Mike Mularkey Head coach Tennessee Titans You saw Taylor Lewan play right tackle in training camp one year. Is that a viable scenario? Could he, if necessary, move over? I think Taylor can play in a lot of places. He’s a very good football player. I could see that, if that was ever a scenario that came up. Yes. He’s a left handed guy. Is he a natural? I just think his athletic ability allows him to do multiple things. I really do. He’s capable of playing multiple positions because of that ability. Do you see WR Dorial Green-Beckham as a starter next season? A lot of that will depend on Dorial, when he comes in, what he’s done up to this point. Obviously we can’t talk to the players in regard to our football or schemes or anything. They can’t be at our facility working out, so a lot of that will depend on when he shows up here in April on the 18 th and see what he’s been doing up to this point. He’s got all his notes, he knows everything that we did last year, so he has the ability to study and do the things we already were doing, and you’ll know right away whether that’s taken place. I think he knows that’s been a point of emphasis for him. He’ll have a lot to say on whether he’s that guy or not. To follow up on that, where do you see his development over last year? He was basically put in there because of injuries, some of the circumstances that we had. I think he was thrown in, taking probably more reps than we really had planned on putting on him when we did. I just think the experience, the time gave him a chance to develop. I thought as the season went on, you could see there was things he was doing better and better. But he missed a significant amount of time, not just the year in college, but when he came in in the offseason program he was injured, so he really couldn’t do anything. There’s nothing like doing a rep, practicing a rep. You can talk all you want, but unless you do it over and over and over, and it doesn’t come natural, and some of these guys need to do that, and he’s one of those guys, I think that really probably cost him a little bit early on in the season as far as development. With so many young players on offense, does there need to be an influx of veteran guys coming in? I think we’re going to look really at all phases, including special teams. That’s something that’s rarely talked about. We’re going to look at all of that, and leadership will be a part of that. How are they in the locker room? That’s part of the process. But I don’t think it’s going to be emphasized one side of the ball or not. It’s all phases that we’re going to be looking at. You and Jon Robinson have had a chance to evaluate the roster. Are you guys on the same page? It’s been a very good relationship in the short time it’s been. It’s somewhat six weeks. We communicate very well. We keep in constant contact. We’re always keeping each other updated. There’s nothing that’s going to be, that the other one doesn’t know. Communication with anybody in the facility, obviously with Amy (Adams Strunk) or anybody, Steve (Underwood), we’re going to make sure everybody’s on the same page. And Jon and I have done that since the start. How does your draft strategy work? We’ll do that at some point. We’re talking every day about strategies. He keeps me updated, especially right now with the process of what we’re doing offensively with the playbook. It’ll get to a point when we get near to the draft where we’ll get more of a stronger emphasis. Do you expect Marcus Mariota to run more? I don’t mind if he takes off. Last year against Jacksonville when he went 80 yards when he just took off, so I don’t have a problem with that. I stated very early on that I don’t have a problem if we’re going to design runs for Marcus, because I think you can protect yourself better as a runner than you can as a pocket passer. You’re exposed more. Again, how much more? It’ll probably be more, because of the injuries he sustained last year, we really did not run him as much as we would have liked to. Someone on the roster to step into role of recently released safety Michael Griffin, or will that come from outside the organization? I think we’re constantly looking outside to upgrade our roster at any point, but we have some good young safeties that will have a chance to compete for that spot. Do you feel the same way about running backs? Again, we’re constantly looking, wherever that is, whether it’s free agency, the draft, we’ll be looking at all positions. Not just the backs. What traits do you look for in wide receivers? I think Jon has said it numerous times: Can they get open and can they catch it? It is pretty simple. And it’s interesting when you start, when you look at it that way, you start watching guys. Do they have the ability actually to get open when they’re pressed, when the guy over them is a better player, the disadvantages against him, can he still win? And when he does win, does he make a play on the ball? How much input does the coaching staff have on players acquired? Jon and I, again, we’ve communicated very well. He wants input from myself, the coaching staff, we’ve already gone through, we’ve sat with the scouting department, with Jon, and with Blake (Beddingfield), we went through the Senior Bowl, we read every guy, so our coaches are going to be very involved with their input as far as evaluating everything. Bowl games, obviously free agency, we just went through that and next is the draft. They will be heavily involved and so will I. Can you expand on the term “exotic smashmouth” that’s been floating around? I was asked about the style of play in Pittsburgh and it was described in Pittsburgh, not by me, by somebody that described the style of play that we had as ‘exotic smashmouth.’ And a lot of that was because what we did, again, I’m a big believer in you fit the scheme around your players’ talents. We ran a lot of exotic plays with Antwaan Randle El, Hines Ward, Kordell Stewart. We had guys that gave us the ability to do a lot of things that kept defenses off balance. The exotic part is basically what that was describing. The smashmouth was, you knew you were going to be in a physical football game when you played us. And that’s definitely going to be still the case. But I’m not describing this team, this offense as that. That’s what was described back in Pittsburgh when I was there. Brian Schwenke has had issues with injuries almost every year that he’s been with the team. Is finding maybe a veteran center option one of your priorities this offseason? Again, I’ll say this. We’re looking at every position. And yeah, that is a concern with the injuries with Brian. But he’s on course right now. I see him every day, he’s rehabbing to be back at full strength here when we start up in April. Are you hopeful or optimistic that you’ll have trade options to at least consider at No. 1? Obviously, you’d like to have as many options to come with that pick as possible. But do you believe you will? I believe we will. I do. Maybe a lot of that will depend on what takes place here in the next week, with some of the players, what they do. On the theory that quarterbacks always rise due to need in this league? You could say that, yeah. You mentioned not having a problem with Marcus running, but protecting him when he’s in the pocket, is it fair to say that’s the top offseason priority? It’s always a priority, protecting him. And we’re, again, that’s not always just directed at the offensive line. That’s the protection scheme, that’s wide receivers being able to win outside, wide receivers lining up correctly, taking as much of the ball as they can, getting off on the snap, being where they’re supposed to be, that’s backs doing the same thing as far as protecting, that’s tight ends, everybody has a role in protecting Marcus, not just the offensive line. The scheme will have a lot to do with that, which we’ve adjusted some of the things we did last year, we now can change, we have changed. There will be some new protection schemes. Where’s the biggest area Marcus can improve heading into his second season? He’s done a lot of good things in an adverse situation last year, with some of the things that went on with the coaching change and some of the injuries. One of the biggest things I thought he struggled with was even the play calling in the huddle. It’s because of the length of it, and he did not have to do that at Oregon. So what we’re trying to do, every day that we’re in there as an offensive staff, we’re trying to simplify the terminology to its simplest form, to where there’s not a lot of verbiage, but it says a volume of what we want everybody to do, and that will help him in the process of being able to spit it out, get to the line of scrimmage and have more time to see what defenses are trying to do to attack us. What are you trying to get out of player interviews? The thing most of these guys have been programmed for the answers. A lot of questions are going to be the same in every one of these rooms. We are not going to do that. We’re going to do a lot of board work, get them up on the board, things that they’re not going to be prepared for, to see how they are in an environment with a group, in really a critical, the biggest time of their life right now, to see how they respond to things they’re not prepared for. What’s different about owning the top pick? I have not been in this position before. I think you’re aware of more of your options than you are if you’re sitting back after 1, but I think you’re still approaching it the same way. Where will Jeremiah Poutasi play? We’re going to start him at guard. Not start him. We’re going to put him at guard and let him have an opportunity to compete there. The tackle position in the top 10 of the draft, the track record hasn’t been all the great lately. Does that give you any pause when you consider that position at the top of this draft? I’m probably going to answer it like Jon did. I think every one of them is in its own unique situation. Why did a guy succeed or fail? And you can throw quarterbacks into that same category. You’re taking a chance, you’re taking what you believe is a starter and you’re banking on he can do what you saw on tape. Some guys can do that, quarterback as well, at the collegiate level, and then they struggle when they get to the NFL, whatever reason that is. Like Jon said, scheme, coaching, maybe even ability. But you can’t do that. I think you’ve got to be careful you don’t over analyze things, as well. Why has it been more difficult? It’s harder, offensive line has been harder in recent years because of the offenses in college. It is a little different. You don’t see, like Jon said, guys coming off the ball, run blocking. You don’t see them in three-point stances. Rarely do you see that. There’s a couple SEC schools that still do that and they’re pretty successful with those guys. So it’s easier obviously to evaluate some of those teams that are more pro style than the spread. Is it more important to have an excellent right tackle? It’s always been a priority to have a great left tackle, but with more pass rushers moving around, do you have to have a really quality right tackle? I heard you ask that earlier, and I thought, that’s a good question. Does the right tackle now have the same emphasis of having to block these guys, because pass rushers are getting elite on both sides. If you think about it, they can line up anybody they want on every one of our guys. For example, Houston, J.J. Watt picked any one of the linemen, they schemed to get to those guys. So it’s not like you’re going to protect anybody by having somebody better. We need five guys up there that can handle it. Not just a left tackle. It’s everybody now.
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Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Mularkey took his turn at the podium on day one of the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.
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