Titans Recap Draft
Jeff Fisher (Getty Photo)
TitansInsider.com
Posted Apr 28, 2008


GM Mike Reinfeldt and Coach Jeff Fisher talk about this year's draft class

GM Mike Reinfeldt & Head Coach Jeff Fisher

Opening Statement

Reinfeldt “Thank you again for being here. Obviously we have concluded the draft. I think the whole process went well. I think a lot of the players we identified were there when we thought they would be. I think we addressed some needs in the draft to help the football team. All in all I think it was a very productive day. We’re pleased with the results. We’re still in the process of signing some college free agents. We’ll probably sign 8-10 college free agents to fill out the roster.”

(On if there was less of a gap between top-tier and middle-tier receivers in the draft)

Reinfeldt “I think it compressed it down, quite honestly. The young man we took in the fourth round (Lavelle Hawkins), he’s a guy that we considered earlier. We like him as a player and we thought he had some special qualities that he brought to the table. He’s a guy that we considered taking higher.”

(On if players drafted will get a role in game early on)

Reinfeldt “I think the guys we took really can help us early, especially as role players. They don’t have to be starters, but I think they have a chance to be productive as far as in some role. I think it’s important and that’s part of our process in taking these young men.”

(On how early they thought they could take a wide receiver)

Reinfeldt “We thought we had a chance to take one somewhere in the middle rounds. As it turned out it was kind of compressed downward and we were able to come back and get what we needed.”

(On if there wasn’t a No. 1 wide receiver in the draft class)

Reinfeldt “I don’t think we viewed those people as potential one receivers, or they were special receivers. That being said, they had traits and it was a matter of finding a guy that fit our needs.”

(On if they are satisfied that they have guys that can make plays)

FisherChris Johnson is a playmaker. You will see that from day one. He is special from that standpoint. We feel like the tight end (Craig Stevens) has a chance to make plays. People have said, and we share the same opinion, that he is a very, very talented blocker. He has an upside as a receiver. We feel like Lavelle (Hawkins) can make plays for us. All in all we filled holes. We had a need on the defensive line. We got two players that we feel are going to play very early. As we wound down we had the linebacker that we feel is going to be a playmaker on special teams right off the bat and has a chance to earn a job in the future. Of course Cary (Williams) is a guy that can just run. He can run, and he had a great workout. We have had some success in the late rounds at that position. I think he can do some things special teams wise and has a chance to play.  All in all, considering, we feel very good about it.”

(On cornerback Cary Williams being similar to Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan)

Fisher “There is a chance.  We will wait and see. They are similar. I think Cary is just a little bit taller. I don’t know that he has the change of direction that Cortland does, but that doesn’t mean to say that he is not going to be a very good player. At that point, you are looking for people who can come in and fill a spot. We have a need for a gunner. We have a need for a guy that can cover kicks. Cary is a guy with speed that also returns and makes plays. I would assume his contribution will start in the area of special teams as we develop him at the corner spot much like we did with Cortland.”

(On who will be in mix for returning kickoffs)

Fisher “We brought Chris Carr in because we know Chris can return kickoffs. We’ve seen that. We obviously played against him. Chris Davis can catch punts and return kickoffs and obviously we haven’t given up on Chris as far as punt returns … We’ve got guys that can do it.  Chris Johnson can return kickoffs. We have guys that can do it.  Lavelle has returned kickoffs.  We don’t have a shortage right now for returners.”

(On who will be in mix for returning kickoffs)

Reinfeldt “We probably created some great competition at those spots. Who is ultimately going to be the guy? I think the competition will determine that. We have a number of people who have done it and done it well.”

(On decision to draft a tight end)

Fisher “We have always valued that position. Signing Alge (Crumpler), we feel like we really upgraded the position. Yet, you can’t ever have enough depth there.  It seems like we’ve had injuries at the position.  Craig (Stevens), as I said, is a very good blocker. He will be a complete tight end for us. The roster thing shakes itself out. It’s not unusual that we would keep four.  There’s certainly a possibility there.  He is a guy that we were kind of hoping would be there in that [third] round.”

(On decision to draft a tight end)

Reinfeldt “He is also a guy that has an upside as a receiver, too. He can run.  He wasn’t used that much.  They had some other people that both got drafted.  But he is a guy that we think has a chance to develop into a nice receiving tight end.”

(on whether if they did not get a tight end in the draft, if they would now be looking for one)

Fisher “There are times when you can satisfy a need that may not be an immediate need, but solidify a position for a very long time. That is particularly the reason that we went with Stevens because we felt Stevens was there. We had him graded much higher. It was one of these positions that we could not pass up on.”

(on the mood in the first round when two running backs came off the board before Chris Johnson)

Fisher “Well, when we got four picks away, we felt very good because we knew us being the fourth pick, we knew we were going to get one of those four players, and there was a tremendous sense of relief.  There was some discussion six to eight picks prior that if they were gone, then we would potentially try to move out.  But once we had those four players on the board, there was no doubt.”

(on the mood before the first-round pick)

Reinfeldt “And we would have been comfortable with any of those four that came to us.  When it became clear that we were going to get one of those people, I think it was a sense of relief.”

(on whether this year’s draft picks will have an immediate impact)

Reinfeldt “Well I think also the guys last year, in their second year, you’d like production out of those people.  Chris Johnson, I think he’s going to get a chance to be productive right away and get opportunities.  I think the defensive lineman (Jason Jones) will have a chance to hit the field.  I think Stevens, the tight end, is going to get a chance.  Hawkins the receiver, I think through the first four rounds, all of those players are going to have an opportunity.” 

(on this year’s draft picks having a more immediate impact than last year’s draft)

Fisher “You know I haven’t given up on last year’s draft class.  I have seen some things out of Paul Williams and Chris Davis and Chris Henry and even Mike Otto.  These guys are having a great off-season.  I haven’t given up on that class.  I think that this class, top to bottom, has a chance to get on the field and be active on Sunday.  That’s what you are looking for.  Chris Johnson, obviously, both the defensive linemen have a chance to be active and play in the rotation.  Lavelle has a chance obviously to be active, Stanford should be active as a special teams player.  And Cary, if he is what we think he’s going to be, has a chance to be active as a special teams player.  You’re talking about six or seven picks that have a chance to be active on Sundays, I think that’s pretty impressive.”

(on moving up 21 picks in the fourth round to get William Hayes)

Reinfeldt “Well, I think what happens there is you have time to reflect and we felt in the fourth round that there was a chance to get a player that we felt could have huge upside and use a pick to go up and get that guy at defensive end.  You talk about that as a group, the coaches, the scouts.  You give up the pick and you go get the guy.” 

(on moving up 21 picks in the fourth round to get William Hayes)

Fisher “The value for moving that far was very much in our favor as well.”

(on how draft reviews affect him)

Fisher “We’re not concerned whatsoever.  It seems like every year you have to remind people, ‘Why don’t you grade this draft four years from now?’  That’s how you grade drafts, you grade in the future.  You don’t grade them now.  These guys haven’t been fitted for helmets yet.  So it doesn’t concern us whatsoever.  This was a great weekend for this franchise. Mike and his staff did a great job, every pick that we made we were all very excited about it.  With that being said the next step is to go coach them.  If anybody wants to grade us, so be it.”

(on the comparison of Cary Williams to Kansas CB Agib Talib)

Fisher “Yes, at his workout.  There were a number of clubs at the workout.  We were represented at the workout.  The numbers were very similar.” 

(on being able to be flexible with draft picks)

Reinfeldt “I think it helped us because we were always able to explore a number of alternatives.  When you are not in desperate need you can take a look at three or four players that make sense at that spot.  You can talk it through with the coaches, the scouts, and kind of get a consensus pick of what makes the most sense for your team, who has the most upside, who has the chance to be the best player.  That does help the whole process.”

(on positions that needed to be address that were not addressed in the draft)

Reinfeldt “Well, I think we like where our football team is today.  I think at the same time, our goal, or job, is to continue to try to get better every day.  As we go forward here, we will continue to explore trades, waivers, whatever it might be, but it will be a continual process to get the best talent that we can get.” 

(on not drafting an offensive lineman)

Fisher “Danny (Loper) did a great job filling in for us last year.  Mike Otto obviously, as I mentioned, is improving.  We’ve got versatility inside as well.  As Mike alluded to, we’re in that eighth round now, and we are signing undrafted free agents.  It seems like just about every year that Munch (offensive line coach Munchak) does a great job of coaching one of those guys up, so we have a confidence level that we will have plenty of depth there.” 

(on this year’s offensive line class)

Fisher “It wasn’t a bad year at all; there were six offensive tackles drafted in the first round.  It was a great year for offensive linemen.  It would imply that it’s just not necessarily a need of ours right now.” 

(on this year’s offensive line class)

Reinfeldt “Especially at the top it was really, probably a very good year for offensive linemen.  It may have been a little thinner as it went down, but there were still some opportunities there.”

(on his comfort level in this year’s draft in comparison to last year’s draft)

Reinfeldt “Quite a bit so.  I think it is better because you know the process better, but you also know the people.  The interaction is better.  I think it’s still hectic, there is pressure, there is stress.  There are things happening with all the trades going on, but I think we have a good group of people that works together.  So it’s better.”

(on Chris Johnson being a playmaker)

Fisher “I’m not going to make predictions on catches and carries and touchdowns and things, but he’s a difference making player.  You get the ball in his hands, and he’s got a chance to do some real good things.  It would be incumbent on us as on the offensive staff to design ways to get the ball in his hands.  And there’s one way he has proven at a level that he can make plays by simply turning and handing the ball to him.  He’s a good running back and a very good change of pace back for us.” 

(on Chris Johnson being a playmaker)

Reinfeldt “He’s one of those guys as a defense that you have to account for the guy.  You’ve got to know where the guy is and know what he does, so he changes the perspective of the game there a little bit.” 

(on having a change of pace back)

Fisher “We haven’t had a change of pace like this.  We’ve either had running backs or we’ve had receivers, but we’ve never had a guy that can do both that you can create mismatches with.  That’s what we were hoping to accomplish in this year’s draft.  That staff, and Mike and everybody, we’re OK with our running backs right now.  We’re okay with LenDale (White) and we’re OK with Chris (Henry).  Both of them should continue to get better.  But we needed a change up, a unique change up.  With Vince in the shotgun and Chris potentially next to him in the shotgun, there’s some problems (for the defense).”

(on Chris Johnson’s speed transferring to the field)

Fisher “Yes it does.  Cole Proctor pointed out yesterday that this is not a track guy playing football, this is a football player with track speed, exceptional track speed.”

Transcript courtesy of the Tennessee Titans



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