BOSTON (CBS) — With their final pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots drafted offensive lineman Conor McDermott out of UCLA.
McDermott, who thought his future was going to be in basketball until his senior year of high school, has experience at both left and right tackle and is a giant at 6-foot-8 and 308 pounds. He spoke about joining the Patriots shortly after his named was called on Saturday, and is excited for the opportunity ahead, from playing with Tom Brady to learning under offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia.
Here is a transcript of McDermott’s conference call with the New England media, courtesy of the New England Patriots:
Question: What is your reaction to having the Patriots select you in the draft?
Conor McDermott: This is something I’ve been working towards since I was real little. Just to be here and share this moment with my family is a dream come true.
Q: What was your interaction with the team leading into the draft?
CM: I had a private workout with coach [Cole] Popovich. That was about it.
Q: Did you ever think that your future would be in basketball instead of football given your background in the sport?
CM: Growing up I was more of a basketball player and I definitely thought that would be my future, but I changed to football my senior year of high school and never looked back, so it was a great experience.
Q: How much did your brother, an NFL player himself (long snapper Kevin McDermott of the Minnesota Vikings), help prepare you for the draft process?
CM: He’s been great, just giving me advice here and there. He’s been through it and he has gotten to see how the NFL works a little bit through his process the past four years and he’s just been a great mentor. [Inaudible] it’s been a great experience.
Q: Can you perform long snapping duties in an emergency situation?
CM: Yes sir. I used to long snap in high school and I did some back up during my college career.
Q: At 307 pounds now, do you feel like you can put more weight on now without it affecting your play negatively?
CM: Yes sir. I’m up to 315. I feel great where I’m at right now, but I’ll go whichever weight the coaches want me at.
Q: What weight did you play at least season?
CM: Around 300, 305.
Q: Did you play tight end earlier in your career, as well?
CM: I was a tight end my whole life and then when I got to UCLA they moved me right to tackle, and then I did some tackle-tight end formations and some goal line and short-yardage for my first two years before I became a full-time left-tackle starter.
Q: How do you feel like your basketball background helps you play on the offensive line?
CM: Well like I said, they threw me right into the fire at left tackle and my basketball skills and tight end ability helped me learn the position fast and helped me tremendously.
Q: Has it hit you yet that you are coming to a team that won likely the most exciting Super Bowl in NFL history this past season?
CM: I’m just looking forward to being able to work with the team and getting up to New England.
Q: Are you a student of other tackles in the league, and have you watched much of Nate Solder here at the professional level?
CM: I have watched Nate Solder. I’ve studied a lot of tackles and I’ve been a fan of his for a while, even when I was a skinny tight end being told I’d be a tackle one day. When I was first in high school I didn’t believe it, but he’s a great player and I look forward to meeting him.
Q: How much interaction did you have with other NFL teams leading up to the draft?
CM: I had a good amount of interaction at the Senior Bowl. You do a lot of interviews throughout that process, and at the combine, and then through a couple of travel workouts and the school’s Pro Day, but it was a great experience to be able to meet with a bunch of teams.
Q: Do you know any players currently on the Patriots roster?
CM: I do not, but I know Dont’a Hightower is from Tennessee, so I’ll be looking forward to chatting with him.
Q: Do you think coming from a program directed by a former NFL head coach [Jim Mora] was advantageous for you?
CM: Oh yeah, Coach Mora’s coaching style and a bunch of his assistant coaches came from the NFL, so you see that in practices, workouts, everything. Even Coach [Sal] Alosi, our strength coach, is from the Jets and everything was very pro-style. So I feel like it will help me tremendously. I’m just looking forward to getting there.
Q: How much time did you get to spend with Antonio Garcia at the Senior Bowl?
CM: We spent a good amount of time together. We were on the same team and practiced together every day, watched film together in meetings. He’s just a great guy. I’m happy for him and excited to work together.
Q: How did the call from the Patriots unfold today? Were you waiting or anticipating a call?
CM: I just was spending time with my family. I had to not worry too much and let everything fall into place. When the call came, I answered and everything fell into place. It was a great experience and it’s been a great day.
Q: Did you have any anxiety settling in at this point in the draft waiting on a call?
CM: There’s always anxiety going through this draft process, especially with people I’ve talked to in the past. I just tried to focus on letting everything fall into place and it did and it’s unbelievable.
Q: How much room do you feel like there is for you to grow at a position and a size that is still relatively new to you?
CM: I feel like there’s room to grow, and I’m excited to get to New England with the great coaching staff there and just get to work. Whatever they want for me, I’ll put my 100 percent effort in.
Q: Is there any one area you’ll be focused on when you do get here in terms of where you’d like to improve the most?
CM: I just know I can improve in any position I’m at. I’ll play wherever the coaches put me in.
Q: What weight were you at when you entered college at UCLA?
CM: I was between 235 and 240 – on a good day, 245.
Q: How did you go about adding weight in college?
CM: It was tough at first. I had a high metabolism growing up. By the time I was playing my 2014 season, my junior year, I think was 275, 280. It was a slow process of 10 or 20 pounds each year, and then by 2015, I was about 300, 305.
Q: Did you primarily play on the left side at UCLA?
CM: My freshman and sophomore year, I played left and right second string. And then the past three years, I’ve been left tackle.
Q: How do you feel about the opportunity to block for Tom Brady?
CM: He’s a great quarterback and I’m excited to get to work with him and get to know him. I’m excited for the opportunity to come to the Patriots.
Q: What do you know about Dante Scarnecchia and how exciting is the prospect of working with him for you?
CM: I just know he’s a great coach and very revered in the sport. I look forward to getting there and getting to work with him.