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Titans Evaluate Selection of Justin Hunter

Posted Apr 26, 2013

GM RUSTON WEBSTER

(on Justin Hunter’s qualities)

For us, he was on a different level grade-wise than the rest of the players on the board. It was not even really close for us. With him sitting there we just saw this great opportunity to get a really talented wide receiver with a lot of upside. That was really it. We liked Justin Hunter a lot. We explored some things last night as it got into the latter parts of the draft. He was a target for us.

(on what it was about Hunter)

He’s just got special size, speed and athletic ability. I don’t think he has reached his ceiling yet. I feel like he was a great option for us. He was the best option we had.

(on any medical issues a year removed from knee surgery)

No, we were fine that way and actually felt good because he has been through his year. Usually the year after an injury, it’s not quite your best. He actually did pretty well. We feel like he’s set from a medical standpoint.

(on if they thought he was a first-round grade)

Yes, he was. We had a very good grade on him.

(on when they lay the ground work for a trade with San Francisco)

During the day today. When we came in this morning we started exploring some things with the teams ahead of us and that was one that we were able to get done.

(on if they were reluctant to give up a 2014 pick)

I don’t like giving up any of them. I really don’t. I felt good about this deal. I have a good relationship with Trent and so I feel good with him. Either way I don’t like giving up the picks. Now we still have all our picks going through the rest of the draft. I felt like that was the reason to go ahead with it.

(on what they see Justin growing into)

I think he is still growing and getting stronger coming back from the knee and growing as a receiver in terms of polish and those type of things. I think his upside is very, very good.

(on how much they visited with him before the draft)

We went to work him out. We had both our receiver coach and our quarterback coach at that workout. We worked out all those guys.

(on using first two picks on offense and confident they are in getting defensive players)

I feel good about it. Had it been close, we might have gone defense. But it wasn’t close. I feel good about the third round and fourth round. We have two picks in the third round. I think those middle rounds can be good to us that way.

(on if he expects the all receivers currently on the roster will begin training camp with the team)

I would think so. We’ll see how all the competition goes and how everybody handles things. I would think they would be.

(on how stability will help Jake Locker develop)

I think that is extremely important. I think it’s very difficult whether you’re a college player or a pro player to develop without that stability. I think that stability here will be a big factor for all our guys. We need to get to the point where we are stable from a personnel standpoint too, where the same players are there every day at practice and they are playing together on Sunday. You just keep getting better and better. I think the stability here will help him. I think our coaches will do a great job with him.

(on how much this year’s roster is compared to last season)

I feel like it’s much better myself. I think we’ve made a lot of improvements. You never know until everybody gets on the field and plays together. I am really happy about the players that we have. I am happy about the type of guys that they are because I feel like they’ll all be in the boat with us and that’s extremely important. They are those type of guys. I think we’ve seen that already in some of the offseason stuff. These guys are all here and working hard. I feel much better about it.

(on his concern of Justin Hunter being picked if the Titans didn’t trade up)

I was concerned that if we waited, he wouldn’t be there. I think probably he was talked about even into last night with some of the picks. I was concerned and that obviously motivated us to go up.

(on what particular teams might take Justin Hunter )

There were a few. There were two or three really.

(on his excitement for Titans fans with all the recent changes)

I am excited for them and I want them to be excited too. They’ve been great. We sell out every game. What we want to do is give back to them. Last year, we didn’t feel we did that. I think it’s important for them to know that we are trying and working hard to make the team better and more competitive, which is really our first step. We have to become more competitive than we were last year.

(on Justin Hunter’s vertical)

He has a 40 (inch) vertical.

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR DOWELL LOGGAINS

(on if he has the speed to open things up for the offense)

That was one of the big things that was intriguing. He’s 6’4” and ran a 4.39 (40-yard dash). His ability to take the top of the coverage off as an outside receiver was a huge factor for us.

(on what this pick does for competition)

I’m not concerned how the other guys are going to react. It’s about competition. That’s the goal of this offseason is to get tougher and add more competition in every position obviously. Like Blake just touched on, any time you can have the guy that’s 6’4” and who we actually think is going to get bigger once he gets with Steve Watterson and gets stronger and runs a 4.37, obviously you have a special talent there.

(on what this pick means for the veterans)

It means everyone is going to compete. We are bringing guys in and trying to fill that room with as much competition and as much talent as we can.

(on if he can replace the role of Jared Cook in the offense)

I think he’s going to be able to play three different positions for us. He’s going to be able to play both outside receivers and inside. He’s going to give us a special trait that is going to help us win football games.

(on if Justin Hunter’s catching ability was inconsistent at Tennessee)

We didn’t feel that way. We saw a guy with special traits that is really hard to find in football. We saw a guy that is going to help Jake Locker and make plays outside for him.

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on how important it is to have a backup or complement for wide receiver Kenny Britt)

That’s part of the advantage of having someone like him. When the opportunity came up, we talked about it last night when the draft ended about who was left on the board and how this would fit. Like Ruston said, he was so high on the board we started talking then about how he could help our roster. There’s no doubt playing the outside receiver is, the Z and the X, can help us quite a bit there in both positions. With a guy like this, you just want to get him on the field in different ways because there is stuff he can do with his speed that helps you win games. There are a lot of advantages to that and a lot more flexibility going into the season. There’s a lot of competition it will create in that room where a lot of different guys could push the roster and push each other to get better. There’s a lot of excitement that way.

(on if selecting Justin Hunter in the second round sends a message to veterans on the team)

That’s not why we drafted him. We drafted him because he’s the best player we saw on the board that could help us win football games. We know he fits. We know he has the talent level like we just talked about. You bring in Chance Warmack, the room is uncomfortable. I’ve been around the draft a lot of years. Once I was drafted, every year after that I was always concerned when they took a lineman. They took Bruce Matthews the next year after me. There was Dean Steinkuhler. Doesn’t matter who you are on the roster, I think anytime you draft someone it makes you little uncomfortable in a good way. The fact that you weren’t working out, well maybe I need to show up and start pushing a little harder. It wasn’t sending a message to anybody, but I think it should get everyone’s attention that we’re bringing in players to help us win football games. That’s what the players want us to do. If you ask those guys as they come in the building tomorrow, they are going to be excited because they know we are adding players that are going to help these guys win football games. That’s what it’s all about. And it’s going to raise the level of competition when you have good players competing. Only good can come out of that.

(on what Mike Heimerdinger would think about selecting a receiver in the second round)

He’d be excited. By the third day, we’d start getting picks. I tried to get offensive linemen a lot of years myself. This is the first time. I have to become a head coach to get an offensive lineman drafted in the first round again. I think this is exciting. These are players that are going to help us win. Like Ruston said, if there is a defensive player there, the right guy is there, we’d be doing that. I think we are doing what’s best for the football team and I think these two draft picks show that.

(on what defensive coordinator Jerry Gray and Gregg Williams think so far)

They’ve been good. It’s a team thing. They realize that if it goes that way and we get more talent on offense then we better stay on the field for 40 minutes and let them only have 20 minutes. All of a sudden they are better coaches too. Vice versa. If we load up on defense, then they ought to give up three points a game and we win 7-3 every week. We are all in this together. Everyone wants players, but ultimately we want what is best for the football team. They don’t want us reaching for a guy just because we need a defensive end and we need this guy or that guy. They don’t want to reach with a guy that’s not going to fit. They rather us get a guy that we’re going to watch on Sunday and man I’m glad we have that guy. I think that’s how we win football games.

(on how much easier Jake Locker’s job will be)

We are hoping it gets easier. There is a lot of stress on a quarterback. But when you can run the football like we are hoping we can do with the changes we’ve made there then that takes pressure off him. We have receivers we’re hoping could stretch the field and do things. Go up and catch a tough ball and go up and make plays when the ball is not perfectly thrown every time. There is no doubt that’s our goal as a staff is to get your quarterback. Two years ago, we made the decision on a quarterback that we felt was going to lead this team to the Super Bowl. Now, it’s up to us to surround him with people that can help him do that. I think we are doing that in the offseason. We’re doing the draft. Obviously he’s excited, but he understands that there is a lot on him too. He needs to have a good year and he’s doing everything he can to do that. We’re excited obviously. We think that the offseason is going well. We obviously have a long way to go, but we’re doing the right things.

DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD

(on if Justin reminds him of anyone)

Comparisons are tough for a player like that. He’s 6’4”, 195 pounds and runs a 4.37. The comparables are tough just because there are very few of those guys. It’s not compared to most people that are 6’4” and 195. It’s tough to compare those kinds of guys. He’s a rare athlete. He has very nice physical traits that adds on speed and his range. Yet he is programmed. He’s played in a good system for a good offensive coordinator. He’s had other talent around him and a quarterback that has a pro arm.

(on what are Justin Hunter’s consistent measurables)

You can go back to the 2011 year before his injury. He was really coming on. I believe he had 21 catches in those two games and roughly a quarter. This was a guy that was really emerging as a playmaking type player. He’s got excellent speed. He runs good routes. He can always get better at that. This was a guy that can stretch the field down field and catch the ball across the middle. He’s also a redzone threat with his length and jumping ability. He’s a player that went into the 2012 season, coming off a knee injury, continued to grow and get better and actually get his legs underneath him a little bit too.

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