Detroit Lions: Jim Caldwell’s Quotes Following Selection of Laken Tomlinson


Oct 24, 2014; Bagshot, UNITED KINGDOM; Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell at press conference at the Pennyhill Park Hotel & The Spa in advance of the NFL International Series game against the Atlanta Falcons. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach Jim Caldwell spoke with the media last night following the Detroit Lions‘ draft day trade with the Denver Broncos and subsequent selection of guard Laken Tomlinson with the 28th overall pick. Here’s what he had to say, as provided by the Detroit Lions.

Opening Statement: “Good evening, and a late one at that. I think you guys know the pleasantries were covered by Martin. We do have two quality guys that we picked up here this evening. They should give us some help on the interior of our line.  They are very versatile guys and guys with some thickness and girth. They are also guys that are very smart. One of the things you will find out about Laken, after you talk to Coach (David) Cutcliffe about him, is that his intangibles are off the charts. He is one of those guys that has done a tremendous job and elevated himself from some difficult circumstances. He has shown a lot of grit and determination in terms of becoming who he wanted to be.  I think he is still in search of that and working towards that and he will grow and develop. He will certainly be a real strong teammate.”

On adding two offensive linemen in the draft: “I truly believe that the offensive and defensive line are the heartbeat of your team. It is a very important portion of the team and those two guys make a difference in terms of being able to run the ball. These two guys get us on the right track. We will see how we develop.”

On how he views the offensive line: “Every year is a little bit different. We haven’t got out on the field yet. We haven’t been in pads yet. Until we get in pads I won’t be able to tell you. We do have more depth than we had previously. We got some very important pieces in place. We will see what happens when we go through this gauntlet.”

On how much Tomlinson’s intelligence weighs into his ability to be a pass protector: “One of the things you will find that is extremely important to all offensive linemen is the fact that they have to be able to think and think quickly on their feet. You have to have guys that have the intelligence you are looking for and that can make quick adjustments when things change quickly. Like you mentioned they have to recognize the stunts and all those sorts of thing but also the looks themselves. They shift at the last moment and they have to be able to make adjustments in a nanosecond. The more guys that can adjust quickly, the better off you’ll be.”

On how early the Lions inquired with Denver about a trade for G/C Manny Ramirez: “In enough time to do our due diligence. We looked at film and all those kinds of things.”

On what he saw from Tomlinson at the Senior Bowl: “We certainly saw that he was a quality guy. We interviewed him at the Senior Bowl as well. We were looking all across the board to see what guys would fit within our system and we felt that he certainly was one of those.”

On if they value a lineman’s durability in college: “It is important from an experience standpoint. Every situation is a little bit different. Sometimes you may find a player like a tackle coming up in this draft that has been playing behind two great players. So he really only had one year and didn’t have nearly as many starts as maybe some other guys but he is still a quality player. It just depends. I think it is good that Laken has played that much football in a tough and competitive conference. It does make a difference. This league is a challenge. It is going to bring the best out of you but it will challenge you as well. It is a little different game.”

On the future of the offensive line: “I certainly feel good about our depth. We have improved there but we are also encouraged of what they bring physically. We will have to see. We don’t win any games at this time of year. You put yourself in better position, but this is the process. We will see how quickly they can adjust and how quickly they can adapt. If they can get themselves in condition from a strength standpoint to be competitive and then if they can learn everything we have to do on the line of scrimmage at a rapid pace. That remains to be seen, but I feel really good about that group.”

On if Ramirez brings a veteran voice to the locker room: “He brings that, no question about it. He has played in a very challenging offensive operation. From an intellectual standpoint, he will be able operate very quickly in a short period of time. The other thing that you can learn from him is that he is very versatile. He played center extremely well, played guard extremely well for (Denver). We found a veteran offensive lineman that can play those spots and be able to slide in and do the job. We have heard nothing but great things about him in terms of his locker room demeanor and leadership.”

On how important veteran leadership is in the current locker room: “It is important anytime that you can get a guy that’s been around and played in this league and has some pelts on the wall. He can help you. Without question (Ramirez) brings that presence with him. We have a good group of leaders on our team, although some of them may be a little young, but they are emerging. I think Manny will help add to that.”

On what he needs to see from a guard to prove he is worthy of a first-round selection: “It is just like everything else in this league. Everyone gets scrutinized from top to bottom. There is no question about it, it is a challenge. I also don’t have any question that (Tomlinson) will play for you. He is going to be a good player, just depends on how long. We will see how quickly he can adapt and adjust. That is a difficult position.”

On how much he talked to Broncos QB Peyton Manning and Lions Quarterbacks Coach Jim Bob Cooter when considering Ramirez: “Let’s just say we cover pretty much all our bases. It doesn’t mean we talk to each and everybody, but we talk to enough people where we know who we’re dealing with.”

On establishing new leadership in the offensive line room: “In my estimation it’s a challenge, but also, that’s our job. We don’t care about the difficulty and what that looks like. Our job is to win games. Jeremiah (Washburn) will do a great job with him, Heff (Terry Heffernan) will do a great job with those guys in there. They’ll get them playing and playing well.”

On what stood out about Tomlinson after talking with him: “There are a number of things. You know, obviously, it doesn’t take you very long to see that he’s a very bright young man. It doesn’t take you very long to see that he also has grit, meaning that he had to come through a number of things to get where he is today. His willingness and dedication to go from where he lived in Chicago all the way up north to Lane Tech is quite admirable. Often times you’ll find anyone that has to go through getting up that early in the morning, riding a bus and however else or whatever other kind of vehicle he had to take in order to get there in his commute, it just shows you something pretty unique about the guy. And then the school that he chose, it’s a very rigorous academic institution. He was up for that kind of challenge. I think he’s been up for that kind of challenge every phase of his life. I think that will bode well for this league.”

Next: Lions Select G Laken Tomlinson 28th Overall

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