Auburn cornerback Carlos Rogers, the Redskins' first-round pick at No. 9 in Saturday's NFL draft in New York, won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back a year ago. Rogers spoke with Redskins.com in an exclusive interview from his native Augusta, Georgia. In his first comments since being drafted by the Redskins, Rogers said he feels he's ready to help make the NFL's third-best defense even better.
Q: What's your initial reaction to the ways the draft went today, and to being selected at No. 9?
A: "I'm very happy about the way things went. It's a great opportunity. I'm looking forward to being a Redskin. I called coach [DeWayne] Walker and told him this is the best news I've gotten in a long time."
Q: Do you have any connections to the Redskins, or to the Washington, D.C., area in general?
A: "[Auburn's] Marcus Washington has been giving me tips on how to become an NFL player and how to conduct myself at the next level. He's been great. They have a great coaching staff up there, so I expect to get all the help I need."
Q: What has your day been like?
A: "I'm here at home in Augusta, with family coming around the house all day. There have been interviews, phone calls, non-stop. Actually, I'm just waiting for it all to calm down a little bit."
Q: When you visited Redskins Park, can you describe what it was like for you?
A: "I spent a lot of time with the coaches, then we went out to dinner. I remember I had a great steak, so I'm looking forward to coming up there again. Overall, I really enjoyed myself."
Q: You were able to watch some of the workouts and attend some of the team's meetings during your pre-draft visit. What were your impressions of those?
A: "They were more like the ones I just left at Auburn. The coaches were cool, sitting back and getting ideas from the players."
Q: What are your personal expectations for your rookie season?
"I want to be the rookie of the year. I want to come in with a clear mindset, ready to learn and ready to play. I don't want to be a guy who they brought in and is going to take a year to develop. I'm coming in ready. I'm ready to come in and play the position and start. I don't want to be too cocky by saying that, but I'm not a guy that likes to sit back and settle. I'm going to try to work hard every day to pursue my dream, which is to come in here and start. They're not going to be paying me a lot of money to come in here and sit down."
Q: Some of your coaches at Auburn have referred to you as a 'coach on the field.' What does that description mean to you?
"I was a guy that had a lot of young guys looking up to me that I had to come in and coach. Some days we came in and had meetings ourselves before meeting with the coach. People knew that I knew a lot about the defense. I studied a lot of film and I took a lot from my coaches."
Q: The Redskins have had some exceptional cornerbacks over the last few years, including Darrell Green, Champ Bailey, Fred Smoot and Shawn Springs. What does it mean to you to be the next player in that group?
"That means a lot. Champ Bailey is a guy that I studied a lot. I watched his game, I admire his game, and I patterned myself a lot after his game. I know he had great success in Washington. I want to be a guy that comes in, follows in his footsteps, and become a better player. I don't want to settle for 'He's the next Champ.' I want to be better than Champ."