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Titans GM Ruston Webster, Coach Mike Munchak at Pre-Draft Press Conference

Posted Apr 23, 2013

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(opening statement)

First of all, I appreciate everybody coming.  We have had a good week and a half of meetings with our scouts and our coaches, all of us together.  We are taking things position by position and working through each player and covering everything we can cover on them, everything possible and working on formulating a plan.  We have a couple of more meetings to go.  We are looking forward to Thursday night.

(on the strengths of Alabama’s Chance Warmack and North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper and the entire guard class)

It is a good group of guards just overall.  I think there is some depth there in that group and there are a lot of players that we like.  As far as those two guys go, they are different.  I think Warmack is more of a power type of player and Cooper is more of an athlete, a little more of a space player.  They are different, but they are both very talented and very good.

(on the difference between Warmack and Cooper and the rest of the guard class)

There is some difference obviously because of where they are going, but I think that is not to slight those other guards and say they wouldn’t be good starters in the league.

(on whether Alabama’s D.J. Fluker is a guard or a tackle)

Tackle.

(on how certain they are on the playing position of the first draft pick or whether it could be three or four positions)

I think it could be one of three or four.  I don’t think it is a certainty right now at this point.  Now maybe it becomes that way as we get a little closer, but I don’t think enough is known about the top 10 and how that is going to go really to say.

(on if there is less certainty at the top of this draft in terms of what teams ahead are going to do)

I think there probably is.  Every year is different.  Some years you really know how it’s going to go and other years you really have to make your best guess and really wait and see what happens.

(on an estimate of how many schools he visited and how many prospects were evaluated)

I can’t even … hundreds.  I probably someday should kind of keep up with that, but we cover every school with any kind of prospect, small or large.

(on the cornerback class compared to previous years)

It is a good class.  It is a good corner class.  There is a lot of depth at that position as well.  I think there is pretty much any kind of corner you would want, whether it is a guy to play press man or a zone player.  I think it is a good class and there is a lot of depth.

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on if there is more of a priority for press man corners if there is more blitzing in the defensive plan)

Probably a little bit more than there has been in the past.  We will definitely look at a corner if there is one that we like at the time we are picking that has those kind of abilities that can be up more and get in your face more and play a little bit more man to man.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on the offseason surgeries and the health status of a few of the top picks)

We look at all of those guys and just try to make the best guess we can, not really guess, but formulate an opinion about what our doctors say and what they think and how they feel it is going to work out.  We work through all of that and probably don’t want to comment on any medicals.

(on the top two defensive tackles Florida’s Sharrif Floyd and Utah’s Star Lotulelei)

They are both just very good all-around players.  I think Floyd is probably more of a true three (technique), but I think they could play up and down the line.  They are both really good players, guys that should help a team.

(on the potential to add more depth and insurance to the linebacker position)

I think what we are looking for is to add competition everywhere, and so I don’t see there being many positions where we feel like we are set or we are done.

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on the potential to add more depth and insurance to the linebacker position)

I think with linebackers too, they can do so much.  You can play a lot of them besides with special teams and different packages in nickel, with 4-3 linebackers and nickel linebackers.  Like Ruston said, I think that is a position almost every draft you usually come out with one as you go through because they’re such good athletes out there and they can do so much to help you win on a Sunday.  We will just continue to look for guys that can help compete and make the roster stronger.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on if offensive tackle is a need with the starters getting a little older)

We are fortunate to have good tackles and I think it is one of those things where if you have ever not had tackles, then you know how fortunate we are because they are difficult to find and difficult to get.  Really no position is probably out of play for us.  That is one of those positions where people say you can’t have too many good defensive linemen, I don’t think you can have too many good tackles either.

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on how the additions in free agency help shape the draft day plans as far as needs)

It just gives us a little more versatility on what we are doing.  When you add the guys we were able to add and to have them in the building the last couple of days, it has been nice to see these guys interact with each other and get to know each other.  It makes you feel even better about the guys we have brought in already.  I think you go into the draft now just trying to find nine more guys that can come in and compete and make this even a stronger roster.  You can pick and choose who you want as you go through the draft and what is best available and who is the best athlete, who gives you the best chance to win as we go through the different rounds.

(on not picking an offensive lineman in the first few rounds recently and whether he feels like they are going to get one early this year)

They were talking earlier and Ruston was saying with everyone talking about the top two guards, who we all know are going to be good football players, but there is about three or four behind them that have a really good chance of coming in and starting this year also for teams like us or somebody else, that can come in and compete right away.  I think that is the good thing that it is a position that we are still looking to add as we go forward, but that there are options and it is not, ‘if we don’t get these two you have to wait until next year.’  I think there is an opportunity in this draft to wait if you want to and do something else at another position and now that you can still get an offensive lineman later in the draft.

(on if there is a big drop off between the top two guards and the rest of the class)

I don’t know if there is a huge drop off.  To me, if they have the potential to come in and start … what you look at now is different experiences they may have had in college and how well they have been developed, some guys going to a bigger school versus a smaller school where you don’t play against the same type of competition.  I think you have to rely then on coaching them.  Once you get one of those guys in here, like I’m saying, there are guys that have the ability and have the size and have everything you want, maybe there are four or five different guards for example that can come in and play.  They have the capability now it is just a matter of us getting them ready when they come in here.  That is what is exciting that there are guys that have a lot of tools in place and it is just a matter of now being coached.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on how detailed Coach Munchak’s reports are on guards)

They are very detailed.  It is not only guards, it is everything.  He has an opinion on it all.  I have heard all of his opinions.  I’m probably going to hear it a few more times.  It is great having him and Bruce (Matthews) and just being able to talk about the position with those guys and really offensive line in general and kind of what they are looking for and what they feel can be successful in the league.  I think they have done a good job together of looking at these offensive linemen.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on if input from Munchak and Bruce Matthews about offensive linemen carries more weight)

Well, obviously (Munchak’s opinion) always carries a lot of weight. Our scouts did a good job as well. They put a lot of time and effort and they have strong opinions from a lot of work. You never want to discount that. If a guy has been to a school two or three times, he’s seen the guy play a couple times, it’s hard to discount that off some film that you did or the workout, but it definitely helps to have people that you have confidence in on your coaching staff and your head coach, especially, when you’re picking a position.

(on if the Titans have thought about making current players a guard and drafting a center)

Well, I mean we’ve looked at all scenarios. The good thing about what we have here and what we’ve brought in is they’re versatile. Those guys can all play center, too, for the most part, so from that standpoint, yes we can go either way. What we’ve tried to do is bring some guys that can play more than one position in. We’re trying to do that on offense, we’re trying to do that on defense, and that position is no different. It’s probably as important at that position as any.

(on if Florida’s Sharrif Floyd and Utah’s Star Lotulelei are versatile and where he sees each of those guys being able to play on the defensive line)

I think they’re both more inside players, maybe the Utah kid could play outside and be a strongside end or something like that, but for the most part those guys are inside, three-technique nose (tackles).

TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on if lighter defenders like Oregon’s Dion Jordan and LSU’s Barkevious Mingo will have to switch positions in the pros)

I think you have to decide when you take a guy that’s talented like both of those guys are and are going to get drafted very high is how you are going to use them and how they fit because they definitely can add to your defense but you have to find a way to get them on the field so they can do that. The things you mentioned, size, and things like that (affect things), so you have to have packages and that’s the advantage sometimes with defense is you can create ways to get them on the field. They don’t have to play 60 or 70 snaps. They can help you on special teams, they can help you where they’re out there 40 or 50 plays a game where they can make a difference. Those are the kind of guys like Jordan that can change a game like we saw Jevon (Kearse) do. We saw how fast a defensive lineman can swat the ball out of a quarterback’s hand and the game changes, so those are the kind of guys that probably will not play a lot of the game, 60 or 70 snaps, because of their size and you want to keep them going throughout the season, and then it’s hard to fit them in a particular system because everyone tries to figure out if those guys are 3-4 or 4-3—they’re football players, so it’s just a matter of the way they fit your team at the time that you get to pick from. I think that’s what you have to decide when it’s your turn to pick.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on if lighter defenders like Oregon’s Dion Jordan and LSU’s Barkevious Mingo will have to switch positions in the pros)

The thing that you do always have to have is a plan. Wherever you pick, we always talk about what the plan is for that player, so whenever we pick a guy we’ll have that in place and that’s what we’ll follow and that’s what’s going to give them the best chance to succeed.

TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on if he prefers defensive ends to be lighter)

I prefer, well, depending on what position you’re playing or what you’re trying to get out of them, obviously, you’d like the best of both worlds. You’d like the guy to be 275, 280, but again, I’ll take Reggie White that was 320 that could (defend the run and rush the passer), so you’d like to have a guy that can do it all and never leave the field and play every single down for you, so I think it’s just a matter of how he fits your system. Like Ruston said, whatever our plan is for him. I don’t think there’s any magical number to decide. Some guys can manage that, like centers for example, (Mark) Stepnoski played at 255, Kevin Mawae played at 265, but those guys were great football players because they play with leverage and technique and things like that. I think all these guys are different. You can’t get hung up on the weight unless you see a problem when you turn the film on or if you’re going to ask him to do something that he just can’t do, because of his size, you can’t line him up over a tackle or where he’d get double teamed. If you have a plan, I don’t think the size is as big of a deal. It’s just a matter of if he fits what you’re doing.

(on if they can find a player different from what they have and how much help it would be for different packages and looks on defense)

Well, I think that’s what you’re looking to see. If you have a plan, if there is someone out there that gives you flexibility that you don’t have? Does he fit in to what you’re doing on defense? There’s a lot of factors that are taking place: is the guy there when you’re going to pick? So, yeah, we’ll consider all those things. When we go through the draft, that’s the first question that (Webster) will ask the coaches is, ‘How does he fit?’ There’s a lot of great players in this draft but they don’t all fit with what we do on offense or defense. Will it be hard to get them into the game? Will it be hard for them to make plays? Would we ask them to do things that they wouldn’t be successful at, so I think you have to weigh all those things because you only get so many picks. We can’t go out and sign 20 of these guys. We get one guy, and a lot of those guys are going to be gone by the time we pick in the second round, so there’s not a lot — you have to make a decision on what’s best overall for your football team and maybe what else you can get later on in that draft.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on his thoughts about BYU defensive lineman Ziggy Ansah and if he’s a risk or somebody who can come in right away)

He’s just a talented guy. There are these guys like this that will come in and play well, but he’s a talented guy who hasn’t played a lot of football but he has all the traits to do it at a premium position, so only time is going to tell how that’s going to go for him but he has all the physical attributes to do it.

(on if he’s surprised that guys like Anquan Boldin have garnered low-round picks in trades)

I just think as far as trades are concerned it’s really what the market bears. Teams aren’t necessarily willing to give up picks for players as much anymore, especially big picks, although there have been some recent trades, but I think it’s just, especially when you’re talking about an older player, I think typically the price goes down.

(on if he expects Kenny Britt and Nate Washington to be with the Titans in training camp)

Yeah.

(on speculation about Nate Washington and if he anticipates Washington would be a guy available to other teams through a trade this weekend)

No, I don’t.

(on if they have an idea what the teams in front of them in the first round are going to do or if it is more difficult to figure out this year)

I think it’s more difficult this year. I think it just changes from year to year. Sometimes you have a great feel for what’s going to happen. Other times you don’t. I would say this year is one of the years that’s a little more unpredictable.

TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on an update for where David Stewart is in his recovery from a broken leg)

He’s doing well. He’s got his weight back up and has been here every day, so we still think he’ll be part of the offseason program once it progresses into the summer months, into June and things like that. He’s doing well. He should be back and ready to go this season.

(on how much of a say senior assistant for defense coach Gregg Williams will have in the decision-making process)

I think all of the coaches, like we just said, have the same amount of input. I think it’s a great system the way we have it set up where the coaches get a voice as we go up there and cover the position, or the defense in this case, Gregg was in there for all those meetings, so if you watched a guy you had an opinion on or something you heard about someone, you have your chance to voice it with all the scouts there and myself and Ruston, so everyone, I think the coaches enjoy that because you get a chance to speak up and say how a certain player will fit the system, why they want them, see how much they’ll really fight for them, if it’s a guy they really want or don’t want. You have some good discussions that way, which I think are really good, and you continue those next couple of days. All the coaches get a voice, but like Ruston said, the guys that really know these players are the scouts. These guys do an unbelievable job of spending time with these guys. It’s almost like they know them so well and know the ins and outs, so their opinions on these guys is huge. I think, together, it helps us make good decisions.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on if safety is a position the Titans want to find a player for the long-term)

Well, I think safety is one of those positions where it’s a pretty good year this year, and really defensively, there’s nothing we couldn’t do to try to help our team. You can’t pick a position and say we’re good, so I don’t think safety is any different. I think we’ll continue to look for the best football players we can and try to create as much competition as we can and improve our team that way.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on if there is debate between one or two players or if some time on the clock is spent waiting for another team to make an offer)

I would hope the debating is finished by then and there’s no debating. I think I’ve told you guys before that you try to have guys lined up in every round for every pick and then go from there. The discussion by that point in time should have been done and you wait to see if you get any calls, if anybody calls you for a trade if that’s what you want to do and then eventually, more than likely, you go ahead and make the pick.

(on if there is a guy that the Titans would take without any time elapsing)

No, I think we’d always listen and kind of see what happened and what becomes available, but there comes a certain time where you know you’re not going to get a call or if you did it’s not going to be something that works out for you.

(on if there is a player they are willing to trade up for)

I wouldn’t rule anything out. I really wouldn’t, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on how many players they have a top-10 grade on)

Ten (laughing).

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on how many players they have a top-10 grade on)

Yeah, we have 10 shots. No, I mean, there are plenty of players that have that kind of grade on them, so it will be good.

(on if there have been any teams interested in moving up)

You always have those conversations. That never changes. Those conversations happen every week leading up to the draft, and sometimes it can be serious and sometimes it can just be feelers, just everybody trying to leave their options open.

(on if there are a good amount of press corners in the field)

Yeah, I think there are. Like I said, it’s a good crop of corners that can play press, guys that are Cover 2 guys, zone players. There’s some big corners that are talented players. Those are typically the best press guys, and then there’s also some guys who will be really good nickel players that may fit that role more, but I really think it’s a pretty good year, and there’s a lot of corners that we like. As far as the press guys go, there’s a good number of players.

(on if good size in a cornerback also is a priority)

I think so, yeah.

TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on Kenny Britt’s health)

Well, in Phase I, we’re only allowed to have the meetings.  We’re not part of the workouts right now, but we’ve heard very good things about him.  He’s excited because he hasn’t needed any surgery this offseason.  He’s been able to just kind of relax since the season ended.  From what I heard, he’s been in the weight room, and obviously he looks good physically.  I think that’s just a mental lift for him, that he’s not struggling to wonder if he’s going to be ready for training camp this year.  That’s a positive for him and for us.

(on how attendance has been for the first two days of the offseason program)

Good.  I think it’s what we hoped it would be, just getting started.  Like I said, (we) had our first team meeting yesterday in here, and it was good to see everyone back.  It’s almost like that first day of school.  Everybody’s excited to get back to work and meet some of their new teammates and get started, get with the coaches.  We’ve had a few coaching changes also.  We’re changing this up (on) offense and defense scheme-wise a little bit.  We’re able to start with the meeting phase a little bit.  Most of the time has been in the weight room and on the field with conditioning.  It’s just good to get it started again.  We’ve got a nice nine-week program to go.  We’re looking forward to that and then obviously adding to it this weekend.

(on what his message was to the team in their first meeting)

Just refocus them on what the mission is ahead.  We still have a long way to go, and so you’re not going to get too carried away with that.  But just know what the expectations are, what we’re expecting out of them, what we expect as a staff, kind of give them a recap of what’s happened since we last met in this room after our last game of the year last year on New Year’s Eve, what’s gone on with the organization as far as personnel and the coaching staff, and what our expectations are going into April, this month here and getting started with our nine-week program.  I wanted to get them all refocused on that as we get back to work.  They were very attentive, very excited, and we’re just looking forward to getting on the field with them.

(on if he’s concerned the Titans will have too many new players in 2013 with the number of free agent additions and draft picks)

I think it’s a good thing.  I think that’s what the excitement yesterday was about, getting these guys back in here.  Yeah, it is important for them to come together as a team.  Every team has to do that every year.  You have turnover every year.  The Ravens just won the Super Bowl, and there’s a bunch of turnover there.  That’s just how this league is.  It is important to come together.  I think the most important thing was the kind of guys we brought in here.  We just didn’t bring in 12 guys; we think we brought in 12 guys that have talent, are going to bring some playoff experience to this football team that maybe we haven’t had, a lot of things, the character.  We brought in a lot of guys that are going to make a difference that way also.  I think it’s definitely a challenge every year for every team to kind of come together in a short period of time.   This is why the nine weeks are so important, that we get to know each other and have great attendance, like you mentioned, do a great job here in the draft so we can add some more talent to that group.  The rookies get to join in for about seven weeks with us before we go to training camp.  So it’s plenty of time to be ready to go come training camp.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on how they evaluate Marcus Lattimore)

You rely on your trainers and your doctors to kind of give you a feel for what the prognosis is on him, and then you go off what he has been, which is a special player with a special make-up and just kind of go from there.  Unfortunately he had a tough injury that set him back, but I think really you have to go off what you’ve seen in the past.  The bottom line is just going to be how healthy he’s going to be and how soon he’ll be healthy. 

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on the expectation of getting Jake Locker to 100 percent by training camp)

I would assume by training camp he’s going to be feeling really good.  He already, if you ask him, feels great.  He doesn’t have to worry about getting hit.  That’s probably the only thing with his non-throwing shoulder, that he wouldn’t get hit.  Obviously, with the things we’re doing, especially these next five weeks, he’s able to throw with the receivers, do those types of things.  He’s lifting, and he’s doing everything he wants to do that way, which is good.  We’d assume by training camp—and as you know, in camp, he’s not going to get hit either or there will be consequences to that—he won’t get hit in camp.  By camp, he’ll be fine.  He won’t even be thinking about his shoulder.  I think he barely is now, the way he competes.  I don’t think that will be holding him back at all. 

(on if he expects Locker to be able to participate in June OTAs and minicamp)

Yeah, I think he’ll be able to do everything.  Again, like I said, this time of the year, even when we get to minicamps and OTAs with the quarterbacks, you just have to be careful you don’t get tripped and fall.  You don’t want him to fall on his shoulder or something along those lines.  But I think he’ll be fine.  I don’t think there’s any concern that way at all.  We’ll be smart with it and make sure he’s not doing too much, but he’ll have plenty of work to where he’ll get used to his receivers, used to the offensive line, that type of thing.  We’ll be able to get through all of that over the next nine weeks.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on if free agency allows them to take the best player available or if the first pick will still be based on need)

I think it definitely helps us, as active as we were in free agency and the positions we brought in.  I think it will definitely help us there be a little more flexible in what we can do in the draft.  We’ll always look at needs.  Best player available is the guy that stands out.  He’s on a different level than everybody else.  I think when people say that, that’s what they mean.  If guys are on the same level, most teams lean toward need.

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