NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The Saints’ selection of Cesar Ruiz with the 24th overall pick surprised many Thursday night, including Ruiz himself who was overcome with emotion in the aftermath of the pick.
Ruiz spoke with New Orleans reporters late Thursday night and the following is a copy of that conversation, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
We saw you were pretty emotional there on the couch after you got the call from the Saints? What was going through your head at that point? Were you thinking about your father?
“Yeah, that's what I was thinking about. Just my dad. I dedicate my whole journey and everything I do to him. The first picture I had in my head was my dad and then I looked on the screen and they put a picture of my dad on the screen. That's really where all of them emotion came from and a big part of it was also just the excitement and the relief.”
Did you have any sense that the Saints would be the team calling your name at 24?
“No, I did not think at that moment, no, because I thought you guys (New Orleans) made a pick already and I did not think I was the guy and I received the call with like two minutes left on the clock. It was unbelievable.”
Sean (Payton) talked about the versatility (you possess). Can you talk us through that and just your ability to play center and what other positions you can play along the front? “Yeah, I can play any position along the interior. I have familiarity with everything. Center, guard so I can play everything across the interior offensive line and that’s where my versatility comes into place. Whatever Coach (Payton) wants me to play, that’s what I’m going to play.”
Who called you and what did they tell you? Did they pretty much tell you they just want you to come in and compete?
“It was, I was just star struck at the moment at the moment, but it was the assistant GM (Jeff Ireland) and Coach Payton pay and they basically just said, hey look, we're excited, we're fired up and we’re going to take you with this selection right here, we’re on the clock.”
What are the differences between playing center and guard?
“For me it's just, guard you don't have to (conduct everything)…when I played guard I wasn't really conducting the show because I’m on a different side of the line than everybody else, so I'm not telling everybody what to do. To me guard is like basically similar to playing center without snapping the ball. So it's actually very similar.”
Do you like to be the guy that's kind of conducting the show?
“Yeah, I love being in charge of the show.”
What were your interactions with the Saints coaches and scouts leading up to the NFL Draft?
“We only talked at the combine that I can remember. That’s all I can remember is having an interview at the combine. I felt I did impress them with my interview at the combine with my ability to know football. I think that was my only interaction with them.”
When you think of the saints, what comes to mind to you? “The first thing that comes to mind is Drew Brees really. When I think of the Saints, the first thing I think of, the first person I think of is Drew Brees. That’s the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of the Saints and really just a traditional team. A team that traditionally wins and is a very respected franchise.”
What do you believe are your strengths right now?
“Right now, my strengths would definitely be pass protection and my athletic ability and my ability to pull and get out in open space on screens and pulls and do things to get to the second level. Definitely my pass detection is one of my biggest strengths as well.”
Do you have casual knowledge of how your skillset will fit their run-blocking and pass-blocking scheme?
“Yes, I can play in any kind of offensive scheme that a team needs me to play in and really that’s just where I have an advantage. I’ve played in so many different offenses. I’ve seen how the Saints play, a versatile offense. I’m a versatile player. I fit perfectly.”
Do you remember what you might have done and might have said to the Saints that left a good impression with them?
“Just my ability to remember the calls. They had me watch film and gave me calls and allowed me to take notes. It was basically as if it was my first day with the team and I was able to reiterate plays really easy. I think that’s one thing they are impressed with.”
Sean Payton said his football intelligence is something that attracted him to you. Has that facet always something you were able to grasp quickly?
“Yes, really natural. Football is really natural to me and now it’s going to be even more natural because it’s just football. That’s just the main thing I’m doing right now. My football knowledge is becoming higher and higher and I’m becoming better and better at it. That’s one of my strengths.”
Was your dad someone whose memory motivated you?
“My dad passed away when I was eight and his passing is the reason I played football. Every time I step on the field now, I dedicate it to my dad.”
Did he ever get to see you play youth football before he passed away?
“No, I didn’t play football until I was ten.”
How does playing football connect you with him specifically? Was he a football player in high school?
“No, I connected with my dad because my dad passed away when I was eight. The main thing that helped me cope with that (depression) was football and that’s just what it was.”
Do you know under the stay at home orders, what you will be doing for the next week or so as a member of the team?
“No, not much. I don’t what to expect in the next few days. I know in the next few days I’ll be communicating with a lot of my teammates and getting to know a lot of people in the organization. That’s one thing I’m going to be doing in the next couple of days. And staying in shape. They told me to get ready for a different kind of heat and so I’m doing really intense workouts.”
Have you been to New Orleans?
“No I have not been to New Orleans.”
You did a virtual hug with Roger Goodell on your facetime conversation? What was your thought process behind it?
“He told me to bring it in, because if I was there personally I would have given him a hug. He told me to bring it in and I gave him a hug virtually. It was me being me, showing my personality and my love for people.”
What was it like deciding who would be with you tonight:? Did you have to trim down a guest list?
“No, it was actually easy trimming down my list. I knew that I was going to have a couple close friends that I grew up when I was little and played football with were going to be there. My list was pretty easy.”
You played at IMG Academy with a couple of guys with Louisiana ties and your quarterback there won some Louisiana State Championships. Have you heard from any of them?
I haven’t been able to get to my phone (yet). My phone keeps ringing, so I’m almost positive someone has said something to me, I just haven’t gotten to it yet.”