NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Ruston Webster called his second NFL Draft as Titans general manager an “eventful three days” in which the Titans made multiple improvements to the roster, but tempered the excitement with the desire to see how everything comes together.
As Webster credited scouts, coaches and other members of the Titans’ staff who assisted during the draft with a smooth process after the draft, some members of the personnel department were on the phone talking with players who were not drafted to recruit them to join Tennessee as free agents.
“(Titans coach Mike Munchak) and I talked, and we feel good about it,” Webster said. “We feel good about where we are as a team right now. You never know until you get everybody out on the field and kind of see how it all works. There is a lot of water to go under the bridge until the season, but we had a plan. We worked together on the plan, and I think we were able to kind of get it done like we wanted to.”
Even the best laid plans can be adversely affected when 31 competing teams are also involved in an event like the draft, but Warmack’s availability on the first night proved to be a good omen for the Titans in 2013. Munchak and Webster didn’t cite specifics but said they’ve each experience drafts when they’ve been ready to select a player only to have another team have the same thought and act on it a couple of spots ahead.
“There are always those guys that you have your mind on and they go before you,” Webster said. “It fell pretty well this year and it was good.”
|Wide receiver Justin Hunter's size, abilities and performance at the NFL Combine were reasons the Titans gave the former Vol high marks and traded up to select him. |
Click here for a slideshow of Hunter's career.
That’s the reason Webster negotiated the trade with San Francisco to land Hunter, who received a first-round grade from the Titans.
Munchak said he and Bruce Matthews — both in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as offensive linemen — said there were a few guards who are likely to have long NFL careers, but they thought Warmack and Schwenke were the best fits the Titans could find and were happy to land both players when they did.
The Titans were also happy to land defensive end Lavar Edwards out of LSU in the fifth round with the 142nd overall pick and believe he was not drafted earlier because he was behind Barkevious Mingo (selected sixth by Cleveland) and Sam Montgomery (taken by Houston at 95th in the third round) on the Tigers’ depth chart.
Tennessee also had goals of adding size, speed and physicality on defense and accomplished the first by selecting cornerbacks Blidi Wreh-Wilson (6-foot-1, 195 pounds) out of Connecticut in the third round and Khalid Wooten (5-11, 210) out of Nevada in the sixth round.
The Titans used one of three compensatory choices to tab Zavier Gooden out of Missouri in the third round with the 97th pick and instantly drew comparisons with speedy linebacker
Wooten was taken with the second compensatory pick, and safety Daimion Stafford became the third when he was picked out of Nebraska with the 248th of 254 selections. Stafford steamrolled offensive players to move from junior college to the Cornhuskers.
Webster said improving the level of daily competition and depth was “real important for us.”
“I think it is a way for us to get better as a team if there is competition day-in and day-out for jobs,” Webster said. “So yeah, I definitely feel that way and that was a goal.”
The Titans also did that during free agency by bringing in 12 veterans from around the league and think they’ve continued that momentum.
Tennessee began its offseason conditioning program last week with speed and strength training so coaches have not taken the field with players yet.
Munchak said he looks forward to advancing through the program and bringing the team together through the competition.
“We will kind of seeing how these guys blend as we get started on the field, guys getting to know each other and starting the competition part at this next phase and obviously the training camp and preseason,” Munchak said. “We are expecting obviously good things.
“That’s our job this time of year: to make this football team better. I think we’ve done that,” Munchak continued. “Now, it’s up to the coaches and myself and the staff to take them to the next level and make these players better football players than they are right now. I think we have the type of talent here that we can do that with. That’s what is exciting about it. That’s what hopefully the fans are excited about. We are trying to do the right things. We are trying to make good decisions with that. Like I said, bring in 90 guys in here for training camp and come out with 53 that are ready to roll out to Pittsburgh.”