The way Titans rookie safety Kevin Byard has it figured, he is already halfway to his goal of mastering the Tennessee defense.
The third-round pick from Middle Tennessee wowed Titans coaches who put him through a workout both on the field and with his football knowledge prior to the draft. He showed an amazing knack for being able to disseminate his football knowledge and translate it into the Titans’ terminology.
Now he is setting about to learn the nuance. Byard knows the basics, now he plans to master the scheme as quickly as possible.
“It’s definitely helped me, just when I’m watching film or studying my playbook, a lot of this scheme is kind of familiar to me,” Byard said. “It’s just all about learning the new terminology, so that kind of cuts down half of the learning curve. Then, it’s just about learning the new terminology, and once I get that down, I’m good to go.”
Byard was plenty good to go at MTSU, picking off a school record 19 passes in his four years with the Blue Raiders. Those numbers caught the Titans attention, but it was his recall and ability to quickly translate terminology that really enticed the Titans to spend the 64th pick in the draft on him, when many thought he might not be selected until later in the draft.
“I don’t know if that has anything to do with the numbers he put up, the 19 picks. But being in the right place at the right time, he has a very good feel,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. “We try to give the same questions and same board work to every guy, so it’s a fair evaluation, and he just clearly stood out, being able to get back up there and spit it out. We viewed a lot in this pre-draft, and he was very good. There was no question that started the process of our interest in him.”
Both in knowing the defense and making plays on the field, Byard says preparation is the key.
“It starts in the film room. I know what I’m doing out there on the field and the rest is just instincts, going out there wanting to make the play, wanting to make the tackle, wanting to make the big play. That’s something I definitely plan on bringing to the Titans,” Byard said. “Most of the scheme stuff is not really going to change, but it’s more about learning the new terminology and the new way they call things. Once I get that down pat, I’ll be good to go.”