It’s no secret to anyone that the Tennessee Titans plan to select a quarterback at some point in the 2011 NFL draft.
Mike Munchak gave some insight Tuesday into just what type of quarterback they want. Or did he?
“Probably similar to what we’ve been doing,” the first-year head coach said.
One problem. It’s not as if the Titans have done exactly one thing.
In recent years, the workload at that position was split between Kerry Collins and Vince Young, neither of whom is likely to return for the 2011 season.
Young was the 2006 offensive rookie of the year and a two-time Pro Bowler who twice rallied the Titans from miserable starts to the season (both of them under Collins) to within a whisker of the playoffs.
Collins was the tall, sturdy veteran who hung in the pocket and attempted to make plays down the field with his big arm. He guided the team almost from start to finish in its best season of the last decade, 2008 when it went 13-3.
“Obviously, the running game is a big part of our offense, when you have Chris Johnson in it,” Munchak said. “We’re going to be featuring him in a lot of ways. So you want someone that can tie into that, which is obviously a guy that can move, mobile, can go in and out of the pocket, you can run some boot stuff that helps the run game.”
That sounds like Young and suggests that he and offensive coordinator Chris Palmer are interested in someone like Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton of Auburn.
Assuming Newton is picked before the Titans have a chance to get him eighth overall, there are lesser versions such as Colin Kaepernick of Nevada, the only player in college football history to throw for better than 9,000 yards and rush for better than 4,000 in a career, or Tyrod Taylor of Virginia Tech.
Munchak was not done, though.
“You want a play-action game, where you’re going to go and be able to make the deep throw,” he said. “Those are the things right off the bat that there’s guys in the draft that obviously we feel very comfortably can do. Then you look at the intangibles on some of these guys and the leadership, that’s going to be a big part of it.”
That sounds more like Collins and suggests the likes of Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, Arkansas Ryan Mallett, Florida State’s Christian Ponder, TCU’s Andy Dalton and Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi.
Perhaps the best mix of all of those traits is Washington’s Jake Locker, a player the Titans have evaluated extensively.
“I feel good that we’ve done our due diligence on every quarterback,” vice president of player personnel Ruston Webster said. “We didn’t really play favorites. We saw them all and brought them all in here and did our work on them, so I feel good about that.
“As far as [Locker] goes, I think it’s kind of like everything else in this draft. It’s kind of a matter of opinion and what you’re looking for out of the position.”
The good news is that at a time when the Titans need to overhaul the quarterback position, it looks as if there are plenty of good quarterbacks available.
Titans’ officials said as many as six or seven quarterbacks could be drafted in the first round, which is two to three times as many as in normal years.
“So it’s a good year overall,” Webster said. “Everybody’s going to have a different idea of what they’re looking for. The west coast teams are going to look for one thing, the other schemes are going to look for something else. It really just depends on the team.”
With a new head coach, new assistants and a general manager who never has had a first-round choice among the top 15, it’s tough to know for sure exactly what the Titans covet.
“Beauty is kind of in the eye of the beholder,” General Manager Mike Reinfeldt said. “I think we’re all looking for different things from a quarterback, so in some people’s mind, it may be a huge decision. In others’ it may be no decision at all, depending on what you value in that quarterback.
“It’s an art. It’s not a science. It’s not a thing that’s going to weigh two pounds. It’s how you evaluate all this information, and there’s a lot of information.”
And there’s a lot that the Titans would like to get in the guy they choose in Thursday’s first round or in the later rounds that follow Friday and Saturday.
“When you pick a guy in that position, you’re expecting a lot,” Munchak said. “A lot is expected at that position. You’re hoping he can make the guys around him better. Those are the things kind of you’re looking at when you make that decision.”