NFL Draft 2015: Full Transcripts Of New England Patriots Draft Picks

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Aug 30, 2014; Auburn, AL, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks tight end A.J. Derby (11) dives over Auburn Tigers defensive back Jonathon Mincy (6) during the first half at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Wells

Q: What was your feeling upon getting the call from the Patriots?

MW: It was a great feeling. I was just sitting down having a bite to eat and I was just watching the draft and they called my name. I saw the Patriots pick and I was just overjoyed by the pick.

Q: What did the Patriots tell you about what position they might use you at?

MW: I don’t really know. Whatever they want me to play, that’s the position I’ll play. I don’t really know. Whatever position they have for me, that’s what I’m willing to do.

Q: Would you rule out running back from your perspective?

MW: Like I said, it doesn’t matter. Whatever position they think I’m best at and want to try me at, that’s what I’m willing to play.

Q: Are you legally blind in one of your eyes?

MW: I am, by number. I can see, just not the reading, but it’s just the legal number for it. I can see out of it. It’s been like that since I’ve been smaller, so it’s all I really know.

Q: Which eye is that?

MW: My right eye.

Q: So it doesn’t really impact you in football?

MW: It doesn’t, no.

Q: What was it like playing for Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen?

MW: It was a great experience. He pretty much came in and changed the program, which I was coming in a year after he came in. It was a big change that he brought to the program. Like I said, he put us in a lot of positions to succeed. He also taught us how to be a great man along with being a great football player.

Q: In this internet age, information on you was surprisingly difficult on you to come by. What would you say your strengths are?

MW: A big strength for me would probably be length and speed, most of all.

Q: How much experience did you have on special teams? Did you enjoy what you brought to that aspect of the game?

MW: Yeah, like I said, coach Mullen changed a lot of stuff about this program, meaning he thought that we had to start out on special teams before we could even have a regular position. That’s a big thing as you transition from high school to college and then it would also be from college to the NFL. So, I’ve played pretty much every special teams and if I have to again I will.

Q: How close are you with Deontae Skinner?

MW: We are pretty close. We played the same position for a couple years when he was there at [Mississippi] State. We are pretty close.

Q: Has he reached out to you at all since being drafted?

MW: Yeah, he reached out to me and told me congratulations and all that. We didn’t have too much time to say anything after, but he reached out to tell me congratulations.

Q: How would you describe your role in comparison to Benardrick McKinney in the Mississippi State defense?

MW: He’s an athletic guy, long. He’s a big guy, so he played middle linebacker. My position for that role, coach Mullen put me in the best position that he thought I could play. My role was to pretty much do everything basically that maximized my ability in my role on that Mississippi State team, covering receivers or even playing linebacker or whatever.

Q: Any connections to Boston or New England?

MW: None at all, no.

Q: Have you been here before?

MW: I have.

Q: What brought you to Boston?

MW: I went on a pre-draft visit.

A.J. Derby

Q: Can you walk us through your background when it comes to positional versatility?

AD: Yeah, it’s kind of a long road. I was pretty stubborn about playing quarterback in my early time in college. That’s the reason I ended up leaving Iowa to go to juco [junior college], then to Arkansas, but I ended up meeting with [head] coach ‘B’ [Bret Bielema] and it worked out great to be a tight end. [I’m] just really looking forward to joining the Patriots organization and doing whatever I can to help the team win.

Q: I read that your dad played for the Cleveland Browns. Did he play under Bill Belichick during his time there?

AD: Yeah, he actually went through one camp before he got released by coach Belichick. My dad told me that right when I got drafted by them. He let me know that he played for coach Belichick, too.

Q: Did he say what it was like playing under Bill Belichick?

AD: He didn’t say much. He went through, like I said, one camp, so he was just trying to make a spot. I don’t think he really knew much about anything in the NFL. He was just scraping at the bottom.

Q: Where would you say you are on the learning curve in regards to the tight end position?

AD: I wouldn’t say anything exactly about that, but I’m just learning every day. I think every tight end needs to learn, and I have a long way to go. I’ve only played one year. I’m going to try to do anything I can – if it’s on special teams, if it’s on offense – I’ll do anything the coaches ask me to do.

Q: What experience do you have on special teams?

AD: I played kickoff at Iowa, kickoff return, and then at Arkansas I played punt and kickoff return as well. I have a lot [of special teams experience], and I’m a fast learner, so I’m looking forward to it.

Q: What can you tell us about Trey Flowers?

AD: All through the combine process everyone asked me who the hardest guy to block was and I said Trey Flowers every time because I believe that. He’s a great player and the Patriots are very lucky to have him in the organization. He’s a great guy.

Q: How did your experience at quarterback help you learn the tight end position?

AD: It helped tremendously. I love the game of football and I learned from a quarterback’s perspective. I know what everyone is doing. I try to know what the quarterback is thinking. That’s the way I’m going to approach learning the offense, through the quarterback’s eyes, so I’m going to be where he wants me to be and that’s my plan going in.

Q: You had a pretty impressive touchdown catch and run against Alabama. Was that any kind of validation in terms of your ability to play that spot? When did you feel like you were getting it a tight end?

AD: I’d say probably during the first game of the season, I caught my first touchdown against Alabama and I felt pretty good about it. I had a lot of ups and downs through the season and I’m still learning. I don’t know much more about that. I’m just trying to learn to be the best tight end I can be.

Q: Are there any tight ends that you model your game after?

AD: Growing up I was a huge fan of Dallas Clark, being an Iowa guy growing up in Iowa. I like to watch Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten and Rob Gronkowski.

Q: What pre-draft conversations did you have with the Patriots?

AD: I made a visit up there and then just met with them at the combine and I think my pro day, too.

Q: What aspects of your game do you feel most comfortable with right now and what do you need to improve on?

AD: I think right now, most of my game I have to improve on everything. I don’t think I have one aspect that’s just standout great yet. I’m going to work every day to be the great tight end that the Patriots wanted when they drafted me and be good. I’m going to work every day to be the best teammate I can be and the best player for the Patriots.

Q: What is it about Rob Gronkowski’s game that you appreciate?

AD: He does the little things right. I don’t think many people notice, because he’s such a great athlete and he’s such a great player, they don’t look at the little things he does – the releases, the small things that get him to be the player that he is.

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