MOBILE, Ala. – Charles Davis first met Ran Carthon over 20 years ago.
Davis was working as sideline reporter for Jefferson Pilot's SEC Game of the Week at the time, and Carthon was a running back for the Florida Gators.
The two developed a friendship back then, and they remained in touch.
So, when Carthon was hired as general manager of the Titans just over two weeks ago, it made Davis, now with NFL Network, smile, while reminiscing about the past.
"I'm just so excited, because we all live the American dream, and the American dream tells us to go into something, work hard, master our craft, progress, gain experience, and you have a chance to get to wherever our dreams take us – that's what we're all taught, Day One," Davis said from the press box at the Senior Bowl, with Carthon sitting in the stands at Hancock Whitney Stadium just below him. "This is an American dream for Ran. He has climbed by being good at what he does at every place he's been.
"The old expression: 'You get your next job by being great at your current job.' I think he emulates that. Ran has the experience – he played at a high level at the University of Florida. From the ground up he got in and learned scouting, working his way up in the league. I am really excited for him. He's always been a quality individual – I loved covering him at the University of Florida. He had a maturity about him when he was young and it has paid off now. It is just really neat to see someone work hard, master their craft, and now look at where he is today."
Carthon definitely paid his dues.
After spending four seasons (2008-11) as a pro scout with the Atlanta Falcons, he was hired by the St. Lous/Los Angeles Rams, and spent five seasons (2012-16) as the director of pro personnel with the team. He was then hired by the San Francisco 49ers, where he ultimately became director of player personnel after first serving as the director of pro personnel.
When Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk made the decision to part ways with Jon Robinson, Carthon emerged as the best man for the job.
But Davis knows Carthon has his work cut out for him with the Titans, a team coming off of a 7-10 season with plenty of question marks, and not a lot of salary cap room.
"No, it's not going to be easy," Davis said. "These jobs don't come open if it's easy."
Davis, however, doesn't see the Titans going into rebuilding mode.
"I don't think with Mike Vrabel as your head coach you ever think you are rebuilding. You are figuring out what you are going to need in order to get better and compete again. Mike Vrabel is not going to go into a season and say, 'Well, we are in rebuilding mode and let's see if we can win three or four games.' It doesn't work that way. I just don't think with what they have that they're in a position where they need a massive rebuild. Now do they need to get better in places? Absolutely. But tear it down? This isn't some Florida Marlins situation where you win the World Series, and you tear the whole thing apart. I don't think that is the case at all."
At the Senior Bowl, Carthon, Vrabel and the team's scouting staff are eyeing some of college football's most talented players heading into the NFL Draft.
In the coming weeks, they'll continue scouting players leading up to the NFL Combine, while also making tough decisions regarding some of the team's free agents.
The Titans currently have the 11th overall pick in April's draft.
Davis thinks they're in a good place to get better, no matter how they choose to do it.
"They're in a really good spot, because they'll have a couple of things going for them," Davis said. "One, you should get a player you really like and has a chance to play for you right away. Two, you are still in a sweet spot where some teams might want to talk to you about (a trade), and they could go down from, say 11 to 15, but you gain something, you know?
"With this quarterback class, I don't think they're coming of the board 1-2-3 and we're done with quarterbacks. I think quarterback is going to go deeper into the draft. You could have a scenario where all of a sudden you look up at 11 and two of (the QBs) are off the board and one has not come off the board. Someone is going to say, 'Woah, we have to get a quarterback' and then you'll have to make some decisions. Or, what if it's a quarterback you like?"