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 »This Week in History
Tennessee Titans
INSIDE SLANT

  Inside Slant | Notes, Quotes | Strategy and Personnel | Player Wire

  If Marcus Mariota is the No. 2 overall pick, he would also be the No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart with the Tennessee Titans.

"You're talking about taking a quarterback with the first or second pick, you're probably going to play that guy," said Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt of the Oregon quarterback. "As far as whether or not he's ready to do it, we're still in the process of evaluating. We like what we've seen so far, he's a talented player."

NFLDraftScout.com ranks Mariota as the No. 2 quarterback in the 2015 draft behind Florida State's Jameis Winston. The Titans don't have a franchise quarterback in place, but have also spent significant time with Southern Cal defensive tackle Leonard Williams in addition to working out Mariota and Winston.

The mild-mannered, passive demeanor of Mariota and his college football upbringing in a fast-break offense that didn't develop certain skills vital to NFL success raised criticism from media and some in the scouting community. Whisenhunt, who has an obvious stake in hiking interest in the No. 2 pick, said he sees a pretty flawless player in evaluating Mariota.

"I've been very impressed with him," Whisenhunt said. "I spent an hour and a half with him in the classroom and went out on the field and worked out with him. "How he handled that whole situation, he did a really nice job. To me, he shows a lot of the qualities of those guys who have been successful in the league. The team gravitates to him, they really like him. He's an accurate thrower, he doesn't turn the ball over much and can extend the play."

How the Titans handle the No. 2 pick and the draft overall could have a serious bearing on Whisenhunt's future. Being the season for blowing smoke, Whisenhunt also had some praise for Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford who happens to be under contract with the team coached by Mariota's former college coach, Chip Kelly.

Kelly, of course, has said in recent weeks that the Eagles will not mortgage their future to go up and get a player in the draft.

Interim Titans president Steve Underwood said the franchise is not for sale, knocking down speculation this week.

Underwood, who retired from the franchise in 2011 but rejoined the Titans last week, told The Tennessean on Tuesday that ownership is committed to turning things around in Nashville.

"My sources are the five people who own the team, and to a person they all say the team is not for sale. They tell me they are not selling," Underwood told the newspaper during an interview. "What I am being told is to find a new president to help get our club in a direction moving forward, and those are not the kinds of things that owners do when they are looking to sell."

Tommy Smith, the son-in-law of franchise founder Bud Adams, stepped down last week as the team's CEO.

"There have been no offers," Underwood said. "I don't think they would listen to any offers, but no one has made any offers. The owners themselves have made clear the team is not for sale."

Susie Adams Smith and Amy Adams Strunk, daughters of Bud Adams, currently have 33 percent ownership each of the parent company that owns the Titans. The family of Adams' deceased son, Kenneth Adams III, also has one-third ownership.

The front-office shift has increased speculation about the possibility of a sale, including one report that Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam might be interested in swapping franchises and owning his hometown Titans instead. The Browns denied that report Monday, stating "it's 100 percent false."

"I've seen some anonymous, undisclosed secret sources out there talking about the team being for sale," Underwood said. "I would put my real, live, identified sources up against all these anonymous sources. I have not had a single request from the ownership group to help them in connection to a sale. They have not hired investment advisers about a sale, and they are not doing things that relate to a sale. And now we are looking for a new president. Everything they have said to me is: Let's move the franchise forward."

Underwood said the Titans' new president will be based in Nashville.

"I have identified a couple of things we need to be focusing on, and one of those is a search for a permanent leader that as an organization we can be proud of and as a city Nashville can be proud of and that intends to live and make his or her home in Nashville," he said. "We need to make sure our fans and sponsors understand that we want to do everything we can to have a great year this year and many great years moving forward."

The Titans are coming off a 2-14 season their sixth straight season out of the playoffs and have the No. 2 pick in the draft.


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