ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) - Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley is closing the NFL draft much like he began it, by making a series of trades to transform the team's roster.
The Bills opened Saturday by drafting Duke cornerback Ross Cockrell in the fourth round, and Baylor guard Cyril Richardson in the fifth. In between, Whaley acquired running back Bryce Brown in a trade with Philadelphia and also swapped draft picks with Tampa Bay.
The moves followed a busy two days for Whaley, who took over after Buddy Nix stepped down last year.
The Bills opened the draft by trading up five spots to select Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins with the No. 4 pick. Buffalo then traded receiver Stevie Johnson to San Francisco on Friday.
Buffalo will wrap up the draft with two seventh-round picks.
Cockrell and Bills Director of Player Personnel Jim Monos spoke to the Buffalo media shortly after the Bills drafted the Cockrell. Here is a transcript of what they said starting with Monos.
Director of Player Personnel Jim Monos
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Q: Lengthwise, what do you like about Ross Cockrell?
A: That is what jumps out right away: his size. You love his size and he's played there and competed well every year there. He's a winner, has ball skills, has good speed. Every guy we've taken so far has been a part of winning program and that is a big thing we're stressing.
Q: Were you at the East-West game?
A: I was not at that game.
Q: He had a pick at the end of that game.
A: Ross has picks from throughout his career and that is one thing he has a knack for. He's a very instinctive, intelligent guy. He picks it up real quick. He's another guy we had on a visit here and did a great job.
Q: What did you think about his performance in the bowl game against Texas A&M?
A: I think the word that comes out with Ross is he is always consistent. No matter if it's Mike Evans, which everybody brings that up because that was the best player he went against, him and Sammy (Watkins). He's played against all these guys and he is always consistent.
Q: Will he contribute on special teams?
A: Yeah, we expect him to.
Q: Do you know if he has graduated?
A: Oh yeah, Ross has graduated.
Q: Do you see him more as a boundary corner?
A: That's more of a coaching thing. I don't know, that is more for Coach Schwartz.
Q: Did he play a lot of off man zone?
A: He has. That's the thing, he has done both. We feel comfortable with him doing both.
Q: Do you see leadership potential with him since he was a captain?
A: You could see it even at his pro day. Guys gravitate to him and he is the leader of that group. Thad Lewis also said that Ross picked him off when Thad was a senior there and Ross might have been a freshman. Thad said, 'If you can pick me off you have to be pretty good.'
Q: Does he bring some intelligence since he was All-ACC at Duke?
A: Yeah, he's off the charts.
DB Ross Cockrell Conference Call
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Q: What is your reaction and on your visit?
A: Obviously I've made a great connection with the staff and with Coach Henderson and the guys in Buffalo. I know Thad pretty well and I worked out with him for the past couple months while he was at Duke. Right now I'm just so happy.
Q: Thad Lewis said he recalled you picking him off when he was a senior. He said this guy has got to be good if he can pick me off. Do you recall that?
A: Yeah, I got him once or twice. Maybe he would only admit to one, but I think I got him a couple more times.
Q: What about playing against some top flight competition in your college career including a guy who is your teammate now, Sammy Watkins?
A: Sammy Watkins is a tremendous player. You know, somebody who has all the tools to be a pro-ball caliber player. Even, you know, some of the guys that play and go on to Florida State and UNC and some of those bigger names, I think it really prepared me to go to this next level.
Q: What are your thoughts on how you went out personally after the bowl game?
A: Personally, it was great. I wish it would have been better for the program as well. It would have been a great win for us. But I think it opened a lot of eyes that this guy from Duke can actually play a little ball and will be able to compete at the next level.
Q: What did you major in at Duke?
A: I majored in Political Science.
Q: When did you graduate?
A: I graduated in December 2012.
Q: Did you graduate early or was that in four years?
A: That was early. It was three and a half.
Q: Are you doing any graduate studies or internships off campus in this last year or so?
A: Yeah, in the last year I did a Masters program in Political Science at Duke.
Q: Talk a little bit about your special teams experience. Did you play Gunner there?
A: Yeah, I played gunner, I did some hold-ups. I played basically every special team (unit) while I was there so I have a lot of experience on that and I'm just so happy.
Q: How much did the Bills talk to you about that ability during your visit?
A: They talked to me about it a lot. It's obviously something you have to do at the next level especially if you want to make a team and be a part of a team and that's something that I want to do.
Q: It sounds like you really wanted to continue and push yourself to get to this point. Is that a fair assessment?
A: Yeah, my dream has always been to play in the NFL since I was about four or five years old. It's been a lot of patience and a lot of hard work and there is a lot more left to do.
Q: I know your Dad played collegiately. Did he have any pro experience?
A: No, he didn't.
Q: What position did he play?
A: He played wide receiver at Columbia.