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Q&A with TE Kasa

The Raiders selected Colorado tight end Nick Kasa with the first of their four sixth-round picks Saturday. A short time later, he spoke with the Bay Area media via conference call. Here is the entire transcript:

Q: What went into your switch from DE to TE?
A: I just wasn’t producing a lot at defensive end. I guess I was kind of more of a second-string, third-string guy and so at the time I was disappointed in the production that I was getting there and I went to our head coach at the time, which was John Embree, and just asked him, I think I can be of more use to the team, whether that’s just getting on special teams, I really wasn’t on any special teams so I just asked him if that was the case, or if I should move positions. I told him he could move me wherever he wanted to move me and he kind of saw that we had some needs at tight end so he moved me over there and it turned out being a very good decision and worked out for me.

Q: Play TE or any other offensive positions in high school?
A: I played a little bit of tight end when I first got to high school…like two weeks and then I got moved over to defensive end and that was really the only other time I’ve ever played tight end for like two weeks, and then when I made the move in college.

Q: Amazing that you made that move in college and then now you’re an NFL draft pick, or kind of hoping for it when you made the switch?
A: It definitely was something I was hoping for when I made the switch but yeah, of course, it’s really surreal right now. Just the strides that I’ve made in the past year and a half have been amazing and I hope to keep it going. I think just for myself right now, I’m not where I want to be, I know that I can still make a ton more of progress and I’m going to try and do that every day. Every day, that’s kind of been my motto — I’ve got to get better at something every single day and I think I did that over the season. My progress, just week to week in games, I think you see it in game tape, I’ve got to keep it going. I love the coaches out there in Oakland and I loved working with them at the Senior Bowl so I’m ready to get out there and work for them again.

Q: Did your dad play with Tony Sparano in college?
A: No.

Q: He went to New Haven, right, your dad?
A: Yeah, he did.

Q: How would you describe that experience at Senior Bowl week with the Raiders coaches?
A: It was pretty awesome just to see a little bit of how the NFL might work out and just kind of the schemes and planning that they can do. I mean, it definitely helps out, I think, that I got the coaching there and now I get to go play for the same coaches, which is amazing to me. I love them all and can’t wait to put in a bunch of work with them and get better.

Q: Raiders don’t have an established starter at tight end, aware of that and feel you’re ready to come in and compete for substantial playing time?
A: I was and yes, of course, I’m ready to go compete. I talked to Coach Hutson and I’m just ready to get in there and do what I can and try to earn my spot and we’ll see how it all works out when I get there but I know that I’m going to work my butt off and do everything that I can. So, we’ll see who comes out of that spot in the fall.

Q: As draft wore on, were you hoping Raiders would draft you?
A: “Yeah, I knew they liked me a lot. I had talked with a bunch of the coaches down there at the Senior Bowl and I had a great time with them. They saw my work ethic down there. That’s kind of what maybe turned them on to drafting me here in this draft. I’m ready to get down there and start working again. Definitely what I showed at the Senior Bowl is what they wanted to see and that’s why we’re at where we are right now. I just got to keep it going.”

Q: Do you have much special teams experience?
A: “I do. I played on every single special teams this year at one point or another. I started on a good part of them for the entire year. I knew that I needed to do that, especially just playing one year at tight end. I’m ready to play any special teams that they want me to play. I’ll do anything I can to get on the field. I’m a football player, I’m not just a tight end. Obviously, coming from playing defensive line to tight end, they got to be good at other things besides just trying to block people and catch the ball. I’m ready to get on the field wherever they want me to get on.”

Q: What did you show the Raiders staff during Senior Bowl practices?
A: “I showed just the progress that I had made, even from the season to the Senior Bowl. There had been kind of question marks whether I was just strictly a blocker or that kind of thing. I kind of showed them athleticism, that I do have hands and I’m still making strides every single day to improve my hands, to improve my route running and the passing game in general. They can see that, and I’m going to keep working my butt off to keep furthering that progress in the future. I hope to be one of the best tight ends in the league some day. That’s a goal of mine, and I don’t take it lightly. So, I’m going to keep working and do whatever I can to accomplish that goal.”

Q: How difficult to stay focused playing on a team that lost so many games last season?
A: “It was pretty difficult. Nobody likes to lose. I hope that they get that program turned around in the future. I loved Colorado, I loved CU, the university, and I just hope that they can get it turned around. For me, really, working on tight end, it’s been difficult but it’s also been one of the funnest things that I’ve done. Practicing, catching the ball, running routes and those kinds of things are just a lot of fun. Even doing a defensive line practice where you just got to butt heads for an hour and a half straight. Really right now, it’s just exciting for me. I’ve loved every bit of it. I love playing tight end and I just love playing football in general. I’m ready to get out and finally start working on football again instead of just training for the combine, running a 40 and all these kinds of things. Even after that, just kind of training here in Boulder by myself. I’m ready to get with the team and just start grinding.”

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238

Q&A with QB Wilson

The Raiders selected Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson with their fourth-round pick Saturday. A short time later, Wilson spoke with the Bay Area media via conference call. Here’s the entire transcript:

Q: What was your level of involvement and contact with the Raiders heading up to this?
Wilson : We had some contact, obviously, they were part of the Senior Bowl. I was on the other team. I was on the Detroit team, but definitely had some contact during the week there at the Senior Bowl and had a one-on-one interview with them a number of times during the week. I thought our connection was very, very good and I thought they were a team going into this that I thought was potentially very, very interesting and so it happened.

Q: How did difficult senior year prepare you for NFL career?
Wilson : Experience as far as my senior year?

Q: Yes, senior year, in terms of what you went through?
Wilson : You know, it as tough. It was a difficult situation. Obviously we were No. 5 in the country, a top five team in my junior season after a great year, went to the Cotton Bowl and you kind of go through a number of things, that test your character, test a lot about you as a football player, and I really love this game and I think that I’m going to be a better player because of it. You learn a lot during those kinds of years.

Q: Regrets about coming back for your senior year?
Wilson: Obviously, I think you, after things pan out you kind of look back and say, `Well, that wasn’t certainly business-wise maybe the smarter thing’ but I’m always, the way I approach it, I know everybody else looks at and probably questions my judgment, but my thought is I wanted to be the most ready, prepared football player that I could be and I thought the only way I could do that would be to go back to school for my senior season, and I think, regardless of what happened, and where you go in the draft, I think I’m a more prepared football player by staying in school. In that regard, I’m extremely happy that I’ve got an opportunity, and still have an opportunity to stay in the NFL.

Q: Did you think you’d go earlier, upset you’re a fourth-round pick?
Wilson : Well, I think it being such a different year in the draft, that I did expect to go a little bit earlier, but I’m so excited I think the situation, going into it, everybody said the situation is what is most important. It’s not necessarily what round or what slot or that, but it’s the situation and I think the situation in Oakland is perfect. My dad’s from the California area, he’s from Southern California , but there’s definitely a lot of family out there. You look at the organization, there’s a lot of tradition in Oakland with three Super Bowls. There’s a lot going on in the right direction. And I’m excited that I get to come in and compete, and potentially have a chance of playing on Sunday and leading the football team. That’s what I’m excited to do is get there as fast as I possibly can and start getting in the playbook.

Q: they have QBs with combined total of three starts, a new offense, so everybody starting off same page, do you look at this as chance to come in and start as a rookie?
Wilson : I think any competitor would agree that they want to play, they want to start, they want to come in and work. But talking to the coaches on the phone, they say, we want you to come in and compete your tail off, and that’s my approach. Wherever that leads me, we’ll see at the end of the day. Obviously we’ve got three pretty good guys in there and I’m going ot come in and compete like crazy.

Do you have an issue with concussions?
“I had the one last year, the Dr. Collins in Pittsburgh, who’s kind of the foremost expert on concussions. Very much cleared in his regard, and got his checkmark of approval, so I feel very confident. I played the remainder of eight games at Arkansas with no problems there, and took some pretty good licks. So I feel very good in that regard.”

Do you take too many hits?
“I think, one, it goes back to playing in a tough conference. And we had to throw the ball in order to be successful. During the two seasons that I was there, we kind of struggled running the football. So there were a lot of teams that were pinning their ears back and trying to pressure us a lot. Unfortunately, it was that type of a situation where a lot of times you had to sit in there and rip it, because of the situation we were in at Arkansas. As a quarterback you’re gonna have to take some shots and compete to give us a chance to win. I knew that. Fortunately, and unfortunately, I was able to take a hit. I think that’s part of my game a little bit.”

Looking forward to playing with Darren McFadden?
“No question. Grew up here in Arkansas as an Arkansas fan, and watched him do what he did for the school and for the university. Obviously he’s done pretty well out there. So anxious to get back there with him and build a relationship and see if we can’t work together.”

How much did former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino help your development as a QB?
“He’s a tremendous quarterback coach. It’s a quarterback university at whatever school he’s at. The practice is tailored around the quarterback position. So I think any quarterback who plays for him has an advantage on a lot of other quarterbacks from schools because of the knowledge that he expects you to know and the amount of pressure and substance that he puts on the quarterback’s shoulders. I think some years that’s really, really good, and some years it’s a little tougher. But I think I’m ahead of the curve in a lot of ways as far as a freshman coming in – or, I’m sorry, as a rookie coming in – because of what Coach Petrino kind of instilled in the quarterback position. So I’m excited to get in there and learn and figure out what we’re doing offensively. And I think we’ll be ready to go.”

Who did you talk to when Raiders called?
“I talked to Coach Allen. Coach Allen was one of the first people I talked to. As well as Coach (John) DeFilippo and Coach (Greg) Olson. Those were the first few guys I talked to.”

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