- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Five things to be conscious of as the Tennessee Titans get set to watch workouts at the combine Saturday through Tuesday:
It’s not the workouts: Of course they will watch workouts with interest, but those aren’t going to sway opinions much. The two most important things in Indianapolis are the medical checkups and the chance to interview guys. The Titans will come back to Nashville with a full medical file on every guy and they will have talked to a good percentage of the players they are interested in, either in the short formal sit-down or the more casual secondary setting.
Tweeners are big: For as long as they’ve been in Tennessee, the Titans have been a straightforward 4-3 defense. They made the right call in 1999 when they looked at Jevon Kearse, judged as a tweener who might be an end or might be a linebacker, drafted him, installed him at end and watched him become a difference-making pass-rushing force. But they steered away from a slew of other guys who weren’t clearly 4-3 ends or 4-3 outside linebackers. Now, with a hybrid defense on the horizon, the franchise will be looking at guys who are not clearly an end or an outside linebacker in a different way. A flexible guy able to rush from the edge in different ways could have a whole new appeal. Those guys work out on Monday.
The quarterback plan: The three most powerful football people in the organization are endorsing Jake Locker as the team’s quarterback. Still, the team needs quality alternatives if Locker doesn’t pan out in 2014 or if he gets hurt again. It will be hard for a rookie to find sufficient snaps to develop, but the team should be thinking it needs maximum options at the position. The Titans won’t be in range of the top three quarterbacks. But might they be in the process of falling in love with a lower-ranked guy like Jimmy Garoppolo, Zach Mettenberger, Aaron Murray or David Fales? Meeting them could advance those feelings.
Same page: Ruston Webster’s scouting staff has watched these players for some time, but in-season they were picturing them in the scheme the team ran under Mike Munchak. In pre-combine meetings, they discussed altered thinking. Here is a chance for those scouts to mingle more switch with Ken Whisenhunt and the new staff. And in meetings to come, those coaches will further spell out what they feel they need and the scouts will continue to revise their thinking about who has the qualities the evolving scheme needs.
Planting seeds: I can't see the Titans moving up in this draft. They are already without a third-round pick and aren't going to get any compensatory picks. Odds are it will be difficult to resist a talent at No. 11. But if they can bump down a few spots, still get someone they love who can be an immediate impact guy and gain a pick or two, it’s surely an option they’d consider. Most teams will know that, but perhaps Webster will have a chance while standing alongside a colleague or two to plant a seed that grows into something in early May.