Their first choice was not the last offensive lineman the Tennessee Titans drafted.
Tennessee opened the final day of the NFL draft with the selection of California center Brian Schwenke in the fourth round (107th overall).
Combined with first-round pick Chance Warmack two days earlier, it marked the first time since 2005 the Titans selected two offensive linemen within the first four rounds. That year they selected tackles Michael Roos (second round) and David Stewart (fourth round). Those two were starters within a year and have held on to their spots – Roos on the left, Stewart on the right – as the franchise has focused a lot of attention on the interior of the offensive line in recent weeks.
“I’ve been here a lot of years with offensive linemen and it wasn’t that we didn’t want to draft them,” coach Mike Munchak, the team’s offensive line coach from 1997-2010, said. “It just didn’t fall right. … I think this year things are just falling in place for that position. You can’t turn [away from] guys like Schwenke who can come in a play for 10 years. Those guys are hard to find and this is our opportunity to take advantage of that.”
Later, the Titans selected their second cornerback in as many days when they used their sixth-round selection (202nd overall) on Nevada’s Khalid Wooten, who also returned kickoffs and punts during his four-year career. They got a defensive end, LSU’s Laver Edwards, with their fifth-round choice (142nd overall).
Friday’s trade to move up and select wide receiver Justin Hunter left them with one seventh-round selection (248th overall), which they used on Nebraska safety Daimion Stafford.
Scwenke (6-foot-3, 307 pounds) started every game the past three seasons. He was a guard for two seasons (20 games at left guard, four at right guard) before he moved to center last fall. Several national analysts rated him as the best center in the draft, a sentiment the Titans echoed.
“He was the top center as far as we were concerned, and I’m very pleased that he was still available and I’m excited that we were able to get him where he is now,” offensive line coach Bruce Matthews said.
Prior to the draft, the Titans signed free agent Andy Levitre to be the starting left guard, re-signed Fernando Velasco, last season’s starting center, and added two other veteran free agents, Rob Turner and Chris Spencer, who can each play guard or center. Eugene Amano, the starting center in 2011, also is on the roster although he is currently limited by sore knees.
“It’s nice to have the options we have because we found out last year one injury and your options are gone,” Munchak said. “One or two guys get hurt and all of a sudden you go in too lean.
“… We think we’re bringing competition to the room. Maybe sometimes it’s to fit a more immediate need, and I think this is a case [with Schwenke] where he was too good a player not to have on your football team who can be on your football team for a long time.”