NASHVILLE – Just minutes after the Titans selected Rashad Weaver in the fourth round of the NFL Draft, the outside linebacker gave his own draft day critique.
Weaver, a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award (presented to the national defensive player of the year) during his final season at Pittsburgh, said he felt like the Titans got the biggest steal of the draft.
In his preseason debut against the Falcons, Weaver made quite a first impression as he began to make his case.
"Honestly, after the game I was pretty confused," Weaver said with a smile on Sunday. "In college, I was nervous before games, but I was super-relaxed out there (in Atlanta). I was just like, 'There's nothing to lose, just go out there and have fun, play, and show what you've got."
While playing 39 snaps, Weaver showed he's pretty talented.
In Tennessee's 23-3 win over the Falcons, Weaver was credited with 1.5 sacks, two quarterback hits, three tackles, and one tackle for a loss in the contest, and he also batted down a pass
Weaver said the coaching staff told him to let go of the stress, and play.
"Just getting the green light from Coach Vrabel and the coaches, to just go hard, go play, and we'll fix the stuff on film," Weaver said. "When someone tells you that, they just want to see you play hard with effort, you can just go out there and run around full speed and make good things happen."
Weaver, selected with the 135th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, missed the entire 2019 season due to a torn ACL injury. The injury followed a 2018 season when Weaver started all 14 games and compiled 47 tackles, 14 TFLs, 6.5 sacks, four pass breakups, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles.
Weaver said he learned a lot of patience, and a lot about himself, while recovering from the injury, and in 2020 he exploded back on the scene while earning consensus All‐America status last season with the Panthers from four of the NCAA's recognized selectors: Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and Walter Camp Football Foundation.
In nine games in 2020, Weaver (6-4, 259) totaled 35 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He led the ACC in sacks per game (0.83 avg.) and tackles for loss per game (1.61 avg.).
His new teammates with the Titans were impressed with his NFL debut.
"Those guys are always messing with me, so they're hyping me up and stuff," Weaver said with a smile. "And I am just like, 'Chill, I've got to stay level-headed.' And they are like, 'It's OK to be happy and smile.' I am walking around here just trying to stay focused and keep (working) each day."
Weaver, of course, knows he still has a lot of work to do.
He's still learning, and he's trying to improve so he'll be ready to make an impact during the regular season.
When Weaver watches himself on film, he sees plenty of room for improvement.
He knows he's just getting started.
"That goes back to college, the way we ran our d-line room," Weaver said. "I constantly look at what I need to work on. Even plays that I made, (I look) at what I did wrong and could have done better, because there's always going to be better competition, or someone that is going to be prepared for the next play.
"So you have to prepare yourself for those plays when it is not that easy. I always look at what I can do better."