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Transcript: Rick Spielman, Mike Zimmer, Justin Jefferson and Jeff Gladney Address the Media

Rick Spielman

NFL Draft

Q. A lot of time in the spotlight last year, is he a guy who can play predominately on the outside?
RICK SPIELMAN: I think alls we are trying to do is get the best guys we can get right now -- figure out with these guys, but I think with the addition of our -- Sharp and Adam and now Jefferson, I think we are going to have a pretty good crew, and you know, who knows what's going to happen on Saturday because I still think there's a lot of depth left in this draft at the receiver position.

Q. After losing what you did in free agency at cornerback, how important was it for you to address that need tonight with a pretty good cornerback class available?
RICK SPIELMAN: The corners started to come off. As you've seen, there was a pretty good start -- pretty good run on them. Again I know we talk about corners and we're talking through with Coach Zim and the defensive staff, Don was a huge asset to us this year, Jones -- Anderson, all those guys, we spent hours and hours, I can't tell you, on just watching tape on these corners. And I know there are specific traits that you have to have to play corner in this -- in this defense. Gladney fit every single trait we were looking for from a physical standpoint.

I know Coach Zimmer, as we're sitting there talking, they can't wait to get these kids in. Who knows when we are able to get them in, but I know how they develop the talent here and we think this kid has a tremendous upside in our defense.

Q. Does he project as more of a slot or outside guy?
RICK SPIELMAN: I think, yeah, I think he's versatile enough to play both inside and out. When you add him with some of the other young corners that we have, I think the coaches will kind of figure that out as we go along. But I know we broke down four or five corners we looked at from an analytic standpoint and Jeff was one of the guys, especially in the red zone, he had the lowest cornerback rating on balls thrown his way and one of the lower just overall incompletion percentages as we look at not only what he did on the field -- so we do the tape first but then we added in the analytics on top of that and felt he was one of the better corners that could make plays on the ball.

The thing that makes him unique, not only was he a quick-twitch athlete and he could run, but even though he's 5-10, he has a 33-inch arm span and almost an 80-length span, which makes him a lot taller than the 5-10, when you break it down that way, as well.

Q. Did anything surprise you in particular, the Packers taking a quarterback?
RICK SPIELMAN: Yeah, I never want to comment on the other team. Alls I'm worried about is Minnesota Vikings and trying to get the best players that we can in here.

Q. Sorry if you already addressed this, but when you were on the clock at 22, were you anticipating that Philadelphia was going to take Jefferson, just realizing he was the best slot receiver available? Was there a moment you are wanted to trade up?
RICK SPIELMAN: He was one of the guys -- we had two other names, as well, but we were very excited to get Jefferson, because I know he's going to have -- he has a chance to be a pretty impactful rookie when we get him in here.

Q. Overall, getting the extra draft capital, now you're up to 14 draft choices which ties -- unless you get more, ties Miami now foremost in the draft. How do you feel about that?
RICK SPIELMAN: Yeah, I know we've got a lot of draft capital, but -- inaudible -- may want to go up and get, so it gives us the flexibility to definitely do that.

Mike Zimmer

NFL Draft

Q. What did you like when you watched Gladney play?

COACH MIKE ZIMMER: Gladney reminded me of a lot of guys that played similarly for me in the past. Very good acceleration. Tough, competitive kid. Wants to challenge receivers. Good in and out of the breaks. Long arms. So you know, I know he's a shorter guy, but I think he makes up for it with his toughness and his length.

Q. Who are some of those guys he reminds you of?

COACH MIKE ZIMMER: Yeah, I don't really want to say. They are good players.

Q. He's been compared to -- is he like him --

COACH MIKE ZIMMER: Yeah, maybe. I don't really want to compare him, I just said.

Q. Are you happy to get a cornerback in the first round?

COACH MIKE ZIMMER: Yeah, we knew we needed some corner depth. You know, but it was more about being, you know, at the right price or where we got the guys. You know, we didn't want to reach for a player when the receiver was coming down to us, we feel good about that. We liked him and had a grade on him. As it worked out in the end of the first, we were able -- we had a couple corners, two or three corners on the board that we liked.

Q. How important was his -- with Gladney, his experience traveling in the slot as a nickel defender, just the flexibility that gives you where you play him potentially next year and what you might do with Mike Hughes at center, how important was that in selecting him?

COACH MIKE ZIMMER: All of it is important. For a guy -- the hard part for a young guy coming in to learn the nickel and the corner, it's a lot of work, and especially with the shortened off-season, it's going to be harder for him. But I do think he has the skill-set to play in there.

Q. How did everything work on your end logically? Telecast looked like it went pretty smoothly. How did you feel in this strange situation?

COACH MIKE ZIMMER: Yeah, it actually went pretty smooth. There was some static once in a while but it wasn't any big deal.

Q. How do you feel looking ahead of the Draft? You got a couple extra draft picks and you're tied with Miami with 14 for the most in the draft. You have a lot of flexibility in things you can do tomorrow and moving forward?

COACH MIKE ZIMMER: Yeah, we do. That was part of the thought. Second and third round picks, there's a lot of good value there still. Gives us some flexibility to move around, move up, move down if we like a guy or if we've got a number of guys there.

There's still quite a few guys on the board that we like and the more that we can hit on these guys, I think the better the Draft will be.

Q. You said in the past, you'd rather tell a young cornerback, whoa, than go. Does that phrase apply to Gladney, do you think? Probably?

COACH MIKE ZIMMER: Probably. When we called him, gets him on the phone and he said, "Been waiting for you guys to call." That's part of the things that you like about him is he's a competitor and wants to be out there and go.

All the virtual classroom stuff in the shortened off-season could be an issue, but we need to get our hands on these guys at some point and get them ready for the season.

Q. Having time with these kids -- with the depth at corner, do you feel you might have to push them a little bit or is that a concern?

COACH MIKE ZIMMER: Yeah, I mean, that part is the concern. It's just -- so for instance, our coaches put together tapes where they are going to work on some position-specific skill sets when they go out there, and we set it for them -- for all this with the voluntary workout and they can go out and -- he can do all those movements and do all the foot position-specific movements. But the hard part is, you know, we can't be as specific with them because we are not coaching him doing those things.

So we'll have to go from there. But when we -- when I started thinking about how this off-season was going to work, I started thinking back on the days where, you know, they didn't have OTAs. They had one mini-camp and they had a longer training camp, but they didn't have OTAs and all this other stuff.

To me, it's going to be how do we adjust better without having OTAs and getting ready for training camp and when we do get into training camp, understanding what is important with our guys, and what's important with what we have to teach them and what we have to do to get ready, as opposed to, you know, numbers and numbers of things.

Q. As a team that's chasing the Packers again, what were your thoughts at 26 when you saw the Packers trade up and kind of look to the future?

COACH MIKE ZIMMER: I think Roger should retire (laughing). That will be the next headline, yeah.

Q. Have to play for the Vikings more than five years --

COACH MIKE ZIMMER: I'm not going to say that. You know, I don't know what was going on in their minds. We're just worried about us. We're trying to get guys to beat them.

Q. Since we haven't had a chance to talk to you for a while, what's your take on losing so many veteran players over the past month, a number of them starters and key reserves?

COACH MIKE ZIMMER: Yeah, that's part of life in the NFL. Guys move on, and we had to do what we had to do with salary cap issues. We really appreciate all those guys that played for us. But it's our job to get these young guys ready to play.

Q. To come away with two players like this who might start in their rookie years, how do you feel about how round one shook out and being able to fill some of the needs this team has early on?

COACH MIKE ZIMMER: Yeah, and Rick and I talked about it beforehand and we obviously know where we have holes in the team. I said, "Let's go get good football players and not worry about it." We'll figure out how to play them and how to use them to our advantage and all that stuff, because I think it's important for the franchise and everybody else that, you know, we take the right kind of guys. We take good, competitive guys.

You know, in some ways, it's exciting. When you're coaching back in college, you had to do these kind of things. You had senior guys graduating and you had to get younger guys ready to play. It's not really new.

Justin Jefferson

NFL Draft

JUSTIN JEFFERSON: Like to thank the Vikings organization for giving me the draft pick and putting their time into me. Definitely excited to join and compete with the different guys on the team, and let's compete for a Super Bowl.

Q. What was tonight like up to the moment you realized you were a Minnesota Viking?

JUSTIN JEFFERSON: I mean, words cannot describe the feeling in my heart. Just having my heart pounding, just as soon as I'm receiving the phone call and just realizing that I'm finally becoming a professional athlete and playing for an NFL team.

Definitely excited and ready to join the team.

Q. Did you have a sense coming into tonight that the Vikings would be interested in you?

JUSTIN JEFFERSON: You know, that's one part about the Draft that you never know exactly what pick you're going to go. You know, a lot of teams can talk to you and say that you're No. 1 on their board and just different things where you don't know exactly where you're going to end up. I'm definitely glad I ended up in Minnesota.

Q. What do you think about kind of potentially replacing Stefon Diggs as a starter? This is the exact spot that the Vikings got when they traded Diggs.

JUSTIN JEFFERSON: I'm just excited to play for an organization and play alongside Kirk and Adam and all those other guys on the team. Excited to join the team and give it my all.

Q. What are some things that you think you can provide the Vikings in this offense?

JUSTIN JEFFERSON: Being a receiver -- just being able to put the ball on the field and being able to make plays. Just really getting into space and making the first -- inaudible

Q. Speaking of that versatility, you played a lot in the slot last year. Do you feel you can play in the outside in the NFL?

JUSTIN JEFFERSON: Yes, I've been playing outside all my life until last year. Last year was the first time I've been playing slot receiver.

Yeah, definitely going into Minnesota and playing outside and inside when they need me.

Q. Start your career really playing slot last year, and set the school record for catches in the same season, how did you transition that smoothly?

JUSTIN JEFFERSON: Coach Joe definitely came in and worked with us on different ball drills and eye coordination drills. Just work on those every single day and just really focus in on our hands and our reaction time and all those different things to become a better receiver. It helped me tremendously throughout the season, and it changed -- and you can tell it changed throughout my sophomore to junior season.

Q. When they were starting to get to the 20-range, what were you thinking, and were you thinking you might go to the Eagles at 21?

JUSTIN JEFFERSON: Just like I said, you never know. Just being -- just waiting and just waiting for your turn to be called is definitely frustrating and nerve racking. Yeah, I'm definitely excited to be a Minnesota Viking. I couldn't wish for more.

Q. What about playing for LSU last year and about your skill-set, what makes you the most ready to go to the NFL right now and make an immediate impact?

JUSTIN JEFFERSON: Just being in that SEC play and just playing those tough guys week-in and week-out. So you know, winning the SEC definitely prepared me to be at this professional level and to be playing against these big-time guys in the league. Definitely excited and looking forward to going into Minnesota and you know working my butt off to this year.

Q. You got the last scholarship available in your class at LSU, unheralded guy coming out of high school. Could you have possibly believed then you would be wearing an NFL team's hat on your head talking to us about being drafted?

JUSTIN JEFFERSON: No, you know, then, I was very small, undersized, lightly recruited, the whole thing. Definitely didn't think that this would be coming and just to be -- being in this situation, not a lot of people can say that they have been drafted or even been in the first round.

Definitely blessed to be in this situation.

Q. How important was it for you at the Combine to run that 4.43?

JUSTIN JEFFERSON: It was extremely important. That was one of the main concerns about the scouts and the different teams; that you know, if I was going to be that fast receiver.

Going into training and focusing on my 40 time, my technique and different ways to increase my speed; so, yeah, definitely going into that and focusing on that 40-time and surprising the world by reaching that 4.43.

Q. I know you probably want to catch a ball for any NFL quarterback but what are your thoughts on Kirk cousins and have you had a chance to look at what he does that you really like and how you could be compatible with him?

JUSTIN JEFFERSON: I watched Cousins a lot, especially this past season. We watched a lot of film on them and watching Adam and Stefon Diggs, share the ball together. Yeah, Kirk is definitely a great quarterback and I'm definitely excited to see what we have in store.

Q. You're not able to just jump on the field and catch passes next week because of the situation right now. What are the next step for you in terms of preparing to be a professional football player in these conditions?

JUSTIN JEFFERSON: Really just sticking to training hard and being mentally prepared for whatever happens. You know, not everybody knows exactly what is going to happen, how this whole thing is going to turn out.

So yeah, just continuing to be cleared up and make sure I don't have any injuries and staying in shape and focused.

Q. Aside from it being a great night for you, how good was it to see your teammates get drafted as well, tonight?

JUSTIN JEFFERSON: It felt great, especially to see Joe, Clyde and Caleb in the first round, Patrick, just all of us -- inaudible.

Q. Describe the atmosphere and you being drafted, where did you watch the Draft, and who was watching the Draft with you and what was kind of the reaction when you got picked?

JUSTIN JEFFERSON: I was at my house. I'm at my house now. I have all my family here. Just with them. This is our first experience, especially in the first round. Definitely everybody is overjoyed and happy, a lot of tears. Definitely ready.

Q. How many family members were there and what's the exact city your house is, just to be sure?

JUSTIN JEFFERSON: Six of us here. Yeah, we didn't have the full draft experience that we wanted but to share it with family is special.

Q. What's the name of the city you're in?

JUSTIN JEFFERSON: St. Rose, Louisiana.

Jeff Gladney

NFL Draft

JEFF GLADNEY: Definitely the fans, I'm ready for them. Looking to come in and just be a piece of the puzzle and do the best at my job. I'm excited to work with y'all and the facilities for sure and the fans, I'm ready for them.

Q. Zimmer was saying that when he called you, he said something to the effect, like, well, I was waiting for you guys to call. Did you think you might go to 22 or even at 25 before they traded?

JEFF GLADNEY: Yes, I had talked to them a few times through the Draft process. I was thinking either 22 or 25. Kind of got a little nervous when they traded at 25 but I never lost faith in them -- and they did.

Q. What was the anticipation like waiting to hear your name be called and be drafted?

JEFF GLADNEY: Excited and anxious at the same time. Butterflies all in my stomach, but I knew that was going to happen, anyway. I was just antsy waiting on my name to get called.

Q. A lot of people describe your game as pretty feisty, physical. Is that how you would describe how you play?

JEFF GLADNEY: Yeah, I would describe it as that. I play very physical. Really doesn't matter what size opponent I'm playing. I'm going to play with a physicality -- if you wanted it or don't.

Q. Is like Zimmer, famously, you're called the Cornerback Whisperer. Do you know about his reputation of taking cornerbacks and turning them into stars?

JEFF GLADNEY: Yes, I do and I feel I'm just the perfect pick for him and just hoping I can live up to that like he did the rest of them.

Q. You might have a chance to play early, as well, because there's so many of them gone. That must make you really lick your chops a little bit?

JEFF GLADNEY: Yes, I know there's two veterans safeties that have been there for a minute. Definitely going to try to grab on to those guys and get as much knowledge as I can. Another corner -- we're from the same area, so familiar with him. Just try to get some knowledge from him and he's been there. Got a year under his belt, too.

Q. You play in a conference like the Big 12, a conference that likes to throw the ball a lot. How much does that prepare you for the next level and how much do you gain by playing in a conference like that?

JEFF GLADNEY: By playing in the Big 12, we are used to air raids, so when it comes to defensive back, we are ready for that. It's going to translate to the NFL. Just ready.

Q. You had one redshirt year and then four years at TCU playing. How did you grow over those five years, and do you think it bodes well for you being a little older prospect; that you have a little more experience under your belt?

JEFF GLADNEY: Yes, definitely, without an experience game -- more knowledge, in every part of my game. Just over the years, just processing, just got to play faster -- like the back of my hand.

Q. This draft wasn't how you pictured it, I'm sure, a couple months ago. You thought it would be Vegas, the whole thing --


Q. How was it for you?

JEFF GLADNEY: It was fine. Came home. Out in the country. Had a little barbeque, fish fry. Made the best of it. It was still great. Definitely great to be around all the fam.

Q. Is there an NFL cornerback that you look up to and sort of try to emulate?

JEFF GLADNEY: I like Stephon Gilmore. He's a technician and you can see it every game he's playing. You can just watch the technique. I don't care if you know football or not. You just know that guy is good.

Q. You had the knee surgery on your meniscus. How did you perform at the Combine before doing that, obviously going through that, and how do you feel now?

JEFF GLADNEY: I have a very high pain tolerance. Played through it the whole season. It was just that was a little nagging, but the Combine, it was just all heart. I wanted to show everybody what I had before I had the surgery, so made sure I pushed it behind that. I mean, I'm ready to go now. I'm just ready to show what I'm working with.

Q. What's the moment like to actually realize a dream come true tonight and get that phone call, just what's that whole scenario like with your family?

JEFF GLADNEY: It was great. A lot of tears. I ain't going to lie; my head started spinning for a little bit. Had to go breathe. But it was great, though.

Q. I'm sure you've heard that Zimmer can be tough on guys. Are you ready and willing for that?

JEFF GLADNEY: I'm ready. I've got four years under Coach Patterson under my belt, so I can take coaching. It doesn't matter how they deliver it. I just get the message.