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Jim Mora Combine Interview Transcript

Doug emailed the full transcript from Jim Mora's interview at the NFL Combine. I'll let the keen minds of our readership do the heavy lifting on interpreting this, but here's a few select quotes to consider.

On Michael Crabtree:

I believe we interview him tonight [Saturday] which will be my first exposure face to face to him. I haven't watched film of him yet.

This exchange:

Q: With the proliferation of the spread offense, are you in agreement that it makes it tough for the evaluation at this level.

Mora: Of quarterbacks.

On immediate production versus long term production:

I believe when you're drafting at No. 4, at least for us, it's probably - and we haven't developed our draft strategy completely -- but as we sit here right now, I would say it's draft the best player. We're not going to reach to go to draft a need. We're going to draft the best player, the player that can make an impact for the longest amount of time for the Seattle Seahawks.

There's another specific mention of long term value. You can read into that what you want. Overall, some good questions but not a lot said. He mentions that Seattle will lean on its scouts more this season. There's also a lot of talk about tight ends, so we can for sure that the team is interested. No one is going to tip their hand, but my instinct says Seattle is looking at drafting a cornerstone player, and I think that eliminates a lot of names.

Transcript after the jump.

Q: What are the challenges of coming in and taking over a program that's been led by kind of a legend?

Mora: The challenges are many and on many different levels. Mike is a legend, and undoubtedly will go to the Hall of Fame one day so what I've decided is to try to take all the lessons I've learned from him, and see which ones fit my personality and my style and just move forward that way, but I'll tell you what, it's some big shoes to fill. There's a big chair that I had to move out of there that I didn't feel I could sit in. But there's a lot of support there, it's my hometown and I'm excited about.

Q: Is it harder to just start from scratch, and what's your blueprint on it?

Mora: I wouldn't say starting from scratch. There are too many good things that have gone on there for too long, and Mike has developed a very strong foundation, and we always make adjustments. You make adjustments every year whether it's a new head coach, a new staff or you retain a staff. So we'll make adjustments, but no major overhauls.

Q: What do you look for here?

Mora: Well, it's just another piece of the puzzle. What I enjoy is the face-time with the players both the interviews. We get 60 15-minute interviews, which doesn't sound like a lot of time, but if you use it wisely it can be enough. You get to watch them compete against each other. You get to watch them walk around and interact with people. Basically, you spend four days watching a particular group as they rotate through, and I think you can get a feel for a young man's personality, for how they interact socially, for how they compete and like I said, our interviews are productive. Ruston Webster does our interviews and he has great background on these young men so he can ask them pointed questions, and we get a lot out of it so it's a real big part of the puzzle in terms of evaluating these kids.

Q: How different is this being a head coach as opposed to being a position coach?

Mora: Well, it's much different. It's much different. I've done it before, but it has been a few years. I was just watching the offensive line work out and I haven't done that in a few years. So you just have to readjust a little bit. As an assistant coach, typically when you interview these players it's more about the X's and O's. As a head coach, it's a little bit more background, personality, family background, things like that. So there is an adjustment, but I enjoy the big-picture aspect of it.

Q: Is most of the rest of the staff here with you, and how important is it to have them watching the players and evaluating?

Mora: It's very important, and I believe five members of our staff are actually conducting position drills, and I think that is another thing that is very helpful. They get to get up close and personal with those young men as they work on the field and they're with them behind the scenes a little bit. We have, like I said, I believe five of our coaches are doing that so that's just a little added insight into the kids and how they compete. Do they get nervous and how do they adjust to or how do they handle the pressure. And I think for any of these guys, they look up in the stands and there's just about every head coach, administrator, general manager, lot of presidents, scouts, ex-players, guys they've grown up watching on TV so there is some pressure.

Q: As you've delved into the offseason evaluations, are you confident that you can address your needs whether it's through the draft or free agency?

Mora: Well, I believe that we can get started in that direction. We're going to build through the draft primarily. That's our philosophy. That's why these events are so important to us. But as we move into free agency, there will be some things that we'll try to shore up that way as well, and I think the most important thing for us is to get the players on our team playing better. I believe that's the best way you become a better team is to take the players that are on your team and get them playing better. So that's our number one focus.

Q: You've done that before. Jim, your first year in Atlanta, of course you took the team to the championship. What's the trick to making that quick turnaround?

Mora: It's a little different in Seattle in that Seattle has had a lot of success. Mike, as every one knows, turned that place into a very successful program. They won [four] straight division championships. We just had a down year last year and really it was due to a lot of injuries, and an inability to get any momentum going early, but I think one of the things that you would like to do is to come in and re-establish a high level of energy, motivate players in maybe a new and fresh way. And then you need to have some success early. You need to win some games early so that some of the things that you're trying to convince these players that will work, do work. In our first year in Atlanta, we came out of the blocks 4-0 and we beat the Rams in the second week. The first week, we went out and beat San Francisco where we hadn't won in 10 years. So they start to buy in a little bit there. Then we beat the Rams and they buy in a little bit more. So it's having some early success selling some of the things you're trying to sell.

Q: You made the decision to franchise Leroy Hill, bringing him back to a defense underperformed in most people's eyes.

Mora: Absolutely.

Q: Bringing back players like Hill, is that a vote of confidence in the players you have, that they can play better next season.

Mora: We believe they can play better, and specifically we didn't want to lose Leroy. We like Leroy as a player, we like Leroy as a person. He's a young, talented guy with we think a tremendous upside and we are having good-faith negotiations with his representative and in order for us to continue to move in that direction, we had to make a decision to franchise him, and I feel confident that Leroy will be a Seahawk for a long time. In terms of a vote of confidence for our players, like I said, we believe the best way for us to get better is to get our players playing better more consistently. That's something we didn't do last year. And obviously I take it personal because I was part of it. We're confident in our players, we're confident in them, but we have to find a way to get them off the mark and get them playing better more consistently.

Q: How much do you know about Crabtree? How deep is your knowledge?

Mora: Not where it will be in the next month. I believe we interview him tonight [Saturday] which will be my first exposure face to face to him. I haven't watched film of him yet. I've been very involved in the last few weeks putting a staff together and getting our scheme going. So I look forward to studying him along with a lot of the other top players.

Q: Is there top-of-the-head knowledge that he looks like a special talent, type of impact receiver. In your spot, a lot of people are putting his name.

Mora: From what I've seen on TV - from television watching the games - and I saw him yesterday at the weigh-in - and he certainly looks the part. He's a physical-looking kid. He's made big plays in big games. He's had tremendous production in college, but I don't know him personally and that's a part of the puzzle. Getting to know him and finding out what makes him tick.

Q: With the proliferation of the spread offense, are you in agreement that it makes it tough for the evaluation at this level.

Mora: Of quarterbacks.

Q: They're saying a lot of positions, running back, even tackles.

Mora: I think offensive line and quarterbacks specifically and maybe tight ends, maybe the tight-end position as well. You don't get to see many of these quarterbacks take snaps from under center. You don't see the traditional run-blocking schemes out of your offensive linemen and you certainly don't see as many tight ends in a three-point stance, blocking down on big defensive ends. Some of these young men have said we'll get you practice film, tight ends specifically. We can get you practice film of us doing one-on-one blocking to show you that we can do it, but it does make it tough.

Q: Make you stress other factors in the scouting process?

Mora: Well, you're always looking at overall athleticism. You're evaluating character. If you're a tight end specifically, can they block or can they catch. Tackles, can they move their feet, can they punch? Some of the drills they do out there on the field lend themselves to helping you in the evaluation process. But it certainly is a little bit more difficult. You have to look a little bit harder to find specific plays. You might have to watch more games than just three or four or five. You might have to go back to junior even sophomore film at times to find the players doing the things that you need to see them do to evaluate them for this level.

Q: Were you surprised Crabtree was shorter than advertised?

Mora: Well, he was, what was he 6-01.3, but his arms were 34.5 and I believe he had the longest arms of the receivers other than the kid from Cal Poly. So I think that makes up for it a little bit. I wouldn't call 6-1 and a half too short. He's about 214, long arms. Hands I think were 10. That's a pretty good-sized kid.

Q: What are you looking for in the No. 4 pick? Is it going to be who will produce the most right away?

Mora: That's a good question, and that's one we've been asked a lot. They say do you draft for need or do you draft the best available player. I believe when you're drafting at No. 4, at least for us, it's probably - and we haven't developed our draft strategy completely -- but as we sit here right now, I would say it's draft the best player. We're not going to reach to go to draft a need. We're going to draft the best player, the player that can make an impact for the longest amount of time for the Seattle Seahawks. So that could be anybody.

Q: Would you consider trading that pick at all with the economics of drafting and paying a top-five pick.

Mora: Well, I think it's a little too early for us to think about that. Really, we're at the front end of the evaluation process, but I would say that we're not going to close the door to anything. We're certainly open to anything. You're right, drafting that high does affect you economically, but we're in the business of winning games and if we can find an impact player that we think can come in and help us win a lot of games for a lot of years then that's what we'll do.

Q: In that process, how important is it that you're dealing with a president and general manager you have a history with.

Mora: Well, I think it's very important. Tim [Ruskell] and I have worked together before. We have a good relationship. I believe we see things the same way in general and if we do disagree we work it out. But I think it's very helpful, and I have tremendous trust in Ruston Webster and John Idzik and all of our scouts. I believe we have a very competent scouting department. They're fun to work with.

Q: How do you use the scouts and coaches, how do you involve them in the process?

Mora: This year will be a little bit different than it will in years to come in that so much of the offseason right now for the new assistant coaches is inputting our scheme. So we've got to balance that with getting on the road and evaluating these players so we'll lean more heavily this year on our scouts than we will in future years. In future years hopefully our coaches will be able to become more involved. That being said there will be a level of involvement. Certainly players that we target as guys that we could potentially take at any round, first through seventh, we'll make sure that our coaches feel very comfortable with them. They're all here at the combine, they're all working. Like I said, we have them working the drills.

We will have typical draft meetings, we will have the typical draft meetings, but we won't spend as much time on the road as maybe some other teams because we're a new staff.