Extra Points: Whisenhunt lays his trap

(SportsNetwork.com) - Anyone really think Ken Whisenhunt decided to reveal the Tennessee Titans' draft plans in the desert on a Tuesday in late March?

The Titans head coach made some news at the NFL's owners meetings when he claimed to be seriously considering taking reigning Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota with the second-overall pick.

It's a stark contrast from the perception that the former Oregon signal caller's skills, developed in the Ducks' up-tempo spread system, are no match for Whisenhunt's preference at the position.

"I'm not sure where that came from that I have a certain quarterback type," Whisenhunt claimed when talking to USA TODAY. "Marcus has the qualities I think are important to the position in the NFL. He's got good leadership. His team really gravitates to him. He doesn't turn the ball over. ... He's accurate. He can extend the play. He processes things well. That's really what you're looking for."

Not sure where that "certain quarterback type" came from?

How about the fact that Whisenhunt made his bones in the NFL as a "quarterback whisperer," mentoring players like Ben Roethlisberger, Kurt Warner and Philip Rivers, not exactly movement-type guys who excel running the read-option like Mariota. Meanwhile, the incumbent in Nashville is second-year, pure pocket passer Zach Mettenberger.

Nonetheless, Whisenhunt claimed if Mariota does indeed get to the Volunteer State, he would immediately leap over Mettenberger on the depth chart.

"If we pick (Mariota) at No. 2, you definitely think he can be the Day 1 starter," Whisenhunt said during Tuesday morning's AFC coaches breakfast. "He was impressive (at an individual workout). Just the short time we spent with him on the board, he was very good."

Many observers overreacted to Whisenhunt's proclamation before parsing the wording, as the coach was almost Clintonian in his semantic skills.

The only thing Whisenhunt was really saying was that if the Titans -- or anyone else for that matter -- takes a QB at No. 2, it's with the intent of being the Day 1 starter.

Mettenberger is still the guy in Nashville for now and Whisenhunt has no real interest in taking Mariota with the second pick, but he would be derelict in his duty if he didn't do all he could to take advantage of having that selection on April 30.

"We were comfortable enough to start (Mettenberger) last year," Whisenhunt said. "We're going to do what we think is best for the organization."

Understand Whisenhunt has been an NFL head coach for seven years and he's been in the league as a player or coach for 26. He understands how the game is played and was simply laying a trap for the teams who are enamored with Mariota, be it Chip Kelly in Philadelphia or perhaps the New York Jets, New Orleans or even San Diego.

After all, no matter what subterfuge the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throw out there in the coming weeks, former Florida State star Jameis Winston remains the presumptive top overall pick.

That means if you want Mariota badly enough, the only guarantee is moving up to the Titans' spot even though the Hawaiian is by no means the second-best prospect in this draft

"At this point, I don't know," Whisenhunt said. "It's an important pick. So I know we're going to invest a lot of time and effort into these quarterbacks as well as whatever opportunities will be there. And there's going to be a good player there, too."

That was a nod to Southern Cal stalwart Leonard Williams, probably the top overall player in this draft and a talent who has a much higher ceiling at the pro level than Mariota or even Winston, for that matter.

Of course, Williams is a defensive lineman and the very nature of football in 2015 makes quarterback the most impactful position in the sport, so there should be no shortage of suitors for Mariota, an A-plus off the field who will need time to learn if you plan on running a more traditional pro offense, something Whisenhunt has always done.

"It's not really so much what (offense) are you in," Whisenhunt said. "It's what you've done within that scheme and what your responsibilities are."

That quote is ironic because Whisenhunt could have been discussing himself. It's his responsibility in this scheme to convince others that Mariota is in play for Tennessee, something that will up the eventual haul in any potential trade.

"We're still not finished with the evaluation process with these quarterbacks," Whisenhunt said. "It's going to really depend on where we end up feeling about these guys."

Or more realistically, how others feel about Mariota.