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Webster, Munchak Discuss Draft's Wrap-up

Posted Apr 28, 2012

GM RUSTON WEBSTER

(opening statement)

We have wound up the draft portion of this year, but we are still working on free agency. Our scouts and our coaches are scurrying right now. It looks like something on Wall Street when that starts to happen. It’s kind of an intense and fun time. I feel good about where we are. Our draft picks today are guys that our scouts, myself, our coaches had convictions on. We feel strongly about them and I think all of them will come in and compete for jobs and we plan on them all making it. We will see what happens. It’s a good group, different kinds of players. Some are a little more upside type of guys and some are a little more solid and are what they are and are the type of guys that we like to have on our team. I think if you look at all of them in terms of a background and all of that they are pretty solid guys. We feel fortunate to have them.

(on if it was important to get back in the seventh round or was Scott Solomon the reason for the move)

You know what, it was Scott Solomon. When we were picking Markelle Martin, we kind of had the conversation about who would be the better fit for us, Solomon or Martin, and obviously, Martin was a player that we liked and sent Brett Maxie down to work out just recently. That was also a big area need so we felt like we needed to take Martin there. As we went on, we started to get calls from teams looking to make a trade for their seventh round pick for a sixth next year. I felt like we had a good chance to have several comp picks next year due to losing some players in free agency so the thought is that we had that sixth to give and we really wanted Scott Solomon, so that was our reason for getting back in.

(on if would have been surprised to hear that he waited until the seventh round to take a defensive end)

Yeah, I think it’s kind of the way it fell a little bit. We really like him and we had him higher than the seventh round, so for us that’s a good thing. It just fell that way. To me, the defensive ends were not to the level of the safeties, but just like the safeties, in my mind it wasn’t necessarily as deep as the other positions. I felt that DT was deep and linebackers were deep, but not so much with defensive ends I feel like. It’s not surprising when you are picking 20th and you have to wait a little bit.

(on the long-term health of Markelle Martin)

I don’t think that he is going to be affected long term. Our medical staff felt strongly about him and we didn’t have any issues that way. We brought him in just recently and everything went extremely well.

(on if Markelle Martin would have been a second or third round pick if not for the knee injury)

Markelle was a guy who we felt like his knee was going to be good enough to be ready to go. I think Markelle had a chance to be a higher pick had he not had the injury. He couldn’t really work out but he was in meetings so it was tough for teams to get down there and see him. We were able to get Brett (Maxie) and Brett was real motivated to go see him. Also, I think his junior year was a little better than his senior year and that affected him.

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on any similar attributes among the picks)

I think it’s speed. I think we got a lot faster. I think Jerry (Gray) talked about it with (Zach) Brown. We know Kendall Wright and the quickness and the speed that he brings to it. (Mike) Martin is a nose tackle that runs a 4.8. The corner (Coty Sensabaugh) is a 4.3 guy and the tight end (Taylor Thompson) runs a 4.6 or less. We definitely brought a lot of speed and a lot of guys that loved the game. The fun thing is a lot of the guys who we brought in we already brought in through on visits. Quite a few of these guys the whole staff had a chance to meet and the whole building had a chance to meet in different meetings.  That’s one thing that is nice that we’ve set up is that the guys that come into this building spend time with everyone in the building from the PR department, to the front office, to the coaches, so you get a chance to get a feel for these guys other than just their athletic ability.  I think that’s what is encouraging.  We got some guys who love to play, some guys who bring a passion to it along with talent, or we wouldn’t have selected them.  I’m really excited about the group we have, that they’re going to come in, they love to compete and they’re going to add a lot to the football team.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on what they like about Scott Solomon)

He’s relentless.  It’s one of those things that those guys that are relentless pass rushers who never stop usually end up winning because of it.  I remember, and this is a very good player but Patrick Kearney, he was that way.  He came every down, every down, so by the third quarter he ends up with two sacks.  I think that’s kind of what he is.  He’s all out, all the time and that wears on an offensive tackle, so I think he can give us something there.

(on how his first draft as Titans General Manager went)

It feels good that it’s in the books.  Nerve wracking at times, but it was really enjoyable—Munch (Mike Munchak) was great and our scouts.  I thought everything ran pretty smoothly in the room.

(on drafting five-of-seven guys on the defensive side of the ball and if they feel like they addressed their needs)

Yeah, defensively especially—I think we hit pretty much everything.  We had some key needs and were able to hit most of those.

(on how he felt about the centers in the 2012 Draft and if they tried to draft one)

How do I feel they came off the board?  Well, there were some centers there at times that we probably had chances to pick, but there were players there that we just felt we needed a little more.  In the case of Taylor Thompson probably a guy that we feel like can really end up being a fine player for us.  There are some decent undrafted options that we’re working on and we’ll see what happens.

(on Taylor Thompson’s potential as a tight end)

The funny thing is that we kind of liked him as a defensive end too.  I think the thing with tight ends now is it’s like fullbacks—they’re going away.  Even teams that have tight ends, they split them out, they do different things with them, so when you line up a draft board you don’t have a lot of tight ends on the draft board just like you have even less fullbacks.  The position because of the nature of the college offense just isn’t the same.  To me, Taylor is less of a risk than taking a college basketball player and trying him at tight end.  He’s been in the trenches, he’s been a two-gap defensive end where he’s had to battle and hold the point and do all those type of things.  It’s going to take a certain degree of toughness to do all of that.  From that standpoint it gives you comfort that he can do it.

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on if Akeem Ayers could factor in as a defensive end or pass rusher in 2012)

Yeah, that’s something that you saw last year.  When you look at the board and you’re talking about defensive ends we have two starting defensive ends; we have a first-round draft choice from two years ago in Derrick Morgan and then obviously we went out and got (Kamerion) Wimbley this year to start at defensive end.  We have some other guys like Dave Ball on the roster.  We feel we have guys there, and on third down I do think that Akeem will get the opportunity to do more of that.  That was something he did very little of in college, we used him somewhat in that last year, but then he went to the linebacker spot—we talked about that the other night.  He played the Will linebacker in nickel and that’s where Zach Brown becomes such a big pick where he can maybe do that and free Akeem up to be more part of that rotation.  That’s where those pieces of the puzzle we’re trying to figure out how important it is to get a Will linebacker.  We needed a starter there, plus the fact that he can play nickel all of a sudden Akeem frees up and he becomes a rush end some.  He’s part of a three-down package, four-down package more so than a coverage linebacker on the second level of nickel.  It just gives you more options when you bring other players into play, if you don’t do that and you take a different position then you don’t have that option at all.  Then you may feel a little short-handed when it comes time and someone gets nicked or we have to go to a three-down package because we have one less end, that kind of thing.  I think it just gives us more options.  Does that mean he’s going to be a true defensive end, no.  It just means he’s going to have an opportunity to work more in that position and with his speed—I’m not sure of his sack total, but again he had some nice pressures on the quarterback.  The Carolina game comes to memory when he had to play end quite a bit.  He had a sack or two in that game, so he has the skills to be very good at the rush end.  Some of the guys we drafted gives us that opportunity to move guys around besides (Karl) Klug inside and (Jurrell) Casey inside and now Mike Martin inside, we have some different variables that we like.  It’s going to be fun to see how it all comes together and we experiment with these guys.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on the AFC South drafting six wide receivers and only two cornerbacks [at the time of the press conference])

It tells you that this is a very wide-open league and the focus is on scoring points—probably more than ever.  It’s becoming more of a wide receiver-quarterback league every day.

(on if it’s unusual to get an entire draft class of four-year college players)

It is unusual, because it isn’t an easy thing to do.  Like I said, I like those kind of guys because you get experience and you get maturity, and it takes some maturity to come to this league and handle money, handle your time and become the kind of player you need to be and reach your potential.  I think it’s unusual that we have so many, for sure.

(on if the 2012 offensive guard prospects weren’t as NFL ready after the top two or three)

Yeah, I thought it was average.  There were some guys in the middle rounds that we liked that just went that were good players.  They probably weren’t at the top of everybody’s list, but as mid-round players we liked them.

GM RUSTON WEBSTER

(on what position still needs help)

What I would really like to do is get all of these guys in here with the free agents and see what we have, and then probably regroup from there. I will get with Lake (Dawson) and the pro guys and Munch (Mike Munchak) and we will see what direction we need to do. We understand that we have to keep building the roster and adding players.

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on what position still needs help)

What’s nice this year, is that we have an opportunity with offseason programs starting with practices in May and June, you can really get a good feel for what you have and what you don’t have. You are not surprised in training camp, as maybe we were by someone last year when we didn’t have this opportunity. It gives you a chance to bring guys in and sign some free agents and sometimes you get some surprises there when you kind of see how they are and how they fit together. You start doing practices in May and June and then all of the sudden you start to see what more your needs are. Maybe you get some surprises and maybe you get some guys that aren’t what you thought they are going to be. You have to go out and see who frees up and you never know who may free up from other teams. This year we signed (Steve) Hutchinson and (Kamerion) Wimbley, and no one thought that they would be free. All of the sudden we got two great players on our team because of that. That’s the fun part, and the good part is that we have some time to bring the roster in and bring these guys together and let the coaches start working with them and see what we do have and what we don’t have. If there are a couple of things that we need to improve upon, then we have opportunities to do that even before we get to camp.

(on how many undrafted free agents there will be)

They moved the roster limit to 90, so we will probably sign somewhere between 10-14 guys.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on if there is a limit on signing bonus money)

There is a limit on signing bonus money. Last year, it was a certain number and it’s gone up just a little bit.

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on the plan for the rookies going forward)

For the past years we’ve brought them in I think the week after the draft. We are going to wait until May 10, which is the second weekend. The reason behind that is we can bring them in that Thursday and keep them here. They will have rookie orientation for the guys we do sign so maybe 20 guys will have that orientation with just one-on-one time with the coaches and get their equipment and those type of things, get their physicals. That will be Friday or Saturday and we’ll have Sunday off. Then Monday they will start in with the players. It will be part of the normal program. That was one of the reasons why I mentioned earlier that we decided to start our off-season program a week later so those guys will have an extra week with us. Rather than one less week, we will have one more week in phase two. Phase two will be starting soon with the offseason program. Phase two means that the coaches will be going on the field with the players plus meeting time. The rookies will just jump right into the program and that will be part of the last seven weeks of the nine-week program. We will finish up towards the end of June.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on why they drafted Coty Sensabaugh)

He has good height. He has speed. He’s got some cover skills, natural cover skills. I think those are probably the three things. He’s a guy that came on this year and really was one of those players that you go in early and take a look at and he grows on you as time goes because he is really getting his playing time, really getting into the swing of things. His speed jumped out at us.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on what stands out about this draft class)

I think one thing I like is in terms of athletic ability we have a great group. I really like the combination of linebackers we have. There is a lot of speed and athletic ability in that group. I also like offensively we added to the athletic ability and speed with Kendall (Wright) and Taylor (Thompson). I feel good about that. I feel good that it is a solid group of guys that are going to come in and compete and work hard to handle their business and take care of things.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on what Scott Solomon is best known for)

Effort and relentless effort.  Relentless effort and instincts.

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on if Solomon is a Vanden Bosch type player)

I think just talking to Rock (Tracy Rocker), I’m very excited about the attitude and work ethic these guys are bringing into the room.  We bring in guys that would mix nicely with Karl Klug and Jurrell Casey and (Zach) Clayton from last year. You really change that room quite a bit from some of the guys that left and some of the guys we are bringing in. That’s what you need with the D-line. It’s all about relentless and work ethic. I think when you bring guys like that in it makes the offensive line better. I think they work against guys that are going to be some great battles in camp. Over the years, I think that is where the line has gotten better. When I coached them all those years it had to do with practice. The type of practice we have and the type of players that went against each other that made those guys better. That’s what that excitement is; we’re bringing in guys that are very competitive and creating competitive situations in different spots. You are not going to find guys as comfortable in their areas because they are going to be competing with someone for the job. That adds to a great atmosphere and a great workout. That is what encourages us and we were happy to get some of the guys we have for a lot of the reasons we’ve talked about already. It should be a great work ethic and a great tempo. Instead of coaches yelling to create all of that, you have players that that’s how they work. Like I said in the beginning that is the passion they have for the game. That stuff doesn’t get talked about much but I think it will bring a lot of energy to our field and to our competition we will have and hopefully be contagious as we go into the season.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on how soon to expect Markelle Martin to be 100 percent)

We hope when he comes in for the minicamp he will be able to do some things. Of course, he tells me he feels great and I’m ready to go. We’ll see when he gets here. I think what we found medically was that by the time the June camps roll around he will be good.

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on how soon expect Markelle Martin to be 100 percent)

The good thing there is we don’t have offense versus defense until June. We can’t do OTA’s until after Memorial Day weekend and then he should be able to do all things. In the meantime, he shouldn’t be limited because it’s more time with your coaches and more time in individual drills.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on if there was anyone that the team just missed as a draft pick)

There were some guys. I think, without naming names, that’s the thing about picking 20, you get into that do I trade up and go get this guy that I really want or do I wait knowing we have a good pool of players there and keep the pick in the next round or whatever. That’s the dilemma. I think by the time we drafted Taylor Thompson I was tired of some of that happening and we moved up.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on if the fifth round was bad for missing guys)

A couple of guys went in the fifth round. We had our group and some guys went and we felt like the best thing to do was to go up and just get it over with.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on the defense getting younger)

I look at offense and defense a little different. Defensively, I think youth is good. You have to be able to run, hit and move and as guys get older and start losing a step, even though they have that great savvy and all that, it does affect your defense. I think offensively, it’s not as big a deal. Especially O-line and quarterback and those type of positions. Defensively, I think at all positions, it’s such an athletically demanding side of the ball that I think it’s important to be young. Do you want to mix in some veterans who can give you leadership and all that, yes you do.  But you also have to be able to run and change directions and do all those kinds of things and move quickly. The reactions are important. So for me, I like being young on defense.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on how he wants veterans to react to bringing in competition from younger guys)

I think for me it’s hard when we bring guys in as you know. It affects other people. I’ve got a great deal of respect for people that play this game. To some degree, it bothers me. I also would expect the kind of guys that we have on our team to step up and compete and try to make this as good a team as we can be.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on if having a lot of guys at certain position will increase competition and make the team better)

I do.

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