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Titans coach: If you take Mariota, he's the Day 1 starter

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PHOENIX -- At first blush, hearing Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt say this at the annual AFC coaches breakfast Tuesday - "If (Marcus Mariota) comes to us at No. 2, he's definitely going to be the Day 1 starter" -- certainly makes us think the Zach Mettenberger era has come and gone.

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But let's pump the brakes on that real quick.

Whisenhunt actually went on to say that the Titans have narrowed their focus down to about six players for the No. 2 pick, and that he's looking forward to spending time with Jameis Winston. He hasn't had the opportunity to work him out privately like he's done with Mariota.

Still, the Titans coach sounded high on the former Oregon prospect who will almost certainly be sitting there for him on draft day.

"You're talking about taking a quarterback with the first or second pick, you're probably going to play that guy," he said. "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."

Whisenhunt said the Titans worked Mariota heavily under center and that there were no noticeable flaws. He looked comfortable despite the overwhelming consensus that he wouldn't survive outside of Chip Kelly's cocoon offense.

He doesn't buy that, either.

"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."

So while there might have been a momentary sense of certainty, the Titans' situation at No. 2 is still clear as mud. So much so that Whisenhunt also had some nice things to say about Sam Bradford, who is currently on the Eagles and is employed by a coach who really wants to draft Mariota.

The draft cannot come soon enough.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps the inaugural Veteran Combine and discusses which star players were helped (and hurt) by free agency. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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