AFC South: Marcus Trufant

NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at the one offseason move each team in the AFC South needed to make but didn't.

Houston Texans: They still have time to extend Brian Cushing and Antonio Smith, so I can’t say they regret not having done so yet. I think they will be OK at linebacker. They aren’t going to be eight-deep the way owner Bob McNair naively suggested they should have been last year when injuries thinned the group. They are counting on two college defensive ends converting to outside linebackers (Sam Montgomery and Trevardo Williams). A veteran addition like Daryl Smith or Karlos Dansby could have offered assurances, but such a player could have overstuffed the group.

Indianapolis Colts: Sean Smith got roughly $2 million more over three years in Kansas City than the Colts gave to Greg Toler. Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano have made largely solid personnel choices, so they get the benefit of the doubt on Toler at the start. But Smith is roughly 3 inches taller and 20 pounds heavier, and he has been more durable than Toler. I’ll be comparing the two going forward. If not that move, how about Brent Grimes over Darius Butler? Grimes would have been more expensive but could have been a second or third cornerback if he fully recovers from his Achilles injury. I fear they could regret not doing more at cornerback.

Jacksonville Jaguars: For a team that moved on from Derek Cox, Rashean Mathis and Aaron Ross, the Jaguars had a lot of work to do to restock at cornerback. Alan Ball and Marcus Trufant are not good enough veteran answers to surround and supplement three draft picks. Sean Smith is the sort of bigger corner the Jags like and could have upgraded the position. And he’s just 26, so he would have fit the team’s desire to be young. He got a three-year, $16.5 million deal, which is probably a bit rich, and the Jags would have had to go further. But they’ve got a ton of money and could have spent more while still being very fiscally responsible.

Tennessee Titans: The Titans will rush the passer better with some new people and the influence of Gregg Williams. But defensive end Michael Bennett could have been had at a reasonable price and, as a bigger defensive end, he would have been a better addition than Ropati Pitoitua. Bennett went to Seattle for a one-year, $4.8 million deal. The Titans wouldn’t have been as attractive a destination as Seattle, but they could have gotten Bennett with a multiyear deal. Are Pitoitua and fifth-rounder Lavar Edwards enough to boost the pass-rush production and fortify the run-stopping at end?
We pick up our series in which ESPN.com’s resident scout, Matt Williamson, ranks the AFC South position-by-position.

Today, we examine defensive backs.

Williamson’s AFC South defensive backs rankings:
1) Texans (Johnathan Joseph, Danieal Manning, Ed Reed, Kareem Jackson, Brice McCain, D.J. Swearinger, Brandon Harris, Roc Carmichael)
2) Titans (Jason McCourty, Bernard Pollard, Michael Griffin, Alterraun Verner, George Wilson, Tommie Campbell, Coty Sensabaugh)
3) Colts (Vontae Davis, LaRon Landry, Antoine Bethea, Greg Toler, Darius Butler, John Boyett, Cassius Vaughn)
4) Jaguars (Dwayne Gratz, Johnathan Cyprien, Dwight Lowery, Alan Ball, Josh Evans, Mike Harris, Marcus Trufant, Jeremy Harris, Demetrius McCray)

I think this order is virtually impossible to debate, and you should be clicking the top entry in the poll to the right.

SportsNation

Matt Williamson's ranking of AFC South defensive back units is:

  •  
    68%
  •  
    21%
  •  
    11%

Discuss (Total votes: 1,681)

My questions for Williamson based off of his list:

Your overall assessment please:

“Overall thoughts are I really like Houston's secondary and really dislike Jacksonville's. The other two? I would say are pretty much the definition of middle of the road.”

What's the gap between Texans and Titans?

“The gap between Houston and Tennessee is substantial. That isn't to say that the Titans have a poor secondary -- and I would say they did improve it at both corner and safety.”

What's Ed Reed have left and what can he do for the Texans?

“Reed's best days are long behind him, but I love the addition to the Texans for one huge reason: He is a winner from a great organization and what he brings behind the scenes could pay off HUGE. The Texans really are not that far from being an expansion team and most of their best players are all home grown players-that have never won the big one. Reed, a future Hall of Famer coming off a SB win brings instant credibility to the locker room and even if he doesn't play at a real high level, is a great addition-and something Houston should have done long ago.”

If you were just ranking CBs what order would you have them in? If you were just ranking safeties?

“Just CBs: I think I would keep it exactly the same. Just safeties? Tough to really gauge Jacksonville, but they still have to be last and again, I think I would keep the order the same. More so than some of the other position groups in the division, this order is pretty clear to me.”

What rookies do you expect to have the biggest impact?

“The rookie defensive back that I expect to make the biggest impact is definitely Cyprien. I think he will be a star in this league, was a great value where Jacksonville took him and will been all around impact player, even early in his career.”

The Titans view McCourty as a solid No. 1 and the Colts feel the same about Davis. Can you compare and contrast them?

“I think both are good cornerbacks, but neither is truly a No. 1. To me, Davis is more talented and more equipped to play coverage against the opponent's No. 1 receiver, but also is more inconsistent overall.”

Can you rate the nickel situations?

“Butler has played well at times for the Colts, but I would say they are a little deficient when they go to sub packages, where Tennessee should be in better shape with their top three corners, as I think Wreh-Wilson should do a fine job (despite some rookie struggles) on the outside in nickel, but this makes the Titans' slot situation very good.”

As for me…

Jackson really blossomed last season when Joseph dealt with a bunch of injuries. If a healthy Joseph returns to form, they could be one of the best cornerback duos in the league. I’ve written about Reed’s swagger and like Williamson, I expect he’ll have a great effect even if he isn’t always playing or isn’t playing quite up to his standards.

Pollard has been outspoken and brings an attitude the Titans have been lacking on defense. He’s an upgrade for certain on early downs. But George Wilson may be the better overall player. I know the Titans will find snaps for all three of their guys and not just in a three-safety nickel or dime package.

The Colts secondary improvement is likely to hinge on health. Can Toller stay on the field after dealing with elbow, back, foot, hip and hamstring injuries in his first four seasons? Landry has a repaired Achilles but recovered for a complete season last year with the Jets. Without either of them, depth would quickly be tested with guys like Cassius Vaughn or Joe Lefeged potentially in nickel and dime packages.

A lot of people are going to have terrible expectations of the Jaguars. But kids can play well quickly in the secondary, and from what I saw at minicamp, Cyprien is my pick for defensive breakout player in the division. Gratz looked good too. Lowery is solid as the other safety. They need cornerbacks to emerge but could surpass expectations.
How does each AFC South team look in the secondary, and what still needs to be done?

Houston Texans

News that No. 1 cornerback Johnathan Joseph had sports hernias repaired early in the offseason was actually a good development. He was even more hurt than we knew last year, which serves to explain why he was hardly the player in 2012 he had been in 2011. A healthy Joseph will be much better. Kareem Jackson blossomed as the second corner, and Brice McCain returns as a fairly steady nickel. Danieal Manning is the strong safety with Ed Reed roaming and ball hawking as the deeper guy. Rookie D.J. Swearinger should work as the third safety and be an upgrade over the two guys who played in that role a year ago. He’s also insurance for the aging Reed. Corner depth is a concern, but isn’t that the case for almost every team? I expect big things from this group.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts are counting on free-agent addition Greg Toler as a starting corner opposite Vontae Davis. If he pans out as they project, they will improve. If he doesn’t, the depth is poor with Cassius Vaughn still in the mix. Darius Butler is a quality nickel cornerback. Antoine Bethea should be back to form when given a better partner at safety in free-agent acquisition LaRon Landry, provided Landry stays healthy. Safety depth has Joe Lefeged at the head of the line. He can be productive in spot duty, but if they need him for a long stretch, it’ll be an issue. Toler’s production in an expanded role and Landry’s health are the two big keys.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars have an incredibly young group. Safety Dwight Lowery and likely starting cornerback Alan Ball are entering their sixth seasons. The other starting safety will be John Cyprien, a second-round pick, and the other starting cornerback will be Dwayne Gratz, a third-rounder. Depth is a major question. The nickelback could be the wise old man of the group -- Marcus Trufant -- or second-year man Mike Harris or a player to be determined. Primary depth will come from three more rookies: corner Demetrius McCray and Jeremy Harris and safety Josh Evans. Cyprien already looks excellent, and Gratz was very good in minicamp. Still, inexperience will be a big factor in this defensive backfield.

Tennessee Titans

Free safety Michael Griffin's game has dropped off significantly in recent years. At least part of it has been the team’s inability to allow him to be the center fielder, which is what he should be best at. With veterans Bernard Pollard and George Wilson added to man the strong safety spot, Griffin has a chance to be a lot better. Jason McCourty is a topflight corner. The other job can be wrestled away from Alterraun Verner as the Titans look to play more man coverage with Tommie Campbell or rookie Blidi Wreh-Wilson in contention. Coty Sensabaugh is a developing nickel, and Verner has a knack for the job as well. They need a better push up front to help them all out.
Reading the coverage…

Houston Texans

Rookie tackle David Quessenberry's recent surprises include a stolen truck and a lot of playing time at right tackle, says Tania Ganguli of the Houston Chronicle.

Like most starters, Danieal Manning isn’t participating in minicamp but he offered a coaching eye, say Ganguli and John Brannen of the Chronicle.

A couple former Texans -- Connor Barwin and Eric Winston -- are among the 10 players who have lent their names to a new line of clothing which is being sold by the NFL Players Association in honor of LGBT Pride Month, writes Ganguli.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts are sorting through four players and 1,300 pounds as they seek to fill their nose tackle position, says Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star.

The Colts were an 11-5 playoff team in 2012, but that hasn’t stopped general manager Ryan Grigson from a massive roster overhaul that could yield nine new starters, says Chappell.

Until they signed Ahmad Bradshaw, the Colts commitment to improving the running game had been mostly verbal, says Conrad Brunner of 1070 The Fan.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Veteran Marcus Trufant is sharing his expertise with a young group of defensive backs, says Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.

The Jaguars will wrap up minicamp with a public practice, says Vito Stellino of the Times-Union.

Mike Mularkey said on SiriusXM NFL Radio that he would start Chad Henne over Blaine Gabbert if he had to pick one right now. (Audio.)

Thoughts on how the quarterback situation could shake out between Gabbert, Henne and Mike Kafka from Cole Pepper.

Tennessee Titans

The No. 2 cornerback job is open for the taking, partly because Alterraun Verner doesn't exactly fit what the Titans now want to do, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

While the offense is simplifying, is the Titans defense getting more complicated and too complicated, asks Music City Miracles.
A sampling of Thursday's chat:

Kevin (Jacksonville, FL): I've read a lot of opinions from writers saying that [Alan] Ball will start opposite from [Dwayne] Gratz this year. However, every thing I've read about Ball is that he is not very good. Is it that much of a longshot for [Marcus] Trufant to be the starter?

Paul Kuharsky: I'd root for one of the seventh-rounders to shine early. Trufant is on the tail end of a nice career. More a nickel option at this point.

chris (montgomery al): Who do you forecast as the starting offensive line for Indi? and why is everyone saying that they can not end with the same record or better than last year?

Paul Kuharsky: Tougher schedule. Far different expectations. No [Bruce] Arians. Don't have the rallying cry of win for our sick coach. I'd guess line will be, L-R, [Anthony] Castonzo, [Donald] Thomas, [Khaled] Holmes, [Hugh] Thornton, [Gosder] Cherilus. Probably wishful thinking with the two rookies.

frank (milwaukee): what do you think the titans secondary ends up looking like opening day? assuming [Michael] griffin and [Bernard] pollard are starters at saftey whats George Wilson's role?

Paul Kuharsky: Wilson is the third safety. They can play a three-safety nickel package. They can (and should) get Pollard off the field in passing downs and sub Wilson in. They'll find a way to use three. Houston uses three all the time. [Devin] McCourty and [Blidi] Wreh-Wilson outside, [Alterraun] Verner inside.

ted (chicago): did Ben Tate's off year/injuries last season negate his trade value this year before his contract expires? should the texans have traded him when second round draft pick rumors were circulating?

Paul Kuharsky: They were never looking to trade him. If they had traded him, who would be filling in for [Arian] Foster if he's hurt?

To read the whole thing, please head here.
Johnathan CyprienRobert Mayer/USA TODAY SportsSecond-round safety Johnathan Cyprien is one of five draft picks the Jags added to their secondary.
With the second pick in the first round, the Jacksonville Jaguars got themselves a rock of an offensive tackle in Luke Joeckel.

What did they get with the first pick of the second round?

A team in dire need of cornerstones might have found one for the defense in Johnathan Cyprien, the strong safety out of Florida International.

Initial reports out of Jacksonville are very solid. It’s obviously early, but Cyprien could be the linchpin of a young secondary that grows up together, helping slow the run and cover the sort of tight ends who are increasingly posing matchup issues around the league.

“The thing we really enjoyed about evaluating him was his football instincts," said DeWayne Walker, the Jaguars' defensive backs coach. “Some guys, they have that halo effect where they kind of feel the game, and he has a real good feel for the game.

"We’re going to have to smooth him out, and we’re going to have to polish him up a little bit. At the same time, he definitely brings a lot of good tools to the table.”

Not too may years ago, the AFC South had a major dearth of quality safeties. Gradually, the position has gotten better. If Cyprien can be an impact guy, he and free safety Dwight Lowery can make the position one of the Jaguars’ most solid.

Cyprien comes across as a polite, confident young man eager to learn and to prove himself. He grew up admiring Sean Taylor, Troy Polamalu and Detroit Lions safety Louis Delmas, who went to the same high school and ranks as a friend who has offered a great deal of encouragement.

A late bloomer at North Miami Beach (Fla.) High School, Cyprien dreamed of playing at Texas, but had just two scholarship offers -- from Central Michigan and FIU. He stayed in Florida, and a big senior season in college turned him into a borderline first-round pick.

The Jaguars surely could have gotten good value by trading out of the 33rd position in the draft, but stayed put and jumped on him.

“It’s a big position, a big role in this defense,” Cyprien said. “You’re allowed to do a lot of things. You’re allowed to have a lot of fun. I’m planning on having a lot of fun playing that position.

“I guess you could say it could be hard for a rookie to be a leader. I wouldn’t define it as that, personally. I’m just taking it head on.”

Of eight picks in the draft, the Jaguars spent five on defensive backs: Cyprien in the second round; UConn cornerback Dwayne Gratz in the third; Florida free safety Josh Evans in the sixth; and New Mexico State cornerback Jeremy Harris and Appalachian State cornerback Demetrius McCray both in the seventh.

The Jaguars have a handful of guys with experience for the kids to look to.

Marcus Trufant, a 10-year veteran corner, played on coach Gus Bradley’s defense in Seattle, and could be the nickelback. Another free-agent cornerback, Alan Ball, has played five seasons, but struggled in Houston last year. Safety Chris Prosinski, a fourth-rounder from 2011, should be a backup at best with Cyprien on board. Mike Harris could be a nice nickel candidate in his second season.

Given the uncertainty at the position, I rank the Jaguars’ cornerback group as the most competitive unit in the division.

If Jacksonville is going to be any good on the back end, it’s likely to be because of the draft class’ contribution.

“I think it’s fun for all of us,” Walker said. “These guys were needed. We’re going to be pretty young. It’s fun for all of us to get this group and develop it and prove people wrong …

“Being able to talk with them about the league, these guys are pretty mature. Coach Bradley, [defensive coordinator] Bob Babich, all of our coaches do a good job saying the right things to these guys to get them acclimated. So I think all of our rookies, not only the rookies in the secondary, have come into a situation where we are here to help them, we are here to develop them to be competitive football players.”

Walker, who was the head coach at New Mexico State from 2009 to 2012, where he posted a 10-40 record, left in January to join Bradley's staff. Previously, Walker coached defensive backs for the Washington Redskins, New York Giants, New England Patriots and at Cal. He was also defensive coordinator at UCLA.

The assistant coach is a straight shooter who has been telling the rookies about the identity he wants his players to have, Cyprien said. They need to be sound in the techniques they are taught, and they should all look the same on tape.

“I think it’s a challenge for him, I think it’s good for him,” Cyprien said of the influx of youth in the secondary. “I know we have him excited, because we just want to run around, and we’re hungry to learn and we’re asking a lot of questions.”
Today, I set out to sketch out a list of the 10 most competitive position groups in the AFC South.

Putting them in order was more difficult than coming up with the list, but after some juggling, I feel pretty good about what’s below. I’m sure you’ll offer me input on what’s out of order, shouldn’t be included or should be.

The more overall uncertainty and the less sure we are of a starter or starters right now, the higher I ranked a spot.

10. Jaguars quarterbacks -- Blaine Gabbert would really have to blow this opportunity and Chad Henne would really have to have a good camp for Gabbert not to be the opening-day starter, I believe. Undrafted rookie Matt Scott could make the team as a third option, and if things go poorly for the veterans and the rookie shows well, he could get a chance at some point.

9. Titans interior offensive line -- Michael Roos is a lock at left tackle, Andy Levitre is a lock at left guard and Chance Warmack is a lock at right guard. David Stewart should be the starter at right tackle, though he’s coming off a broken leg and has a bad ankle. Center could be a good battle between fourth-round draft pick Brian Schwenke and Fernando Velasco. There will be huge battles for the interior backup slot(s), where the Titans loaded up with Rob Turner and Chris Spencer. (If they signed Eric Winston to fight with Stewart, this position would move up some.)

8. Titans defensive tackles -- Sammie Hill and Jurrell Casey are locks, and Mike Martin should rank third. If they keep five, who are the other two out of Karl Klug, Antonio Johnson, DaJohn Harris and Zach Clayton? Ropati Pitoitua is an end, but comes from a 3-4 in Kansas City and will also get a look inside, so he could factor in here, too.

7. Texans right side of offensive line -- I think they would have been fine sticking with Derek Newton, but he’s not healthy. He had major knee surgery and offensive line coach John Benton said during the draft that Newton’s status is up in the air. Enter Brennan Williams, a third-round pick out of UNC that the Texans feel could be fine as the starter. At right guard, Brandon Brooks could displace Ben Jones in a potentially nice battle of second-year players.

6. Titans wide receivers -- Nate Washington got himself in the doghouse with his work late last year, and he’s pricey. But it would be hard for the team to part with him yet as the Titans are an injury away from potential depth issues. If second-round pick Justin Hunter takes off early, he could start ahead of Washington at Z opposite Kenny Britt at X. Kendall Wright is the primary slot guy. Also in the mix for snaps: Damian Williams, Kevin Walter and maybe even Michael Preston.

5. Colts offensive line -- Anthony Castonzo is the left tackle, Gosder Cherilus is the right tackle. The three spots in between them and the depth will see a lot of competition. Donald Thomas should win a guard spot and I’d think third-rounder Hugh Thornton could as well. They will battle with incumbent left guard Joe Reitz and incumbent right guard Mike McGlynn. Fourth-rounder Khalid Holmes could push Samson Satele out of the center spot.

4. Colts inside linebackers -- If Jerrell Freeman is as good as he was last season, he’s certain to start. A healthy Pat Angerer should make a strong bid to retake his old job, but the competition could be really good with Kavell Conner trying to stay in the lineup and newcomer Kelvin Sheppard in the mix as well.

3. Texans linebackers -- Rookies Sam Montgomery and Trevardo Williams have a chance to win the strongside linebacking spot, which would mean Brooks Reed moves inside. Or Reed could stay on the strongside setting up Darryl Sharpton vs. Tim Dobbins to slug it out for the Mike spot inside next to Brian Cushing. This will be a good one to monitor for sure. The injury histories of Sharpton and Dobbins could be at play. Can they both stay on the field for their reps to compete?

2. Colts nose tackle -- What a revamp the Colts have put together here. The guys who can play inside were limited last year. Now there are plenty: His knee healed, Josh Chapman is the favorite at nose tackle right now. Also available are Aubrayo Franklin, rookie Montori Hughes, Brandon McKinney (once healthy) and versatile veteran Ricky Jean Francois, who can play inside or out.

1. Jaguars cornerbacks -- This gets the top slot because there is the most uncertainty. I don’t have much faith in Alan Ball based on what he did with his chances in Houston last year. Mike Harris has one year of experience, playing some as the team’s nickel. Dwayne Gratz should be a starter. There is room for seventh-rounders Jeremy Harris and Demetrius McCray to carve out roles. [UPDATE: Apologies for initially forgetting Marcus Trufant, the recent veteran addition. If he's competing for much more than nickelback, the team's got even bigger secondary issues than feared.]
Reading the coverage…

Houston Texans

Arian Foster is training hard and looking to bounce back from what he considered a disappointing year, says Nick Scurfield of the Texans' website citing quotes from Patti Smith of Fox Sports Southwest.

Fox’s Brian Billick isn’t real high on the Texans, says Reid Laymance of the Houston Chronicle.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts have 1,100 season tickets left, and they’ve moved faster than the team expected, says Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star.

"Ricky Jean-Francois is a versatile, active lineman with clear ability when it comes to penetrating the pocket and providing a stout body up front,” writes Ben Savage of Colts Authority. “He'll add a new ingredient to the Colts' 3-4 DL group and perhaps imbue the defense with a winning attitude carried over from San Francisco.”

Jacksonville Jaguars

Shad Khan is fascinated by all the questions about Tim Tebow, says Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union.

Meanwhile, an Orlando lawyer took out an ad making the newest plea for the Jaguars to sign Tebow, says Stellino.

Marcus Trufant gives the Jaguars a veteran presence in the secondary, says Ryan O’Halloran of the Times-Union.

Tennessee Titans

Bernard Pollard thinks the Titans are right on the edge of being a very good team. Video via The Tennessean.

Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, who played defensive back at Texas, was elected to the college football Hall of Fame, says John Glennon.
Ideally Marcus Trufant is part of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ nickel package and helps buy time for some of the kids to develop.

But if their kid corners struggle, they’ve now got a veteran who gives them an additional option.

Trufant’s the first addition to the Jaguars who comes from Seattle’s defense, where he was part of the unit Gus Bradley coordinated for the Seahawks.

Bradley, of course, is now the rookie coach of the Jaguars.

New coaches typically like to bring over a veteran player or two who can be a bit of a locker room disciple of a new system.

Trufant played a lot of nickel for the Seahawks last season. They’ve got two big, young corners in Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner.

The Jaguars want to find their own pair of big, athletic corners.

They signed Alan Ball, who struggled in chances with the Texans last year. He’s 6-foot-2, 191 pounds. They drafted Dwayne Gratz (5-11, 201) in the third round out of UConn. Two seventh-round corners will also vie for roster spots and roles -- Jeremy Harris (6-2, 181) and Demetrius McCray (6-1, 187).

Trufant is heading into his 11th year. He was a first-round draft pick in 2003 and measures in at 5-11, 197.
Reading the coverage ...

Houston Texans

Former Texans defensive end Mario Williams is suing to get a pricey engagement ring back, says David Barron of the Houston Chronicle.

Gary Kubiak wants to see Collin Klein’s progress at quarterback, says Ganguli.

Texans first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins told Ganguli the idea of all he has overcome is blown out of proportion, but she’s not so sure he’s right about that.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts' Bjoern Werner is proof that American football isn’t just for Americans anymore, says Phillip B. Wilson of the Indianapolis Star. Werner was one of a record 10 foreign-born players drafted.

Is there another Gary Brackett or Melvin Bullitt in the Colts' crop of 10 undrafted rookies? Mike Chappell of the Star looks at the new guys.

The Colts will return to Anderson, Ind. for training camp, writes Chappell.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Twenty-nine players from last year’s roster are already gone as part of the Jaguars’ roster reshaping, says Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union.

The Jaguars are meeting with veteran free-agent cornerback Marcus Trufant, says Ryan O’Halloran of the Times-Union.

The Jaguars signed two rookies out of their rookie tryouts. O’Halloran says running back De’Leon Eskridge of San Jose State and defensive end J.J. Griggs of Akron are now on the roster.

Tennessee Titans

Robert Johnson is still recovering from midfoot surgery, but thinks he will be back in action by mid-June, says John Glennon of The Tennessean.

A deeper look at third-round linebacker Zaviar Gooden, from Tom Gower of Total Titans.

A deeper look at fourth-rounder Brian Schwenke, from Gower.
NFC Draft Tale: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Mike Reinfeldt’s cautionary war room tale is the same as many executives who were involved with picks anywhere in close proximity to Minnesota at No. 7 in 2003.

“I have one good story of chaos,” said Reinfeldt, who classifies most draft rooms he’s been in as relatively serene. “The year that Kevin Williams got taken by Minnesota, they didn’t get their card in.”

The Vikings insisted they drafted at No. 9 the same player they would have taken seventh if draft talks didn’t bog them down and allow both the Jaguars to draft quarterback Byron Leftwich and the Panthers to take offensive tackle Jordan Gross before they got their card in for Williams, a defensive tackle.

Reinfeldt was an executive in Seattle, which had the 11th pick.

“It’s Ted Thompson and Mike Holmgren and Bob Whitsett and everybody kind of froze, nobody really knew what to do,” said Reinfeldt, now GM of the Titans. “And Ted Thomson was great, because he said ‘Write Marcus Trufant’s name down right now and be ready to turn it in.’

“Those moments never really happen but all of a sudden this moment did happen and Ted knew exactly what he wanted to do. As it turned out, they got their pick in and we still got Trufant, he was the guy that we wanted, we felt we would have taken him at sixth if we had sixth.”

It was a Boy Scout moment in terms of always be prepared.

“You’ve got to be ready for the unexpected,” he said.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider