INDIANAPOLIS — We've heard from the head coaches, now it's the general managers' turn.
Last week, we brought you the highlights from the NFL Scouting Combine press conferences of the rival AFC South Division head coaches, each of whom discussed how their offseason have started and, to a degree, what they hope to accomplish in the next few months.
The general managers of the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans also stepped up in front of the microphone, and gave a more big-picture look at their teams' rosters heading into the 2017 season.
Here's a taste of what was said from the general managers of the Texans, Jaguars and Titans that week in Indianapolis.Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith
What are the challenges or concerns when you're scouting or thinking about trading for a quarterback who doesn't have much pro experience?*
"Well, I would tell you this: you get a couple of different ways to acquire talent in this league. You have the draft process and then the free agency process. The free agency part does involve trades and that kind of thing. From my perspective, what we do is we try to exhaust ourselves in the effort to improve our football team, not just at that position but at every position. So, you're right. There are different types of evaluations and different risks that you have to manage in terms of how you acquire players. But that's just a part of player acquisition and a part of roster building."*
How difficult is it to evaluate an offensive player who comes from a spread offense?*
"Yeah, it becomes a little bit more of a projection. Again, it goes back to the whole idea and the concept of what are we going to ask the guy to do? Then, in those evaluative opportunities, whether it's in a game situation or here at the combine as he's moving around athletically, you've got to determine what you're looking for and what you're going to ask the guy to do. Then you've got to project in some instances, especially when you're talking about spread offenses or things guys are
doing that aren't necessarily indicative of what you're going to ask him to do in your scheme, but you have to be able to project in terms of what he's doing and what you're going to ask him to do, and that is a little difficult. It's easy when you can see a guy go do exactly what you're going to ask him to do and you can evaluate that, judge that. It becomes a little bit more interesting when you have to project, and that's part of our business. To the degree that you can do that because of so many teams that are running those types of offenses, you better know how to project a little bit to be able to find players that fit into the schemes and the things you're going to ask them to do offensively and defensively."*
How do you feel about what DE Jadeveon Clowney did this season and could continue to do?*
"I think everybody knew what he was capable of from an athletic perspective. I mean, the guy is just gifted. I don't know that anybody doubted that. I think it was a function and a product of the fact that he was injured that he didn't produce the way we all anticipated and knew that he could. I think what you saw this year was a function of his availability. He was healthy. He has still got a long way to go. I think he recognizes that, but I think his appetite is wet for it because he can see how good he can be. I think he can see how good our defense and our team can be with his production. He fit and he worked and he has worked to get himself in this position through a lot of injury and it was just good to see him have the production and success that he had. He has a long way to go, though."Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell
What has been your experience so far working in the new set-up with football boss Tom Coughlin and head coach Doug Marrone?*
"It's been really good. Both Doug, Tom and I have embraced the process and there has been a lot of communication with all decisions and it's truly been a team effort, not only between the three of us but the coaching staff and the personnel staff."*
What made Marrone the right choice to be the head coach?*
"He had a two-week head start [as the interim coach] on everybody else and has been here the last two years so he was able to identify quickly what went wrong and what needs to be fixed. He's very decisive in his plan moving forward for the next couple years. The players really responded to him the last two weeks of the season. I anticipate that being even more so during this season."*
What gives you hope quarterback Blake Bortles can rebound in 2017?*
"Over the last two years, he's accounted for 64 touchdowns - only four quarterbacks have produced more touchdowns than that. Obviously, like he said and Coach Marrone and Coach Coughlin have said, he has to cut down on the turnovers, but I think he'll learn to maybe throw the ball away at times. He's such a competitive person, but it's a maturation process with him. Until we can account for the 64 touchdowns, he's going to be our quarterback."Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson
Is the process easier for you now in Year 2?*
"There were certainly a lot of balls in the air last year, at least for me, acclimating myself to the city of Nashville, all the personal stuff, getting to know Mike and developing that relationship with him, building on that time at the Senior Bowl that we had and trying to strategize and put ourselves in position to infuse talent into the roster. You are always working and trying to improve. Our scouts have a year in the system now. They are a little more familiar with the terminology and the grading scale we are going to use. So the confidence in the process is a little further along."*
What are the strengths of the draft and how do they match up to your needs?*
"I think it is a fairly deep draft. I think there's good players on both sides of the ball. I thin from a defensive standpoint, there are certainly players on that side of the ball. There are players on offense. And like we did last year, we were able to find contributors even into the third day of the draft. I think both sides of the ball (are solid), and for us, an important piece is the kicking game and being able to find contributors on special teams. You certainly want to capitalize and maximize those early picks, but being able to find the guys like we were able to do the third day to help the football team."*
What do you think now when you look back on the trade with the Rams in the draft last year?*
"We were able to position ourselves in the draft last year. I can't speak for how LA views it, but we were able to get picks and that bolstered our roster and hopefully we can capitalize on the picks we were able to get from that trade in this year's draft as well. … I'm glad that we did that trade and we saw some dividends from it last year with the players we were able to select … I don't know that we really mark it as a win. We got players out of that trade via the draft that contributed to our success last year and we're looking forward to them taking another step this year and then adding another couple of players."
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