"Who?" A question many fans of the New England Patriots might have asked themselves after the team's second day of the 2015 NFL Draft. The team selected Stanford defensive back Jordan Richards and Oklahoma edge defender Geneo Grissom with the 64th and 97th overall pick, respectively.
While the selections seem like reaches, Bill Belichick explained the selections as well as the players chosen in his press conference, held after the third round was over. Here are the best parts.
Transcript via patriots.com
All right. How's it going here? Got the No-Doz going? [It's] not really too much different from kind of where we were scheduled to go [going] into the day. Took 64 with [Jordan] Richards; [he] has been a good player at Stanford. He kind of plays both strong safety and free safety. [He's] been a real productive guy for them. I think he's a guy we'll like [and] you'll like having around here. Then Geneo Grissom is a player that has played a couple different spots, converted from tight end to linebacker or defensive end, whatever you want to call it. He played defensive end in '13, played outside linebacker; he's also played inside in some passing situations. [He's a] pretty athletic, versatile guy in Oklahoma's defense over the last couple of years. [We're] looking forward to working with both of them, along with Malcom [Brown]. [We'll] just see how it goes with that group. And we traded to tomorrow, so we ended up with seven picks for tomorrow, so we're kind of spaced pretty evenly throughout the rounds in the draft. I think we've got a good, nice opportunity there in terms of a flow to be able to sequentially make some picks if we hold on to them. We'll see how that goes. But I think there are a number of interesting guys that are on the board. We tried to get the picks into that sort of area of the draft, so hopefully we'll be able to grab some players that we like in those spots. That's it.
On Richards' Role
Q: You mentioned Richards played both safety spots. Can you elaborate?
BB: Well, you know, you can see him in the box; you can see him in the middle of the field. You can see him doing pretty much everything.
Q: Did he come down and play on the line of scrimmage at all?
BB: He dropped into the box a lot. They didn't really play him, no. They didn't really play their safeties that way – like linebackers. But most of the time they played on the line, [they] disguised it. But he's down around the line of scrimmage a lot, but he doesn't line up as a linebacker.
On Richards' Draft Position
Q: Most people saw Richards going further down the draft. When you look at him, was his skill set, specific to you, a good fit at that spot?
BB: You know, we always look at the board, look at the options, look at the players and take the guy we feel is best. That's what we do on every pick. It's what we do.
On Richards' Special Teams Play
Q: Did you see the work of Richards on special teams? How did he impress you there?
BB: Good, really good. Both those guys I think will have a role in the kicking game. Richards is a strong tackler, instinctive guy. I think he'll be a good, certainly be able to play on the punt team, kickoff return, kickoff coverage, punt return; even be a matchup guy outside maybe or a holdup guy in the box. I'm sure he'll be able to contribute in the kicking game.
On Richards' Smarts
Q: It seemed like he took a lot of pride in knowing everyone's assignment on the defense. What was your assessment of that?
BB: Yeah, real good. I don't think – everybody you talk to, they rave about it; about his communication, his leadership, his football character on and off the field. I don't think there's going to be issues with that.
Q: He's obviously a smart kid in the classroom and on the field. Is there always a correlation there?
BB: No, no, definitely not, absolutely not. There just isn't. Some guys are football smart and they're not smart in other ways. Other guys get 1500 on their SATs and can't get a double-team block right. No, that definitely, in my experience, sometimes it correlates, sometimes it doesn't. I don't think you just take it for granted. I think a smart guy can learn. Some guys learn – it's just like all of us – some guys can learn electronics, some of us can't. Some people can learn something else, some of us can't. I mean, we're all wired differently. Some guys, football comes really easy to them; they can see what all 22 players are doing, can see what all 11 guys are doing on their side of the ball, how it all fits together. It's easy for them. For other guys, once you get past their assignment, the big picture, the overall concepts, how it all fits together, sometimes that doesn't come so easy for them. Depends on what position they play, but they're all different. But I would say in his case, he's a smart, instinctive football player and the rest of it is good too. I mean, so is Grissom.
On Grissom's Versatility
Q: Grissom versatility-wise almost didn't have a home or a position because they were moving him around.
BB: No, I wouldn't say that.
BB: In 2013, they played 3-4 defense. He's played under two different coordinators. But when Mike Stoops came back, his 3-4 defense and they didn't have enough depth there at defensive end, so he played four-technique, actually four-high technique in 2013 at 260 pounds. So he was way undersized, but he competed well. They didn't knock him off the line of scrimmage. He didn't look like a linebacker. You wouldn't probably think he was that light, if you didn't know it, not by the way he played. He has good playing strength. He runs well. Then this year, it looked like they had more depth on the defensive line, they moved him to outside linebacker. So both last year and this year on third down he played end and then also bumped inside to an inside rusher position. They had pretty good edge guys, you know [Eric] Striker and the other kid, the underclassman. He was kind of the guy that would move down inside at times. He was productive there; the Alabama game for example. He's rushed inside, he's rushed outside. He's played anywhere from the end of the line, five-technique, defensive end in a 4-3, outside linebacker in a 3-4.
Q: He also seemed to have some ability to anticipate the passing lanes in terms of getting up and batting balls.
BB: Yeah, I'd say he's very instinctive as a pass rusher. He's in coverage a decent amount of the time as a walked-off linebacker. So you see a guy play out in space, out over the slot. He does a lot of that. So, for a guy to play from three-technique to end-of-the-line to a walked-out linebacker…at the Senior Bowl, they actually played him off the line, like in the tackle bubble. He's a pretty athletic, versatile guy.
To read the entire transcript or watch the press conference, please visit patriots.com