Titans talk draft

GM Mike Reinfeldt and his staff talk about Saturday's draft.

General Manager Mike Reinfeldt, National Supervisor of College Scouting C.O. Brocato, Eastern Director of College Scouting Mike Ackerley, Scouting Coordinator Blake Beddingfield


(opening comments)

First of all, I want to thank you all for coming today.  As we get ready for the draft, this is a hectic time, and we appreciate you being here.  I know many of you are hoping that we are going to address the Adam Jones situation today.  We're still in the process of finalizing the trade papers, the contracts.  It's a very complicated process with Dallas, the NFL, the player, ourselves, so until that situation is finalized, we will not comment on it.  However, as soon as it is finalized, we will have some type of get together to address the situation in detail.  And Robbie (Bohren) will set that up.

Again, as we prepare for the 2008 draft, we're in a situation where the evaluations of the players are complete.  We're still stacking the draft board and getting ready for the draft.  I think the 2008 draft will be interesting.  Part of it, the changes will bring some different dynamics to the situation.  The fact that the first round will be quicker will change, I think, and will possibly affect the trading.  I think the rhythm of the whole thing will be much better through the first round. 

The other interesting thing that I think is the fact that you just have the first and second round the first day.  I think greater importance will be put on the third round.  I think teams will rally after the first day, re-stack their draft boards, and I think you'll see some good moves coming out of the third round.  Teams will move to get the players that they re-valued or re-assessed the situation and jump around some to get into that.  I think also the second day will be a long day for a lot of people.  By moving that in and the free agents at the end, I think the second day will probably be a drain on the teams. 

I think the 2008 draft is an interesting draft from the perspective that there are some positions that are very good in it.  There's great depth at wide receiver.  The running back, there's some really interesting people.  At the same time, like most drafts, there's some positions where the depth isn't quite as good.  I think if you look at the safeties on the board, if you look at the linebackers – the outside and inside linebackers – there's not only a lack of depth but a lack of elite people at the top.  I think we're in a situation where as we go into the draft, one of the things that both Jeff and I said early on is we'd be looking for playmakers, and I think there's some good playmakers in this draft, guys that can help us score points and move the football.  I think that's a good thing from our perspective.

In a second here I'm going to open it up for questions.  Most of you know Blake (Beddingfield).  Blake is kind of the coordinator of the scouting area, so he'll be kind of the coordinator questions, and he also does a lot of the local players.  If you have questions concerning local people or just the process, Blake is probably a good one with that. 

Most of you know Mike Ackerley.  He's a national supervisor, kind of the East.  Anybody east of the Mississippi, he's seen all of the quality or all the really good players.

And C.O. (Brocato).  I'm sure you know C.O. from the years that he's been here.  Any players west of the Mississippi, he would be a good one to check on those.

The last thing I want to say is I think we're in a good position because I don't think we're in a position of dire need.  I think we're in a position where we can take good, young players that can help us with our depth on our team and over time develop them into good starters.  So we're in a position where we can try to find the best athletes and develop those people into good players.

(on whether there are 31 first-rounders on the team's board)

We have more than 31 that we rate as first-round players.  So that's a good thing.

(on having extra picks in the fourth round)

I think it's a very good thing.  To me, the fourth round, you can find a lot of quality players in the fourth round.  At the same time, the fourth round gives you the ability to move up in the first round, move up in the second or move up in the third substantially to help if you spotlight a guy that you want to go get and still not hurt your overall draft.  The fact that you have three fourths helps greatly.

(on finding playmakers to put around Vince Young during this offseason)

Yeah, I think we had a good season last year.  We made the playoffs, and we accomplished some things.  But I think we realized that to get to the next level, to help Vince, to get some playmakers is an important step in that process to get to the next level.

(on any reluctance to spend a pick on a running back after drafting one in the second round in each of the last two years)

I think the key to the whole draft process, honestly, is being true to the draft board.  If you've got players up there that are the right value, especially if they do something different.  If they're more of a third-down back, then I think to jump in and do it again might be the best thing for your team.

(on if a situational running back might have more value than a situational middle linebacker)

I think that's fair to say.  He's a situational guy, but when he's in there, he's going to be the guy carrying the ball, catching the screen pass, catching the swing pass.  He's actually going to be the center of the play.

(on looking at potential returners despite recently signing Chris Carr)

I think that's something we'd still look for.  Chris has done it and done a good job.  At the same time, we take that into consideration on all of the evaluations.  In today's football, the special teams, the return ability is such a big part of the game.


(on the playmaking running backs and receivers in the draft)

Of the running backs that I've seen, I think they're pretty good quality.  They're circled up there.  They're going to be playmakers.  They'll be able to … We get the ball, and if they get in the clear, they can get you six.  It's the same way with the receivers.  I think there are several up there that can really run and have the ability to catch the ball.  There's also some big guys that can run and catch the football.  I think there's good quality up there.  They'll probably be gone after the second round, you know, between the first and second round according to what people need those kind of position guys.  But I think this is the first time I can remember in a long time that you have several running backs that are going to go in the first round that are quality running backs.  What's so good about it is you have the different kind of running backs.  You know, you have guys that can go all the way; you have guys that are going to be the pro style, prolific-type running back; and you're going to have the type of running back that you can use as a third-down situation guy – you can put him outside as a wide receiver and put him in as a wing back and do a lot of things with him.


(on the playmaking running backs and receivers in the draft)

I agree with C.O.  In recent years, this is a strong a draft in the running back area as there's probably been.  Like C.O. said, you've got the every-down back that's explosive and powerful.  You've got, if you want to call them, change-of-pace backs in (Chris) Johnson and (Felix) Jones that can catch the ball; they can return kicks; they're explosive. Once they get the ball in their hands and once they break the line of scrimmage, they're going.  (Jonathan) Stewart from Oregon, he's as good a back as there has been in the draft in a couple years.  That guy is unbelievable.  I know a lot of people are talking about the kid at Arkansas and so forth, and this kid because of his foot has probably been not talked about quite as much, but he is very, very explosive.  (Rashard) Mendenhall from Illinois, very explosive, big back that can go at any time.  Then, with Johnson and Jones as being the change-up guys.  Then the other thing about the backs I think this year is there's a good segment in the middle – (Ray) Rice, Tashard Choice, guys like that that are very solid, good backs that can come in here, come on your team and compete as solid back-ups and maybe even work into a starting role.  If somebody gets hurt, they can start a couple games for you.  So there's some good picks in the offensive backfield this year, and there are a couple fullbacks as well that have a chance to go to a team and make an impact.  As far as receivers, it may not be as deep a year at the top as years past, but in the middle and in kind of that – I don't want to say second tier – but lower part of the first round, there are some receivers: the (James) Hardy kid from Indiana, Devin Thomas from Michigan State, (Limas) Sweed.  You're talking about some guys that can come in and make an impact on some teams.  Then again, too, in the receivers, you get down in the middle like every year, there are speed guys, return guys, there's Eddie Royal, guys like that.  There's three or four guys like that that can come in and not only contribute as a second or third receiver, but come in and make an immediate impact as a returner.  There are some guys there that are really explosive guys that give a chance to really help themselves.


(on whether Jamaal Charles falls into the top group of running backs)

I think he's in the top group with the other ones.  You've got McFadden, Stewart, those guys.  He falls right in line with Chris Johnson, all those guys.  They just are all exceptional running backs.  The big thing about all of those running backs is, you know, you give them a little room, and it's not like the way we have now that we're going to get caught.  If these guys get past the line of scrimmage, they can get you six.  I'd say all of the majority of them are.  I think they're all up there, it's just a question of what type of running back you want and which one's gone.


(on getting pieces of the puzzle to help the team reach the next level)

Well, I think there's a lot of good players where we take.  We're taking 24 th.  You have to realize that 23 teams are going to take before us.  But I think we can get players that can help us, players that can make us better.  I think it's going to be those young players contributing to the team but also the players we have on the team, especially the young guys, getting better that's going to help take us to the next level.

(on teams potentially being reluctant to take a wide receiver early in the draft)

It makes it hard for some clubs because there have been some that have been failures.  I think you still go through the same process.  You grade the guys, you get the information, interview them, try to understand which have the best chance of success.  Again, I think when you grade them, if the board says you should take them, then you should take them.  I don't think you can look back and consider the past too much, quite honestly.


(on what receivers might bring something different to the table in this draft)

I think at the running back position and at the receiver position, there's a little something for everyone.  There's big, physical wide receivers.  There's little, speed wide receivers as well as at the running back position.  You're going to have frontline-type running back starters in the league and guys that are supplemental-type running backs, change of pace types.  I think at both positions, you're going to get a little something for every team out there, whatever you're looking for.  If you're looking for the big, physical, possession-type, that guy's there.  If you're looking for the frontline, maybe number-one or number-two starter, that guy's there as well.

(on former Vanderbilt wide receiver Earl Bennett)

You know, Earl was highly productive at Vanderbilt, as you well know.  Solid person.  His game is going to translate to the NFL very well, I think.  He's a very consistent performer.  He's got good hands.  He's a good route runner. He's a smart football player.  Most teams want that type of player.  So Earl is going to translate.  He's going to be a nice player for somebody immediately.  He's going to pay dividends to whatever team takes him pretty early.

(on the competition that cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie faced at Tennessee State)

I think the competition that he played against when he was at Tennessee State is a little bit different than he's going to play against on a weekly level in the NFL.  But going down to the Senior Bowl, playing against the top senior talent there and holding his own and really playing very well, you really got to see where his skills are going to translate to our level.  I think that helped him a lot in the evaluation process, going down there and playing against the better players.

(on former Vanderbilt tackle Chris Williams)

Chris is a good player.  He's an athletic left tackle.  The left tackles in every draft, you could probably count in each draft a handful.  Those are rare, and it's a premium position. Chris, being able to play that position, smart player, is only going to get better.  Chris went from being a freshman at Vanderbilt at 240 pounds to now a 320-pound, athletic player.  He's not finished.  He's not finished getting better.  He's not finished growing, getting stronger.  His upside is still there as well. 


(on the depth at the defensive end and defensive tackle positions)
Defensive end and defensive tackle are probably compared to last year on par.  At end, you've got (Derrick) Harvey, you've got (Vernon) Gholston, you've got some guys at the top that potentially could be impact-type players.  At tackle, you've got the (Kentwan) Balmer kid from North Carolina who's come on and had a heck of a year.  There's some guys in the middle of that there, (Andre) Fluellen and (DeMario) Pressley and guys like that that you're probably familiar with in this part of the country that will have a chance to come in and compete to start for some teams.  As far as having defensive tackles that are the dominant guys, out on the west you have the (Sedrick) Ellis kid out there.  Here you've got (Pat) Sims and you've got (Phillip) Merling and guys like that.  Those guys that were juniors that came out really kind of helped that.  Gholston, Merlin, Sims, they kind of helped the depth there.  It's a solid group there.  If you're looking for that position, you should be able to get some help there. 


(on if there are potential first-rounders out of Texas again this year)

First-rounders out of Texas?  Yeah, I'd say Jamaal Charles will probably go in the first round.  Sweed's got a chance to go in the first round, late first or early second.  The defense, he's mentioned those, but I think we forgot to mention one that will probably be the first one off the board, this (Glenn) Dorsey kid from LSU.  He and Chris Long and those guys are very exceptional football players.  They're not going to be around long.

(on how much stock he puts in the combine performance)

It's according to who you ask on that.  To me, I think you put all of it on the practice that you watch the guy, you watch the guy on tape four or five games, you visit with him if you get a chance to, and then you may watch him and see him in a game personally.  Then you go to the combine, and let's say that you don't like this guy or you like this guy – either way, it'll work both ways – but if the guy has an exceptional workout at the combine, then his stock will rise according to that.  (Beddingfield: But it's really a piece of the puzzle.  It's really just part of it.)  Yeah, it's just part of the evaluation of everything.  You put it all together eventually at the end and say, OK, do I think this guy's a first-round guy?  Well, he didn't play very well but he worked out very well.  So, is he a first-round guy?  Well, you may not put him in the first round, but you're going to raise him up to maybe a second round in there.  But now if he's a heck of a good football player and you go to the combine and he doesn't have a very good combine workout, but yet he can play the game of football, you're really hesitant in lowering his grade from where you originally rated him.  You can raise him, but you hate to lower him.

(on how Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart's toe injury will affect his draft status)

On Stewart, the toe injury, as far as we know, we think everything is going to be alright.  Still, you go back to like we talked about Eddie George, when he hurt his toe, and other guys that have been hurt.  You know, the foot is a big thing.  It could vary; he may not have any problems after the surgery at all and be just as good as he was before that.  And right now that's the way it looks like it might be.  He is such a good running back that you might have to take a chance.


(on the topic of attaining speed at the skill positions)

It is a high, high priority.  Just the ability to move the ball up and down the field; we need to do something to address that and get more speed on our offense.  So that is a high priority for us.

(on how the Adam "Pacman" Jones pick in 2005 changes the way the Titans/Reinfeldt draft)

When you say change, I wasn't here when the process was going on at that point in time.  I think the whole league has changed; I just think the scrutiny and everything about the player, finding out everything about the player, finding out everything you can about them, you are looking for quality people that are quality players but also quality people.  The money has changed that greatly and teams focus much more on what the guys are now.

(on being more reluctant to take a guy with off the field issues than before)

Well again, I was not here before, so I can't really speak to that.  It all goes into the equation; their playing ability, their size, their speed, how they rank among the peers in their group, the type of player there are, off-field issues, those are all part of the equation.  You have 32 teams that are all doing it at the same time trying to find the right answer.  But it is part of the equation.


(on Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo fitting in better at inside or outside linebacker)

I think it depends on the team and the type of defense you run.  But he can play either.  He could be an inside "Mike" backer for a team, could be inside in a 3-4 or play outside probably in a 4-3 defense.  He really is a versatile type player, I think a lot of teams are going to be interested in him because he's going to fit your scheme depending on what you play.


(on Vince Young's role in the draft process)

Obviously he is concerned with the process and its impacts and he may share his thoughts.  We listen to those thoughts, but at the same time we have guys that spend their whole lives out at the field going from school to school to school, watching endless hours of tape.  This is their job; this is their profession.  They carry a lot of weight, too … He has his input, but he does it the right way.

(on putting preference on a college whose players perform well for the Titans)

It's actually a double-edged sword.  I think you can look at teams you've had success or teams you haven't had success drafting.  I think you may have a discussion, you may go through the process.  Players that came from schools that didn't go well, I think you get beyond that and realize that it is a new player and new situation.  I think places where you have had success, I think you do tend to favor that more just because of the individuals themselves.  You talk to them and get a feel.  There were probably teammates of the guys you're looking at.  You get a little better feel for what the person is, not only the player

(on resolution of a dispute Reinfeldt and Coach Jeff Fisher may have on a player)

I think we've done a really nice job this year of everybody having input.  The coaches have been in a lot of the meetings with the scouts, Jeff and myself.  So I think we're trying, through everybody's input, getting to kind of a group decision.  Again, I don't really see us having those issues.  We try to talk them all out early and get other alternatives.  Again, I'm optimistic we won't have that issue. 

(on owner Bud Adams' role in the draft since drafting Vince Young)

Again, I can't speak to that situation because I was not here.  We talk to Mr. Adams every couple of days and keep him abreast of what's going on.  He's very interested, but he also I think does a fabulous job of letting the people that he hired help make the decisions, and (we) just keep him appraised of it.

(on the difference between this year's and last year draft for him)

For me personally, it's almost like the process has slowed down a little bit.  Last year was so fast; I started in the middle of February right before free agency.  This time, it's helpful that I know the people that I'm working with, what their strengths are, their skills, and know who to listen to on what.  I just think the whole system is working so much better.  For me personally it is much easier year than last year. 


(on trusting that he has made the right decision on a prospect)

Anybody that says they are right on everybody, as you all know, writers, you can just put it in the back of your mind that they are wrong, because you are not right; you evaluate a guy, you get a good feel for them and everything, you put him in the right place.  I know that there are some guys I've graded high, and I've been wrong on them and there are a lot of them that I've grade low that I've been wrong on over my years.  You just try to hope you've got him pegged right after you do your whole system of evaluation.  It was just like we were talking about, ‘Well, he fits our needs,' but when you draft him, he may not fit that need.  So then you could be wrong


(on the importance of drafting well in the back end of the draft)

I think it is.  You expect your first, second, third round guys to do well.  The key is to really do well in the later rounds.  That is where you build up the depth of your team and where you really strengthen the quality of your whole team.  The teams that hit in the later rounds, they're the ones that are really successful in the process.

Transcript courtsey of the Tennessee Titans

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