Jim Wyatt, Senior Writer/Editor, TitansOnline.com
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — This time last year, Kevin Byard did his best to impress NFL scouts at his Pro Day.
On Friday, he was back at the scene, watching this year’s draft-eligible players from Middle Tennessee State trying to do the same.
“I was just sitting here reminiscing about that,’’ said Byard, a third-round pick by the Titans in last year’s draft. “It’s kind of crazy, 365 days later I am right back in this building, reflecting on everything. I have been blessed.
“Just seeing these guys today, the focus, the nerves. It just kind of brings me back. The past year I’ve spent with the Titans, it’s been great. And as a team, I feel like we’re in a great position to keep building.”
For the second year in a row, MTSU held its Pro Day at the indoor practice facility on the Tennessee State University campus because of concerns about the weather. Dressed in a Middle Tennessee sweatshirt, Byard watched his former teammates at the school go through drills. He was there to support them, he said.
Titans general manager Jon Robinson was among those right in the middle of the action, working with the defensive linemen in drills. A total of 13 former Blue Raiders showcased their talents before NFL scouts on Friday, including running back I’Tavius Mathers, who ran a pair of 4.47 times in the 40, according to the school.
Byard, a safety, played in 16 games for the Titans in 2016, with seven starts. Byard finished the season with 63 tackles, a sack and three quarterback pressures.
He’s already looking ahead to 2017. He’s been working with his strength coach from MTSU, and he’s been taking boxing classes on the side.
“I talked at the end of last year about how I wanted to make this year a Pro Bowl year, and that is still strong in my head,’’ Byard said. “But the main thing is just winning, and getting to the playoffs.
“The main goal is to win as many games as we can, make it to the playoffs, and everything else will take care of itself.”
Byard said he’s looking forward to working with new Titans safety Johnathan Cyprien(Jaguars) and cornerback Logan Ryan (Patriots), two recent acquisitions in free agency.
“I always knew about Johnathan Cyprien, and I always knew he was a heavy hitter who is a great safety,’’ Byard said. “It is going to be great working with him, and I think our skill sets sort of complement each other. And I definitely think (Ryan) is a great pick-up. I think we have a chance to have a really good secondary.”