Blake Beddingfield is the Titans former Director of College Scouting. He worked for the Titans for 18 years, starting in 1999 and running all the way until May 1st of this year. We very rarely heard from him during those 18 years, but in a radio interview today with the Midday180 in Nashville, he was an open book. You can find the audio below, and it is one of the most enlightening interviews I’ve ever heard. If you love the Titans, you’ll love this interview.
Below are some of the major points that Beddingfield touched on during the 40 minute live interview. I found it pretty much all to be interesting, but I bolded what I would consider the highlights below.
On Marcus Mariota...
- (on Mariota) “I think you have a franchise quarterback in Marcus Mariota. Marcus is a Super Bowl caliber quarterback.”
- (on if the room was split between Winston and Mariota) “The room was not split. It was Marcus 1. It was Marcus 1 for us.”
- (on if Mariota was not available) “If he (Mariota) was not available, yeah Jameis would’ve been the pick.”
- (on evaluating Mariota) “It was apparent to me that both quarterbacks were going to be winners, but Marcus separated himself with all the other things. Just the way he handled himself. Marcus was extremely bright. At that point Coach Whisenhunt gave him a monitor with the playbook and had him regurgitate that information back to us. He was amazing.”
On the Titans current roster...
- (on the state of the current roster) “The addition of DeMarco Murray really added to the team this past year. Added a running back that we haven’t had since Chris Johnson. A person that defenses actually had to account for, and added a backup in Derrick Henry who is ready to take over when DeMarco is gone.”
- (on the state of the current roster) “The two guards are solid. Actually the left guard, Quinton Spain, is a real solid player, the right guard is more of a journeyman type player, really a 6th offensive lineman on most teams, but because he’s in the middle of Jones and Conklin he can survive and did a nice job last year.”
- (on LeShaun Sims) “I thought LeShaun came in and played really well down the stretch last year. This is a small school player from Southern Utah who came to Nashville and really did a good job. LeShaun is a really good outside corner”
- (on position he’d be most concerned with) “Outside linebacker depth. Not the two starters, you have Orakpo and Morgan who are very good players, veterans, tough, physical, pass rushers. Morgan is a pressure-hurry guy, Orakpo gets the sacks. Its the depth behind that’s gonna be the concern which puts the pressure on the corners if those two guys aren’t on the field. If Dodd’s not healthy then you’ve got a hole because Wallace wasn’t healthy in mini-camp and Wallace really came on last year too and had a really nice rookie season. Carraway is going to be more of a special teams player.”
- (on the Kevin Dodd) “The issue with a big guy like Kevin Dodd, he’s gonna need his feet. Those feet are very precious. The position he was playing which is the SAM outside linebacker position where he’s playing more on the line of scrimmage almost as a stand up defensive end. That’s kinda what that position plays. You’re playing the strong side of the run which is what he should be able to handle with that size and then he’s rushing off that left side which he did in college so very similar to what he did a Clemson except his hand is not in the dirt. Not that big of a difference. Not really going to be a coverage linebacker, but Orakpo is OK in coverage and Morgan is just alright at coverage. So that’s really not what they’re asked to do, they’re more curl/flat type players in coverage. If you watch the Detroit Lion game which he actually started and played a lot of snaps, he was really effective in that game, effective versus the run and effective rushing the passer.
- (on if Kevin Byard is a future Pro Bowl talent) “He has those kind of instincts. He is an instinctive, smart player. He understood the defense very early on in his rookie year. He was one of those guys that we went and saw late in the draft process. We installed the entire defense with Kevin and his ability to talk back and understand the defense was really amazing. High interception guy, good instincts. He’ll be playing more of a free safety role this year so he’ll have the opportunity to roam and make plays. I think Kevin has that kind of ability because his pick numbers will go up like they did in college, then yeah, he’ll make Pro Bowls.”
On Pacman Jones and the 2005 NFL Draft...
- (on the secrecy around the Pacman Jones pick) “That was when the draft was on Saturday. We had 14 days of meetings leading up to that Saturday, and on Friday night when I left the office at about 9:00 that night, Pacman Jones was not a thought at that point. Waking up on Saturday morning, going to the office, that was the selection. Pacman Jones was not one of the 30 visits, not one of the guys that we brought in. There was a lot of questions about his background. The talent was unquestionable. Outstanding returner, outstanding cover skills, very competitive on the field. Really had a chance to be an outstanding corner and ended up having a nice career so far. He’s had a lot of injuries that have kinda hampered him there, but that was a decision that was kept in close quarters, and on Saturday morning the scouting staff found out. The scout who covered the northeast area probably had the most concerned look on his face because that was gonna be his guy, and even though the GM and sometimes the head coach makes that pick, on Saturday morning the northeast scout was the one that had the concern.”
- “The issues (with Pacman off the field) were there. Our tight ends coach at the time’s son played at West Virginia talked about him in glowing terms and really what he talked about about Pacman Jones was his competitiveness on the field.”
- (on who was the pick when he left the office that Friday night) “It was a combination of Antrel Rolle and Derrick Johnson and a little bit of Troy Williamson, but that kinda faded as the time went. That was one of the worst top 10 drafts to have a top 6 pick.”
On Vince Young, LenDale White, and the 2006 NFL Draft...
- (on if Devin Hester was on the phone when they made the LenDale White pick) “LenDale White was, again, one of those kinda Pacman Joneses. Not really a thought at that time. Devin Hester was going to be the choice. What we did when we drafted a player, we would send the area scout in, get the player on the phone, tell him he’s going to be a Tennessee Titan, make sure he’s healthy, when he’s healthy, tell the GM ‘hey, we got him’, select him and turn the card in. We had Devin Hester on the phone, told him he was going to be a Tennessee Titan and then Norm Chow and Jeff (Fisher) wanted LenDale White and that’s what ended up happening.”
- (on how Young, Leinart, and Cutler stacked on their board) “That was the year that we actually coached the Senior Bowl. So Norm Chow was our offensive coordinator, had a chance to coach Jay Cutler at the Senior Bowl. Really liked him. Norm was also torn between Matt Leinart at that point because he coached him in college. The other quarterback on that team he was torn with was the backup Matt Cassel, but that’s a whole other story. Vince Young was a player that had great success in college, and when we drafted him and when the owner came down that wasn’t a conversation I was privy to. I just knew when we showed up on draft day that was who we were going to draft. When we got him and he first came in we were excited. I really believed in Norm Chow, what he wanted to do with Vince and I think it showed out the first two years with him.
- (on what undid Vince Young in Tennessee) “Probably Vince. The thing is with Vince, he was someone that needed a coach, and I thought Norm was that coach, to kind of coddle him at times. That’s what he had at Texas with Mack and the staff there and Vince came from a situation where he’d grown up not around a lot of tough individuals that were hard on him. He was not used to people being hard on him. I thought it was something we could build on with Norm and then the change came with offensive coordinator, which was a totally different personality than Norm Chow. Norm could devise an offense that was set for Vince’s skillset and the players around him. When Mike Heimerdinger came in, who I really liked over his time the first go round, Mike was a totally different coach. He was tough on quarterbacks. He was a grinder, he was someone who was going to be in his ear constantly which was something Vince was not used to.”
On Corey Davis, Adoree Jackson, and the 2017 NFL Draft...
- (on whether Davis and Jackson were the targets going in to the draft) “You know, there were so many players at those positions. I’d say there were three first round caliber wide receivers this past year, there were a handful of corners that you could have selected at that point. Adoree was the one that had the dual role of being a returner slash corner. Just so happened he was there at that pick. There were probably three elite players in that draft this past year whether it was Myles Garrett, Leonard Fournette, Jamal Adams. They were the elite players in that draft and then everybody else was pretty solid. This was a solid first round draft class.”
- (on if they thought about Jamal Adams at #5) “Yeah, I mean no doubt about it. Jamal is a special player, will be a special player.”
On former Titans coaches...
- (on which former Titans coach was the most involved in scouting/player selection) “I think without a doubt Munchak. Munchak loved that part of it. I think he was very good at it, and I think that is a rare trait with coaches to be good at the personnel side as well.”
- (on Mike Mularkey’s scouting) “I think Mike Mularkey really has an interest in personnel. He likes to watch film. He likes to watch certain parts of the player that is a little bit different than just evaluating the talent. He’ll watch how he runs on and off the field. He’ll watch different things about how he relates to the players, little subtle things that I think are good to evaluate. He does a good job with that.”
- (on Whisenhunt’s scouting) “He was heavily involved with the Mariota scouting and the Jameis Winston scouting.”
- (on if Whisenhunt had any objection to drafting Mariota) “There was some. He though Zach Mettenberger could’ve been a starting quarterback and at that point the next player was Amari Cooper and he saw how Amari would have been a really good fit with Zach, but if you have a chance to get an elite quarterback, you never pass that up. Ruston really drove the train on that one.”
On former Titans GMs...
- (on Floyd Reese) “Floyd was a ball coach. He was a football coach first before he became a general manager. He talked about football endlessly and I loved that part of Floyd. He enjoyed the working part of it, he enjoyed watching film, he enjoyed coming to practice.
- (on Floyd Reese) “He trusted his scouts. He always said from the 4th round on, that’s where the scouts make their money.”
- (on Mike Reinfeldt) “Totally different. He was a different thinker. A salary cap guy who played football for the Oilers and was a good player. Very bright, thought outside the box a little bit. More of a salary cap person, didn’t enjoy the film aspect of it as much as Floyd. He had more of a relationship with the coach at the time (Jeff Fisher), they would discuss more things whereas Floyd was just going to make the pick and that’s the way it was.”
- (on Ruston Webster) “Ruston was a true evaluator. Loved watching film, loved the grind of going out and evaluating players, and he was very good at it. He was a true scout. Had been an area scout, had been a director of scouting, been a director of player personnel.”
- (on why it went badly for Webster) “Actually I didn’t think it went that poorly. What happened was he inherited three owners in his time. Mr. Adams and then Mr. Adams passed away, Tommie Smith and then Tommie Smith was removed, and then the new owner. So he had three owners and he had three head coaches and that’s what ended up happening there. He ended up drafting Mariota, Taylor Lewan, Avery Williamson, brought in Orakpo, Morgan was there, Woodyard, Delanie Walker, Jurrell Casey, I mean you go down the list of players that are still there. I thought he did an outstanding job in a tough situation.”
- (on Jon Robinson) “Jon and Coach Mularkey have had this mantra of tough, physical, dependable type players and when he drafts players, that’s what he’s gonna go with.”
Other points of interest...
- Beddingfield confirmed that the Titans are one of the teams that subscribes to Pro Football Focus.
- (on near misses that he regrets from the draft) “One of the players that we were going to select was LeCharles Bentley. We needed a center bad and actually we were going to select LeCharles in the 2nd round and he was selected one pick ahead of us by New Orleans and the room was just deflated by that pick.”
- (on Jevon Kearse) “We were stressed for three and a half hours waiting for him to fall to us at 16. Jevon was an amazing fall for three and a half hours. There were so many great players in that draft. All the quarterbacks went. The Culpepper’s, the Couch’s, the Donovan McNabb’s, even the Cade McNown. You had Champ Bailey, you had Torry Holt, you had Ricky Williams, Edgerrin James and Jevon just happened to be on our board in the top 2 or 3. Floyd was trying to trade up from about pick 4 to try to get Jevon. He even tried to trade at pick 15 with the Buccaneers. He got them on the phone and said ‘I’ll give you my 7th round pick to move up one spot and get our guy’ and Tampa Bay said ‘no, we think you like our guy, we think you like Booger McFarland.” Floyd hung up the phone so quick he knocked it off the dial.”
- (on worst misread) “The Chris Henry pick was something that I never saw in the guy. Never saw the ability in that player. He didn’t prove it in college. Just not a very good football player. Only had one 100 yard rushing performance in college.”
- (on the Jake Locker pick) “He was, at that point, everything you wanted in a quarterback. He was very athletic, good arm, outstanding human being, tireless worker. I felt very comfortable with Jake being the guy the way Munchak wanted to run his system. Very similar to Steve McNair, great attributes, great arm, physical, tough. All the things that a team could rally around. Jake was easy to like.”
- (on why Michael Griffin declined so quickly) “Mike always played on his athleticism and never transitioned from the athlete to the savvy vet. He still felt he was one of the faster guys. You would see him late in his career still playing corner in practice.”