Titans staff unified on draft picks

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 7:44pm

The Tennessee Titans draft room was a harmonious place last weekend during the draft.

In most seasons, disputes will arise and there will be debates and dissention as scouts, coaches, head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Mike Reinfeldt all weigh in their opinions on players.

This year, however, there was little to debate in the war room, and that was a good thing, according to scouting coordinator Blake Beddingfield, who was in his first season of coordinating the draft meetings and planning and researching the prospects. He’s in his 10th year with the organization.

“Usually when you go into those meetings, you want everybody to be on the same page, but there’s almost always disagreements. The coaches want one player, the scouts recommend another,” Beddingfield said. “This was actually the first time since I’ve been here that everybody was actually in agreement. And it was that way on every pick, which is rare. There were really no arguments on any of the seven choices.”

With the promotion for Beddingfield came much more responsibility. He had been responsible for grading approximately 150 to 170 players. This year, he was responsible for about 400 players, in addition to planning the Titans’ 30 pre-draft visits, the 60 players the club met with at the NFL Combine and all the scheduling as well.

In terms of how the draft went, Beddingfield came away pleased with the Titans’ haul.

“I’m not ruling out us bringing in maybe another pro free agent or two just to create some competition at a place like safety, defensive tackle or offensive line, but I think we filled most of our needs in the draft,” Beddingfield said.

Several of the Titans’ picks, including first-round running back Chris Johnson and second-round defensive lineman Jason Jones played a notch below the top college competition. But Beddingfield doesn’t believe that sends any red flags, as many of the so-called experts view it.

“When you begin the process, you’re not really concerned with the school involved. You’re evaluating players,” he said. “Obviously, because of the competition level, you evaluate them a little differently than you would a player from Tennessee or Florida State that plays against top competition week-in and week-out. But you have to evaluate them and project them based on how they will adjust to this level.”

The other part of the draft where the Titans were questioned was at wide receiver, where the Tennessee waited until the fourth round to nab Lavelle Hawkins, rather than taking Devin Thomas in round one or trading up for Limas Sweed in the second.

“He’s a player we all liked,” Beddingfield said of Hawkins. “We took him a round later than where we had him rated. I feel like he’s going to be a competitive player. He can play all three wide receiver positions, which is rare. And he might add something in return game as well. He’s a high energy guy, and he’s got a lot of skills.”

Hawkins is reminiscent in some ways to former Titans standout Derrick Mason, who was also a fourth-round pick and blossomed under Mike Heimerdinger. Hawkins has some of the same qualities, but has one element that even Mason didn’t possess.

“He’s has a lot of those skills,” Beddingfield said. “He’s very similar in size and stature. Derrick wasn’t a blazing guy either. Lavelle is a little bit different of player. Derrick was really effective in middle of the field. Lavelle can do that, but he can also stretch the field.”

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By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 6:00

You have to know what the Titans "true" agenda was before you would be able to know why they were so unified. You also have to know what Bud Adams told them prior to the draft. Without this knowledge everything you read is just rhetoric.

By: JohnnyLaw on 12/31/69 at 6:00

The Titans make the same mistake, year after year: they burn top draft picks on "projects" where they see hidden potential that other teams miss. I have no problem with them looking for draft "bargains," but it's not a bargain anymore when you use a pick 1 or 2 rounds higher than anyone else projects them at! We draft Chris Henry, who nobody else had above the 3rd round, in the 2nd round last year; we took PacMan at 6 when the highest he was projected was #9 (and had to pay #6 bonus money), we took the then-unknown Roos (who turned out well) in the 2nd instead of the 4th or 5th, and we take a guy out of Winston Salem State in the 4th who we likely could have invited to camp as a free agent. It's as if they think that using a high pick on a guy makes him automatically worthy of that status. Can't we ever draft somebody who's proven themselves against top competition in college? I'd rather take an Earl Bennett, who played 3 years against the top corners of the SEC, than some combine wonder with 4.1 speed out of Eastern Oregon A & M. Hell, I'd been happy if we used our last draft pick this year on that D-III kid out of Chadron State!

By: Jagman on 12/31/69 at 6:00

This Bud's for us.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Like I have already said, I like our draft picks, especially Chris Johnson, he is electrifying and brings a lot to the offense and special teams. Lets grade it after a couple of years, not before they even take a snap. jagfan, don't they have an online newspaper in jacksonville?

By: nashbeck on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Let's wait until the season is underway. NFL teams are made up of 53 players, not 7 draft picks. We have a good nucleous, let's just win, win, win, and win some more until we are in the playoffs. Then why not win in the playoffs? GO TITANS AND PREDATORS!!!

By: tahoetitan3 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Please inform me what team draft boards you were able to see because I haven't found one analyst or sports reporter ever in any draft be able to grade or predict the potential stardom of NFL propects. Everyone is saying the Titans had a bad draft, why, because the analyst say they did. That's garbage. Show me one analyst that correctly predicted 90% of the 1st round picks or even better yet, show me one that correctly predicted 80% of the first round. You can't. Everyone can pick the first 10 picks but after that the analyst don't have a clue. If they did have a clue they wouldn't be working for ESPN, they would be on staff with an NFL team as a consultant. Check it out, even Mel Kiper had 4 or 5 WR's taken in the first round and not one analyst had Donnie Avery being the first WR picked up. How many WR's went in the first round. Wow, I guess every other NFL team missed out in the first round as well. But I guess since they are on TV and the internet that they are right and all the other NFL teams are wrong. I believe the titans spent more time than any analyst evaluating every player that would fit in with their current roster. I'm sure the analyst did not spend a lot of time going to pro-day workouts and interviewing all 400 or so NFL prospects. Most of them only research their stats online to come up with their mock drafts but you call them experts. I believe the professionals know more than the analyst and I believe we will not know how good this draft is until the players get on the field. So for all you negative Titan fans out there, go get a life and become a fan of another team. Go Titans!

By: JohnnyLaw on 12/31/69 at 6:00

FYI Tahoe, the Titans did not interview all 400 prospects: they met with 60 of them at the combine and had 30 of these come to Nashville. So they are just as dependent upon stats and film as the draft experts. My problem is that the Titans consistently take players that they could likely get much later in the draft with early draft picks, which is essentially overpaying for the player. Even if we assume that the Titans are better at identifying diamonds in the rough than other teams (a pretty big assumption, seeing as our starters are generally first-rounders or free agents), why not benefit from that insight by drafting those hidden studs later? They could even trade down in the draft, get the same players, and get more draft picks each year. To get an idea of how it is done, look at how the Pats or Colts (38 starters from 79 picks) pick -- drafts build champions. If we thought Tom Brady would be a star, bet we'd have picked him in the 2nd round, instead of the 6th. I'm tired of this BS theory of "pick the best player available" instead of drafting by need. And if you don't think the Ts need serious help at receiver, you must have been smoking crack during the games: our offense was woefully one-dimensional -- the defense earned us 80% of that 10-6 record. We suck at picking receivers, just ask Tyrone Calico (he's in town for his DUI hearing) or Kevin Dyson (nice guy but so-so in NFL). We had one really good receiver from the draft, and we let him go to the Ravens rather than pay him his worth! The Ts need to fill gaps with their draft picks and address immediate needs, not serve as a minor league where we develop prospects who can then go elsewhere to make big bucks in free agency.

By: JohnnyLaw on 12/31/69 at 6:00

And don't forget that the Ts actually traded their 5th round pick to move UP 21 spots in the 4th round to get Hayes. Bet he'd have still been around 2 rounds later, but certainly nobody else was going to take him 21 slots later -- he never even went to the combine. We took him because one of our scouts watched film of his dominanting performance against Florida A&M! The only one of these guys ready to be an everyday player is Hawkins since he is a physical receiver who can run block, which fits well into Fisher's don't-let-Vince-throw-longer-than-8-yards philosophy. Johnson will contribute as a 3rd-down option, but who picks a role player in the 1st round? I'm just glad we didn't draft a punter in the first 2 rounds(and we would have if he'd had a huge game against Florida A&M).

By: tahoetitan3 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Hey johnnylaw,i'm sure a lot of nfl teams could use your advise. you should look into changing your career and becoming a sports reporter or analyst. I'm sure you could predict and grade at least 70% of what actually happens in the draft. that should qualify you as an expert. the only thing i'm pointing out is that no analyst takes the time that NFL teams do when evaluating talent. they stick with the big name players because that is all they know and all they hear about. they get paid to report, not research or evaluate. they usually don't lose their jobs for picking the wrong players in their mock drafts. if they did, then every analyst that put out a mock draft this year would be out of a job. Be positive, smile from time to time, this is a great world we live in and its great to be a titans fan. you are a titans fan, right? GO TITANS!

By: JohnnyLaw on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Tahoe: if you think being a fan is agreeing blindly with everything your team doesn, then you are a much better fan than I. I think a fan supports his team by attending games (I have 3 PSLs) and keeping up with events that effect it. I suppose that wishing PacMan would leave is an act of disloyalty? Rather than make lame sarcastic quips demeaning my ability, maybe you could substantively address the points I raise on a factual or logical basis? It is obvious based on past performance that the Ts do not use the draft as effectively as other teams, so they need some self-examination; we are fast joining the Browns, bengals and Lions as teams that consistently fail to improve themselves with the draft -- there has to be a reason. Since the draft is so random and unknowable, maybe they should stop betting on all these longshots in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th rounds, and instead pick players who have faced strong competition in college -- they can invite the longshots to camp as free agents. There's a reason that high-draft-pick SEC players (on average, of course) perform well in the NFL: many of their opponents are also in the NFL. I'd rather take a 3-year-starter out of Ole Miss or USC than hope a guy from the WAC makes the leap to the pros. And on average, I'll be right more of the time. That's how you win a numbers game: it's like playing basic strategy in blackjack consistently rather than betting on a single # on the roulette wheel.