The Kansas City Chiefs selected Tennessee safety Eric Berry with the fifth overall pick in the first round of the NFL Draft. Following the conclusion of the first round, Chiefs GM Scott Pioli met with the media. Here are the highlights.
What was the deciding factor in Eric over everyone else that you could’ve taken?
“There were a couple players we felt really strongly about and similarly about and there was a number of players that had some of the same things that we’re looking for – players that improve our team talent-wise; players who can improve our locker room; players who can help us lead and there was a number of those players. Eric was someone that we had spent a lot of time with along with a couple other players, a lot of time with and a lot of time on them in terms of studying them and some of the deciding factors at that point in time were we felt he was a player in a position of need and the best player. Essentially that’s what it came down to.”
When did you come to the decision that if he was there, he was the guy?
“I don’t know what the exact timing way but I know Todd (Haley) and I have talked about it the last couple of days. I think the problem was for us, we didn’t know how things were going to fall. Even when you’re that close, we had no idea what was going to happen ahead of us. You go through those couple of scenarios as to what might happen, what might not happen and we felt if he was the player that was there when we were getting ready to pick, he was the player we wanted and that we were going to go with. We talked about it again this morning. We spent a lot of time, Todd, myself, Joel (Collier) and pulling different coaches in at different times talking about different players, different scenarios and different situations.”
When did you get comfortable with him as a person?
“We were comfortable with him the entire time. We had a lot of information – this process starts… the process has already started for the 2011 draft. The scouts are all in here now looking at 2011 tape. They’re gathering information on the players. The process is very long and Pat Sperduto and a number of other of scouts – I mention Pat, there were four scouts that were through there specifically, spent time with the coaches, the player and they had the first line of information. We started getting comfortable with him as soon as we found out information. This guy has been captain as a sophomore, captain as a junior, his father was a captain at Tennessee I think in 1981. In terms of his makeup and who he is, it’s very easy to get comfortable with him quickly. When exactly, I don’t know if there was one moment where we said ‘Wow. We know we’re sold on this guy.’ We spent quite a bit of time with him at the combine. We spent some time with him; we had him in here as one of our visits. We spent time with him in workouts. I will say this, there are a number of other players that we did that with too because we were getting down to the bottom with a lot of these guys.”
What does it tell you when he played the 2008 season with a bum shoulder and didn’t miss any time, practices or anything?
“I think it tells you that football’s important to him and that’s something we’ve preached since the time that we arrived here is we want football to be one of the most important things in these players’ lives. This is their job. This is their craft. This is what they do. We want them to have football be one of the most important to their family. A long-standing belief of mine is if family, football and faith, in whatever order they are in your life, those are the three most important things in a players’ life, in a persons’ life, they generally have a chance to succeed pretty well.”
What does it tell you that he only had one penalty in his entire college career? That’s pretty extraordinary.
“Yeah it is. Yeah it is. If you see him play, and he plays very passionately, he plays hard and he plays tough, it tells you that in watching him on tape, he’s willing to let loose but he’s also smart. He doesn’t make dumb mistakes and I think when you see someone that has few of penalties or one penalty as we talk about intelligence is…you go back to what we’re looking for: big, strong, fast, smart, tough, disciplined football players. Smart comes up on the radar when you see something like that.”
You mentioned at the pre-draft presser that you were open for business with the number five overall pick. Did anyone call and were you close to any deals?
“We had a number of calls come in before the day started and as the draft went and we talked to a number of different people not only before our pick, but after our pick people wanted to know if we wanted to move up from the second into the first, so we talked to a number of different teams. Part of what came up today near the end of the first round, you have to into consideration what are you going to be giving up to move into the first round in terms of pick and who is the specific player that you want to move up for because as we talked about the other day, you don’t necessarily just trade up to trade up. You trade up for a specific player. So as we saw things maybe get into a range of player that we were interested in that was there or maybe disappeared, like I said, just because you want to make trades, you have to find a trade partner who is willing to do some of the things that you want to do and that doesn’t always mesh. We were open for business but a lot of people were walking past our storefront.”
Is Eric going to be very versatile in his role with the Chiefs?
“I think that is part of where we believe Eric is a little bit unique. He has played close to the line of scrimmage, he has played deep, he has done both things. Again, I think it is not just a matter of how he is going to be used, it is a matter of what we are going to be matched up against.”
Does Eric have as complete of a resume as you have ever seen?
“I don’t know if I would go as far as ‘if I have ever seen,’ but I will say this, I think it is a really strong total package because there is a breadth in a number of different areas where he has very strong points. In terms of saying, ‘as good as I’ve ever seen,’ I have always pulled short of saying things like that because he hasn’t done it at this level yet. In terms of makeup, professionalism and how important and mature this guy is; his maturity level is pretty special. The opportunity that he has because of those things, I think guys like this generally have a better chance.