Titans' Reaction to Selection of Ayers


(opening comments)

The kid that we are talking about is Akeem Ayers, played at UCLA. Kid has been a very good player there. He's a big kid, one of the real big linebackers that's come out in a long time. He's got athletic ability, speed. He's a good pass rusher, probably fits what we're doing here better than a lot of guys. The kid is a great kid. He's had a great career there, came out early. He's a tough kid, finds the ball, instinctive, and I think that he is a good fit for the Tennessee Titans. 


(on bringing in a strong, physical linebacker on defense)

Well he gives us a chance to set the edge on the defense. You can see on tape, he's already stood up, made interceptions. He's done those things and then he can put his hand down, rush the passer. The position that we're thinking about putting him in, that is again, standing him up putting the edge on defense over by the tight end, that it's not unfamiliar with him. It's something that he already knows and he is only going to help us. Now he is a big guy that can set the edge, can run, can cover tight ends, and still rush the passer from that position.

(on Witherspoon sliding to the inside linebacker position, presuming that Tulloch moves on)

I mean to me, I think we'll cross that road when we get there. You really don't know what's going to happen. If it happens then we will move some guys around but again, this guy here doesn't affect those two guys. They play behind the ball and he is going to be playing on the line of scrimmage for us.

(on comparing Ayers' size to McGrath's size)

Well to me, the speed that they had on the football field last year, they played more of a three linebacker, two wheel and one mike system. We're pretty much going to be running a Mike, a Will and a Sam system so you need to get a really big guy that can set the edge, run, hold up the point when they run the power game his way toward the tight end. And again, he gives us versatility so on third down, he can put his hand down, we can move him around, again he can rush the passer. He'll be doing a lot of that stuff for us so he doesn't necessarily have to be playing the outside linebacker at all to play for us on third down.

(on this helping the defense use more guys in different situation)

Yes. To me when you have got a guy that can rush the passer and drop, now you put three linemen, you put four linemen, is he is going to be the fourth linemen for you, is he going to be the third linemen for you, is he going to be to a linebacker for you. So now, I think that creates a little confusion on the offensive line that you've got to find out what that fourth rusher is and to me, that's only going to help us. Good thing about him is that he's not a one position guy. He can already play two positions and you're always looking for guys that can be more versatile.

(on being surprised that Ayers was still available)

Of course we were. I think we kind of talked about it and we thought that he would go at the end of the first round. He was there for us and I think that this is the first time that I've got a chance to wear a tie (laughing).


(on him being able to come in and play quickly compared to Locker)

I think that it's like Jerry is saying, I think that he comes into a situation where he fits a particular need for sure that we need right now. I think it's a great pick for us again. A guy that we didn't think we'd be able to get at this point that has an opportunity to come in and help us right away.


(on the importance of finding linebackers and defensive player that can make plays)

Well you are always trying to find the guys that are going to make plays. I think that's what every coach is trying to do doesnt matter if he is playing linebacker, D-line or DB. The biggest thing that we want to do is that we want to make sure that the guys we're picking are conscious of that. You can see that the young guy, he's a junior, he had six interceptions, he's got sacks. He can do a lot of those things, he has caused fumbles. And to me, anytime you've got guys that can make plays, that's really what you are trying to do, get them on the football field and help you win football games.


(on Ayers having a first round grade on their draft boards)

Yeah, he did. We thought very highly of him. Like I said, we were talking about this yesterday, we thought that there was a good chance that he was going to be gone yesterday through the first round so we targeted him last night when the round ended as a guy that we were definitely high on if he was there. Like Jerry said, it's a need, it's exactly what we needed and he fits that. He also plays special teams, he's made plays on special teams so we can use him in that area. Like Jerry said, a linebacker like that does cause problems for an offensive line when you're not quite sure if he is going to have his hand down, hand up. You don't want mismatch problems on the running backs so all of a sudden it creates a little more uncertainty on exactly what we are trying to do personnel wise.  

(on possibly looking at more linebackers in this draft)

Yeah, we've got seven picks so we're going to have at it. Still with that, the defensive line, look at some other areas especially tomorrow seeing how the draft board unfolds. 


(on any opportunity to beef up the interior defensive line)

Yeah, to me I think there are still some good guys out there. Again, you look at those third round guys and those guys are not really good players, they're good players. Those guys are probably going to be on your team for a while because again, those guys are not going to come in and command a lot of big money so they are going to be going through their first, second, hopefully third contracts with you. They are probably going to stay here longer than the other guys and that's good. You look on the board and those guys are still there. You've got some tough guys, that's kind of what we are looking for and that's going to fit the bill. They have to do some dirty work. You've got to get a nose that can take on a double team and the offensive linemen aren't getting any smaller, they are actually getting bigger. So if you bring in a small guy, now you're in trouble because they can run the football on you. That's kind of what we are trying to do, hopefully we keep plucking away and get a couple of those big dudes in there and I think we will be ok.

(on if they talked to Alterraun Verner about Akeem Ayers)

Yeah, we got a chance to talk to Vern as a matter of fact yesterday when they gave us a chance to talk to him.  We got a chance to talk to him and make sure he's still doing school and doing what he's supposed to do.  I've got a couple of friends that were in college that recruited him and they said he was a very good player and did some good stuff.  It just so happened that they didn't get him, so that was good for us.  Then we had a guy that did recruit him and he did go to UCLA, so they put their stamp on him and said he was a good guy—he'll be good for us with what we're trying to do.


(on whether or not Akeem Ayers will be held up in joining the Titans because of college commitments)

I'm not sure, I'm not sure.


The graduation thing just came out, so I haven't had a chance to look at them and stuff.  Most of those graduations on the west coast are either the end of May or early June.


(on the NFL getting their requested stay in the lockout ruling)

The last fifteen minutes?  I don't know anything about it.  Thanks for the news; we're lucky we didn't call anybody, I guess.  Maybe it will flip back, I don't know.  Obviously, it is disappointing for us; we are hoping we can get something worked out.  Obviously, as coaches we just want to get to work and get the players in the building and get going forward.  Today was a positive day in that regard.  It was nice having the guys in and being able to see some of the guys who are in town and get a chance to meet with some of the coaches and get with Steve Watterson.  We'll just have to wait and see how this thing unfolds over the weekend.

(on if it was helpful being able to meet with the players and hand out playbooks today before the lockout resumed)

Well it's very helpful.  Obviously, you want to be able to do that, but that is a little overrated.  Guys aren't going to be home studying the book for the next couple of months.  It's nice to be able to break the ice, especially with some of these guys, but we have to assume we'll get the opportunity soon.

(on if Akeem Ayers will be able to come in to the facility tomorrow)

I think they're allowed to come in until the draft ends.  No matter what the rules are, I think that was all set in place before this all got going.  So I'm assuming that we can have him in, just so we aren't talking to him, I guess, by the time the draft ends tomorrow night.

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