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DETROIT LIONS SELECT FIVE PLAYERS ON FINAL DAY OF 2020 NFL DRAFT

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DETROIT LIONS SELECT FIVE PLAYERS ON FINAL DAY OF THE 2020 NFL DRAFT

The Detroit Lions selected OL Logan Stenberg (fourth round, 121st overall), WR Quintez Cephus (fifth round, 166th overall), RB Jason Huntley (fifth round, 172nd overall), DL John Penisini (sixth round, 197th overall) and DL Jashon Cornell (seventh round, 235th overall) of the 2020 NFL Draft.

LIONS EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL MANAGER BOB QUINN CONFERENCE CALL (VIA ZOOM)
Opening statement: “Hey guys, thanks for being here. I got one really important announcement to make before we get going to the players. The Winnebago has left the driveway. Credit to the crack IT staff, this weekend went off without a hitch – so I appreciate those guys very much. Appreciate (the) scouting staff, coaching staff, operations staff, trainers, doctors, administrative help, front office – it’s a team effort, the Draft. It’s always – myself and Matt (Patricia) always have to talk about everything all the time, but it’s a big process that’s a year-round thing for us. Our area scouts will get a little time off here, then they’re on to next year’s guys going forward. Really excited that we were able to – the Draft went off without a hitch. So the virtual stuff was no issue for us – really, really excited about what we did here this weekend and can’t wait to hopefully get these guys in person as soon as we can.

“Just to start off today – obviously we moved back at the top of the fourth round and took Logan Stenberg. We went in today looking at the board and really just followed the board. It was back-to-back guard picks, obviously with Jonah (Jackson) in the third and then Logan in the fourth and it wasn’t a need-based picked, it was just kind of, ‘Hey, this is the best guy on the board.’ Had a good grade on him, felt comfortable with the person and went after him and moved back and was able to get him and picked up another pick. So that was good. Quintez Cephus from Wisconsin – really strong player, very physical, great catch radius, strong hands. (Offensive Coordinator Darrell) Bevell has a strong relationship up in Wisconsin obviously – one of his former teammates is one of the coaches up there, so really got a great recommendation on that player there in the fifth. Obviously the receiver thing was something we were looking for a little bit here and there. He was the guy we felt very, very good with in the fifth round. Later on in the fifth round, Jason Huntley from New Mexico State, running back. This is a speed player, this is a space running back, little bit undersized but extremely fast and athletic and competitive. When you guys see this guy play – he’s probably 195 pounds, but when you watch him, he plays a lot bigger than that. He’s very physical, he’s not avoiding contact. He’s a dynamic special teams returner as well.

“John Penisini, Utah. If you watched Utah football this year, they had a great defense. I’m not sure exactly how many defenders they got drafted out of their squad, but I think it was six-plus. He was kind of a clog in the middle of the defense that did all the dirty work. Really good scheme-fit for us, strong player, physical, plays low to the ground, uses his hands extremely well, great culture fit, great person, hard worker. That was a really easy pick for us. We had that guy earmarked for a while now, that we would consider on the third day. Then came back in the seventh (round) – really had a number of guys on the board that we liked. We took Jashon Cornell from Ohio State. Where Penisini is more of a run player, Cornell is a defensive lineman that’s more of a pass rusher. He can play defensive end, he can rush from the inside at three-technique in passing situations. He was another guy in a very good defense. You can probably count off the number of guys from Ohio State that got drafted. This guy – when you watch all that film, he keeps showing up on film, making plays – especially as a pass rusher. Excited to get this group of the 2020 rookie class going here. We had nine picks. As you guys know, we’re working on rookie free agents right now. Taking a little break from that, hopefully get those things wrapped up by the end of the night.

“I appreciate you guys staying with us all weekend. I know it was a good distraction for everyone. Before I open it up to questions – as we get going here, as we try to get back to life as normal, just want everyone to be safe out there. This thing is still kind of going around our area pretty good. Even though the restrictions are getting lightened a little bit, just want everyone on this call and our fans to be sure they’re being diligent and being careful out in public. With that, I’ll open it up.”

On what he has learned from the virtual draft process: “Great question. I just got off a Zoom with my staff about 10 minutes ago, and we were talking about that. I asked them, ‘Hey listen, over the next couple weeks, I want you guys to jot down anything you guys learned, anything we can incorporate going forward,’ because as you guys know, during the season – you’re the beat reporters, you guys are at Allen Park all the time, you guys put in a lot of hours following our team. You guys appreciate the amount of hours that our football staff puts in to it. This could be a good lesson for us to have a good balance in our lives in the offseason, knowing that the Draft is critically important to what we do, but maybe we can tone down the hours and work smarter rather than longer, maybe do a few things virtually a day or two a week. I’m going to look in to that. I’m not going to make any promises one way or the other, but that’s something that I’m going to evaluate over the next couple months. I always like to take a few days, sit back, see how everything went in the offseason from when our season ended to the Draft, and then we always make adjustments going forward. So that’s something that I’m going to think about. I think it’s a great question. Listen, you guys know how important my family is to me. You guys saw my kids on T.V. all weekend. I thought that was cool for them, but it’s hard. It’s hard being a coach in this league, it’s hard being a scout in this league, it’s hard being a G.M. in this league when you’re away all the time or in the office all the time. If we can figure out a better work/life balance for the months of February, March and April, I’m all for it. So as the leader of the organization on the football-side of it, myself and Coach (Patricia), we’re going to look at it and see what we can do for our employees to make their lives a little better.”

On if RB Jason Huntley puts RB Ty Johnson in a precarious position and if WR Quintez Cephus was a better option than Michigan WR Donovan Peoples-Jones: “First thing on Huntley – listen, there’s going to be competition in that running back room. We feel good about the depth of that room. The good thing about the running backs right now, we have them of all shapes and sizes. We have some bigger guys, we have some middle-sized guys. Huntley will be our smallest guy, but he’s extremely fast. So (I’m) very confident that we’ll find a role for him, and he is going to be in competition with Ty Johnson. Ty Johnson was a sixth-round pick last year, so Ty knows. Ty’s a smart guy. Ty knows he has to come in and earn it every year. We’re excited about Ty Johnson and hopefully the progress he makes from year one to year two. We’re going to put Jason right in there with him. We’ll keep the best team we can as possible. The good thing about Coach Bevell and his offense, he knows how to use guys. They can put them in different positions. Just try to get these guys the ball in the best way possible, so we can get first downs and score points. Then Cephus, I’m not going to comment on a guy we didn’t draft. Peoples-Jones is a good player as well. Cephus was one of the guys we had circled for a while. It was funny – he had a disappointing Combine workout slightly. But then he went, he had one of the last pro days before it got shut down, and he improved dramatically with his 40-(yard dash time). I would say that equates to how he plays on the field. Really strong guy, big catch radius like I said, really, really good hands, physical player. So excited to have him on our team.”

On if he feels that this is his strongest draft class: “I don’t know if I’m going to say that right now. I appreciate that. I appreciate that you mentioned that, but we’ll see how these guys play. We’re excited about it as you said. I think it’s a class that we put a lot of hard work into. I think we have playmakers on both sides of the ball, and probably on special teams with a couple of these guys as well. So yes, I hope it is. I hope to improve every year. Listen, the Draft is an inexact science. I wish I batted 1.000, it’d be a lot better, our record would be better and all that. It’s a hard thing. We work extremely hard at it. This year is a little different, but I feel really good about this class. But again, we feel good now – these guys have to do a great job in the offseason, whatever that entails. They have to work their butt off on their own and learn the playbook, so when they hit training camp or later on in the offseason program, they hit the ground running because we had a competitive team before these guys. The work is a lot in front of them. That’s what we told each and every one of them. When Coach (Patricia) and I got on the phone, we congratulate them, we get them fired up for a minute and then it’s like, ‘Hey listen, enjoy this with your family tonight and tomorrow, then we’re going to work.’ Monday morning we’re going to start going to work. Whenever the coaches can get their hands on these guys – I think it’s another two weeks – but we can do some stuff over the phone between now and then.”

On his children being able to experience the Draft with him and if they have a new appreciation for his work: “Thank you for that question. It means a lot. It’s different. I get emotional talking about this because you guys know me, and I love these two kids, and I love my wife. It’s hard to be away from these guys – travelling around to Pro Days and jumping on flights, getting home late, then sleeping for six hours and going to the office the next morning in the Spring is hard – especially when you lost all the time during the season like you guys know we do. So I thought it was cool for them. Kyle is around a lot in the office and down in the locker room because he’s old enough, and he can be in the locker room with the guys a little bit. Grace on the other hand, she can’t. She’s been in the office helping around a little bit from time to time the last couple years. I’ll give you guys a little bit of insight. I have our draft board on kind of a poster board. It’s a three-by-four-ish, big poster board and it’s printed out of our draft board. So today, I woke up and I said, ‘I’m not going to be able to walk up and cross off all the names because they come off so fast on Day 3.’ So they got up this morning, I slept in a little bit, and I said, ‘All right, we have a job today.’ They were in here with me in my office the entire draft. I thought that was really, really cool. They didn’t miss a player – that’s really important because when you’re getting down to the end of the Draft, and seventh round, you’re trying to get the best names possible to sign as rookie free agents. We have a lot going on with the computer screens and the draft board, and I was staring at that. My kids had it right, so I’m excited about that. We just gave them a little lesson on how rookie undrafted contracts work, so they get a little tutorial on signing bonuses. So I don’t know – we got a couple GMs in the making around here maybe. Maybe I can retire a little sooner.”

On if his children received messages from friends who saw them on T.V. this weekend: “Yeah, it’s pretty cool. So both my kids, we get to know a lot of the other families in the League. Obviously I was in New England for a long time, so Nick Caserio (and) his family, Monti Ossenfort, Brian Smith – all those guys and Bill’s (Belichick’s) family. We go to the League meetings in March, and we’re very fortunate enough to bring our families to that – it’s usually a great event. They’ve become very close friends with a lot of the other GM and head coaches’ kids around the League. It’s pretty neat. I know I saw (New York Jets General Manager) Joe Douglas’ kids, (Tampa Bay Buccaneers General Manager) Jason Licht is one of my best friends in this business – I saw his kids, that’s awesome, saw Charlie and Zoe. (Tennessee Titans General Manager) Jon Robinson – saw his kids. So it’s pretty cool. Listen, I can talk about this all day because I think it’s a really – our business is stressful, there’s pressure, ‘we need to win,’ all that. You know who feels it more than I do? My wife and my kids. When you go to school and you lose on Sunday and the kids have no idea what you go through, and they’re giving my son and my daughter a hard time because we lost to the Packers or whatever. It puts life in perspective. I really, greatly appreciate the question because I think it’s important for the fans to realize that we’re people too. My kids are people. I think they deserve a lot of recognition this weekend. I’m very glad that they were a part of it. I know Coach Patricia is very happy that his kids were a part of it as well.”

On what the virtual offseason will entail for the rookies and veterans beginning on Monday: “The virtual program for our vets, we’ll start there first, we’ll start Monday. Really, what it’s going to be is during phase one normally, the players can be in the building for four hours, two of which can be on field. So, what we’re going to do for the Lions, and every team can be a little different, the League gave us a couple different choices, we’re going to use two hours every day during the phase one to do online classroom. So, that’s what we’re going to do. That’s going to be what we ask our players to do, obviously it’s voluntary. So, that will be two hours a day. I believe it’s Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. I can’t remember, four days a week starting Monday. That’s what we’ll do, and then they’ll workout on their own.”

On how he defines a successful draft: “A successful draft to me, the great majority of your picks are contributors. Obviously, a couple of them turn into dynamic players and really what it comes down to is you win, right. You win. You build a team that’s good enough to compete week in and week out no matter what the situation, you’re building up depth, you have enough talent, you have enough star power that can go out against the best players in the League and win on a consistent basis. That’s what our goal is. That’s what our goal will always be. Like I said at the beginning, it’s hard to quantify. It’s an inexact science. You can have a really poor draft and kill it in free agency, you could have a 12-win team. You see it all the time. But really, I think the core of your team, as you guys know and I’ve said it bunch, the core of your team is through the Draft. So, you have to hit on these guys. They’re under four- and five-year contracts. Their cost is fixed, so you want to hit on as many as you can. That’s our goal. You guys can be the judge if we do a good job with that or not, but I felt over my first four years, we’ve done a good job in the Draft and my goal is to improve every year, and it’s no different than this year. So, I hope this class is better than last year’s class and hopefully that equates to a lot more wins for us.”

On what made him comfortable drafting WR Quintez Cephus due to some legal matters he faced in the past: “We did our normal research that we do on all players, no problems there. We looked into that legal matter, did our research and felt good with it. And like I said, Coach (Darrell) Bevell has great relationships up there (at Wisconsin), talked to the football people and people on campus at Wisconsin, and that thing was in his past. They speak glowingly of this player and person.”

On if the team is able to extend rookie mini-camp invites like they would be with an in-person camp: “Same process for rookie free agent signings. So, we can agree to terms with guys after the Draft and then once they officially sign their contracts, pass their physicals, we can release those transactions, so no difference there. We’re not going to have a rookie mini-camp because usually the rookie mini-camp is about 10 days from now. So, we’re still going to be shutdown for that because the League told us that the first three weeks of the offseason program for us are closed. So, we have not heard from the League about a rookie mini-camp date or anything, but from what I understand right now, the rookies can get involved in the virtual offseason program in two weeks, which will be basically two weeks from Monday. Let me rephrase that, I believe – I’ve gotten so many memos from the National Football League in the last two weeks, you couldn’t even imagine. But I think the rookie mini-camp can go on as scheduled just virtually, so I think we’ll probably do a little introduction, a little bit of virtual classroom as well. Coach (Patricia) and his staff are kind of working through the logistics of that next week.”

On if OL Logan Stenberg was a challenging evaluation due to how Kentucky ran an option offense in 2019: “Logan is a nasty guy. They ran the ball a ton at Kentucky, so he’s a little bit probably a better run blocker right now than pass protection. But this guy is 6’6, 320 (pounds), long arms, nasty demeanor. So, it wasn’t a difficult evaluation. It’s just in college football you see these guys pass protect all the time because it’s always drop back, it’s three-wide, it’s four-wide. So, when you put on the Kentucky film, it’s like, ‘Wow, they’re actually running the ball downhill.’ So, it’s fun to watch because you don’t really see it a lot in college football. So, some of the run stuff is actually a direct correlation to what we do and some of the pass stuff you’ll have to work on, but we felt really good about the player. “

On what it was about Ohio State that caused him to draft three players from there this year: “Not by design, but good observation. I would say obviously Ohio State is one of the top teams in the country year in and year out. I think everyone would agree with that. So, I would say in Jonah’s (Jackson) case we watched his film, but then we had him at the Senior Bowl. I think out of the Senior Bowl guys, he’s the one guy that we just fell in love with there. We fell in love with a lot of guys, but he was the one guy. I would say for (Jashon) Cornell, if you look back at Cornell’s like snap count – you guys all have your PFF accounts, so you can probably figure it out pretty quick – I think he gradually played more as the season progressed and his production increased as the season progressed. Obviously, we’re looking at (Jeff) Okudah, (Damon) Arnette, (Jordan) Fuller, (Malik) Harrison, Chase Young, Davon Hamilton, Malik Harrison, all these guys. I mean, they’ve got how many guys on defense get drafted for them, eight? So, you’re watching all their film, right? Like, over and over again you take a half a day and you watch Chase Young just by himself, so you make sure you have that evaluation. And then you go back and say, ‘You know what, I want to watch these linebackers and front guys.’ So, then all of a sudden, who is this (Jashon) Cornell guy, you know? He was on our radar, but he was graded a little lower, I’d say in September and his grades progressively got higher through October, November and December. And then the more you watched Ohio State, the more you see this guy show up later in the season as a rusher.”

On if he would like to see the NFL progress to a remote draft to some extent in the future: “I’m not going to try to pretend to be the Commissioner here, setting the expectations going forward about how they’re going to do the Draft. Ultimately, we love our draft room, but I think it showed this year we can do it this way as long as the technology held up, which it did for us. So, whichever way they tell us to draft, we’ll be there, we’ll be prepared. We’ll chalk this up as a learning lesson and we’ll keep everything that we learned and what we can improve on if this ever happens again. Or like Mike (Rothstein) said, maybe it’s some part of it (the Draft) is like this and we’ll learn and grow from it.”

On the challenge of evaluating late round and undrafted players both for him and the players trying to make roster: “I think it’s absolutely a great question. I think I mentioned it in my pre-draft presser because of the pure volume of rookies. Obviously, the draft picks are going to get an awesome chance to come in and make the team. We’ll have our normal training camp, hopefully, if not more. But the rookie free agents, they’re going to get the same exact opportunity. They’re going to come in, they’re going to hit the ground running, and they’re going to have every chance to make our team and show us what they can do. Those guys are hungry for NFL spots, it’s really up to them. The guys we can acquire here in the next 24 hours as rookie free agents, they’re going to have to take the training very seriously, so they hit the ground running. In terms of pure numbers, I think I said it, we’re not going to be signing a ton. I think we’re going to sign somewhere between seven and 10, so we’ll work on that right now.”

On if he appreciates the need of a running game: “Absolutely. I think our offense is predicated on controlling the line of scrimmage, running the football, getting Matthew Stafford in the play-action game. If you go back and chart the big plays we had last year, how many were on play-action? A good majority of them. So, we want that running game to be strong, we want to be versatile and I think Coach (Darrell) Bevell – you guys studied his history before he came here, and he always had successful run games wherever he was, and that really made his quarterback better. That’s kind of our philosophy. We’re not going to sit back there with four wide receivers and in spread. We’re not doing that. Like, that’s a small part of our offense. The great thing about our offense, and hopefully the great things in our offensive players that we drafted and signed this offseason, they can be very adaptive to what we’re doing in a week-to-week basis. As you guys know, Coach (Matt) Patricia – we’re a game-plan defense. It’s going to morph into what he thinks can work that week. And really, Bevell’s offense is the same way. It’s not just lining up and running 21-personnel or 12-personnel, it’s, hey, who do we have available? Who’s healthy? Who’s playing well? Who’s got the hot hand? And we go from there. I’m excited about how these guys fit into that puzzle.”

On if RB Jason Huntley figures to be a swiss-army knife on offense: “First and foremost, he is a running back. But yes, he’s a guy who can do multiple things. He’s not Bo Scarbrough, right? He’s not that kind of running back. He’s a guy that you get him in space – J.D. McKissic’s a good example. I would say J.D. was an accomplished player. Jason has a lot to prove. He comes from New Mexico State, so the jump in level of competition is going to be big for him. I think as you guys have probably watched YouTube or tried to watch some film on him tonight, he’s explosive when he gets the ball in his hands. He was one of the few schools that we had the Pro Day information for, the Pro Day video and all that stuff. He had one foot up on some of these other guys who come from small schools, were not invited to the Combine. We had a full evaluation on him and (Jashon) Cornell. So, those are the two guys that we took that weren’t invited to the Combine. Looking back at it, we were comfortable with the medical. Our medical staff did a great job researching the guys that weren’t at the Combine. I think timing’s everything in life, and I would say for New Mexico State to have their Pro Day on March 7 or whatever day it was, was pretty good timing for Jason Huntley.”

On if it’s tough not knowing what the future holds after this weekend: “Yeah, you’re going to wake up tomorrow and you’re going to be sitting there. I’m probably going to do, hopefully, not a lot tomorrow. I’m probably going to eat a big breakfast and hang out, look at my phone all day as people text me looking for contracts. Then you’ve got to re-think, alright, what am I doing Monday? I’m not going to the office on Monday, so what would I normally be doing on Monday to get ready for the next phase of the offseason? For me, it would be planning rookie mini-camp. As you guys know, we would bring in a bunch of tryout players, probably 30-40 guys every year. So, obviously we can’t do that. I’ve got some thinking to do over the next couple of days. Going to give my staff a little bit of time off, want to get those guys energized. Then I’m going to put my thinking cap on about how we’re going to attack the rest of the offseason from a personnel standpoint, how we do that. How we look at the rest of veteran free agency, which is still active and ongoing, as you guys know. Still good players on the board in free agency that we’re going to evaluate and see if we can work them into our roster. It’s a great question. It’s going to be different. We got used to, I got used to waking up, getting some coffee, walking down to my home office and just going to work on the Draft. Now, it’s going to be like, OK, I’m going to wake up and get some coffee, I’m going to come in here, and it’s going to be, alright what’s next? There’s film to watch, but I’m not going to be watching a lot of film next week. I’m just going to be truthful with you guys. I need a little break from the film for a few days. But I think evaluating what the next steps are and how we stay ahead of this from a football perspective is important, and I’m going to talk to my staff and we’re going to talk to Coach (Patricia) and just kind of see how we can get our leg up in these circumstances. At the same time, being healthy and staying smart about it.”

On if he thinks training camp will start on time: “I really don’t have a feeling. I really don’t. I don’t want to put an opinion out there because it would be very, very uneducated.”

On if he pays attention to what the other NFC North teams do in the Draft: “We keep track of, obviously, every team. One of the things I normally do, first thing tomorrow, probably, will be – I make a little chart. One of my computer guys makes a chart for me. It’s like a two-page, back-to-back laminated thing with all the picks so I can sit back and just study them as it goes. Honestly, as you get into Day 3 of the Draft, the picks are coming off so fast and I’ve got trades going and I’m trying to figure out who to pick for us, I don’t know who the Packers took in rounds 5-7, just to be honest with you guys. Literally tomorrow, that will be one of the first things that I do because you want to take a look at that. You kind of knew what their needs were heading into Thursday, but how did they do?”

On if OL Logan Stenberg’s blue-collar attitude is attractive to him and if football is less physical than it used to be: “I love his attitude. I told him that when we drafted him, when I got him on the phone. I said, ‘I love the attitude you play with. I love the aggressiveness you play with.’ He did have a few penalties where he did kind of goes after the whistle a few times, so we’re going to get that straightened out real quick. We all want our offensive line to be old-school guys – tough, gritty, powerful. Those are the words I would (use) to describe Logan. That’s kind of what we look for and I think that’s how he plays, and I think there’s a place for that in football. You do want skill guys. Listen, we took (D’Andre) Swift, we took (Jason) Huntley, we took (Quintez) Cephus, we want skill guys, too. We want a balance of the tough and gritty guys up front and the fast and explosive guys outside.”

On what the expectation is for guys like CB Jeff Okudah and RB D’Andre Swift to be day-one starters in this environment: “Obviously, I would say good question. I would hope that Jeff Okudah would come in and start day one. I sure hope so. But listen, if we don’t have an offseason program, would it take him a couple of weeks? Maybe. You never know. But I think he’s a very mature kid, very smart football-wise. I mean, I’m very confident that even if we do a virtual offseason program for six weeks, he’ll know enough of our defense to be a very capable player very, very early in his rookie season. The whole ‘starter’ word, especially for the running backs and receivers, it really depends on what package you’re in. We’re going to use multiple running backs. We like Kerryon Johnson, we like Ty Johnson, we like Bo (Scarbrough), so we’re going to put D’Andre in there. D’Andre’s not going to carry the ball 35 times a game, we know that. We’re going to use our backs, we’re going to use all of them. That’s why we drafted D’Andre, he’s going to be part of that package. But obviously, yeah, we want these guys to contribute as fast as they can. But we’re going to be smart about it, too. I think I said it last week, basically we’re living in a week-to-week world. You guys are from a media perspective, we are from a football world. We’re not going to put the cart before the horse and just say this guy’s going to start or this guy’s going to do that. Let’s just kind of take it day-by-day, week-by-week in the offseason and see what we’re dealing with from a world perspective before we start anointing anyone to their positions on the team. To summarize, I appreciate the question, but I want to see these guys in person first. I want to shake their hand. I want to have them sign their contracts and I want to get on the practice field. If we can take baby steps, that would be great for me.”

LIONS OL LOGAN STENBERG CONFERENCE CALL
On what style he brings to the NFL: “So I’ll tell you what my best asset is my attitude. I’m a nasty player. I like to block and finish guys. I’m a hardworking individual. I’m the kind of guy that’s going to show up to work every day whether it’s practice or meetings – just a really blue-collar guy.”

On his versatility on the offensive line: “I think I can play any position on the offensive line. I plan to play wherever (Head Coach Matt) Patricia needs me and wherever he needs me the most.”

On what NFL Draft weekend has been like: “I spent this weekend on my parents’ farm in Tennessee. We’ve been up here kind of isolated, just watching the picks and waiting for my name to be called. I couldn’t be happier to be going to Detroit.”

On the type of farm he lives on: “Cattle. So we have Charolais cattle. We have a herd of 40 of them, and they sit on about 150 acres in south Tennessee. That’s what my father does now.”

On where his nasty playing style comes from: “Yes sir, I grew up with three older brothers – four total – so I’m the youngest of all four. Growing up I had to fight for everything whether it be food or just whatever – my place in line. I think I really just grew up with that nastiness to fight for what I want, and it’s carried over to football.”

On if he is the same way off the field: “I think you can ask my teammates – I’m very different on and off the field. Off the field, I’m a very respectful, fun guy. But on the field, it’s all business. I want to end the guy across from me on every play.”

On what he gained from the Senior Bowl experience and if he formed a relationship with OL Jonah Jackson: “I was on the South team, he was on the North team, Jonah was. So a lot of our interaction was in the hotel and just hanging out that way. I thought the Senior Bowl was great for me personally because I got to spend some time around the coaching staff and seeing how they do things and what they value and kind of getting a feel for it before I get up to Detroit.”

On if he can elaborate on previously saying football is getting away from the way it used to be played: “I think football is a physical game that’s just played. I think that games are won and lost in the trenches and I live by that. I think every time I can finish the guy across from me and move the defensive line back, we have a better chance of winning. That’s what I plan to do for the Lions.”

On if he thinks football is getting away from its gritty nature: “Yeah, in a sense I think that the game is heading towards more skill players a little bit, ‘prettier football,’ and I think that I can bring a nastiness to it and really bring it back to how it used to be played.”

On if he knows former Lions G Larry Warford: “I’ve spoken to Mr. Warford a couple of times. He has a house in Lexington, Ky., now, so he would come by the facility and talk, give advice. That was as far as my relationship with him goes, not spending much time with him.”

On how he can shorten the learning curve this offseason: “I plan to prepare myself in every way possible, get in the playbook and really try to learn the schematics of what we’re trying to do and really learn the personnel and what we’re trying to do as an offense. Just staying in shape and getting some work in and finding ways to continue to get stronger and better my body so when I get back on the field, it’s not as big of a drop off.”

On the balance between playing physical and avoiding penalties: “There’s always a line and if you continue to get closer to that line, you can’t jump over. I want the guy across from me to want to quit and want to get to the sideline because he’s getting beat up all day. I think if we can do that, we have a better chance of winning the game.”

LIONS WR QUINTEZ CEPHUS CONFERENCE CALL
On how he hopes to fit in at the Lions: “I’m just excited to get to Detroit and get to know my teammates, get to know my coaches, and just get out there and work hard and let my play really do the talking. I’m just really excited to come out there and get to work.”

On what he knows about QB Matthew Stafford: “I know he’s a Georgia guy. I grew up watching him a lot at the University of Georgia. But I’m just really excited to get to work with him and learn from him. He has a lot of experience with a lot of great guys. I know he’ll be exciting to play with, so I’m just excited to get there and go to work with him.”

On his best asset heading in to the NFL: “I’m a receiver that makes plays. I’m a complete receiver. I’m willing to block, I’m willing to make catches. I’m willing to do whatever I need to do to help my team be successful. So whatever that is – I’ll do what I have to do.”

On how he would describe the last two years: “I think the last two years have been great for me. I’ve been a lot of places and done a lot of things. I’ve been able to grow as a person. The last two years have been great for me, on and off the field.”

On playing against CB Jeff Okudah in college: “Jeff is an unbelievable talent. He was the best guy I lined up against all year. It’s amazing getting to see all the great players the Lions have this year (that) they drafted, that they have on their roster. Jeff Okudah – I’ll know he’ll get me better. I just can’t wait to get to work with him and have fun, knowing that he has that same respect as I have for him. It’s going to be a great thing.”

On the sexual assault charge he was acquitted of in 2019: “I appreciate your question, but right now I want to focus on this moment – the excitement around me being drafted and accomplishing a dream that I always had since I was a kid.”

On the moment he received the call saying he was drafted: “I was excited. It was a wait, but it was worth the wait. I’m going to be happy going down to Detroit and getting to work and go to a great organization with great fans. This is an amazing moment for me, and I was able to enjoy that with my family. It’s paid off – all the hard work and sacrifices that we made since I was a child. It’s paid off, for sure.”

On how he incorporates his basketball background into being a receiver: “I think one of the things that I always did on the basketball court was attach the ball no matter where the ball is. It’s a game that’s all about the ball. I have that appreciated for the ball and it challenges my mind to make me want to go get the ball wherever it is. Just that ‘attacking the ball’ mentality is something that I’ve had since I was a kid and that’s something that I enjoy doing on the football field.”

On how he has worked on his speed: “I’ve been at EXOS out of Phoenix, Ariz., and I’ve done a lot of work with those coaches out there. Working on my gait or working on my stride and all that – I’ve just been working in Arizona. Those guys – they know what they’re doing. Wherever I am, I’m going to put in the work; I’m going to get to work, so that’s what I’m excited to do.”

LIONS RB JASON HUNTLEY CONFERENCE CALL
On his running style: “I’m more of a fast guy. I think that’s the biggest thing about me, my speed. I’m good in space. Off the field, I’m good on the board as well. That’s pretty good IQ.”

On if most of his pass receptions in college came from lining up in the backfield or in the slot: “Both, I did lineup in the slot as well. I got a good amount, no doubt, in the backfield, but I was able to split out as well.”

On how much interaction he had with the Lions leading up to the Draft and if he expected them to take him where they did: “I talked to them a time before. Yes, honestly, I was just happy. All I’m really talking about is being a Detroit Lion, I’m happy about that.”

On what the last few days have been like: “Pretty much just still training, making sure I still get my work in and pretty much kind of been waiting for my moment.”

On if he’s thought about the difficulty of not having an offseason: “Yes, I’ve thought about it, honestly, but I knew that was part of the game. I was going to have to learn the playbook, have to come in ready to prove myself. That’s the NFL anyways, is to prove yourself.”

On if there’s anything he’ll do this offseason to shorten the learning curve: “Honestly, I’ll just figure all of that out when I get to Detroit.”

On what the moment felt like today: “I was happy, I was speechless. All my hard work just paid off and I’m just happy to be a Detroit Lion. That’s the biggest thing, I’m just happy to be able to get with my teammates and just make the best of it.”

On if he sees his game in any current NFL player: “I don’t know, there may be a couple of people. Honestly, I feel like I’m me. I’m fast. That’s the biggest thing and I’m used in, certainly, a lot of places. I think that’s the biggest thing about it.”

On his experience as a kick returner and if it’s his quickest way onto the field with Detroit: “Honestly, whatever position they want me to play, that’s what I’ll play. If it is returning kicks, I’d be more than happy to do it.”

On what the key is to being a good kickoff returner: “It’s not all on me, it’s about my teammates having some good blocks and things like that. The biggest part is just trying to hit it full-speed. If you can hit it without stopping, you’ll be successful.”

LIONS DL JOHN PENISINI CONFERENCE CALL
On what was going through his head when he received the phone call that he had been selected: “I was honestly preparing for the worst. Just looking for an undrafted free agent (call). To be honest, it’s a blessing to actually make it to the sixth round. I was projected to be a seventh rounder or even undrafted. Right now, I’m excited. My mom’s happy and everyone is happy, so it is shocking and it’s a blessing to be honest.”

On what type of player the Lions are getting in him: “You guys are going to get a hard worker, most slept on in the Draft, but also just a hard worker. It shows at Utah, especially from the coaches, you guys can ask them. They know what I do and our program’s tough and they are built tough. That’s the kind of player you guys are going to get, just a tough player. Just ready to work and really excited.”

On what people are missing about his game: “Really, just the hard-working aspect. People don’t really look at me just because I was a shorter player and nameless, was under the radar pretty much, definitely with the talent that we had at Utah. Our ‘D-Line U’ over here, but yeah, to be honest, it’s just different from where I come from. Just grateful, that’s all.”

On his road to Utah and playing at Snow College in 2015 and not in 2016: “I redshirted that year (2016). Saved a year to play three at Utah. To be honest, it was hard from there because you’re at junior college where you are pretty much on your own straight from high school. I was two hours away from home, but I don’t have a car and my mom wouldn’t want to drive that far only just for games. You go up there, same as other junior colleges, but you know, food is limited. You’ve got to earn your stuff over there. I played one year, redshirted my second year just to save it for Utah and then I actually had shoulder labrum surgery after my first year, which went well. I also graduated, sorry, I left that one out. I also graduated with my associate degree that I needed because I wasn’t qualified coming out of high school. Really, just from high school I was pretty late on all my grades, that’s how I got to junior college.”

On if he had a scholarship to Utah when he went to junior college: “No, not really. It wasn’t set in stone. I talked to coach ‘Whitt’ (Kyle Whittingham, head coach) and coach ‘Whitt’ said, ‘Get your grades up and then we’ll be good.’ I will say – I went to their senior D-Line camp and I was over there, and I did pretty well. But then talked to coach ‘Whitt’ after I got the honorary trophy, or whatever from over there, the award or whatever, and coach ‘Whitt’ had told me that you have to get your grades up. By then it was too late for me because I wasn’t aware of the core credit grades for the NCAA clearinghouse. So I just did whatever I could just to graduate and then got ready for Snow (College) and caught up from there. Graduated, fixed everything, how I was a person over there. Really worked out for me – humble blessing.”

On how he’ll make the most of the virtual offseason program: “To be honest, just follow their program, whatever they’re going to send to me. Learn the game mentally because honestly, if you don’t know exactly what the plays are, then you can’t go full speed. It’s really difficult to play if you don’t know what the plays are. But other than that, just keep working out, staying in shape – I have my teammates out here, some of the boys who actually live out here from Utah. So we can run some one-on-ones and stuff, but once quarantine is done and everyone is ready to get out, with the virus and whatever. For sure, would love to come out to Detroit.”

On what he did in his one year away from football and what he’s been up to in quarantine: “Man, I’ll start off with the first part. The year that I redshirted, I actually was just working on my grades and I’d work out. It’s hard to workout on your own, especially when you’re in junior college and you don’t have the coaches to call you and tell you to get up or any of that. That’s where the drive comes from. You just think about your family and you work out and do whatever. But that’s pretty much what I did. I worked on my schoolwork, finished off strong in that last semester and then I actually worked out on my own over at Snow (College). For the quarantining, me and my girlfriend – I actually started painting. I only painted one picture, which kind of turned out good. It was a beginner’s picture. Other than that, really just play games and work out. My life is kind of boring, but I try to push myself in the workout aspect and try to figure out some new stuff to do. There’s honestly nothing to do out here with the Coronavirus.”

On what he painted: “I started out with watercolors and it was just a sunset with cactuses. You have to (flick) the white paint all over the canvas to get the little stars out of the sky. Yeah, that was the painting.”

On why he painted: “I was bored, and we were just thinking about things to do and (my girlfriend) wanted to do painting, so I said, ‘OK, I’ll paint one picture,’ and I did one picture. It’s all right.”

LIONS DL JASHON CORNELL CONFERENCE CALL
On if his versatility on the defensive line helped him get drafted made him more appealing to the Lions: “I think it showed I’m versatile on the defensive line. Being able to play at Ohio, you have to play at high level each year. Being able to play defensive tackle and defensive end, I think it really showed my versatility at being able to come in and be a great tackler for the team.”

On how he kept busy during draft weekend: “I just kept doing what I usually do. I trained every day. I’m just waiting for the phone call. I’ve been talking to the Lions for a while. I was really surprised to get that phone call from the GM, Bob Quinn. What I’ve been doing every day is keeping myself (up) with energy and train, just stay ready.”

On CB Jeff Okudah and OL Jonah Jackson: “Jeff Okudah is a franchise player. He’s going to be – the things that Jeff can do as a defensive back – being able to come in as a freshman and being able to watch Jeff grow with time, he was able to showcase his ability as one of the best defensive backs in the country. He came to practice every day, he showed out. Jeff Okudah is going to be a great player for the Lions. Jonah, me and Jonah go at it for 12 weeks out of the year since Jonah Jackson got to Ohio State you know, we always had our battles in practice. It’s going to be good to go back up there in Detroit and be able to compete with Jonah each day at practice and stuff.”

On if he’s excited to be reunited with his Ohio State teammates and if it’ll help him transition to the NFL: “I think the one thing about being an Ohio State player is our transition to the next level. One thing we do at Ohio State is treat everything like if it’s an NFL team. That’s one thing that makes it different from most teams and most players that we’ve been through all the rough patches and stuff, and we know about the grind and being able to compete at a high level – that’s one thing we did every Saturday. I think that’s one thing we can transition to Detroit as Buckeyes – be able to come in and bring that competitive factor, that championship mentality that we have at Ohio State. I think that’s one thing we can bring to Detroit as Buckeyes.”

On what changed this season which contributed to his increased production: “I think it was just me waiting to get my opportunity to go out there and play more often. I always had the ability since I was young. Coming into Ohio State, I was a big-time recruit and I didn’t do what I needed to do early on to put myself on the field sometimes. I think this last year, as a senior leader on the defensive line. I brought the juice every day at practice and every day out on Saturday and that was one thing that helped me bring my production up this year – especially with me being in the film room. I happened to be at school through that much this past year. I really treated my senior year as an NFL player and watching to film and being in the weight room and taking care of my business in film and my diet. That’s one thing that really changed this year in my production is I take care of all the little things and not worry about the big things. I wanted to become one of the best defensive lineman in the Big Ten. I wanted the best interior pass-rush in the Big Ten.”

On if he knows Lions OL Frank Ragnow well: “Yeah, me and Frank go way back since my freshman year of high school. Me and Frank used to do car rides together to go to different football camps across the country for like three years during our high school time. But me and Frank, I remember we’d fall asleep on him in the car ride, he’d drive down – we drove down to Detroit for Sound Mind, Sound Body camp together or just different camps around the country. Me and Frank, we did a lot together growing up throughout our high school years.”

On what it will be like to face OL Frank Ragnow in practice: “It’s a reuniting for us, you know? You know you get to compete against your friend again.

On who was driving to the summer camps: “Yeah, it would be like Frank’s dad or my Uncle Levi would take us on the rides. We’d just hop in the car at 4, 5 o’clock in the morning and go skid across country, especially us Minnesota guys. We didn’t have that big exposure that most teams had. One thing us Minnesota guys, we wanted to go out there and go compete across the country and that’s one thing me and Frank did at a young age because we went out and went to go compete to get our names on the chart.”

On what he can do to shorten his learning curve given the offseason situation: “It’s a big challenge but being at Ohio State you learn a different mentality about how bad do you really want to play football. How bad is your work ethic? That’s one thing I take to heart each and every day. I grind six days a week. That’s one thing I need each and every week. I built my own gym in backyard in my shed. I run hills. I go on bike rides. I do different things to stay in shape and stay strong, so I can be ready when it comes time for camp. You just don’t know what one or two (INAUDIBLE) are going to be over and that’s one thing I – I want to be ready. I want to be able to compete at high level and go compete for a spot.”

On what his gym is like at home: “I can send pictures. I have a box-set in the backyard. My backyard’s pretty huge, so I’m able to do d-line drills, I’m able to do ladders. I have a bench and a rack, so I’m able to do squats and bench press. I have cones and stuff. I’m able to do a lot that most people, I think, can’t. All I need in a gym’s a little rack and a bench and the outside. You can always run outside, you can always bike, especially with the weather being nice out now. It’s how bad do you want to compete and how bad you’re going to make it to the next level. That’s one thing I’ve been doing, trying to compete each and every day with myself.”

On if he set up the gym just for quarantine: “I had a bench and a rack in high school, and we had it in our basement. I wanted it to be outside and in the shed. So I cleared the shed out and moved all the lawn movers and bikes to the garage and pretty much carried everything out and built my own little mini-gym. Put some (INAUDIBLE) inside of it and put some racks and bench and stuff in there, my dumbbells, and got it going. I ordered some stuff off of Amazon.”

On how much he ordered on Amazon for his gym: “I probably bought like four or five things off of Amazon. I bought like some (INAUDIBLE), some dumbbells. I got some bands and a roller and stuff like that. Pretty much that.”

On if his gym is in Minnesota: “Yes, Minnesota.”

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