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Titans Comment on Drafting ILB Avery Williamson, QB Zach Mettenberger

Posted May 10, 2014

DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD

(on without the baggage and injury, would have Zach Mettenberger been a first or second round pick)

You know, it’s more than the round, it’s the kind of player that he is. He has excellent height, excellent arm strength, he played at a high level of competition in the SEC and he has the ability to compete in the NFL for a spot. Whether that’s a starting spot or a backup spot, he will determine that when he gets here.

HEAD COACH KEN WHISENHUNT

(on going up in the draft to get Mettenberger)

Well we considered him earlier, but when it got to the sixth round, we felt at that point that and especially after some of the other quarterbacks had gone, that we had to make a move to get him. We had heard that there were some other teams that were trying to move up to get him so at that point we felt like it was a low risk and high reward type of situation.

(on if Zach was one of the last QBs that they liked or one that they targeted the whole time)

Well John McNulty had been up there a couple of times because John went in there and worked him out a little over a week ago and spent a lot of time with him. He felt very strongly based off information that he got back just from meeting with him. Jon Salge spent a lot of time with him and knew a lot about him, so we felt good about him as a player, we were just looking for the right opportunity. It really doesn’t mater where he was in that progression, the only reason I made that reference about the quarterback was because what happened with the running backs. It seemed like when one went, the whole group of them went. That’s what scared me.

AREA SCOUT JOHN SALGE

(on if there is any concern of his character after meeting with him)

That’s not the sense you get when you meet him. You guys just spoke to him or maybe you haven’t yet, but when you do sit down and get to know the guy I think you will be surprised. Based on when you hear certain things and read certain things on the internet and you have some preconceived notions but Zach is a great guy to talk to. He is down-to-earth, he is a fun guy, he is an intelligent guy. I was impressed with him that way.

(on how much he gained by playing under Cam Cameron at LSU for his senior year)

Absolutely, he thrived under it. He has the mind to be a multiple progression quarterback, he can take snaps from center, he can do the play action and the roll outs. I was very impressed with his progression. When you look at the player and how he played in 2012 versus this past year, you see him ascending into this last year and that’s important to us as evaluators. We want to see players ascend into their final year and throughout that year. We are thrilled with the way he has come and there still is some improvement he can achieve at our level and we think he has the high upside to do that.

HEAD COACH KEN WHISENHUNT

(on if Mettenberger can be a contender for the starting job right away)

It’s hard until you get your hands on him and put him in our system and actually evaluate that. I think playing in the SEC against some great talent and good defenses, you get a real sense of where he is physically. John (McNulty) spent a lot of time with him mentally and he feels good about that but we have to see how he progresses learning it and really it’s up to him where it goes from there.

(on his expectations of Mettenberger just four months after ACL surgery)

Well he worked out at his pro day and did well. He worked out for John (McNulty) and John ran that. I think that’s obviously, something that you have to check out when he comes in here for sure, but we don’t anticipate he will be limited in what he can do. I don’t know the exact timing of all that, but he is very close to being able to go. I don’t want to speak until Todd (Toriscelli) gets him in here to check him out to make sure but I know that when we did our final reports medically for the combine, they were very good about where his knee was.

(on how he compares with some of the quarterbacks that he has had success with in the past)

All of those guys are different. We will get a chance to see what he can do. I think the biggest thing is just competing for an opportunity. He has to come in here with that attitude and just with talking with him I feel like that’s what he will do.

(on character issues with multiple draft picks)

I think you just base it off what you know and you have to look at where you got them. Like said, I think it’s a low risk and high reward pick. That’s part of this process and we feel really good about it.

(on if he thinks that he might have the ‘steal of the draft’)

I hope so. We feel good about our draft to this point. We still have a little bit of time left to go and who knows what can happen there, but you always feel that way. You are excited to make these picks and you put a lot of work into it. These guys, Blake (Beddingfield) Jon (Salge), the whole group has put a tremendous amount of work in and coaches involved in getting to this point. We are excited and it’s a good feeling to get in the draft room and get a chance make these picks now and get a chance to get on the field and see what they can do.

(on if he wants Jake Locker to feel uncomfortable about his long-term situation)

I can’t speak about a long-term situation with Jake, that’s something that will play itself out based on how everybody plays. Every player in the NFL, it’s based on what he does now. It doesn’t matter what he has done in the past or what you think he can do in the future. That’s why you play the games. I heard that somewhere. We feel good about Jake. That doesn’t change our opinion on Jake, we are just trying to make our football team better.

(on what he knows about the urine sample in question at the NFL combine)

That’s part of the NFL policy and not really something that we can comment on. It’s not my area. I feel good about where he is as a player and we are excited to get him in here and see where he is physically and what he can do.

(on if he is coming in already in the NFL substance abuse program)

I don’t know. If I tried to speak on that I wouldn’t know. It’s not an area that I feel like I can talk about.

(on where he was on the Titans draft board)

Well we grade our players not necessarily based on rounds, but I think once you put the final grade on him and you get a sense where they will go round wise he was a higher rated player on our board than what you would anticipate in the sixth round. That’s part of what led to being so excited about getting him.

(on if taking a quarterback in the lower rounds has much history of success other than Tom Brady)

I think you evaluate the player and where you are as a team and how he fits with your team. I don’t think that statistically just because that’s the case doesn’t mean it’s any more predisposed to determine the outcome of this particular player.

DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD

(on his ability to make NFL throws and arm strength)

He would rank in the upper third of all the quarterbacks with the arm strength, no question about it. That’s one of his best attributes. He has great size and he is strong in the pocket and he has a strong arm. He can make all of the NFL throws with his arm.

(on how Mettenberger grades mentally)

Well, that’s something, when you go into a school and talk to the coaching staff and you find out what he can handle mentally, what do they put on him, what do they allow him to do at the line of scrimmage and with an NFL offensive coordinator they had this year, they put a little bit more on him. So that was something he was able to handle.

(on the quarterback group as a whole)

I think overall it was a solid group of quarterbacks. I think every quarterback brought something a little bit different to the table. You could take an athletic quarterback, you could take a move guy in the pocket or you could take more of a pocket-type passer. I think there were a number of different type quarterbacks this year, and that will play itself out this year, whether it’s the sixth-round pick, the two fifth-round picks or some of the upper level choices.

HEAD COACH KEN WHISENHUNT

(on Mettenberger’s troubled past)

Well, I think people are put in situations or faced with things in their life that happen, all of us do that. I know my children have been in situations like that.  There’s a lot of work that’s put in…I shouldn’t say situations like that, I’m not comparing that to Zach’s situation, I’m just saying you put a lot of work into those areas and you have to feel comfortable with them. I think the way Zach handles himself when he comes here will determine how people feel about him, on and off the field. I think it’s important that he represents the Titans the right way and that’s important to us.

(on how Avery Williamson fits in defensive scheme)

Well, he’s an inside guy, we think that can play multiple downs, has a little bit of flexibility positionally, and can play both, as far as the inside positions, and we felt like he was a good football player.

DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD

(on Williamson’s abilities) 

I think we’re always looking for a player like Avery. He’s got great intangibles, he’s a leadership-type player, he’s been a special teams-type player, he’s an inside backer, like coach said, he could probably play multiple positions as well as special teams. This is a kid that’s been productive on a high level of football versus very good competition. He played injured a little bit this year and played through it and was very tough…this is a kid that’s got a lot going for him.

HEAD COACH KEN WHISENHUNT

(on defensive picks)

We said coming into this draft we felt good about our football team and that we were looking for opportunities. I think we tried to stay true to that through this process. We were looking at the players that could best help us and we feel very good about the guys we got in the draft.

(on schedule for draft picks)

They’re coming in tomorrow. Monday, they will have a morning orientation, essentially understanding a lot of the things they have to do, getting a physical, getting checked, and then Monday afternoon they’ll get indoctrinated into the Steve Watterson lifting program. Essentially, what they’ll do is, in the mornings we’ll have things for them to do, part of it will be meeting with coaches, part of it will be meeting with our player programs people, just getting them a kick-start or jump-start on that part of it, and then the afternoon they’ll be with Steve. So, they’ll get a little bit of football, a little bit of life skills and then afternoon lifting with Steve.  We’ll have mini-camp next weekend, rookie mini-camp next weekend, and then the following Monday, a week from this Monday, then they’ll go into the groups with our veterans and work with them. So then they’ll be into phase two with our veteran players in the mornings and then in the afternoon, their life skills program will continue that way. We wanted to give them a week to get in here and kind of oriented with Coach Watterson and his program, get them caught up, see where they are physically, a lot of these guys have been training for the combine, training for their workouts, which is different from what our players maybe have been doing in here for the last couple of weeks, so you don’t want to throw them in there with them right away. Steve will try to get a base with them this week and then next week, a week from now, after the mini-camp, then we’ll be together for one last week of phase two and then we’ll go into the OTA’s. (Mini-camp) Friday, Saturday, Sunday: two Friday, two Saturday and one Sunday. 

DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD

(on the number of undrafted free agents to add to the  roster)

We’re probably kicking around a number of 12 or 13 undrafted free agents. We’ll work on that after the draft is over, after everybody’s been selected, so, probably about 12 or 13. 

(on Mettenberger’s interaction with college teammates)

Very good, actually, that was one of the things we liked about Zach. With the two NFL caliber wide receivers, the NFL caliber running back they had, they have a lot of good players there, he fit right in. He fit right in as a student-athlete, but as a person, as a worker, as someone, who as a quarterback, you have to kind of rally around and players did. I think you could see it if you look at the video of his knee injury, players really came around him at that time and felt for him when he had that knee injury. That says a lot about a player. 

(on Mettenberger taking hits in the pocket)

That goes a long way. You look at the Alabama game, tough, he’s trying to drive that team down for a score, he’s taking hits but he’s delivering throws down the field. He did that in a number of games in his career, so yeah, that adds to his pluses.

HEAD COACH KEN WHISENHUNT

(on getting a quarterback right out of college)

I enjoy working with quarterbacks. They’re all different. I’ve been very lucky to work with some outstanding quarterbacks, each one of them is different, I don’t really look at it that way. I’m excited to work with Zach, I’m excited to work with Jake (Locker), obviously with Charlie (Whitehurst) and even Tyler (Wilson). Our four that we’ve got on the team right now, all different, came different ways, but excited to work with all of them.

(on how Jake Locker should respond to new quarterbacks)

You guys have spent more time with Jake probably over the years than I have. You could have a better sense of that. I don’t think…Jake’s a competitor. He’s been working very hard. I’ve been very pleased with what he’s done. Listen, the NFL is about competition and it’s about playing the best players. I think everybody is aware of that. To me, I certainly don’t see Jake as a guy that would shy away from that.

(on whether the starting quarterback job is open)

I thought we’ve said Jake…is that different, than what we’ve said with Jake being the guy? Well, did we not say Jake was the guy coming in?  Why would that change?  Jake is still the guy. We brought six guys in right now and they’re not all immediately starters.

(on whether the quarterback job is Locker’s to lose)

Well, I think that’s fair to say about all of our players. We’re looking for the best team, the best group of players and this is a competitive sport. I have a lot of respect for the guys that have done it in this league, that have played, and I’m excited about seeing where we are as a football team, when we actually can get in and really start competing in pre-season games, some of the OTA’s and training camp, that’s what this is all about.

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