Assistant General Manager Brandon Brown
August 21, 2023
Q. What do you think when you look at the team as a whole at this point?
A: I just think you look at the team where we are now from where we were, call it, last year ending training camp, just adding more speed, explosiveness on both sides of the ball and just competition every day.
Q. How does the process change with the one cut day next week for you? I would imagine you and your team are spread all over trying to evaluate not just here, but across the league.
A: Our process doesn't change. The nice part is that we're really meticulous, especially with our pro department and (director of pro scouting) Chris Rossetti leading the pro department on how we go about evaluating. Whether it's the pro scouts being split up with different team assignments, (director of player personnel) Tim McDonnell and myself overseeing whether it's NFC, AFC, funneling players of interest up to (general manager) Joe (Schoen), having (assistant director of player personnel) Dennis Hickey and (executive advisor to the general manager) Ryan Cowden all filling in just in terms of canvassing the landscape.
If there's guys that are playing well out there, there's nothing that's going to be a surprise to us whether it’s a guy that’s at the cutdown, whether it’s a guy who's traded in the next two weeks, we will be doing our due diligence throughout the process. So, whether teams decide to cut prematurely to call it a benchmark of 80 before they get down to 53, we’ll be prepared. There’s no curveballs or surprises on our end.
Q. Do you guys have a philosophy of if you’re going to do it all at once on the last day or as it comes along?
A: In terms of evaluating the league?
Q. In terms of making the cuts.
A: That's going to be really wholeheartedly up to Joe and Dabs (head coach Brian Daboll), but I just think it's where we are from a health standpoint and obviously getting through the Jets game, what we need from offense, defense, special teams, and then going that way.
Q. You guys made five claims between cut day and Week 1 last year. Do you expect to be as active working the waiver wire this year?
A: Obviously, we've elevated the talent overall of the team, but we're going to canvass everything. At the end of the day, when you look at it, it’s going to be acquire, develop, retain. That's what we want to do. It's acquiring the best talent, developing the best talent and retaining the best talent.
So, we're always going to look for upgrades, and sometimes where we are in the claim order, it’s different than last year, right? So that preference in the claim order where we land up, it's going to be something that we monitor it, but we're going to do our due diligence. There's going to be guys that are claimed that we will have maybe four, five, six reports in on, but it might not get to us in the claim order. So, we're going to look at what the sweet spots are, where there’s surplus in the market, and see if there's opportunity to help us.
Q. What’s your take on this rookie draft class now that they’re pretty deep into training camp? It looks like there's a lot of guys who are going to play pretty significant roles.
A: When you go back to June when we talked last, we talked about adding more guys that are smart, tough, dependable. Like I said in June, it doesn't guarantee them success, but it gives them an opportunity and a platform for success. So, I think when you look at the draft class, we added explosiveness, we talked about making a conscious effort of adding generators on the offensive side, getting more explosive on the defensive side, guys that fit our brand. I think when you look from the top down from Joe and Dabs preaching collaboration, when there's synergy between the scouting department and the coaching staff, it allows us, like I kind of label it, ‘finding players within the margin,’ right? There are guys that may be imperfect later on as you go in terms of on day three, but we're asking them to do things that fit the system. That accentuates their positive traits. So, I'm excited. I’m excited. Obviously, there's been early success, but the book isn't written yet. But it's a good start right now.
Q. Has anybody surprised you from that group?
A: I wouldn't label anybody as a surprise. I think we all knew that we were excited from whether you're going from Tae (cornerback Deonte Banks) in the first round to (cornerback) Tre (Hawkins III) in the sixth round. We've all been excited for all these guys when we acquired them, even (defensive tackle) Jordon (Riley) in the seventh round, G.O. (safety Gervarrius Owens)… These guys all have traits to play on Sunday. It was just a matter of marrying the development from the coaching staff to having game day traits.
That’s where the synergy comes from. Dabs preaches to the coaching staff, ‘Develop these guys, our rookies, our year two guys.’ There’s been a high emphasis on developing their skillset. For us on the scouting side, it’s making sure that they have the skillset that fits our scheme. So, it's been a good marriage so far.
Q. When you look at (wide receiver) Jalin Hyatt, it strikes me that if the rest of the league could redo it, he may not be there for you in the third round right now, given what we've seen in training camp, but I know it's just training camp. But what did you see that is now manifesting itself on the practice field that led you guys to say, I'm guessing, he could be a difference maker?
A: I think with Jalin, it’s doing your due diligence. It's knowing what he was asked to do at Tennessee. It’s us having those extra conversations with his position coach at Tennessee, talking to the coaching staff at Tennessee, knowing what their system called for because what he's doing for us, he has more talent in his body than the role he was asked to play at Tennessee.
So, you look at the skillset, did he have bend, balance and burst? Can he get out of breaks? Was he asked to run a limited route tree at Tennessee versus what he can do for us? I think us going that, call it, full circle of doing all our due diligence and finding the evidence, it was a great process.
I say it again, the synergy. You talk about the full process with Jalin, hats off to our college department. They identified Jalin early. That allowed Joe, Tim and Dennis to go see him against Alabama. It allowed me to go see him later against Missouri, then (wide receivers coach) Mike Groh spends time with him. Dabs spends time with him. We have him in the facility for a 30 visit. We get him on the board. All those things add to who he is and the upside. You see him making extra effort in terms of blocking down the field in practice. That adds to who he is. He's a great young man, and we're excited for him.
Q. How about the scouting process with Hawkins, a guy who comes out of a smaller school? Any story stick out about when you saw him who? How did he get on your board when maybe he wasn’t on every team’s board?
A: You look at Tre, look no further than the physical traits. I kind of laugh and tell him he's Temple, Texas tough. He’s a guy that's gone the JUCO route. He’s got length that fits our system. Getting the description from (defensive coordinator) Wink (Martindale), Wink is very particular of what plays in the system and what's at a premium. We know, hey, you’ve got to be able to run, got to be strong, guys that have length and you’ve got to be willing to be physical in the run game also in press coverage. So, when you look at Tre, he’s a guy that stood out at the All-Star game. It’s not a surprise to us. We had him in the building on a 30 visit. (Defensive backs coach) Jerome (Henderson), (safeties coach) Mike Treier, they spent time with him on the board.
Then you look at where he is in training camp. Nothing has been too big for him. Every time there's been a platform, he's answered the bell. So, I think more guys like him that fit our profile, and then they have the mental toughness, play with short term memory. They're getting coached the same way. It doesn't matter how we acquire them. Once they're here, it's an even playing field. Dabs says, again, you earn your playing time based on merit, and Tre’s nothing more than an example of that.
Q. Take us through your involvement in that. When did you get a first look at him? When did you sort of see him?
A: You go back to their games, you look at him against top competition or FBS competition, you see him against Virginia. Then, you watch him against the App(alachian) States, the Coastal Carolinas, and he's a guy who's physical, whether it was a run play, pass play, wedging guys to the sideline, finishing late on the ball, being able to dislodge the ball and separate the receiver from the ball. Those are traits where you saw really good tape and flashes. That’s part of the synergy where it's ‘can we make those flashes consistent?’ Once we get him on campus and we have a 30 visit with him, spending time with him, knowing the adversity he's overcome going the JUCO route, knowing that he doesn't just like ball, he loves ball, and that he's going to be a student of the game for us and those smart, tough, dependable mantras that we give, he’s another guy that embodies it. He’s been taking to the coaching and we’re going to keep putting more on his plate and let him handle what he can handle.
Q. (Defensive line coach) Andre Patterson last week about Jordon Riley said, along the lines of what you said about the margin, he said the way you have the alignment set up is that the coaches and the scouts look beyond the on-field production. Obviously, the on-field production stands out, but what is his tape not showing that we see him individually, for all players? How big of a part of the evaluation process is that for you guys? Some people take a chance or won't take a chance, but you guys are taking that chance based on knowledge and really input from everybody.
A: I can't mention Jordon Riley without mentioning Dennis Hickey and Tim McDonnell. They were driving forces in terms of the process of Jordon. I remember going back to my notes; Jordon’s not on anybody's radar. It's October, Dennis Hickey goes out to Oregon and sees him and is like, ‘B, listen, I'm just telling you this guy has traits that we want to play with knockback, we want to be big up front, want to control the line of scrimmage, he fits our brand of ball.’ Tim tells me, ‘B, we need to go see him play.’ So, Tim and I went and saw him play against Cal. Tim’s been the ultimate checks and balances for me, someone that I have blind trust in where he says, ‘We need to go watch this guy, and we come apart from it, you can walk out to warmups, and he sticks out like a sore thumb.’
There’re some inconsistencies in his game, and you’ve got to do the full, call it, the full evidence and due diligence and the fact-finding process on Jordon. Him being a three-school transfer, us going the extra mile in terms of having Andre Patterson and (assistant defensive line coach) Bryan Cox work him out privately. In the personnel department, we refer to Dre Patterson as Dr. Dre, right? So, he's a guy that puts his fingerprints on guys and tweaks up their techniques, and we see flashes, but you can't replicate Jordon’s size. There's not just that many men walking on the world that have his size. So, it's on us to kind of bridge that gap with, can he take to the coaching? The development, getting his weight right, all those things that every time we put a benchmark in front of him, he's met it. The nice part is the teammates root for him. (Defensive lineman) Leo(nard Williams) and (defensive lineman) Dex(ter Lawrence II), they've taken him under their wings like a little brother. I the production that you're seeing in the preseason, we're hoping that can be a catalyst for things to come in the future. But it's been really cool to see.
Q. Do you see the cutdown day as somewhat of a mini draft in the sense that you have an evaluation board on everybody who's playing for everybody?
A: Yeah, it's a point where you look at times of, where can you acquire players? Whether it's the Draft, whether it's the trade deadline, whether it's the cutdown period, I kind of say for the pro guys, it's their Super Bowl. Besides free agency, it is an acquisition point where we have the ability to improve the roster and we do our due diligence on everyone. I know you guys may see stories on guys that we don't entertain, guys that we do entertain, just know we're doing our due diligence on everyone. That’s the unseen work from the pro department. We set up our free agency board, our draft boards. It’s no different than the preseason board. There’s a board that goes across by priority and positions and we look at, ‘Hey, what would be an upgrade from what we currently have and what wouldn't and why?’ And then find out, especially, if you look at what positions over historical data have been claimed the most. You look at defensive guys having a higher hit rate of being claimed and playing on a 53 after the cutdown then maybe some offensive guys. So, we take all that into account and try to make the most sound and informed decisions.
Q. What are you seeing in (quarterback) Daniel (Jones) that maybe is a little bit different with another year under his belt in the system?
A: Just confidence. I think with Daniel he knows that we have his back and that we believe in him, and it was our job to get him generators. Dabs speaks about generators and not just guys that are run-after-catch, but guys that can be quick-strike players. Guys that can create open windows for him. So, I think our job is making him the best version of himself and him coming back and doing the work with the skill guys over the summer, it all just lends itself to him being more confident and us gelling and finding our groove earlier.
Q. How do you think that the super conferences that are forming in college football affects NFL scouting?
A: For us, it doesn’t. We still have to go see the games. Now, what it will help is seeing their best versus another team's best, right? So, you don't have to worry about maybe a watered-down game. As we're putting together our travel schedule, we know that we can go see two premier teams playing every single week, or we can have multiple looks at iron-sharpens-iron, best-versus-best. It allows us to easier see what's playing at a high level on the big stage. That would be probably the biggest thing, but it won’t change our scouting processes at all.