Q. You said addressing the inside linebacker position was important this offseason. Is this what selecting LB Jordan Hicks was about?
COACH KELLY: He was our highest rated guy by far. We had him rated in the second round. We had great exposure to Jordan. He was, I think, the individual we saw the most in this offseason, whether it was exposure at the Senior Bowl to him, his pro day, individual workouts, top‑30 visits, all those other things. I think when we calculate all our exposures to a player, he's the player we had seen the most and just felt like [he's] got a great skill set. He's a three‑down linebacker, can cover, is an outstanding special teams player and to be able to bring him in here and learn from [LB] DeMeco [Ryans] and [LB] Mychal [Kendricks] and [LB] Kiko [Alonso], just thought there's great value in that pick. It's one of those when you're looking at the board, there was no one else around him that we had at that point in time.
Q. Hard not to think of Mychal Kendricks with the inside linebacker position getting as crowded as it is. There are reports that he could be had for a certain price. Where do you see Kendricks fitting in and do you think he's going to be a part of your roster?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I really do. We're excited to get him back here. I know he spent the draft with his brother, which we understand. He said he should be back here next week. I think you're always going to draft players and when you bring them in here, the one thing you want is you want competition at positions.
We knew going in at the end of last year with just Mychal and DeMeco that we really had to shore up the inside linebacker spot, and we felt like we got two quality guys and Kiko. We have got a swing player in [LB] Brad Jones who can play both inside and outside. There's some versatility with him. And then being able to add Jordan to the mix; we feel like it was a big thought process going into the offseason is what we could do with the inside linebacker spot and that's what we felt like we had done especially with this pick.
Q. Hicks has had a long injury history. How do you explain that?
COACH KELLY: I think he's been solid the last couple years. He did have an Achilles and a hip but he's played. He's been 100 percent cleared in everything, going through all the medical stuff they do at the Combine, had a great medical grade coming out of the Combine. Our doctors and trainers had no issues with him.
Q. With so many reports being out there, have teams called about Kendricks?
COACH KELLY: No, not at all.
Q. The Alamo Bowl in 2012, what information did you get on the suspension of Hicks?
COACH KELLY: Talked to all their coaches and talked to Jordan and everybody involved in it. He gave his version of the story and we understand what happened and he got suspended and missed the game and that was the punishment that he had for that.
Q. Are you comfortable with Hicks character‑wise?
COACH KELLY: We are very comfortable with him.
Q. What's your understanding of what happened and why Hicks was sent home?
COACH KELLY: That's a question for Jordan. That's not a question for me.
Q. How much research did you have to do in area?
COACH KELLY: We do it with all of our players, so it doesn't matter what the area is. We hope we leave no stone unturned. But as I said, we had the most exposure to this player than any player in the draft in terms of our contacts with him.
Q. Texas head coach Charlie Strong's defense – did you see a change in Hicks when the defense changed?
COACH KELLY: That's the one thing that's unique about him because he's played for so many different defensive coordinators in his time at Texas. He came in, got recruited by Mack [Brown] and they had a couple defensive coordinators. I know he played for Greg Robinson, Manny Diaz, a couple different other guys and then Charlie coming in. You've seen him play in a 4‑3 defense; you've seen him play in a three‑down defense. That really lends you to show you what his versatility is.
Again, we think he's a three‑down linebacker and for us that's what we are looking for. It separated us from some of the other linebackers who are pretty good in this draft, but they are first and second down guys, and you have to take them off the field on third down. He's the type of player like a Mychal Kendricks and Kiko Alonso that you don't have to take off the field on third down.
Q. Were you tempted to go up and get Hicks?
COACH KELLY: No, we felt good in where we were, especially because we made some maneuvers to get [DB] Eric [Rowe]. We didn't want to sacrifice any more picks. We still want to accumulate picks and that's always been part of the goal. We felt like moving for Eric was the right thing to do and we just hoped that as it fell this time, we could get him but we were just going to let him ‑‑ when you get to this point that we're looking at, just let the board express itself and when we have an opportunity to select, you look at the board and who is the highest‑ranked player and then we're going to go from there.
Q. Size and speed, how does Hicks compare to the prototype?
COACH KELLY: He's there. He's 6‑1, 236 pounds, runs 4.6, I think he jumped vertical 39 inches. His short shuttle is outstanding. His ten‑yard is outstanding, his 20‑yard is outstanding, his three cone is outstanding. That's what we are looking for in linebackers. We want guys who are three-down linebackers and especially when you look at those guys, can really contribute on [special] teams. And we think we have got a huge upgrade at the inside linebacker position from a teams standpoint because of how fast and how athletic he is.
Q. Do you think Kiko Alonso can be an edge rusher?
COACH KELLY: Do I think Kiko can be an edge rusher? I think Kiko can do a lot of things. So yeah, that's one of the things that's part of his repertoire, yeah. Q. You have a lot of guys at that position. Do you feel a little better now?
COACH KELLY: Do you feel better? Yeah, and again, we said we needed to address it. We lost [Vikings LB] Casey [Matthews] and then with DeMeco coming off an injury, Mychal missed four games last year. That was a real priority for us in the offseason was we need to upgrade the inside linebacker position. We felt like we've done that so far.
Q. Like you said, he's a three‑down linebacker. You have a lot of guys who are three‑down linebackers, how do you play them all?
COACH KELLY: I don't think you can have too many. That's kind of what you're looking for and you're also not going to just draft for need, and I said it earlier, if the need part of it crosses the talent line, I think that's when you get in trouble because you start reaching. There was a clear‑cut, no one remotely close on our board to where Jordan was at that point in time we picked him.
So it makes it a real easy discussion. There's no discussion when you're staring at the board and one guy is up here and the rest of the group is clumped down here. Any time you start to go, 'We would like to address this position. Let's go over here,' and you pass on that player, that's not the formula we are working with and what we are going to do as we move forward. We don't want just two‑down linebackers in our system. We want three‑down linebackers and that's what we'll continue to build as we continue to move forward here.
*Q. The offensive line, how do you look at that position coming in? *
COACH KELLY: There's some guys that we were very excited about, but obviously there were other guys in the league that were very excited about them, too. Some of the guys that went off the board there in the second, we had targeted in the second but we just couldn't get to them.
And then that's just kind of the process. You only really get one pick per round unless you're trying to really move up and stockpile, and it just didn't work out for us. Again, we are not going to reach at any individual position. If we have to go play today, we'll go play today. The only guy that's not here from last year is [Colts G/T] Todd Herremans. Do we want to add to that position? Yeah we certainly do, but we still feel like we have another day left in the draft.
Q. What do you think about the offensive line position in this draft?
COACH KELLY: In this draft, I think there were three or four guys at the top that we were really excited about and then I think it drops off a little bit after that.
Q. You mentioned the need and the talent line crossing. What if it's the reverse where somebody is very talented but you don't have any need for that position at all.
COACH KELLY: I would say I don't think there's any position that we don't have need for talent. You're always going to take good football players and figure it out after that. You also can say, 'Hey, we feel great about this thing,' and you go out after the first practice, first training session we have next week and the kid goes down, and then you're like wish we had that guy.
So I don't think there's any team in the league that will say, 'Hey, we are one hundred percent set at this position and we are not going to look. We are going to look a blind eye and just say, hey, we are not going to take anybody at that position.' We're going to look at them all. If it's even, when you look at two guys that are even in terms of how you've addressed them, obviously you are going to lean towards we need this position more than we need that position. I think you hurt yourself when you just say, 'Hey, we are just taking this guy because it's a need at that position,' and you pass up some really good players.
Q. Getting back to inside linebacker, Kiko and DeMeco…where are they in their recovery?
COACH KELLY: They are both running around now. They have both been out with the conditioning coaches. I don't know exactly how cleared they will be when we get out there on Monday. So that's a little bit to be answered. But from my understanding, I know they will both be one hundred percent by August so I'm not concerned about that. I think Kiko is probably a little bit ahead just because of when his surgery was.
And then DeMeco, I anticipate Kiko will go through OTAs and all that. I don't know exactly what DeMeco will be when we get going against each other. But when we are working on air, those guys have been running around right now. Q. With Kendricks, G Evan Mathis and CB Brandon Boykin, you don't expect to trade them or don't believe they will be traded?
COACH KELLY: No, we haven't talked to anybody about trading those guys during this draft ‑‑
Q. Yet --
COACH KELLY: Well, I'm not going to predict the future but I haven't talked to anybody. I think a lot of those reports about us offering all these players are kind of false and I did have to make some phone calls to guys on our team saying that that's not the case.
We haven't offered any of our players in any packages to anybody for anything. I know what people do. They look at you and say, 'Hey, [DE] Fletcher Cox is a really good player, [LB] Mychal Kendricks is a really good player. I would throw them in if we were trying to go somewhere.' But we didn't throw any players in, but that name gets out there. But we haven't had discussions about that.
Q. Did that bother you that those reports are out there?
COACH KELLY: Nothing bothers me. You guys are going to write whatever you want to write. Doesn't bother me. Bothers some of our players, though, but I'll talk to those guys about it. Doesn't bother me. It happens all the time. That's what makes sports great. You have nothing to talk about on sports radio, it's 'Hey, let's talk trades,' and everybody comes up with a trade. It's great.
That's what sports are all about. I think it's fun. But if the guy getting talked about in the trade gets a little nervous, my point is, I've got to tell him just not to listen to that stuff. I mean, everybody can trade. Trade me. I don't care.
Q. You said everybody is tradeable ‑‑
COACH KELLY: I know and everybody is tradeable. And coaches included, right.
Q. Kendricks didn't have to be here and you said he wanted to help with his brother but did it bother you that he didn't want to be here?
COACH KELLY: No, nothing ‑‑ and I told our guys, it's one hundred percent voluntary. That's what the league set up and that's the way it is. If you want to be here then I think you're going to get outstanding teaching, coaching and all those other things but I'm not going to make you come here. That's your decision.
But I understand where Mychal is coming from. There's only one time your brother gets drafted and I think it's a special time for his family and he told us he was going to be with his brother Eric and we anticipate him coming in next week.
The one thing I know about Mychal, he always works so I don't think Mychal is going to show up here and be 25 pounds overweight. I think he's going to come running through the front door and running around like he can always do. So we are excited to see him when we he gets back in here on Monday.