Detroit Lions Discuss Selection of DT Gabe Wright in Fourth Round of 2015 NFL Draft


Dec 7, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Auburn Tigers defensive lineman Gabe Wright (90) reacts during the first quarter of the 2013 SEC Championship game against the Missouri Tigers at Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions selected defensive tackle Gabe Wright in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft after trading up with the Philadelphia Eagles. Detroit sent a third round pick in 2016 to Philadelphia to complete the transaction.

Both Wright and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin were made available to the media following the pick. Here’s what they had to say, as provided by the Detroit Lions.

First from Teryl Austin:

Opening statement: “I am here to talk about Gabe Wright who we just traded up for and drafted from Auburn. We really like Gabe. He is a really hard competitor. He played a lot of football from the SEC. He falls in the mold in what we like our defensive tackles to do and that is to penetrate, attack, get off blocks and make plays. He did a really good job of those things. He is a good player, a good kid and we are really glad to have him.”

On what he remembers about Wright from the Senior Bowl: “Did not talk to him. We talked to him at the combine. When you talk to him you will find he is really an interesting guy. I happened to recruit his high school when I worked with Jim (Caldwell) way back at Wake Forrest. I know the area and the type of the players that come from there. Really impressive kid, we really like him.”

On how he fits with the current defensive line: “If you watched us last year, which I know you did, we are going to rotate a lot of guys. We anticipate he is going to be part of that rotation at defensive tackle as he learns and at some point be a starter in there.”

On what he likes about Wright’s skill set: “I like the fact he has a quick first step. He is very strong and powerful. He has good hands and can disengage then get off and finish.”

On Wright’s production being down in his final year at Auburn: “I think a little of that is they had a good defensive line and a good rotation. Sometimes with defensive linemen their production is up and down. What we look for are the skill sets and traits we need for us. He has those. He has had production, it fell off a little bit but it wasn’t terrible. We think he is going to be productive for us when we get him in here and get him in the rotation for us. We are hoping, like most of our defensive tackles, to get him 25, 30, 35 plays a game.”

On if he was stumping in the draft room for Wright: “We were stumping for him because we know we wanted a young guy in there. We had drafted Caraun (Reid) last year and we want to make sure we have young defensive linemen to start grooming as we move forward. We stumped for him because he has so many traits we like in our defensive linemen.”

On if it was important to get a penetrating defensive lineman to pair with DT Haloti Ngata: “Absolutely. Haloti is able to penetrate. It is just the style they play at Baltimore is a little different than how we play. That is one thing we look for in four defensive linemen is the ability to penetrate. We are not a stand on the line and read team. When we evaluate our guys as coaches that’s one of the things we look for.”

On what he liked about Lions third-round Draft pick CB Alex Carter: “He has length and I think he runs faster than his timed speed. He is tough and is a good tackler. Those things allow you to be a good football player in this league.”

On what he expects from first-year corners: “Really, you just have to wait until he gets here to see what he can do. (Carter) seems to have the capacity to learn. He has length, he has toughness and he has speed. We will push him along and see what we get. We anticipate that he will be able to help us at some point this year.”

On how close the defensive line is to where he wants it to be: “I think it will have to take shape during camp, but we think we have the pieces in place. It won’t be the same as it was last year.  We still want to make sure we are effective and able to affect the game in a positive way to help us win more games.”

On his assessment of Wright’s motor and his trust in his position coaches to get the most out of a player: “Wright has an outstanding motor. As far as our position coaches, they do a great job of getting our guys to play fast. It is the way we approach practice, it is the way we approach meetings and the guys do a great job of that. All day, every day, during the course of the season and the offseason. That gets ingrained in our guys. That’s just part of our DNA and what we are going to be made of. The coaches do a great job of that.”

On how important height is in his scheme: “I mean you want the perfect thing. The real tall and long players, but you can’t always have that. What you look for, and more importantly, is the traits that they have. Some guys have all the great height and length but they don’t have the quick twitch, they don’t have the toughness, they don’t have the explosion off the ball that we need. Sometimes you give up to get. It’s a factor, but it’s not the overriding factor.”

And then Gabe Wright:
On his relationship with Rams DT Nick Fairley: “It was good. He left when I came in, but he was still a mentor. He was one of the main guys and that told me that guys would naturally try to make comparisons and just come in and be me.”

On what sort of things he learned from Fairley: “He just tried to tutor me on what freshman year was going to be like. He had just got done playing and had one of the best careers at Auburn. I am an 18-year old freshman and he just tried to tutor me on the things I am going to see on and off the field. How to be presentable and respectful around Auburn. It is definitely something I took to heart.”

On what it will be like to follow in his footsteps again: “I am not sure. That isn’t even something I gave thought too. It is something that is there, but I am just happy to be on the team.”

On if he regrets not coming into the Draft last season: “Absolutely not. There is nothing like having faith. God had a plan and this is meant to be the day.”

On what he gained from his senior season at Auburn: “I learned that consistency is key. I feel like once in a while in a man’s life he needs a piece of humble pie. I wouldn’t say my senior year was inconsistent or irrelevant or anything like that. My senior year was definitely humbling to me. Coming off of a national championship run my junior year. I experienced a lot of losses my last season at Auburn. I am blessed to continue playing the game I love to play.”

On if he wants stick with No. 90: “I wouldn’t mind that at all.”

On what it will be like to replace players such as DT Ndamukong Suh and Fairley: “You have two guys that are great at what they do. I am glad to have a veteran right beside me that I can learn from and take tutelage from each and every day. I have a great coaching staff around me.”

On what he knows about Lions DT Haloti Ngata’s game and if he is excited to work with him: “It’s going to be great. I mean, you can’t miss a guy like that. I can’t even put a number on how many years, but he’s put in a lot of years, a lot of hard work and he’s definitely been great at what he’s been able to do. I can’t see a better guy that I can just take teaching from. You know, you’re going to take teaching from great coaches, but you need a guy alongside you who’s been there and who’s gone through the same stuff that you’re going through. I definitely think Haloti will be one of the best tutors for me and for any other rookie that gets drafted or for any guy that’s there now. You know, you can’t miss on a guy like that.”

On what about his game has allowed him to rack up so many sacks in college: “Well, I only had six sacks, but that’s a lot. I’ll take it. I think you spoke about it before, you know, my versatility. A lot of times I feel like I can beat an offensive tackle. I’m 300 pounds just like some of them are, but I feel like I’m a lot more athletic. Then if you put me inside, I feel like I’m a lot more athletic than a guard. So, some of the things I’ve learned on is that in the NFL you have to be able to multiply on your talents. It’s totally different on the college level, so that’s some of the things I’ve been working on in this offseason. But I think definitely my versatility and then, you know, my work ethic. I feel like the D (Detroit) is a blue-collar place and hard work is definitely something that they hang their hat on. That’s something that I definitely hang my hat on as well.”

On his conversations with Lions Defensive Coordinator Teryl Austin and what he likes about the Lions defense: “Anytime you speak of a penetrating, attacking style and you look at me and you see a guy that likes to jump the ball, jump the count, get off the ball and be the first guy moving, then I don’t see a better fit. I really don’t. These guys like to get off the ball, they like to attack, they like to disrupt and cause problems. That’s exactly how I feel my game fits with them.”

On what communication he had with the Lions before the Draft: “The Senior Bowl and the combine, we met. I think we met on the second to last day of the Senior Bowl, and then we had our scheduled meeting at the combine.”

On who he met with on the Lions staff: “I met with everyone except Coach Caldwell at the Senior Bowl and then we all officially met at the combine.”

On his impressions of Lions Defensive Line Coach Kris Kocurek: “I feel like we’re going to get along just well. After I got drafted, from all the talks we had before, he’s definitely an energetic guy. You really can’t miss on a guy like that. Everybody knows the D-line is an energetic, get-after-you type of position and you need a guy like that to push you through and through practice, through and through games, you know, through the offseason. I feel like we’re going to get along just well.”

On his production last season: “I don’t attribute it to a lot of things. I told them at my meetings it could have been a lack thereof of focus. Sometimes it was just a mixture of scheme and out of position sometimes. Like I said, in the beginning of the season I started at defensive end and only had two weeks of notice that I would be playing it, so it’s not a lot of preparation that I can do, you know, within that, whereas you maybe get six weeks or maybe a couple months to be able to properly prep. But I just say teams did a good job of scheming up as well. You know, they watch film just like we do and it was the second year in our defense, so a lot of things just didn’t work out as well as it did my junior year. But I definitely just equate that on myself. Like I said, it was a humbling senior year and that’s in the past now. I just can’t wait to get to Detroit.”

On playing a new position in the NFL: “I trained my whole junior year and that spring thinking I was going to be a defensive tackle. Two weeks before fall camp I was told I would be starting at defensive end. When I go to the NFL I am pretty sure I won’t be practicing at defensive end if I am going to be playing defensive tackle in the fall. I feel like that in a sense of a prep is where things will change. It was just the timing of it all. It is not an excuse I am lingering on, but it is just something I know that if I had been properly prepped then things would’ve been handled accordingly.”

On his favorite thing to do away from football: “Just to chill with my fiancé.”

On when he is getting married: “Next year. March 19.”

Next: Lions Trade Up for Alex Carter in Third Round

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