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While culture fits are important, what the Titans need is more talent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Can you overvalue culture?

Finding team-first guys who are great teammates has been a giant theme for Jon Robinson is his two years on the job, and Mike Vrabel echoes the sentiment.Hubbard2

As we’ve built toward the draft I’ve been thinking a lot about just how valuable culture is, and if it can be overvalued.

While I wouldn’t want the Titans actively seeking or endorsing locker room problems – we saw that unfold with the beloved Pacman Jones – talent is ultimately a trump card for most.

“Teammates are very important and having the respect of your teammates and knowing that you are going to put it all on the line for them is a very powerful thing," Jon Robinson recently told The Midday 180. "They can play above their talent on paper.”

I agree, but I have this underlying fear that the Titans could go too far on culture and not far enough on talent.

(Sam Hubbard photo courtesy of Ohio State.)

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What's led me to doubting a first-round linebacker

TicketsBar2NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As I consider what will unfold for the Titans Thursday night at No. 25, I find myself increasingly torn.

Harold Landry and Marcus Davenport, the top edge rushers after Bradley Chubb, are unlikely to be on the board. And the inside backers who might be – Leighton Vander Esch and Rashaan Evans – might be lacking one big checkmark.

JustinReid

(Justin Reid photo courtesy of Stanford.)

If the Titans take either one, it’ll be the first on Jon Robinson’s first rounders, and a rare pick overall, who didn’t make a pre-draft visit. Jack Conklin, Corey Davis and Adoree’ Jackson were all guests of the Titans in Nashville.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Marcus Mariota’s never talked much specifically about a tendency to miss high when he’s off target.

Mike Mularkey and Terry Robiskie frequently dismissed the idea that any sort of mechanical flaw was an issue IMG 8360 1for him, though they weren’t always convincing and could have simply been trying to avoid a discussion of it.

I felt like throwing high was less of a problem in 2017 than it was in 2016 -- his inaccuracy was spread more into different categories -- but it was still an issue that reared its head and caused problems.

And without coming right out and saying so, Mariota conceded the issue with his answer about his primary focus during his offseason time. [Unlocked.]

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – On their field with their coaches for the first time at a voluntary veteran minicamp that comes as a result of a new staff, Titans understandably want to impress.

IMG 8230It’s limited work. Mike Vrabel said the defense ran something in the range of 10-15 plays as the offense worked 10-15 runs and 10 pass concepts out of just two personnel packages over the first two days.

Before the second practice, Vrabel said his message off the first day was for guys to finish.

“We understand there are going to be mistakes, there are going to be mistakes on every play, there is no perfect play, no perfect defense, no perfect call,” he said. “At some point in time, you have to go out and make a play.

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One guy is most responsible for the Titans' primary need

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A playoff team drafting toward the bottom of the first round would, ideally, not have a glaring need.

The flexibility possessing such a roster provides really opens a lot of possibilities.

DoddJags

I hardly believe the Titans have one of the best rosters in the league. In fact, I go back and forth frequently on just how good it is.

But given 2017 production and the age and contract status of the Titans starting outside linebackers, plus the depth behind them, outside linebacker is singular on the list of things they have to come out of draft weekend having addressed.

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NFL draft needs to be earlier on the calendar

TicketsBar2NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The draft is too late.

We’re almost there, but the wait is unreasonable.

The NFL reportedly dreams of its marquee spring event reaching the television heights of a presidential Draft 2018 RGBelection, which tells us plenty about the degree of its self-importance.

Shoot for the stars as an even bigger TV event, I don’t care. But the best TV events come after the proper amount of buildup, and the current setup is too much.

The league has chosen a two-month window of speculation and prediction during which nothing actually happens, barring a trade or two.

It’s genius, really, but it could be better.

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More on why the Titans might visit with someone they are highly unlikely to draft

TicketsBar2NASHVILLE, Tenn. – If the Titans sit tight with six picks, they will have sponsored trips to Nashville for as many as 24 guys they don’t draft.

RobinsonVrabelThere is obvious intrigue when we learn of one of those official 30 visits, particularly because under Jon Robinson, the Titans have leaned heavily to drafting prospects who have been on that list.

Mike B. Herndon of Music City Miracles does a thorough breakdown of how visits and picks aligned in recent years.

Jon Robinson talks the same way about the pre-draft visits as his predecessors did, but it’s less believable.

[Unlocked.]

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The timing is a bit awkward, but Mike Vrabel and the Titans will take a bonus three days of work.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday he and his staff will be on the field for a minicamp that comes for a team with a new coach. Technically it’s their "voluntary veteran minicamp." It's an extra teams get when a new head coach takes over.

Vrabel said Monday afternoon he and his staff would sketch out the depth chart to order things later in the day.

Media will get a small snapshot of it Wednesday.

Basically, the staff will get to show their vets how practices are going to work.

Here’s Vrabel talking through what he’s hoping for. [Unlocked.]

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