NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans general manager Ruston Webster believes it is imperative to give every man a plan.
Executives, scouts and coaches have spent hours, weeks and months gathering information in preparation of the 2012 Draft, which starts at 7 p.m. (CT) today and concludes Saturday. In addition to examining each player's attributes and body of work, the discussions have focused on developing individual plans for particular players and how execution of those plans will accomplish the team's overall objectives.
Webster, who has been involved in some capacity in every NFL Draft since 1988, said he and second-year head coach Mike Munchak talked about the importance that everyone involved in a decision is on the same page and knows how a player will fit into a scheme.
"The worst thing you can do is draft a guy and not really have a plan for how you are going to use him or how they are going to play or fit with your group," Webster said during a pre-draft press conference. "That's really the big thing. We go through that with (defensive coordinator) Jerry Gray, (offensive coordinator) Chris Palmer, the position coaches, and we talk through that."
Munchak, who has participated in previous drafts as an assistant coach, said it is "very productive" for the coaches to effectively communicate with scouts.
"They do a great job of telling the scouts upstairs exactly what we're looking for, what the individual coaches, what the coordinators are looking for," Munchak said. "Sometimes you can narrow it down a lot better. We already have a feel because that type of discussion has already happened. We feel confident that we're going to get some very good football players and all feel very good about it."
Draft positions fluctuate from year to year, depending on how well the previous season went and not including a trade. The overall number of selection in the first round, combined with immediate and longer-term needs of a team can affect the choices that teams make.
There are some consistencies that decision makers can apply each year, said Webster, who served as Titans vice president of player personnel during the 2010 and 2011 drafts. Webster was promoted to general manager in January.
Some of the tenets of Webster's philosophy include trusting the information the staff has gathered and placing value on the grade assessment of abilities. Webster usually isn't inclined to trade up in the drafting order because doing so can cost picks, but he may consider trading down in order to gain picks.
"I think you just have to be careful about what you're reading and you have to trust your scouts and your coaches and what you've seen and work off that," Webster said. "I think that's been one of the strong points of the Titans through the years. I hope we continue that. We'll rely on our own people and we'll just make decisions off the grades that we've given to players throughout the year."
Then, there is also the need to balance skills, attributes and potential of available players against team needs.
"It's easy to sit here and say what you'd like to have, but the question is what's going to be available when it comes to our turn to pick," Munchak said. "Then, is it really an upgrade on what we already have in the building? I think it's more just people that fit our system and what we're doing. You're looking for players like Ruston mentioned already, you're watching a guy that may be a great football player that we talk about but doesn't necessarily fit what we're going to do."
Munchak, who became head coach and began building his staff and implementing plans in February 2011, laid much of the foundation in the 2011 season when the Titans exceeded outsiders' expectations and finished 9-7. He said the Titans will use the next three days try strengthen what they've already developed.
"I think we have guys in all positions that we want," Munchak said. "It's now just a matter of creating competition, maybe, or drafting somebody we feel can immediately play because when you draft a player with the 20th pick in the draft or whatever, you want to draft a guy that you have a plan for, that can come in and actually have a chance to play right away and help."