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Quotes: Head Coach Jay Gruden, DL Da'Ron Payne 04-26-18

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On selecting DL Da'Ron Payne:

"We really like Da'Ron. Coming out as a junior, he's only 20 years old. Big, strong, physical guy. You see what's going on in our division with Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott and Philadelphia, the way they run the ball. Our ranking on defense wasn't quite up to speed at 32nd and we feel like Da'Ron paired with Jonathan Allen and the rest of the guys – Stacy McGee and Matt [Ioannidis] and Terrell [McClain], Anthony [Lanier II] – I think he's a perfect fit."

On narrowing down the pick to Payne:

"There were quite a few guys that were worthy of that pick, quite frankly, but for what we were looking for and the fit, I think Da'Ron is perfect for us and what we were looking for. Derwin James is a great player, Edmunds, great player – both Edmunds brothers are great players – but for what we were looking for, all the work we've done on Da'Ron Payne… I think Coach [Jim] Tomsula felt very good. Kyle [Smith] felt very good. Doug Williams felt very good. I think the room was unanimous on who we should pick."

On if Payne was at the top of the draft board:

"Yeah, he was up there. There's a lot of scenarios we tried to play through and guys were getting picked and we're happy as heck to get Da'Ron. He's one of our top guys."

On selecting another player from Alabama:

"Well, [Payne] played three years at Alabama, been in three National Championships and won two. He's a big part of that. He was a leader of their defensive line last year, played with Jonathan obviously. Jonathan knows him very well. Ryan Anderson speaks very highly of him obviously and I think the camaraderie, the ability that he can play a lot of multiple spots, not just nose guard. He's not just a run stopper. I know he didn't have a lot of sacks last year, but he can disrupt the passing game. If you watched him against Georgia, you might say he's the best defensive lineman in football. He was very disruptive in the running and the passing game and it's going to be hard to move those guys. At the end of day, pro football is about being able to run the ball and stopping the run. We have to stop the run better and Da'Ron Payne will help us do that."

On why he's confident in Payne's ability to rush the passer:

"He can get back there. You know, I think he's got great power, and a lot of times the sacks that don't show up on the stat board, he enabled other guys to get them because of the push of the pocket that forces the quarterback outside. I think Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith and Ryan Anderson will be very happy to have Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne in the middle pushing that pocket. It enables the edge rushers to get home a little bit. So he's been very productive for Alabama, I promise you that, and not just in the running game but in the passing game. And stats don't always tell a story about pass rushers. And I think being a 20-year-old kid, as strong as he is, as big as he is already, he's got room to grow, having Coach Tomsula work with him, I think it's going to be a great match and be fun to watch."

On if they considered the possibility of a trade:

"Yeah, there's thought to everything, but everything is running through our minds and phones are ringing a little bit here and there, but at the end of the day we saw that he was on the board and that's the guy we wanted. And you risk if you trade back, you risk losing him and everybody else that you covet. But he's one of the main guys that we coveted throughout this draft process and we're happy that he fell to us."

On Payne's versatility:

"Very versatile. He can play nose, three, five. I mean, he did that at Alabama and you look at the tape when he played with Jonathan and I can remember watching Jonathan and I loved Jonathan Allen but I don't know who this 94 guy is. He was still an underclassman last year and it was Da'Ron. Putting some of that tape on from a year ago and watching those two guys side-by-side working, it's tough sledding. They are both very strong at the point of attack. They eat up [offensive] linemen and I think it's going to make Mason [Foster] and Zach [Brown] a lot more comfortable and free to roam around the field. It will make Zach a lot more comfortable to use his lateral speed."

On if Payne will play nose tackle:

"Yeah, we will start him at nose and see how it goes. But like I said, when teams move their tight ends and nose will shift to three-technique and three-technique will shift to nose. I think he is very versatile and at Alabama he's played directly over the nose and center, he's played the shade, the three. He's played a little bit of everything. He's a very smart player and we had the chance to interview him and we had the chance to meet him at one of the visits that we had him here. Just a great guy. He's got great leadership capabilities, very smart, knows what the entire defensive line is doing and if you watch him on tape, you can see that he never gets out of his gap. He knows where he is supposed to be – looping three-technique when he has to loop, he's in the A-gap when he's in the A-gap, in the B-gap when he's in the B-gap. He doesn't give up a lot of movement. He rarely gets pushed out of his gap. Very strong, and just a great all-around defensive lineman."

On if the opportunity to draft a player like Payne impacted free agency:

"It had some impact, but not total impact. You know, we looked at free agency. We talked about a lot of the defensive linemen that were out there. They chose to go to other teams or we couldn't get a deal or what have you. But at the end of the day, we did feel good about the team that we had already with Phil Taylor coming back already also. We've got a good group of guys in house, but to add somebody of Da'Ron's ability is hard to pass up. The strength of good football teams are the offensive line and defensive line and I feel like we got a lot stronger adding Da'Ron."

On Payne saying that the Redskins felt like a family:

"I think he's got the personality that he would have fit anywhere, quite honestly. He's that type of guy. He's got a great personality and people like to be around him. Having familiar faces for him coming in as a 20-year-old kid to the NFL, I think this will be a lot more comfortable for him. Obviously having Coach Tomsula and Coach [Greg] Manusky working with him, it'll be a great fit. The great thing about he and Jonathan are you don't have to kick them in their rear end and say, 'Hey, we need to hustle. We need to pick it up.' These guys play hard every snap and that is fun to watch."

On if he saw players he desired get pushed to the Redskins as other teams selected offensive linemen and quarterbacks:

"Yeah, for sure. We were anxiously waiting to see what was going on because you have no way of knowing. You take your top 13 guys or 14 or 15 and depending on if there's a chance to trade back or what have you. I just keep crossing them off, crossing them off, and the guys that you really want are still there. There was a couple of opportunities for us to really make our football team better. At the end of the day, we had to make a decision and Da'Ron was a unanimous decision amongst the room and an easy call for us."

On what the team hopes to accomplish tomorrow and in the later rounds:

"It's hard to say right now. Obviously we hope to accomplish getting a good player who is healthy and loves football. That's the No. 1 thing. You just have no way of knowing. There's 13 more picks – or 12 more – before we pick tomorrow. A lot of good players are still left, but 12 more good ones are going to be taken. So we'll wait and see what's left on the board and make a great decision that's best for this football team."

On Payne and S Derwin James:

"You know, I think really you couldn't go wrong with either pick. They are both great players and there's a couple other really good ones that were left on the board also. There are still some good ones. So for what we were looking for, the evaluations that we did, we thought Payne was the best fit."

On Payne's selection after the Buccaneers selected DL Vita Vea:

"Yeah, he obviously was in the mix too. We were talking about him and evaluated him, but, you know, when the guys go before, we just cross them off the list. It's a heck of a deal. And when guys are left that we really, really like and we're able to get them, it's exciting. We are excited as heck to get Da'Ron."

On if the team pays attention to mock drafts:

"We glance at the mock drafts, but they are called mock drafts for a reason. It's kind of like fantasy football. It's fantasy world. You know, how many mock drafts have been correct so far? Zero? So, we don't take a lot of stock in that. The important thing is you do your work on the evaluation process, then you wait on draft day and see who's interested in making trades. The phone rings, you get an offer or you make an offer and they either accept it or you don't accept it. The phone was ringing not only when we were picking but when other teams were picking and we just chose to stay pat and take Mr. Payne."

DL Da'Ron Payne

On receiving the call from the Redskins:

"It was a bunch of fun. I got to the chance to have my whole family here so I'm just glad I had the opportunity to make them proud, and I'm ready to get after it with the Washington Redskins."

On his relationship with DL Jonathan Allen:

"Oh, yeah, that's my guy – him and Ryan [Anderson]."

On if spoke with Allen and Anderson leading up to the draft:

"I talked to Ryan a bunch and he kind of knew I was coming up there, and I know Jonathan was pushing the whole thing, so I'm kind of glad it happened."

On why he's glad he was drafted by the Redskins:

"Just because I get the opportunity to play with some old teammates. And then I love the Washington Redskins. I just liked the vibe I got when I got down there. It was just like a real family, so I'm pumped about that."

On how he would describe his game:

"Just a relentless lineman. I'm going to get after the pass rush and just dominate the run every chance I get."

On what made him enjoy his visit with the Redskins:

"Like I said, it was just everybody was like a family. I really vibed with everybody that was out there and I'm just happy to be a part of the Washington Redskins now."

On playing in the NFC East after playing for national championships at Alabama:

"At Alabama, I won a bunch of games, so I think I can take that winning mindset and just the whole mentality it takes to be a winner and just take it to the Washington Redskins."

On his draft day party:

"Oh, yeah, I've got a whole bunch of my family here and we're just celebrating – well, we're trying to celebrate. I'm talking to y'all [laughter], but we're going to do a little celebrating."

On how he felt he improved as a pass rusher at Alabama:

"I feel like I just got the chance to learn a bunch from everybody, and I just tried to hone in on my talent and just keep on working at it every day."

On which NFL running back he is most looking forward to tackling:

"All of them. I'm trying to get after all of them"

On his current location:

"I'm in Birmingham. I'm in Birmingham with my folks."

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