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.”