After the Jacksonville Jaguars picked Dante Fowler with the No. 3 overall pick in the first round of last night's 2015 NFL Draft, head coach Gus Bradley took some questions and gave us some insight into why they picked him, what the process looked like, and how he fits into the defense.
Dante Fowler is a Gus guy, isn’t he?
"I really liked him. There were a lot of guys that we enjoyed that were in here in our building. Like Dave said, the need that we have, you can never have enough rushers. I did learn that the last couple of years being a defensive coordinator and now as a head coach that, any time you can get rush and good rushes. He is unique at the Leo position because of his size, strength and speed and what he brings. He is physical, explosive and I felt like he gives us a chance to become more explosive on defense."
How does his physicality jump out at you?
"I think you see his explosiveness when he hits people, his run and chase. The thing that I loved is he loves football. That’s extremely important to him. He practices hard, he plays hard, how he practices is how he plays. Talking to his coaches and how he operates in practice and some of the players that have played with him and his physicality on the field jumps out at you. Not only just in his tackles but how he engages in blocks and gets off blocks."
How did the conversation go Friday when you zeroed in on him?
"We went through all scenarios. We challenged one another if we did take him what would be his position, how would we utilize him, but all of our conversations all came back to him."
Did you have to talk Dave out of offense?
"No, I didn’t because we liked Amari (Cooper) too as a guy. I think the position need that we had, and the idea that he was a rusher."
Were you torn between him and Williams?
"He’s a good player. I think that’s when Dave said when we had it down to four or five guys that we’re looking at that tells you we were a little torn. The more and more we talked about the more and more we brought all the people involved, it became clearer."
Was it an easy choice once you got everybody involved?
"As we did it starting back in April, we went through it and talked to all of the guys; obviously he jumped out for us. We felt very strongly about him. After our meetings last Friday we came back together and it was more Dave and I and the scouts at that time. I had conversations with Bob and (Todd) Wash and how would we utilize him, what would be the situations, would we get him inside, outside, first and second down guy, how did they see the rotation, how did they see the competition and things like that. It just all came together."
Is he a two-down player?
"He can be a three-down player."
Is he a heavy-handed player?
"A guy that can set the edge. It’s a different level when he sets the edge and taking on blockers. When you set the edge you don’t want much movement—lateral movement. When he sets the edge there is no lateral movement. He just plays with a high motor and that fits our personality."
Did anything surprise you watching him more and more?
"The effort is what really stood out. Every play. When you watch tape, especially with rushers, they take plays off. A guy plays hard for a while and then he does it. We looked to try to find plays where we felt like he took plays off and he didn’t. That gives us the opportunity is we are not coaching effort right away. We can get right into technique things that we want him to work on. Sometimes in the process you’re going, ‘alright this is the level we need to play at,’ and sometimes it takes time for guys to understand that."
Did you visit with any of his old coaches?
"Yes I did."
What will he need to work on when he gets here?
"I would say that his get-off. He is very strong, a very powerful rusher and to get the edge and the speed to get around the corner he has flashes of that. You see it and I think that we can even get that better."
No concerns at 265 pounds?
"No. If we said ideal rusher looking at that spot because it’s more speed. Sometimes when you get 260, 265 now they’re 4.75 or 4.7, but he is 260 at 4.6; that’s a little bit different now. He is a little bit different style Leo."
What about his wardrobe?
"I don’t want to take their individuality away but I also want them to be…it’s not about them. It’s about us and how we do things, but it’s a special day. We will have visits I’m sure."