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Transcript: Zimmer at the NFL Scouting Combine

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer at the podium — NFL Scouting Combine

"We're excited about our football team, we've got a lot of good guys on it. Rick Spielman and the scouts have done a great job in putting it together. We're excited to get into U.S. Bank Stadium and see if we can do a little bit of damage in there."

Q: What can you say about the impact of Chad Greenway, not just on the field but in the locker room as well?

"Chad is a terrific guy. I love him. He's been terrific for us. He probably played more than he anticipated this year and more than I probably did. His role expanded because of injuries and some things. You know, I really wish I had the chance to coach him when he first came out of the draft because I see the great intangibles that he has now and what, maybe, I could have helped him try to be if I had him when he was younger."

On drafting UCLA linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, and what he thinks about prospect Myles Jack…

"I've been working on offensive guys right now. I do have a fondness of UCLA linebackers because I have two. But I don't really know enough about him yet. I mean I hear good things but that's it."

On protecting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater…

"It's extremely important. He got sacked 45 times this year and I think 44 last year so he's getting way too many times. We've got to do a better job in protecting him, and that's just not the offensive line. It's running backs and receivers making the right adjustments, but it is extremely important. This guy has got a chance to be an extremely good player but we have to do a good job with that."

On Xavier Rhodes and the grades he received from analytics sites…

"I don't worry too much about the analytics services. I worry about how I look at it and how I grade him. I think early in the year he probably struggled a little bit with some of the penalties and that caused him to be conservative in the way he was playing. Like I told him during the season, he needs to be a power forward and not a point guard. You have to be who you are.

"His game is about power and strength and physicality, and if you don't play up to your game, then you may struggle a little bit. I like Xavier, he actually texted me two days ago to say, 'Hey Coach, what's up?' He's a good kid and he has an awful lot of ability and he has a chance to be a very good cornerback in this league."

On wide receiver Stefon Diggs…

"I think Stefon has done a lot of good things. He still has a long way to go, he still has to continue to prove himself. I think he continues to get better, and there's still a lot of things he has to work on. I think this next year and the year following will determine how good he really ends up being."

On the NFC North…

"I think we have a great division. I thought that all along. I think the year I got to Minnesota, Chicago was in the playoffs or real close to being in the playoffs. And Detroit was in the playoffs a year ago and then obviously Green Bay had won the division the last four years. It's a heck of a division, there's a lot of great coaches in there. (Packers Head Coach) Mike McCarthy especially, I think he does an unbelievable job and (Packers General Manager) Ted Thompson, who was just up here. They've been the pinnacle of this division for a long time.

"John Fox is a friend of mine and he's always done a great job. I see their football team getting better. Detroit has a ton of athletic ability, and hopefully we'll continue to keep fighting." 

On Jerick McKinnon's role in 2016…

"Jerick is a good kid, and he's been around the facility working out. That's just the kind of kid he is. He loves ball and he's a great kid, always has a smile on his face. I do think we can continue to find a lot more things for him to do, continue to use his athletic ability and get him in some open spaces that will allow him to continue to showcase his ability."

On former players in Cincinnati as possible free agents…

"I think when you're messing round in free agency, I think the more you know a player, the better chance you have of being correct. For me, a lot of it has been familiarity. Not only me knowing them but them knowing me and how I am, too.

"I think that's an important part of the process as well, but we'll just have to see. I really like my football team right now. I like the way they work, their mentality, the way they do things. If we can continue to add players that have our vision and where we can see them fitting in then I think it's great."

On (General Manager) Rick Spielman drafting a young defense and developing the young players…

"First of all, Rick, and not just Rick because we have a great group of scouts, I was so fortunate to come into a situation with so many guys have helped me along the way. (Scott) Studwell and Jamaal Stephenson and George Paton and Rick and obviously Rick kind of runs that whole deal, finding these guys and being able to give us talent to work with has been really good.

"I do think we have a good nucleus of defensive guys but we're not anywhere near where I want to be yet. You can see the development of these football players – Sharrif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes, Anthony Barr coming in and not really playing that position before. I think our coaches have done a great job along with it. It takes a collective effort with the scouts and the coaches in order to say 'OK, these are the kind of guys that fit with what you do, and maybe they don't fit but how can you use them to help this football team get better?' What we've done defensively, I think we have a good collective group communication between the scouts and the coaches."

On Trae Waynes…

"I think he has a chance to be a very good player. Quite honestly, I think it was a good situation for him to play special teams, play a little bit this year, be a part-time player, because he's had a chance to learn. He had a chance to learn from a great veteran guy in [Terence] Newman. Newman's helped with Xavier – a lot of these guys he's helped with." 

"I see him being a very good football player. It's not about athletic ability with him, it's just some of the learning the game of professional football."* *

On the importance of length when looking at defensive ends/defensive linemen…

"Well a good example, Matt [Vensel], would be, if I could reach you right now and tackle you, that would be a pretty good advantage, right? As opposed to trying to reach 'this' far away. So, number one is reach. Trying to get off a block and get to a guy. Number two is that when you get these guys who are 10 feet high in the air with their hands, being able to get in the quarterback's throwing lane, tip balls, things like that. I just think length gives you an advantage that can be important for your defensive football team."

On if Teddy Bridgewater will throw more and the Vikings will run less in 2016…

"First of all, each game is going to determine how we're going to play. We want to win games, and I don't have a problem winning a game 13-10 and running the ball a bunch of times, and especially finishing games running the ball, I have no issues with that whatsoever. I'd like to win them 24-10."

"I don't know if he'll be throwing the ball more, but really, at the end of the day, if I come back here next year – if I'm still here – what I want to say is, 'Man, Teddy really took over this offense. He was really in charge of everything he did here. He took charge of the lead.' Whatever that means, if it's getting us in the right place, if it's throwing the ball more, if it's throwing the ball less, but just taking charge of this thing. Because it's going to be his baby eventually."

On the safety spot opposite Harrison Smith…

"I think this: if Harrison Smith who was paired with a guy that had some other qualities, we could allow Harrison to be more of an impactful player."

"I think Harrison could be more impactful if he had the right kind of guy next to him."

"I don't know [if that guy is on the roster]."

On Tony Sparano and his vision…

"I think it totally helps the scouts. I think it totally helps everybody in the organization kind of get on the same page. I want Tony's personality to rub off on those guys. It's going to be a different personality, but that's part of it as well."* *

On Hue Jackson becoming another Bengals coordinator ending up as a head coach…

"Well, winning sure helps. The more you win, the more recognition you get, and that's good for everybody."

"Number one, [Bengals Owner] Mike Brown does a great job in helping coaches grow. He's very, very loyal to them, he's solid in everything. His upbringing is unbelievable anyway."

"[Bengals Head Coach] Marvin [Lewis has] done a great job with all of us. He helped me grow tremendously. I can't speak for the other guys, but I know for me he helped me a lot in a lot of different ways. We've done a lot of things that Marvin's done – some of the things we do with the football team overall. I think one of the big things about that, is that is it shows you can be a good guy, be a good coach and still win, too. Because Marvin does that."

On [Bengals Director of Player Personnel] Duke Tobin…

"Well, Duke has always been very knowledgeable, number one. He's a hard worker. He comes from a pretty good family football background."

"Duke has always loved talent, and I think that shows on their football team right now. They have a very, very talented team. I think he does a great job on getting the background information on all the players to make sure that they can be coached and be coached the right way. Putting it all together, I think he's done a fantastic job of it."

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