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Quotes: Jay Gruden, Preston Smith & Matt Jones (05.01.15)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On linebacker Preston Smith:

"Preston has great versatility. You know, he's 6-5, 270 pounds, and he's lined up all over the defensive front. He's been a nose guard, he's been a five-technique, he's stood up, he can drop in coverage. You watch him at his Pro Day and at the combine, you see the athleticism that he has. We feel like he's still a young kid, growing, and there's still a lot we can build upon with his body frame with the way it is. Very long arms, he's an explosive player, and there's a lot of spots he can play."

On if Smith will line up at outside linebacker:

"Well, in base defense, he'll probably start out at outside linebacker. But there's so much nickel nowadays that he can be a defensive end, he can stand up, he can be a three-technique. There's a lot of different things he can do which makes him appealing to the eye, because like I said, he's 6-foot-5, 270 [lbs.]. He's got a lot of strength to hold the point of attack. He's got the ability to rush the passer. Like I said, he's long, he gets in passing lanes, and he can be disruptive that way."

On running back Matt Jones:

"Matt's a physical runner. He's a downhill-type runner. We had him in for a visit a couple of weeks ago and we liked his attitude. We liked what he knew about football and his passion for the game and his running style. He's a little bit different than what we've had around here. He's a downhill, smash-mouth type runner. He's a physical kid, and he's a good kid, and smart. Florida guy, went to Armwood High School, kind of where I was from, and I knew a little bit about him and he's a good guy."

On if the selection of three players with size is a pattern:

"It looks that way. You know, we're just going to try to add tough, physical players, and that's the whole motto here. We're trying to add tough guys that come in here and want to compete, and the tougher the better. Both of those guys that we added today, and of course adding Brandon yesterday, these are three physical guys that love to play and love to compete. The more the merrier."

On what having extra picks means for the team's strategy moving forward:

"Well, we don't know, but we're going to wait and see how it goes. We'll have meetings tomorrow. We've got the board pretty much set the way we want it, and we'll have discussions tomorrow morning before our pick comes and try to do our due diligence and figure it out. We'll talk to the coaches and Scot, obviously. We'll go from there. But there' s still a lot of players left that can help us at a lot of different positions, and we'll take all that into consideration and make a good Redskins decision."

On if Jones' selection affects Alfred Morris' role in the offense:

"No, no, Alfred won't be affected. Alfred's still the running back here. He's had three great seasons and that won't change, but to add another guy that can come in here and pound the rock a little bit doesn't hurt anything. It'll help Alfred in that regard taking some carries off of him, but for the most part, Alfred will be getting the bulk of the carries and Matt will get some too, obviously."

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On Jones' ability to contribute in the passing game:

"You know, we feel like he can catch. You know, like you said, he wasn't asked to catch a lot, but we've watched him. You know, his workouts, he's caught the ball fine. And Randy did a lot of work on him, Jordan, our running back coach, feels like he catches the ball fine. But the big thing is, if he can take the ball from the quarterback's hand, we'll stick it in his belly, he won't have to catch it too often. But, you know, he's a good all-around player. He just hasn't been asked to do that and I think he'd be a good core special team player too, the toughness that he has and the way he plays, there's a chance he could play special teams too. But, we'll get him in here, find out what he can do well and try to use it to our advantage."  

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On the transition to outside linebacker for Smith:

"I think the transition should be easy for him because he's so athletic. You know, that's the one thing that drew us to him was his athleticism. When you watch him work out, he's got smooth hips. Very good athlete, fluid. You know, he can drop into coverage, he caught the ball like a tight end at his pro day. You know, very athletic, so I don't think that'll be hard for him. Like I said, we're in base defense nowadays very few times throughout the course of the football game, maybe 30 percent of the time. But he'll learn it. And he can also play five-technique, which is good about him. He's 6-foot-5, 270 [lbs.] like I said. His versatility is what drew us to him and we'll find out a good spot to put him." 

On the importance of getting 10 picks in this draft:

"It was an opportunity that came along, but I think we see there is a lot of merit in the later rounds of this draft. There are a lot of good football players to be had. We've just got to do our work and make sure we take some good players. Like I said, the depth of this draft we feel like is pretty good and get a good guy in the fifth, sixth, seventh round, a couple of them that can help your football team. They don't have to be immediate starters. They can add to your depth. They can help special teams. But I think there is good quality there in the later rounds and to have a couple more is good."

On if it is a 'leap of faith' to drop 26 spots:

"I wouldn't say leap of faith. These scouts put a lot of time in there. They've studying all these guys and graded all these guys that have not been picked. The fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh round grades that we have on some players, we realize that they're good football players and they can help our football team. I think that's the reason why we wanted a couple extra picks."

On how the addition of Smith affects Trent Murphy:

"It doesn't affect him. You know, when you add football players in a draft, our guys are still going to come in here and compete. Everybody is going to have a chance come in here and compete in training camp and that's the way it's going to be and that's never going to change from year to year. We're always going to have a draft and we're always going to have free agency. There is always going to be new players in the building that have to come into training camp and earn their spot, and that no different at the outside linebacker/defensive end spot. Both those guys really are very similar –Trent and Preston . They are both very versatile players. Trent has put on some weight, he might be able to play some defensive end also in base. Both those guys will play a lot of football, I promise you that."

On if the Seattle trade was pre-planned or if it came up tonight:

"It came up tonight."

LB Preston Smith (Round 2, No. 38 Overall)

On his reaction to being selected:

"It's a great feeling to get this process over with and now I can be a part of a new team, a new organization. So it's relieving."

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On if he had any idea he was on the Redskins' radar:

"Yes, I had met with them at the combine from one of the sit-down meetings with the coaching staff. I felt, you know, they liked me a lot and I watched them review and talk about a lot of things and I believe I was on the radar then. It feels great knowing that I was on their radar and now I'm a part of their team."

On the transition from defensive end to linebacker:

"I feel like it will go well because we had a lot of different looks for our defense in my college playing stand-up outside to doing a lot of drops and doing a lot of different defensive looks. I feel like it will be a great transition because it's something I'm used to, something I'm familiar with, and it would be nothing new to me. It won't be hard for me to adjust." 

On his performance at the combine:

"I think it helped me a lot because a lot of people didn't believe I could move the way I move at my size. From a lot of film they reviewed, they thought I was slower than what they'd seen. So I thought the combine was a great chance to go out and mark myself to show them that I/m faster than what they've seen or I move better than what they think I move."

On his best quality:

"Being versatile, being able to play multiple positions."

On why he thought evaluators believed he looked slow on film:

"I think it's because of the system I play in. It's kind of hard to explain, but the system I play in is not a downhill system where I just come off the ball and rush the passer every play. You know, in the SEC, you've got to be smart about how you play. We play a lot of zone read teams so you can't just rush up the field. You've got to sit on the line of scrimmage and play the zone read or play your assignment. If you rush up the field, they can rush it up your gap and rush for about 50 yards a carry. I guess me being a read player instead of a react then read player, I had to slow my cutting and fire off the ball like I need to, so they feel like my get-off wasn't as quick as it needed to be. But on third down I proved to them that I had a lot of get-off that they was looking for, they just wanted to see it on first and second down which is kind of hard with the types of looks we got in our league."

On how playing four years of college football helped him develop:

"Each year I learned something new. I got better at a different task each year. I learned more things. I learned how to prepare better each year. Different things to look for each year and thankfully how to play and how to prepare to be more successful on the field."

On being a fan of former Redskins running back Clinton Portis:

"Yeah, I was a Clinton Portis fan when I was young… You know, back in park ball, a lot of people didn't play – I didn't play defensive line in park ball, I played running back. So, you know, I was a Clinton Portis fan because I saw him running the ball and he was big. He was a big running back who could move really well. And I was pretty much bigger than all the kids. They said like I should probably play on the O-line. And I told them I wanted to play running back and they let me play running back. And I chose a running back that was big and could move well, and it was Clinton Portis, and he became my favorite player since."

On making the switch from running back to defensive line:

"I made the move, I was kind of defensive line here and there throughout life. By ninth grade going into 10th grade, I hit a growth spurt from like 5-7 to like 6-2 in one summer. Then they moved me to defensive end from there because I had so much length and they [were] lacking length on the defensive line on my high school team. When I was coming up and I still had room to grow, they moved me to defensive end. Been there since."

On if he compares to another NFL player:

"A lot of people compare me to Antonio Smith. I really haven't seen him play, but I try to steal stuff from every great player who has a successful pass rush and a player that does a lot of successful stuff or technique or what he does special. I kind of try to compare myself to a lot of people, Von Miller, I steal moves from JJ Watt, Justin Tuck, guys I feel fit the mold of what I can do and what I may have potential to do. I want you to know who is not my size or my body build or nowhere close to it to try to make me do something impossible. Some people smaller can get away with a lot of different things."

On if he will need to change his body to play outside linebacker:

"No, I probably may have to lose a few pounds. I'm already in a great weight range at 255 [lbs.]. I weighed in the other day at 255. I'm usually around 270, but this process may cause you to be a little bit nervous and stress out. You stress yourself out, you might not eat [laughter]. Now that it's over, I'm not going to pig out, but I'm going to start to eat right now."

On who from the Redskins called to inform him of his selection:

"I can't even remember. My mind went blank as soon as they said, 'We're with the Redskins,' and I just got excited. Everything before and kind of after that, I kind of forgot just that quick [laughter]."

On if he paid attention to former Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot, a fellow Mississippi State product:

"I paid a little bit of attention I believe, because when I was younger, Fred Smoot was on 'Madden' when I was playing it. He played great when I used the Redskins."

RB Matt Jones (Round 3, No. 95 Overall)

On his reaction to receiving the call from the Redskins:

"Oh man, my reaction? It was so crazy. My family was just celebrating. We were sitting there, and when I got that call, man, it was just like my heart and I just was sinking into my couch, man. Just seeing my momma so happy, it almost made me cry, man. Well, it did make me cry, man. I was just so happy. I've never seen her so much excited in my life, man. So, this was big for me, this was big for me and my family."

On his pre-draft interactions with the Redskins:

"The Redskins were showing much love. They flew me out. I had nice conversations with the general manager, head coach, running backs coach. I mean, it felt like home when I was there. Everybody showed me love. It was just great, man. I just had a great feeling about the Washington Redskins for some reason and for some reason tonight, they ended up picking me, man, so that felt real good."

On his knee surgery:

"Well, I had a knee surgery two years ago. I split my meniscus, got it repaired and then after that my knee felt great. I came back and had a strong 2013 season. I mean, I just couldn't do anything as far as laying in my hospital bed just thinking about how much I really loved playing the game or whatever. And then after I got up off of that, I was a new man. I had a great season this season. I think I showed everybody what I could do off my injury."

On his running style and how he fits in the NFL:

"I feel like I'm an every down back. I feel like I can do everything. I feel like I can run the ball. I feel like I can catch. I feel like I can block. I feel like I can do everything, man. I just feel like I'm a complete back all the way around."

On after which NFL running back he patterns his game:

"I like Marshawn Lynch. I like, I think it's Chris Ivory. I really like those two a lot. I feel like I run like them. I feel like I can catch the ball little more. Those are some of the guys I kind of idol myself after."

On if he feels he can help in pass protection:

"Most definitely, man. I feel like I can block my tail off. I feel like I'm a team player at most and definitely in my heart. [Inaudible] Anything other than running, I feel like I can help the team."

On if he can contribute catching the ball:

"I love catching the ball… I feel like I did that really well last season too. I love working on my hands."

On if he can contribute on special teams:

"Most definitely. I played wing on the field goal team last season. I played a little bit on the punt. I feel like I can most definitely play special team, and that is where I've got to start at anyway. I'm going to fit in where I fit in anyway."

On his decision to enter the NFL Draft:

"Well, when I made my decision, I just felt like it was the right decision to enter the draft. I feel like there was no turning back. I made it [the decision] just because of my little girl. I felt like she needed more financial wise in her life. And my coach just left from Florida, Will Muschamp… When he left, he gave me some advice and he thought I should leave too and I ran with it."

On what the Redskins said upon calling him:

"They were like, 'Is the train ready to run?' and I was like, "Yeah, man, I'm ready. Keep it going." They were just like they are ready to put me in the offense and get stuff started. It just felt good talking from the general manager and all the way down to the running back coach. It just felt great."

On how familiar he is with the current running backs on the roster:

"I'm only familiar with [Alfred] Morris. When I went up there for my visit, I had a long talk with him. We chopped it up for a little bit and just telling [me] about how the NFL is and what I need to do and stuff like that. He gave me some pointers here and there. I talked to him for a good – we had a great conversation and he is a great guy and everything."

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