2007 NFL DRAFT
Sunday, April 29, 2007
at Paul Brown Stadium
news conference transcripts
“Matt Toeaina went to Oregon as a fullback, so he is a really good athlete. Although most of his time has been at defensive tackle,
he has slid out and played some defensive end due to injuries. Even when do their three-man front, he was an outside end pass
rusher. He’s a big man at 6-foot-2, 300-plus pounds. He’s a good athlete who’s played a lot of football at Oregon. It fits us in a good
need. He is a good young prospect and a guy we can shape, mold and coach into a top defensive lineman.”
Did he grow up with Domata Peko?
“He grew up on Samoa, but I’m not sure if he knows (Bengals defensive tackle) Domata (Peko).”
Where does he fit in?
“He will compete for a roster spot at defensive tackle. Even though he has played some defensive end, we drafted him to line up at
You seem to be building some depth at that position…
“Just like last year, this guy is very similar to Domata, as far as the athleticism and being able to move his feet and bend his knees.
That’s the exciting part of it.”
Since they brought him in as a fullback, he must be pretty light on his feet and able to move pretty well…
“That was probably 60 pounds ago. He kept maturing as a kid. He has already graduated with a degree from the University of
Oregon. He has a lot of upside to him.”
Is he a leveraging machine?
“Well, at 6-foot-2, you don’t have that low center of gravity. He’s a good prospect and one that we were excited to pick.”
What does he need to work on?
“I think he just needs to learn the game at this level. We talked about it earlier with (first round pick) Leon Hall. You don’t see as
much diversity in the NFL. They see a lot of the spread offense in college. You don’t see as many pounding offenses in college football,
and that’s the biggest thing. He’s able to separate from blocks. That’s why you want a guy who can bend his knees and be an athlete,
like Matt, so he can finish the play. If they can capture you with one guy, then they can cut the defense in half, and then we haveissues.”
Defensive line coach
Another America-Samoan connection?
“Yeah, it’s where he grew up. These guys traditionally like to be together. (Bengals defensive linemen) Domata (Peko) and
Jonathan (Fanene) played against one another in high school, along with Matt. It’s a small island.”
One more to complete the line?
“Not that I know of, but you never know.”
What was it that stood out about him?
“Just how athletic he was. He could play inside or out. He played end for them last year. He’s by no means a finished product. He
has good size and he can run. He is very intelligent. It adds to the whole package. I know some of the coaches at Oregon, and they
speak very highly of this young man.”
I don’t know if this is a fair comparison, but after Bengals DE Jonathan Fanene’s production last season, did it have anything
to do with you drafting Matt?
“It had none.”
How are Peko and Toeaina similar?
“Peko is a little bigger and heavier than Matt. Matt is probably a step faster. Domata has played and has been very productive.
This young man will come in and try to earn a spot on our roster. The guys we have are established. Matt is going to have to come in
and do a very good job for us in order to be part of our equation.”
Matt has good versatility? He can play inside or out?
“I think so. One of the things I watched him do on film in our evaluation was run step-for-step with Adrian Peterson from Oklahoma
and make a tackle from the left end position on a cutback for a negative-yardage play. That showed how athletic he was. For a guy
300-plus pounds to do that to someone who was a Heisman candidate at the time speaks well of him. There are things he will need to
improve on. I think he needs to lower his pad level. I think that translates to the fact he wasn’t a defensive lineman for a great deal of
his career. The upside on him is his ability to improve.”
When did he make the change from fullback to defensive tackle?
“I don’t think it was very long (playing fullback). He got on campus, and they made the switch pretty quick. He’s very excited. He
told me his father came from Samoa to be with him. His father is a minister and his mother is a school administrator. Sounds like a very
Where did he grow up?
“America-Samoa. Very articulate young man.”
Defensive tackle, Oregon
Do you know Bengals defensive linemen Domata Peko and Jonathan Fanene?
“I went to school with both Domata and Jonathan as a freshman.”
You’ve got to pleased that you’re coming here with your friends...
“Oh yeah, definitely. I think it will make me more comfortable in situations. I’m just glad to be a part of the program now.”
What do you hope to show us on Sundays this fall?
“I worked hard to get to this point. I just want to do what I can to the best to my abilities and show you that I am a legit pick.”
You originally went to Oregon as a fullback. Is that correct?
“Yeah, coming from the island, I came in only weighing in at 245. I gained weight fast, and they formed me into a defensive
What did you eat to gain all of that weight?
“I don’t know. I think the dollar menu across the street from the dormitory didn’t help.”
The dollar menu?
They have a nutritionist here who will break you of that habit...
“I already broke the habit. It was just coming from a small island — eating a big juicy burger — we didn’t have that there.”
Are you going to wear your sarong in the locker room?
“Why not? You know it’s the most comfortable piece of clothing that I have.”
It sounds like you’re versatile, like you can play tackle and end...
“Definitely, because I was under 300 pounds, and I gradually gained a lot of weight. I couldn’t play D-tackle at 260, so I started out
at D-end and eventually grew into a D-tackle body. But I still had the instincts of playing defensive end. I think that was very beneficial
for me at the University of Oregon.”
Do you remember the play where you chased down Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson?
“Yeah. I think that’s what it’s all about — never giving up. That’s the attitude that you’ve got to have, and I think that’s the
difference between good and great players.”
Do you remember any specifics about that one play in particular?
“Yeah. I was at defensive end. I think he rushed up the middle and I quickly engaged off of my man and just pursued him and
made the tackle.”
How do you get here from Samoa?
“It’s about a five-hour flight from Samoa to Hawaii, and another five-hour flight from Hawaii to the main land.