Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry & Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (4.28.23)

Opening Statement:

Berry: “We’re really excited to add (WR) Cedric (Tillman) and (DT Siaki) Ika to our roster. These are two guys that we liked a lot throughout the draft process. I know Glenn (Cook) and Cat (Catherine Raiche) talked a little bit about Cedric earlier this evening. A big-sized receiver, a ton of strength, really consistent hands and was very productive when he was on the field for Tennessee. We’re excited to add him to the mix. Workman-like attitude, real quiet. I think he’ll fit in really nicely with our group. Then Siaki, he is another player that we really identified early in the scouting process. I think the first thing that stands out is his size, but he actually moves pretty well, especially for a bigger defensive tackle. We saw him as more scheme versatile, even though he played in an odd front at Baylor. We really enjoyed our time we spent with him this spring when he visited us earlier this month. Two players that we’re excited to add and we’re ready to get going.”


On how tempting it was to take a DE at 74:

Berry: “There were a number of players that we liked at 74, across a number of different positions. I’ll be honest, we felt like the board fell favorably. There are a number of prospects that were in play for that pick that we would have been very excited to have. We just felt that Cedric was the right fit for us. Very clean profile, adds an element to the receiver room that we don’t currently have with just his excellent size. We were really excited when he was there at 74.”


On where Ika’s weight is at and where they want him to be:

Berry: “I’ll call it a ‘Schwartzism.’ He (DC Jim Schwartz) wants guys to be as big as they possibly can, without sacrificing movement. For some guys at defensive tackle, that may be 305 and others that may be 355. Siaki has been anywhere from 335 to 355. depending on what the scheme required. For us, we’ll work with him when he gets on site for what we’re going to ask him to do, but he has played effectively throughout that weight range.”


On if they were close to making a trade or if they were comfortable:

Berry: “Yeah, actually we were. We had a couple opportunities around both picks. As I mentioned earlier, we were pretty pleased with the pool of players available at 74, so we felt comfortable sitting. We were really excited when Ika was there at 98. With that being said, there was an offer that we strongly considered a few picks beforehand. Just the team that we were dealing with, their player came off the board, so that made it a pretty easy decision for us to just sit with that pick.”


On if size was a priority when adding to the receiver room:

Stefanksi: “I don’t know that going into tonight or going into the draft that size, specifically, was a priority. I think for us, we’re always looking for traits. I think Cedric does possess those dominant traits; size, ability to go get the football. Like Andrew mentioned, we did a lot of work on these guys. A lot of really good football players, so we’re excited. As coaches, you sit there and you know that you’re adding good players to the roster, and I think Cedric fits the bill.”


On the transition Tillman will have to make to the NFL from college:

Stefanski: “I don’t think it’ll be a transition. I think you see his skillset, you see him come off the ball. Yes, he’s winning outside quite a bit, working outside. He’s very intelligent and it will not be an issue moving him around at all.”


On if taking a defensive tackle deals with DT Perrion Winfrey and his situation:

Berry: “No.”


On update about Winfrey:

Berry: “No. I mentioned earlier. I’m not going to comment any further on pending legal matters.”


On if Ika and DT Dalvin Tomlinson can play on the field together:

Berry: “Absolutely.”


On if having big guys in the middle of the line is a change in philosophy:

Berry: “Honestly, it’s not, I know it appears that way from the outside. That just happened. We viewed Siaki as a little bit unique, because you don’t usually see those bigger guys that you feel comfortable to play in an over front. We did and we thought that he actually has an mobility to do and that’s what attracted us.”


On adding more wide receivers to the room:

Berry: “I’d say in general, you can never have enough playmakers, guys that can do something with the ball in their hands. I also have mentioned in the past here that part of our job in building our roster is to think about both the present and the future. I think, specifically with the pass-catching group, we like the variety that we have in that position room, where guys can produce and win in different ways. We’re optimistic that it will grant Kevin and the offensive staff more flexibility as they gameplan.


On if he thought the WRs really needed to be upgraded last year:

Stefanski: “No, I think every season you go in knowing that you lose players to free agency, to whatever it may be. You trade players, you add players. That’s just the normal life of the NFL season, where you’re adding more to it. For us, we’re looking at good players wherever they come. In this case, talking about some pass catchers. We were able to add guys that we feel really strongly about. A bunch of picks left. I promise you Andrew and crew are working nonstop throughout the calendar year to add good players.”


On Tillman not having many drops in college:

Berry: “It’s certainly something that’s important with this profile. His size, his strength, he is a very good athlete, despite his dimensions, and has really strong hands. That being said, while he’s not necessarily your vertical stretch player, his speed is just fine, so we thought it was a nice wholistic package more than anything. Certainly, the hands were a big part of it.”


On moving Tillman around the field to different sides:

Stefanski: “It’s not uncommon in college football to play left and right. You see it in the NFL, think back to Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne. It’s not uncommon. Watching the kid work out, what he’s capable of. It’s not an issue for receivers to bounce around. Again, his intelligence, I think, plays a big factor in that as well.”


On Ika’s dimensions and his comparison to Vita Vea:

Berry: “I don’t think of most players in terms of comparisons, because I think oftentimes when people do that it may be the school they went to, their size, their ethnicity. I think most players strike me as unique, so I think it would be unfair to compare Siaki to Vita at this point in his career. Certainly, they are both bigger guys that have a lot of power to the game.”


On Ika playing as a true freshman at LSU:

Berry: “Honestly, his power really stood out. Even on the LSU film, even at a young age, he was a pretty big human being. Even though he didn’t necessarily know what he was doing and was just kind of part of the rotation, you can see a really big disruptive presence in the middle of the line of scrimmage. When he was really allowed to attack in the manner that we are going to ask our defensive line to do so, we thought the skills were certainty transferable.”


On if the Giants trading up affected anything:

Berry: “No, it didn’t.”



Berry: At that point in the draft, I rarely guess. I mentioned, we had a pool of players that we really liked there and we were happy to get Cedric.”


On if Jimmy Haslam did the primary scouting:

Berry: “(Laughs) No, but Jimmy certainly knew a lot about Cedric, given his time at Tennessee.”


On the impact of last year’s problem with stopping the run:

Stefanski: “I think year in and year out, you look at what your strengths are, some things that you struggled with. You hope to address that. Sometimes in free agency, sometimes in the draft, sometimes schematically, whatever it may be. Certainly trying to have a well-rounded defense and I think adding some of the guys that we did up front, I think, will make a big difference come fall.”


Berry: “I don’t think either Dalvin or Siaki was with a specific goal of just stopping the run. I think Jim will tell you, our emphasis is really on getting after the quarterback and really stopping the run with numbers in the box, as opposed to just bigger bodies or size. When you can find guys that you think can be multidimensional players with size, that is certainly an added bonus.


On interactions with the two selections before the draft:

Berry: “Cedric, we spent most of our time with at the combine. We had a really good feel for him coming out of the fall. His background was pretty easy and really the thing that stood out is he’s just a consummate pro. Then Siaki, he was one of the players that we actually had in Berea. I think the thing that stood out with him was just his energy. He is a very energetic, big personality. And that comes across with the coaching staff, it came across in his meeting with me, came across with our support staff. He made a really favorable impression.”


On if the impression of being a consummate pro came from having a pro as his dad: 

Berry: “I think that certainly helps, definitely.”


On the competition created by the draft:

Stefanski: “I think competition is great. As you know, you can’t keep everybody and when you add great players to the room, it elevates everybody’s play. It adds competition to rooms and that’s what our guys love to do. We’ve talked about it already this offseason. We want to compete every day. You add new faces into a room via the draft, via free agency, whatever it is. I think guys are always welcoming new teammates. Ultimately, we’re looking to make the team better and looking to make individuals better through competition.”


On what he saw from Ika on tape:

Berry: “I think one of the most impressive things is–I joked with him on his visits, ‘Ok, what is a 340-pounder doing in the Big 12?’ That’s the worst possible conference for you to be in. I think what was impressive is just  a guy who could keep going, keep going, keep going in a conference that the offenses are really predicated on space. I think it was in those moments that we were able to see him. Even though he was in a different scheme, do some of the things that we would really ask him to do here, which is certainly different from what he did at Baylor. I think his motor stood out, his power stood out and we do think that he has understated pass rush.”



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