NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans own the 20th overall selection and a total of seven picks in the 2012 NFL Draft, which begins April 26 and lasts seven rounds over three days.
The NFL will conduct the draft from Radio City Music Hall in New York City, while Titans personnel will be headquartered at Baptist Sports Park in Nashville.
This year's Titans draft is the first overseen by new executive vice president/general manager Ruston Webster, who was promoted in January from vice president of player personnel.
ON THE AIR AND THE WEB
For the third consecutive year, the draft will attract a primetime, weeknight audience, beginning with the first round on Thursday night, April 26, at 7 p.m. CDT. The second and third rounds are set for Friday, April 27 beginning at 6 p.m. CDT, and the draft concludes with Rounds 4-7 on Saturday, April 28 at 11 a.m. CDT. The current format was unveiled for the first time in 2010.
Fans can watch the draft in its entirety on NFL Network and ESPN. Radio listeners can tune to the Titans Radio Network, including Nashville flagship 104.5 The Zone. Titans Radio will feature special draft programming throughout the weekend, including gavel-to-gavel coverage of the first round.
TitansOnline.com, the official website of the Tennessee Titans, will provide up-to-the-minute information on the team's selections and press conferences with Webster, head coach Mike Munchak and other members of the organization.
Additionally, fans can follow the Titans through social media platforms, including facebook.com/titans and Google . On Twitter, users can follow the team at @tennesseetitans and also use the hashtag #TitansDraft.
The Titans currently hold one pick in all seven rounds. For the first time since 2007, they did not receive any compensatory draft choices, which were awarded based on net unrestricted free agency losses in 2011. The Titans still could use trades to deal or acquire additional picks.
Draft order is based upon reverse finish in the NFL standings. The Titans, the lone squad in 2011 to finish 9-7 and not make the playoffs, are assigned to the 20th overall position in each of the seven rounds (actual pick in the third round is 19th due to Oakland's pick being exercised in the 2011 supplemental draft). The 20th slot is the lowest the Titans have picked in the first round since 2009, when they had the 30th choice.
Only once before in franchise history have the Titans/Oilers possessed the 20th overall pick in the draft. In 1987, they used the selection on wideout Haywood Jeffires from N.C. State. Jeffires went on to become the second-leading receiver in franchise history with 515 career catches.
Other notable 20th-overall picks through the years include defensive end Jack Youngblood (1971 by the L.A. Rams), safety Steve Atwater (1989 by Denver), and more recently linebacker Tamba Hali (2006 by Kansas City), cornerback Aqib Talib (2008 by Tampa Bay) and tight end Brandon Pettigrew (2009 by Detroit). Last year's 20th pick, defensive end Adrian Clayborn, went to Tampa Bay and notched 7.5 sacks as a rookie.
The Titans' remaining overall selection numbers include pick 52 (second round), 82 (third), 115 (fourth), 155 (fifth), 190 (sixth) and 227 (seventh).
FRONT OFFICE PROMOTIONS
Only three weeks removed from their 2011 season finale, Titans owner K.S. "Bud" Adams, Jr. announced significant restructuring within the Titans front office that included Webster's promotion. Mike Reinfeldt, who held the title of general manager since 2007, simultaneously was promoted to senior executive vice president/chief operating officer. Additionally, Lake Dawson was given the title of vice president of player personnel.
Reinfeldt now oversees both football and non-football aspects of the organization, while Webster controls the day-to-day football operations for the team.
Webster, age 49, has six total years of experience heading up the player personnel departments on three different teams—two years with the Titans (2010–2011), four with the Seattle Seahawks (2006–2009) and one with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2005). His time in Seattle included a stint as interim general manager in 2009. He has spent the majority of his career with the Buccaneers, gaining experience as a regional scout for 10 seasons (1988, 1992–2000), director of pro personnel for three seasons (1989–1991) and director of college scouting for four years (2001–2004).
"What I like to do is study players and personnel, and that will be a big part of who I am as a GM," Webster said. "You kind of have to stick with what you know, and that's what I'll do.
"All of us want a certain kind of player here. We want good, talented players that are also hard workers and tough guys and the type of men that the people in Nashville can be proud of."
A graduate of Ole Miss, Webster began his career as an assistant coach with one-year stops at Southwestern Louisiana, Alabama and Tulsa.
Reinfeldt described Webster as "a very hard worker" with a "great eye for talent." He added: "He does all the little detail things that you have to do in this business. I think he's very good with people, he's a good listener, he's good with the coaches, and he's good with the scouts. All of the things that make a good GM, he's very capable of doing those things."
RECENT DRAFT HISTORY
Reinfeldt, a former Oilers safety who was hired as general manager in February 2007, led the team's draft efforts for five years Of the 46 players drafted by the Titans from 2007 through 2011, 30 (65 percent) are still on the roster to form the nucleus of the club.
Three of Reinfeldt's picks—safety Michael Griffin (first round in 2007), running back Chris Johnson (first round in 2008) and wide receiver/returner Marc Mariani (seventh round in 2010)—have been selected to the Pro Bowl. Another first-rounder, wide receiver Kenny Britt (2009), led the team in receiving yards in each of his two seasons before suffering a season-ending knee injury in the third game of 2011. Defensive end Derrick Morgan, a first-round selection in 2010, missed most of his rookie season with a knee injury but returned to appear in 15 games in his second campaign.
Last year, the Titans received significant contributions from the rookie class, which was headed by quarterback Jake Locker. All nine draft picks spent the entire 17 weeks of the regular season on the 53-man roster, and several played key roles.
Locker was selected with the eighth overall pick after a standout career at the University of Washington. He made a positive first impression in limited duty in the regular season behind starter Matt Hasselbeck. Locker appeared in five total contests and passed for 542 yards and four touchdowns without throwing an interception. He added 56 yards and one rushing touchdown. Against the Saints on Dec. 11, he passed for 282 yards, the second-highest total in franchise history by a rookie signal caller (331 by Jacky Lee on Nov. 25, 1960).
While Locker took most of his rookie campaign to grow in a reserve role, the Titans unearthed several defensive rookies that made an immediate impact, including third-round pick Jurrell Casey and fifth-rounder Karl Klug at defensive tackle. Casey was entrenched all season as a starter (15 starts), led the team's defensive linemen with 74 tackles and added 2.5 sacks. Meanwhile, Klug was one of the team's best pass rushers. He led the team with seven sacks, which tied for sixth place among all NFL rookies and tied for fourth among all NFL defensive tackles.
Rookie linebackers Akeem Ayers (second-round pick) and Colin McCarthy (fourth-round pick) also became integral parts of the defense. Ayers, the first Titans rookie to start all 16 games since safety Tank Williams in 2002, led all Titans linebackers with 88 tackles, the second-highest total for a Titans rookie since 1999 (103 by Alterraun Verner in 2010). McCarthy was not far behind, totaling 76 tackles and a team-high eight tackles for loss despite not entering the starting lineup until after midseason.