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Press Conference Transcipt: Ruston Webster, Ken Whisenhunt on OT Taylor Lewan

Posted May 8, 2014

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on the pick)

I’m very excited to have drafted Taylor Lewan from the University of Michigan. He was on a different level than the other guys on our board.  My experience has been it’s very difficult to find left tackles and when you get one, a guy that can play left tackle in the National Football League, you have to do it. We were very happy that he was still there.

(on where the Titans had him going in the draft)

We thought that with three left tackles in the draft that were obvious left tackle guys, he was one of those three.

(on what the pick means for Michael Roos)

I think it means there is competition and that we should be well taken care of at the tackle position now. Obviously, there are some pretty good rushers in the division and that is pretty important.

(on if Lewan is an obvious left tackle)

Well, he’s somebody with feet and athletic ability that can protect the blindside and handle the opposing rusher in a one-on-one situation.

HEAD COACH KEN WHISENHUNT

(on if Lewan is an obvious left tackle)

He’s someone that has played that position at a high level for a college football team and had success doing it.

(on if he gets a chance to start)

I think we get a chance to see that. That’s what OTA’s and training camps are all about. He’s a versatile guy. I know that he’s played left tackle. The offensive line is an important position. You can never have enough of those guys. It’s important to cross train guys especially if you are only going to have seven active on game day.

(on the possibility of Lewan starting immediately)

If he earns it, he will start.

(on how Michael Roos played last year)

That really doesn’t matter. I thought Michael played hard but what’s important is how he does in this system. We are going to ask him to do some things that might be a little different schematically. I’ll say this, he has worked very hard in minicamp and the first three weeks, two weeks of phase one and the second week in phase two. I’ve been very pleased with the leadership and the work he has shown. He’s a good left tackle. I’m excited that he’s our left tackle. There’s nothing wrong with competition. There’s nothing wrong with getting a good young tackle and finding out where he can play. He can play hard and contribute. Not to talk about other players, but I’m going to do it. We drafted D.J. Fluker last year at right tackle in San Diego and he played left tackle for us in one game. You never know what is going to happen in this league and that is an important position with our quarterback position. That’s one of the things we felt like we had to solidify. I am very pleased that Ruston felt strongly about that and I think it makes our football team better.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on if they were close to making a trade with the Cleveland Browns)

We had some talks but it just didn’t quite work out. Sometimes that happens. Fortunately, we were able to get a good player.

(on the two guys that were drafted before the Titans pick)

Those guys deserved to go where they went because they are extremely talented athletes with size and speed. They really have that whole package. Was it surprising that they went in those spots? No, not really.

(on the description of Lewan as a player)

I think he’s smart, athletic and tough to the point that he has a nasty streak.

HEAD COACH KEN WHISENHUNT

(on how they describe Lewan as a player)

Good feet, physical, finished, intelligent. 

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on if they came into the draft committed to the offensive line)

It is something that has been important to us and to me that we stay strong there. I think the game starts at the line of scrimmage and that’s something that we invested in last year. I think it’s important that we keep that going. I’ve been in situations before where we let it go and we were comfortable with a certain player or a great player. When we didn’t have that player anymore and we didn’t have a chance to replace him at left tackle, then it can be very difficult to play the game especially in the division we are in against the people we are going to play.

(on picking an offensive  player in the first round four years in a row)

It’s kind of the way it fell. We would have taken a defensive player there if it was the best player.

(on how this pick affect Michael Oher)

We’ll just see. I’m comfortable with Michael Oher, I’ll say that much. I like Michael Oher, obviously.

(on if they would get back in the first round )

I wouldn’t expect us to get back in the first round.

(on addressing off-the-field issues with Lewan)

We addressed those with Taylor. We addressed them prior. Obviously, we talked about it even today just to make sure. I feel pretty comfortable with where he is. Taylor is a tough guy. I feel pretty comfortable that we’re going to get a solid guy here.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on if the first 10 picks went the way he expected)

For the most part it did, but there were a couple in there that probably, I honestly thought Taylor Lewan would go in the first eight picks. It didn’t go exactly as I thought.

HEAD COACH  KEN WHISENHUNT

(on if he came in for a visit and how it went)

Yes. It was a good visit. As a matter of fact the other guys that you asked about came in there as well and all three of those guys had good visits. That’s an important piece of what you try to do with that time. That was a chance for us to talk with Taylor and us to try to figure out some of these issues that was discussed previously and we felt comfortable with him. We felt comfortable with him and where he was as a player and I think the bottom line of this whole thing is that he was the best player on our board when it was our pick. When it’s an offensive lineman, especially a left tackle and he is the best player on your board, that’s a pretty important thing.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on if he was close to another player on the board)

We grade on levels and he was on a different level.

(on if anyone called and asked about a pick for Johnny Manziel)

Nobody specified any picks or who they were trading up for if they wanted to trade.

(on if he would have taken any three of the top tackles with this pick)

Well I think there were three guys that were legitimate. Three starting left tackles in the league. I guess those were the three.

(on if Johnny Manziel was in consideration)

We considered a lot of guys during that time. We just took the highest player.

(on if there is a concern that he won’t be able to make an immediate impact in his first year)

You want him to make an immediate impact, you would love for him to. I have been around guys who have made immediate impacts and then didn’t make much after that, and guys that have not made much impact and had great careers. The key is that their impact is over the course of their career. For me at least, that’s the way it is. You can go out and be Rookie of the Year and really just have an average career. It’s important that it’s somebody that can be long term and I think Taylor can do that.

(on if there were any other surprises in the first 10 picks)

There are always surprises. You don’t know exactly what every team is thinking, but every team does what’s best for them.

HEAD COACH  KEN WHISENHUNT

(on if he wants a nasty offensive line)

He is a good football player and we want good football players. That’s the way we look at it.

(on if he expects the offensive line to be a tone setting group that can get a tough yard anytime you need it)

I expected that before today’s draft. We talked about that as a group the other day. That is an important piece of your offense, the mentality of that group. I certainly think that Taylor fits that mentality.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on if the age of Michael Roos played into the decision to draft a tackle)

I think you always, in certain positions have to look ahead because they are premium positions and really left tackle is one of those positions. It’s one of those positions that is difficult to find.

HEAD COACH  KEN WHISENHUNT

(on if the age of Michael Roos played into the decision to draft a tackle)

One of the things that you have to look at is, even if you just look at the last two years you have to be pretty high in the pecking order to get one of those guys and we don’t anticipate being very high in the draft going forward. Part of that is that you have to think about those kinds of things.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on what day two of the draft might hold)

We will go into the second round with an open mind and I think there will be good players there. I think there is great values in that round. I think there is great value where we are picking in that round and typically there is. We will see what’s there and really we have to let this first round play out and see where it goes. It’s hard to predict right now.

(on if he will make an effort to get a third round pick)

If the opportunity arises and somebody is interested, then it’s something that we would talk about.

HEAD COACH  KEN WHISENHUNT

(on if he has piece of mind with more depth on the offensive line now that there are such great pass rushers in the division)

I hope so. That’s an important factor and Ruston said it. We have some pass rushers in this division so that’s one of the areas that you have to be able to have some depth and or you have some guys that can do it.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on why the fans should be excited about taking a tackle in the first round)

It’s almost like taking a left tackle is like taking a skill position in the NFL. They are athletes. When you take a guy that is as big as he is and ran a 4.79, that’s amazing. It really is physically amazing to be able to do that. I think they will enjoy watching him play and probably the less his name is called the more they will like him.

(on if there is a chance that quarterback might be an option tomorrow)

We will see. We will just keep an open mind.

(on his play against Jadeveon Clowney in the Outback Bowl )

He did a nice job that day. He has been against several good rushers and played well.

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