While hundreds of players, coaches and scouts prepare to leave Indianapolis, the media is left to sift through the wreckage of another NFL Scouting Combine hoping to find the tidbits that matter among all the sprints, lifts and banal press conferences.
The Tennessee Titans had their share of fascinating nuggets to emerge from the week.
Here are the key stories from the combine as they affect Tennessee.
Ruston Webster Addressed the Media
Webster offered little insight about what the Titans are thinking. NFL Draft Scout transcribed his interview, and there wasn't much to it.
There were several direct questions about the team's interest in guards, free agency, running backs and the need to protect Jake Locker. The GM essentially affirmed everything anyone asked him without elaborating much.
His comment about a willingness to draft a guard in the first round raised eyebrows, especially as there seem to be guards available where the Titans are picking.
I think it can be a value. It needs to be a player you see coming into your team and making a difference, upgrading you and possibly being an outstanding player at the position.
I have never been one to say you don't take a guard in the first round or whatever, or some people say don't take a receiver in the first round. I have never looked at it that way.If there is somebody there that is a special player then we take a look at it.
Of course, even that quote lacked any firm conviction. While offensive line help is needed in Tennessee, a guard would have to be truly special to be worth a top-10 pick. The impact of even an elite guard on an offense is minimal compared with the effect a quarterback has.
Mike Munchak Spoke
In contrast to Webster, Munchak elaborated on why the guard position has been so devalued.
I think what's changed is the defensive ends changing in stature. You've got guys that are 255 pounds that can rush the quarterback the way they can now. They're great athletes. Back when I played in the '80s, maybe even earlier, the ends were bigger guys and you had more tackles available that can probably match up.
I think it became a match up problem for the left tackles. They're hard to find. It's hard to find guys that are 255 pounds and can rush. So the supply and demand is lessened, and I think the demand for tackles became more valuable, especially a left tackle.
For that reason,you have guards, there are more of them and you push that back a little bit. But if you have someone that is special,someone that is really good, that kind of gets thrown out the window. So you have to decide where you want to pick a guy like that.
It's clear that a player would have to be of exceptional caliber to be worth spending a top-10 pick for a non-impact position. When pressed, Munchak followed up by talking about how big a need interior linemen were for the Titans.
We need some help on the interior of the line. We need to take a look at free agency, which we will here in the next month, and the draft. Again, it's a good year for offensive linemen and I always think it's a good year for offensive linemen.
I think there are more name guys that people know from top to bottom - maybe that's why I think it's more - but you can develop a lot of offensive linemen in that fifth, sixth and seventh rounds also. So you really have to do your homework more there, because there are a lot of good ways to build your roster.
You don't only have to use first and second-round picks at that position to get it done, but sometimes it's a good idea to have those types of guys. You want guys that you say hopefully he's gonna be our guard or center for the next 10 years. And I think that's what you look at in a draft like this with someone like us looking for offensive linemen. But all options are on the table as far as how we're gonna fix the offensive line.
In other words, the Titans need linemen, but there are many ways to get them.
He also spoke about the team's own free-agents-to-be.
He's (Jared Cook) a big priority. He and Sen'Derrick and Rob. Those are three guys that we've been talking to. We can't control when they're ready to talk to us or when they want to work a deal. Most players when they get this close to free agency want to test the market. '
That's why we fought for it. I was a part of two strikes to get free agency available for these guys. So a lot of times guys want to wait it out and see. It doesn't mean they don't want to be here, and it doesn't mean we don't want them. It means they want to see if there is something better out there than what we have here.
Cook is definitely someone that we feel very strongly about. We feel he's a big part of us having success next year is having him in the offense and using him in different ways like I talked about before with the changes we made on the offensive side of the ball, we feel can give him an opportunity to catch more balls and be more productive and maybe have him be more efficient with the plays he's in there without overworking him either at that position.
Chris Johnson Kept His Record
The fact that a combine sprint record is any kind of a story illustrates just how silly the combine is. Still, Johnson's five-year-old record for the 40 held up under stiff challenges.
According to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean, Marquise Goodwin and Tavon Austin nearly took down Johnson, but his time of 4.24 seconds still stands.
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