INDIANAPOLIS – The on-field work for prospects here at the 2020 NFL Combine began on Thursday night, and as NFL Network kicked off its coverage, a familiar face sat down on the set.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel joined draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah and host Rich Eisen during the event's live coverage, and they touched on a number of topics, beginning with rookie receiver A.J. Brown.
During the course of the interview, Vrabel was also asked about the future of running back Derrick Henry and quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the team's run to the AFC Championship Game, and the plan as the team builds toward 2020, among other things.
"The plan is still in progress, and we are still a way from free agency and (general manager) Jon (Robinson) and I are working through, like everybody else, trying to get guys signed back," Vrabel said when asked about Henry and Tannehill. "Free agency is a two-way street. You have to want to be back as a player, and the team has to make decisions and make accommodations to bring those guys back. Those guys were a big part of what we did.
"The thing I've said about Derrick is that he was a great runner and he was physical and he was durable, but his leadership improved throughout the season. I saw a different player as far as leadership (goes). … Those guys are valuable to us and we're going to try and do everything we can to make sure all of our good players are back."
Vrabel said the way the Titans looked in 2019 is what he envisions his teams looking like each year, with a physical style of play behind a back in Henry, who led the NFL in rushing with 1,540 yards in 2019 and was a force in the playoffs.
But he made it clear he isn't satisfied when asked about his good to great mantra. He made it clear once again he doesn't consider 2019 "great."
"There's only one great team – there's team that won the championship, and there's everybody else," Vrabel, referring to the Super Bowl champion Chiefs, and his squad. "(Now) we're all undefeated and every team is going through this process and figuring out free agency and what they want to do and how they want to build their team and supplement it through the draft and figure out how they want to organize their offseason program. For us, I did realize that you can't go on the road and think that you are going to be playing for a whole lot of championships if you have to go on the road every single week in the playoffs. We have to play well enough earlier in the year to hopefully put ourselves in a position to host some of these playoff games."
As players worked out the field at Lucas Oil Field in front of them, Vrabel reflected on Brown, the team's second-round pick from Ole Miss who led the team with 52 catches for 1,051 yards and eight touchdowns in 2019.
"This is a small part of the evaluation process – you try and build a profile for each one of these players – and the interview was critical," Vrabel said of Brown. "His maturity, his professionalism, his tape obviously stood out. And his play strength is what I noticed on tape."
Here at the NFL Combine, the Titans are gearing up for April's NFL Draft, where a new group of players will be added to the roster following the free agency period. The Titans are scheduled to pick 29th in the first round of this year's draft.
Vrabel said the Titans want to use the same winning formula this fall, but he reiterated the goal is to take the next step.
"I am blessed to be able to work with Jon, and the input that he allows me and the coaching staff to have and how we want to build this team," Vrabel said. "We meet all the time, and we talk about players. We talk about players that are here at the combine, and the ones that are on our team and how we want that to look. And during the season, we were running the football, taking care of the football, controlling the clock. And usually that is what happens in January if you want to win the games … and that's what we felt like would be the recipe. We went to New England and Baltimore, but unfortunately we weren't able to get it done and we weren't able to win a championship."
Check out Titans players over the years at the NFL Scouting Combine. (AP Photos)