Taylor Decker press conference excerpts

The Detroit News
Taylor Decker and Jim Caldwell pose for pictures Friday in Allen Park.

Ohio State offensive tackle Taylor Decker was selected by the Lions in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night. On Friday, Decker held a press conference at Lions headquarters in Allen Park. Here are excerpts from that press conference.

Opening statement: “I’m really excited to be a part of this organization. It’s going to be a wonderful opportunity for me, but I realize that it’s an opportunity. So, I’m looking forward to coming in and working hard.”

On what it means to hear compliments about his leadership and character: “Growing up, that was kind of values that were instilled in me – high character, discipline, responsibility and respect. I think that’s suited me well in my football career. I think as a leader you have to have respect for people, but you also have to be able to tell them, especially in college, when things aren’t going so well and when they are. So, I’ve always kind of been a lead-by-example guy in my college career.”

On his versatility: “Versatility, you can just play multiple positions, and I’m 100-percent willing to do that. It’s not like I’m going to come in and be like, ‘Oh, I want to play this or that,’ I just want to come in and work hard and I know I’m going to have to earn anything that I get here. Nothing is going to be guaranteed coming in. So, I’m just excited for the opportunity, excited to meet my teammates and just get working.”

On what the last 18 hours have been like: “It’s just been pretty wild, as I’m sure it is for all the guys that got drafted last night. Everybody is congratulating you. I was hopping on the plane to come here and Matt Stafford sent me a text saying congratulations. Me being a guy who hasn’t played a down in this league, for him to reach out, that was huge, that was awesome.”

On the text exchange with Stafford: “It was just a congratulations, you know, ‘I’m looking forward to getting to meet you,’ and, I said the same thing. He’s a great player and I’m looking forward to meeting him, along with all the other guys. There’s plenty of great players on this team and, again, I’m a guy who hasn’t played in this league, so I’m looking forward to learning from them and seeing what they have to teach me.”

Taylor Decker arrives ready to roar with Lions

On working out with Lions guard Larry Warford this offseason: “I get along really well with him. I think he’s a great guy and obviously he’s a great player. So, just having some familiarity, that will be nice, to have a guy there, along with some of the older veteran guys, to see what they do, learn from them. Kind of follow them to learn how to be a pro.”

On seeing Lions headquarters and meeting new people Friday: “I’m just excited to be here and finally know where I’m going to be, where my new home is going to be, the people that I’m going to be working with every day. I know I’m excited to be here and get to work this coming week. So, it’s just cool to see where my new home is going to be.”

On the transition from Ohio to Michigan: “Yeah, I mean, playing there I obviously have seen the state of Michigan is very passionate about football. I have a lot of respect for that. So, I’m looking forward to being up here around a passionate fan base, people who love football.”

On the improvements he needs to make in his game: “Even in run-blocking I have tons of improvements to make. As a lineman you have to be consistent. I think that’s the name of the game as being a lineman. So, just staying square in pass protection and keeping proper footwork, don’t get overextended and things like that.”

On first impressions of Lions offensive line coach Ron Prince: “I think he’s a really intelligent guy. Just from speaking with him the few times that I have, he knows what he’s talking about. I think he really cares, wants guys to do better, and again, this just from the brief time that I’ve known him. So, I’m excited to work with him, it’s going to be fun.”

On the value of practicing against former teammate, defensive end Joey Bosa: “He’s an incredibly complete player. He was huge in my development, going against him every single day. Coach (Urban) Meyer would make sure we always had matchups in practice, because he’s really strong against the run. He can shock and shed you in pass-rush. He’s quick off the ball, he has a really refined technique with his hands. He’s a powerful guy. Practicing against the best every day has helped me.”

On his experience as an intern at the Columbus Zoo: “So, I just had a general interest in animals growing up, not like I had any crazy animals or grew up on a farm or anything. I went into school and majored in animal sciences and the graduation requirement for that was 200 hours of an internship. I was fortunate to get into the animal programs department at the Columbus Zoo. We would have the animals that would go and do programs, go to local schools, libraries, things like that. Then, our department, not me particularly, because I wasn’t as qualified, would raise a lot of the babies. They take them home at night, they’d take home a leopard or something, so it was pretty cool.”

On if he was able to take home the animals: “No, no not me. I’m not qualified for that. But it was a great, great experience as far as getting some relatable experience and something I could do with that degree and there were just great, great people there. I really, really enjoyed my time there.”

On the weirdest interaction he had with an animal: “I mean, they’re wild animals. It can be anything, you’re going to get bit, scratched, stuff like that. I wouldn’t say there was any weird interactions, I would just say that there’s just cool things that you learn. Like all the cheetahs were raised with yellow labs, because the yellow labs were their best friends and it would give them confidence because they’re kind of skittish by nature. Just little things like that, that you would never think of. We had penguins that were from Africa. People always think penguins are cold weather, stuff like that. There’s just all kinds of little things that I learned in my time there. It was definitely interesting and fun.”

On how different his path to the NFL would have been had he decided to go to Notre Dame: “That’s tough for me to answer, because that situation didn’t play out. Growing up in Ohio I always wanted to be a Buckeye and thankfully Coach Meyer gave me that opportunity and I tried to do the most I could with it.”