Titans Pre-Draft Press Conference

Titans Draft CentralPRE-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE

THURSDAY, APRIL 23, 2009

General Manager Mike Reinfeldt, National Supervisor of College Scouting C.O. Brocato, Eastern Director of College Scouting Mike Ackerley, Scouting Coordinator Blake Beddingfield

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GM MIKE REINFELDT**

(opening comments)

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I want to thank everybody for taking the time to be with us today. We would like to take a little time to kind of bring you up-to-date on the draft. At this point of time the process has been going on for a number of weeks obviously. The last two weeks we have had meetings with the scouts every day, long hours. The board is stacked, all the players are up there and the final grades are on them. We have had meetings with the coaches, input from the coaches and gotten their feel on certain players and how they fit the system and how they fit into what we do and position groupings. We have looked at those things. Jeff [Fisher] and I have had a number of discussions, kind of what if scenarios, different move up, move down, trade and how we view certain players. That is kind of where we are in the process right now. I think tomorrow we will finish up and finish the 150 board. What I would like to do is open it up for questions. You can direct your questions to whoever you feel it is appropriate, but specific players they probably would be very good at that. With that, we will open it up to questions.

(on how the economy will affect this draft compared to year's past)

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That is an interesting question. I don't think we have looked at that quite honestly that much. I think we are fortunate that, or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it, we pick 30th in the draft and financially that is a whole lot different than picking in the Top 10. From our perspective, it will kind of be business as usual.

(on whether he has heard from other people in the league whether the economy is a factor this year)

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I haven't heard from any other teams that it is an issue, it just appears that more teams are willing to move back whether it is the economics of the pick or the pick itself. It appears there are more teams willing to move back out of the high picks than there are willing to move up.

(on whether the trade up or down traffic is similar to year's past)

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It is probably about the same. There are probably a little bit more people willing to move back than in the past. Usually it is 50/50, this year it is a little bit more the other way.

(on whether the price tag is too high to move up)

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I think it makes it tougher. That is really a huge financial commitment you are making to a young man that has never played professional football. I think you need to be very sure that is the right young man you are picking.

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SCOUTING COORDINATOR BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD**

(on whether the draft is deep in the positions the team needs it to be at receiver, cornerback and linebacker)

I think so. I think at certain positions there is some depth whether it is corner or receiver. Usually those positions are filled with more skilled players than some of the more specific type positions like a linebacker or defensive tackle. I think this year the depth is pretty good from an overall standpoint. I wouldn't say it is as strong as last year, maybe stronger than two years ago overall. There is a good number of draftable players on our board this year. I would say overall the depth is pretty good.

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NATIONAL SUPERVISOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING C.O. BROCATO**

(on his overall perception of the draft this year)

I think that happens just about every year. This year I think there is a pretty good crop of linebackers. There is a pretty good crop of tight ends. Some of the other positions, running back situation has kind of fallen off some this year. It is not going to be as strong. It will vary each year.

GM MIKE REINFELDT

(on what the biggest red flags are including failed drug tests, character issues or the Wonderlic tests that would take a player off their board)

I think all those things are issues. I think you take them all into consideration. I think our scouts have done a very good job of researching the players, finding character issues and other types of issues. We look at that carefully and kind of note any players that there are issues with. Any of those things can penalize a player or at some point take them off the board.

SCOUTING COORDINATOR BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD

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(on how many players are off their board)

I don't think there is really anybody off our board. There is a consideration for every player. There is a value on every player now whether there is a certain situation where you knock a player down a notch. I wouldn't say there is a situation where we actually take someone off our board.

GM MIKE REINFELDT

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(on how the scrutiny differs from drafting number one overall and 30th)

Fortunately we are not drafting number one overall, but I hope we would have the same level of scrutiny as you would at one. At 30 it is still a lot of money, it is a big investment and it is also the future of the talent of your club. I think our guys approach it the same if we are at 30 as they would if we were at number one. I think you have to.

(on if you can get good value with the 30th pick this year)

I think we are fortunate. I think both Blake and C.O. have kind of eluded to it a little bit. I think there are some positions last year where the running back was strong and there were a number of running backs taken in the first round, including us. I think this year there are a number of wide receivers, there is good depth there. There is some good depth at linebacker. There are some positions that are strong that may be positions that we have interest in.

(on how confident he is there that there will be a receiver at 30 that can compete on opening day)

I think there are a number of players that we have grades on that we are saying are worthy of that pick and by definition the draft board it tells you that you should be comfortable with those picks coming in and being productive.

NATIONAL SUPERVISOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING C.O. BROCATO

(on if the USC linebackers are as good of a group from one team as he has ever seen)

I would say they are pretty close to being the top ones. You have [Rey] Maualuga the middle linebacker. He is a tremendous football player. He is tough, big. He can run and he will hit you, that is the big thing. He is an explosive type tackler. You have [Brian] Cushing that can run and do the same thing. You have Matthews and then they have another guy named [Kaluka] Maiava that plays. They have four linebackers, maybe five, four for sure that will get drafted. Three are going to get drafted early and the other one will probably get drafted in the middle rounds. As a total group, they really have five guys that can get drafted just from the linebacker group.

(on if Maualuga can play both inside and outside)

He can play outside or inside.

(on Cushing and Matthews versatility)

I think Cushing can play inside or outside. I think Matthews will probably be an outside guy.

(on what the challenge is to grading a player that can play both inside and outside)

It is according to what type of system you are using. If you have a guy that can run and do the athletic things like Cushing and Matthews that is why you say they can play outside. But Maualuga can do both of them and he is big enough and strong enough to play inside. He can play both inside and outside. The other two guys have to be outside. Cushing may have a chance to move inside. I think Matthews is going to be better suited to play outside.

SCOUTING COORDINATOR BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD

Versatility is only a positive. It is not a negative. If you can predict inside and outside it only adds to the value.

GM MIKE REINFELDT

If I can add to that a little bit. I think it is one of the most complicated things that we do that involves both the coaches and the scouts is when you start trying to project players, trying to project linebackers to defensive ends, defensive ends to linebackers, safeties to corners. It is a hard process. We get a lot of input and no one knows the ultimate answer. You are trying to ascertain whether they have certain skills or certain attributes that will let him succeed at this other position. It is kind of in the eye of the beholder somewhat.

(on if the draft is more about position or the best player available)

I think our philosophy has always been to find the best player. I think that is why we spend so much time putting the draft board together. That is why we grade players. When our turn comes, we should be able to look at the board and know who the best player is at that point of time, the highest rated player. If there are two or three or four players at different positions that is when you get into a debate. The draft board and the whole grading system leads to taking the best player.

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EASTERN DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING MIKE ACKERLEY**

(on looking at Florida receivers and judging them based on other receivers to come out of the school)

I think you have to take each year on its own merit and each player on his own merit. Florida, obviously, they have had some guys in the past that haven't done quite as well as expected. That can be said for all the schools. The kids that are there in general this year, the [Percy] Harvin kid is the most explosive player in this draft by far. I know he has problems so that is probably going to hurt his draft status a little bit. There are some questions whether he can be a receiver. I was at his workout. There is no doubt in my mind that he can run the routes that he needs to run and do the things he needs to do to be a top receiver in this league, plus he is going to be able to return even though that isn't something he has done on a full scale deal at Florida. He is going to be able to do that. We worked him out doing that and there is no question he can do that. He can carry the ball out of the backfield. He has done all those things. He is very explosive. [Louis] Murphy is fast and has good size. I think he is going to be able to fit in somebody's rotation. I don't know if he is a number one down the road, but he is certainly a guy that can be in the rotation of the top two or three receivers on a team. They have the tight end there obviously that didn't play this past year that is coming out. He can't be overlooked as a receiving tight end. He is very, very talented.

(on if Harvin is big enough to play on the outside)

In my opinion, Harvin can play wherever he wants. To me to pigeonhole a guy and say he is only a slot, I think is a mistake. If you see the guy physically, he is built more along the lines of a running back. He is thicker in the upper body. He is strong in the arms and shoulders. If he is out there as the wideout and they get up on him and press him, he is strong enough to be able to get off that. He is quick enough and fast enough to avoid out there. To me he is the most explosive guy in this draft.

GM MIKE REINFELDT

(on how concerned he is about Harvin's off the field troubles)

We go through the process with every player and if we have concerns or red flags that is something we note. It kind of all goes into the process and at some point is reflected on their final status on the board. I would love to tell you where he is on the board but I can't do that.

(on if Harvin is on their board)

That is fair to say.

EASTERN DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING MIKE ACKERLEY

(on receivers Kenny Britt, Hakeem Nicks and Brian Robiskie)

All of those guys … Robiskie of the three guys you just mentioned, if you wanted to pick a guy and say he is ready to go in the first game, he is probably the closest. He is very polished. He is very talented, polished. He is football smart. He comes from a football background obviously his dad is a coach and so on and so forth. So football is part of his life. He is a little bit ahead of those other guys. As far as Britt and Nicks are concerned, physically they have all the attributes that we are looking for in a receiver. They are big and strong, they run excellent routes, they have great hands. Britt is going to catch anything that is coming his way. He can fight off a defensive back. He can do those kind of things. Nicks, you can put those guys in the same mold. They are the same kind of guy. The biggest thing with some of those guys coming out as juniors are how far along are they going to be maturity-wise? Right now we feel pretty good about them, but until you get them here and get a chance to work with them and see where they are mentally from a maturity standpoint you really don't know. Physically they are pretty good. They can help as. Maturity-wise maybe it is going to take a while. You can't answer that until you get them here. They have everything we are looking for in a receiver.

(on the weight gain Nicks had and whether that is a concern)

No because all these kids with the way the agents set these things up, all these kids do that. They all lose weight. If they are going to run at the Combine they are going to lose weight so they can run a fast time. Then you go to work them out and they are going to put the weight back on so they look stronger and more physical. If they don't run at the Combine they are going to be lighter at their workout because they all want to run fast. We have put so much emphasis on the 40-yard dash, that is what they gear this thing for, so that is not a concern. If a guy loses weight from the time he's at the Combine or from the end of the season to the Combine and then from the workout and he is not doing anything to turn that around then maybe there is a concern. Maybe that is red flag and there is something wrong, maybe there is something going on that we don't know about. It doesn't bother us too much when it fluctuates a little bit because we know why they are doing it.

(on the three cornerbacks Malcolm Jenkins, Vontae Davis and Alphonso Smith)

For my money Jenkins is a very good football player. He brings to the table everything you are looking for in a top corner in this league. The thing about Jenkins to me that is very intriguing and very exciting if you were to get him, he is big enough that he could go back and be a safety. You can do a lot of different things with him. Davis to me just in pure raw talent, he may have the best talent of any of the corners in the league, but he hasn't been as consistent. To be honest with you he hasn't been as consistent as Jenkins has. To me Alphoso [Smith] other than being a little bit short, he is the total package. He is smart. He is physical and can cover. He has everything that you are looking for except he is 5-foot-9-inches or whatever he is. I don't perceive that as a negative to be honest with you.

SCOUTING COORDINATOR BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD

(on the pros and cons of picking 30th)

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I think this year the pros are a very good football player is probably going to be sitting there at 30. We're going to be able to sit back for about three hours and wait on our choice. I think the cons are you're going to see 29 good players go before we get that opportunity. We've worked for nine months on those 29 players, and we're going to see them go to another team. That's the unfortunate side of the business, but the positive side is at 30 we anticipate a very good player to be sitting there.

(on how many players the team has first-round grades on)

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It's normal. Usually it varies year-to-year anywhere between 18 and 24, and we're right in that mix. That's probably where we're right in that mix this year. Year-to-year, that's probably the average.

(on if it concerns him that they're picking 30th and there's only 18-24 players with first-round grades)

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You know, we've picked that low before, and we have always gotten a first-round player when we picked that low, whether it's 30th or 31st. We've gotten a first-round player at that point, so no, I don't worry about that because everybody's board is different. We have, let's just say 20 for example, first-round picks. Another team has 20 different players. Some are the same but some are different that fit their scheme, fit their style.

GM MIKE REINFELDT

(on the potential to move back in a trade at the 30th spot)

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We've done enough what-if scenarios that I think we're pretty confident that a guy that we think will be a good fit will be there. At the same time, if we get into a position where there are two or three guys of interest to us, we'd certainly entertain moving back.

(on what it does for the team having 10 picks in a year when it will be difficult for 10 rookies to make the team)

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I think it gives you the opportunity to do a couple different things. I think you have the ammunition to move up if you want to move up in the third or the fourth round or the second round even. You can use some of those picks to move up. I think given the situation, when we get through with this we're going to sign probably five to seven college free agents. Even with some of those seventh-round picks, you can jump in and get the guy that might be your marquee free agent, and the money is not that much different. You might pay $25,000 to $30,000 for the best free agent offensive tackle. Well, for a $40,000 signing bonus, you could draft him in the seventh and get the guy you really want. So there's a couple different ways we could play it.

NATIONAL SUPERVISOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING C.O. BROCATO

(on if he takes into account what he believes other teams think of a player when rehearsing draft scenarios)

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That's kind of hard to do, to feel what another club feels towards those guys. You hear talk and all that while you're down there – 'Well, we like this guy and we like him, and someone likes that.'

(on how much of that talk is true)

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Not too much (laughing). That's why this guy on the end scouts and I scout and he scouts and the other guys that we have. We get the information for what we think for the Tennessee Titans. They're getting it for their team, and they're certainly not going to tell us or just come out and say what we're doing. You talk about ability all the time, you know. If you're watching a guy, you can look at him and say, 'Hey, you got the clock there, you can run, and you know he's a good athlete. Well, this guy can't run.' Everybody knows that.

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EASTERN DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING MIKE ACKERLEY

(on if there's a clear separation of the top group of cornerbacks and the rest of the cornerbacks in the draft)

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The corners, the way it's kind of gone this year, there's always going to be a little bit of a separation from the top. They always try to group themselves a little bit. They'll be three or four guys at the top, and the next level down there will be a group of maybe four or five guys. Then they'll be another group in the middle, and so every year it's about the same. This year is no different. That little group right there has kind of separated themselves from the next group. And it's not by very much. When we're talking about separation, we're talking about maybe a guy comes in and he starts right away in the top group. In the next group, maybe he's your nickel back for a few games and eventually works his way into being a starter and is a special teams player, or whatever. But usually they break themselves off the same every year.

(on if there's one answer to a question they're looking to hear in the interviews with prospects)

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What I do when I interview guys is, you know, you start with the general stuff, try to get the general information and try to get him to talk about himself, about his family, about his experiences in college and that sort of thing. You kind of let that guide you. You have certain things in the back of your mind that you want to get to at some point. If you know he's had some off-the-field issues, at some point you have to get to that. If there's some questions about if there's marijuana, if there's anything in his background that you want to get to, at some point you've got to get to that. What happens so much now unfortunately is that a lot of these kids are pretty well-schooled by the time they get to this point in the process. By the time they get to the point when we can sit down and visit with them, they've had chances to talk to agents. They've had chances to be schooled a little bit. So you have to try and work yourself in a position where you're trying to decipher the canned stuff from the real stuff. That to me is the hardest part about the interview. Then, at some point, the money question is, or what you're trying to find out is, can you get a feel that this guy likes to play football because if he doesn't like to play football, you don't want him. So if you can sense coming away from that interview that he likes football and he has a mentality for football, then that guy has a chance to play for you. If you don't come away with a good feeling there, then you better have somebody else talk to him and try to find out more about that kid. You're getting ready to pay him a lot of money and put a lot of stock into what he can do, and if he really doesn't like being out there, that makes it tough. You'd be surprised how many kids there are that are just playing football because it's the thing to do or it's a paycheck or whatever. There's a lot of kids that like to play, but there's a lot of kids that are just playing.

GM MIKE REINFELDT

(on the idea that because of recent history there's no way the Titans would draft a player with character questions)

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Well, I think that's probably a little bit of an overstatement. None of us are perfect. There are no perfect people. A lot of these kids, or a number of them, have had some issues or had little bumps in the road. That's kind of the process we go through, is just to kind of ascertain where they are, what did they learn from it, what do we predict or hope the future will be. We're not all perfect human beings, so we can't draft perfect football players.

(on if he instructs his staff to never talk about a player the team is targeting)

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No, as a matter of fact, we didn't have any discussions about what we'd be doing or not doing. We're still in that process, so again, these guys have all been at this a long time, and they understand pretty well how it works.

(on how much of a priority it is to trade for or sign a veteran receiver)

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Well, I think that's something we could do on a draft day or we could do after the draft also. There will be a number of receivers that are taken fairly high, so there's a chance some receivers may shake out. But at some point we'd probably like to add another veteran presence to the wide receiver corps on the team.

(on how much of a necessity it is to add the veteran receiver)

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It would be nice to do it. I don't think it's a necessity.

(on if they will talk to other teams about receivers that might be available)

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Yeah, we'll have a number of discussions about different positions, receivers. That's part of what goes on, what if this happens, what if that happens. There will be those types of discussions at a lot of different positions, quite honestly.

(on if they have had some of those conversations already)

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We've had some of those already, yeah. There will be a number of them.

(on if they've spoken to the Arizona Cardinals about Anquan Boldin)

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I can't go into specifics of any specific player or team. That probably wouldn't be fair.

(on if it's safe to say they are monitoring the Cardinals and Boldin)

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It's safe to say that we're always trying to get the team better, so we'll continue to monitor various situations.

(on if there are other potential receivers other than Boldin or Braylon Edwards)

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There's a number of players that are discussed at this point in time. That's kind of how it works. But again, I wouldn't want to go into specifics of any of those players or the teams just because I don't think it's fair to the players or fair to the players on our team.

(on if there is a chance to make any moves before the draft)

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I think there's always that potential. I wouldn't rule it out.

(on needing to be overwhelmed with a trade package to pull the trigger on a trade for a receiver)

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I think you'd have to think it made sense. I don't think you'd have to be overwhelmed. I think it would need to be a situation of equity, and you'd consider it then.

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(on the point in which the organization would decide it is one player away and make a dramatic move or decide to operate the same regardless)

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I would hope that usually you would not operate in a desperation mode or a panic mode, that you had to have this one player. I think consistency is the key, and I guess I hope we would always operate that way. I think in the long run that's the safest way to do it, the best way to do it.

(on if there are ever positions like quarterback or kicker that the team would not draft in the first round)

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That's probably fair to say, yeah.

(on ever considering taking a quarterback that falls to you)

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I think you always have to have the discussion, with nothing to do with the roster that we have today. Just the board would make you have that discussion, quite honestly. I think we'd be disciplined enough to say our board says we need to consider this guy. He would be in the mix, you'd have the discussions and then go on from there.

NATIONAL SUPERVISOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING C.O. BROCATO

(on Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman)

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He's got everything you want for a quarterback – the size, he's got the arm, the smarts they say are supposed to be there. I'm going to let him (Reinfeldt) pull this trigger.

GM MIKE REINFELDT

(on Freeman)

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With a lot of the interviews that we do, it's a great chance for us to learn for the future. Freeman may or may not, you know, I have no idea how that's going to play out. But three or four years, five years from now, we've interviewed a similar guy coming from where he's coming from, it gives you a great chance to look back at our prior interview and see how that kid worked out. It's a great learning experience for us.

SCOUTING COORDINATOR BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD

(on local draft prospects)

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We'll start with Vanderbilt. D.J. Moore, of course, the corner there, punt returner, kick returner. Very versatile player. He had an outstanding career there for three years, very productive player whether he played offense or defense or returner. He's a player that's going to transition into the league very, very easily I think. His skill set is set up to get immediate playing time, whether it's at punt returner or maybe even as a nickel corner while he learns the outside spot. But he's a player that's been highly productive, probably in the best conference in college football, and he's going to transition pretty easily. Reshard Langford, the safety at Vanderbilt, great intangible kid. Very smart kid. He's been productive there as a safety. I think some teams will maybe view him as a linebacker, not necessarily us, but he has the size potential to maybe play one of those undersized linebackers with a few teams. But he's a special teams type player. He's going to come into the league and really have a chance to prove his worth on special teams. Cornelius Lewis, the tackle at Tennessee State, transferred from Florida State, very athletic left tackle probably moves inside in the NFL as a guard, but an athletic player that has the versatility of lining up inside and out. Javarris Williams, the running back, very productive over his four years there, actually had an outstanding East-West game. He really probably improved his stock in a lot of people's eyes that really didn't get to see him at TSU during that East-West practice and game. Cecil Newton, the center there, is a great kid, very smart, athletic, a little bit undersized, athletic. He's also going to have an opportunity to play as well.

(on if Moore's size goes against him)

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I think the production outweighs sometimes the size. You know, it just depends, does the kid play small? It think if he plays small, then yes, the size is an issue. But for him, he was productive whether he was matching up against the taller receivers in the SEC. He did that versus Georgia. He did that versus a couple teams where he went against 6-1, 6-2 type receivers and matched up very well. It's a case-by-case basis with a corner. Does he play small? I don't think he really plays small. I don't think that should be an issue for him. Whether his status went down, his draft stock went down, I think that was more TV projection than scouts' projections at that point because he was a junior coming out. You're really learning a lot more about that kid. When you go into a school in the fall, you're not allowed to look at juniors and underclassmen. So really our first view is January 15, when they declare. It just took a little bit more of the process, and he's going to fall where his skills are ready for him to fall.

(on Robert Ayers)

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You know, he was a player that had 3 ½ sacks his senior year. I wouldn't say that's overly productive, but he's also a player that lined up inside and out for Tennessee, a guy that rushed the passer from the three-technique defensive tackle position, did a good job there. He probably on a lot of teams' boards could line up in three different positions. He could be a defensive tackle for some teams, defensive end for others and an outside linebacker for 3-4 teams. He's a versatile-type player. He can line up in multiple spots. He went to the Senior Bowl and had a very good Senior Bowl against top competition, so you would say his stock is on the rise.

(on Patrick Turner)

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Patrick, local kid here, highly recruited kid coming out of Nashville going to USC. He had a four-year productive career there. Very tall, physical, good-hands receiver, has played against the best, played on a national stage and has produced. His speed is good – not great – but the size outweighs maybe the lack of speed he has there. He has good hands, he's a quality kid and will bring a lot to an NFL team.

GM MIKE REINFELDT

(on having Turner here for a visit)

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Yes, he came and had a very good interview. It was delightful. It was kind of cool for him to come back to Nashville.

SCOUTING COORDINATOR BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD

(on weighing 4.5 40-yard speed versus 4.6 speed, etc.)

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I'm not really concerned as much with the speed. How do they play? What's the speed factor when they play? I think you'd probably hate to time some of our veterans right now because that 4.5 they timed seven years ago probably isn't close to that. But the experience level, what they've learned in the game, that type of thing has let them get away with being a little bit slower.

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