NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A pair of longtime, behind-the-scenes Titans employees will take center stage at the NFL Draft in Chicago this week.
Joey Barranco has been an equipment manager with the team for 17 seasons. Making the name plates above the lockers and putting names on the back of jerseys are included in his laundry list of duties.
During this year's draft, Barranco will be turning in the card with the selected player's name on it for the first round pick, as well as throughout the seven-round draft.
Anthony Pastrana, the team's video director who is entering his 18th season with the club, will be right there with him.
"I asked both of those guys if they would be interested in making the trip to Chicago and representing our football team as the two at the table, and they were excited to say the least to accept and have a chance to go,'' Titans general manager Jon Robinson said. "I am excited for those guys to have the opportunity to do it, and experience it."
Representatives of all 32 clubs will be present at Selection Square in Chicago. In previous drafts, the Titans were represented by Frank Fitzgerald Jr., whose father, Frank Fitzgerald Sr., had a relationship with the Titans franchise since the early 1990s, and Harry Pritts. Neither Fitzgerald nor Pritts worked for the team.
Robinson, who took over as GM in January, wanted to keep it in the family.
"I'm very excited to be able to go up there, and be able to represent the team and be a part of it,'' said Pastrana, whose primary responsibilities include compiling and editing all game and practice tapes for coaches' analysis, cataloging NFL game tapes and producing "cut-ups." "That they would trust us to do something like that, to have the faith to manage that for the team, that is a big deal in my mind."
Robinson asked Pastrana and Barranco on Holy Thursday morning. It didn't take him long to get an answer.
"It was awesome,'' Barranco said. "When you're asked to do something like that, it feels great, to have a chance to help out the team.
"Anthony and I have been here for a long time. I am pumped about it. It's the NFL Draft. What's better than that?"
While in Chicago, Pastrana and Barranco will be in constant phone contact with Robinson and other team officials at Saint Thomas Sports Park in Nashville.
Robinson said the two will be on a speaker phone inside the War Room at STSP. Leading up to the team's pick, Pastrana and Barranco will be expected to keep team officials back in Nashville abreast of any activity inside the room in Chicago, including activity that might suggest a trade involving other teams is in the works as the clock is winding down.
When it's time to make the pick, they'll also be expected to turn in the right player's name.
It comes with some pressure.
"They had a draft meeting a couple of days ago and some of the coaches were busting me when they heard I was going, saying: 'Don't get the name wrong' or 'Don't put your own name in' and stuff like that,'' Barranco said.
Pastrana has heard it as well.
"Jon was actually pretty calm about everything,'' Pastrana said, "but coach (Mike) Mularkey jokingly said, 'Hey, don't screw this up.'
Robinson said he's not worried.
Titans director of college scouting Blake Beddingfield will provide the two men with a list of names, positions and schools, and Robinson plans to spell things out for them before they write the names down on the card.
"It would be pretty hard to mess that up, I think,'' Robinson said.
But, what if? What if they do make a draft day faux pas and the Titans select the wrong player?
"Let's just say it wouldn't be good,'' Robinson said with a smile. "They might want to call (coach) Pat Fitzgerald and see if he has any openings at Northwestern."