Anybody could take a picture on a horse, but when you stand up on a horse, you must know what you’re doing. A horse-whisperer.

Q: What do you make of the new facilities that they have made here? The new training center, the new weight room?

A: It’s absolutely awesome. Top-notch. It’s better than probably 99 percent of colleges, and that’s how colleges recruit. I had no idea why it was so nice, honestly, but it’s amazing.

Q: If you haven’t been able to tell already, it seems like your selection was very popular among Bills fans. It seems like you wanted this just as much. That’s something that is important to a lot of fans. Is it safe to say you wanted to be here as part of this organization, part of this city?

A: I’m just happy that they were happy with me. I’ve seen some picks where guys get booed. When I heard the cheering before I walked through the tunnel, I could hear it when they called my name, I was like, ‘Yeah!’ It had me pumped up. I was just happy to walk out there and have people cheer for me.

Q: A lot has been written about your love of horses. When you think about what that has done for you over time, your love for animals, I know you have a dog…

A: You know what’s crazy? I got on my horse the day of the Draft. That morning, I wanted to go ride horses because it just eased my nerves. That whole day, I was relaxed. I wanted to go ride horses a little bit in the morning time, kind of get away a little bit. But when I came back to the Draft, I was fine. Got dressed, went out there. I wasn’t nervous one bit.

Q: Where were you able to find a horse in Nashville?

A: KB Ranch. It’s a ranch out there in Tennessee. It’s where I did the commercial for ESPN.

Q: Ed, is it more exciting joining an unproven team knowing you could play a big part in helping them reach that next level as opposed to joining a veteran team that is kind of already at that next level? Is it more exciting knowing that you have that opportunity?

A: It’s exciting just being here. Whether proven or unproven, it’s a blessing. I’m honored to be here.