Draft Grades – 2012

Draft Grades: Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans are stuck in limbo. They’re not in full rebuilding mode, but they aren’t legitimate contenders. As a result, they had a tough decision to make in this draft: address immediate holes, or draft for the future. Based on their early selections it seems as though they chose the latter, which was probably the right decision.

The Titans shocked a lot of people with the selection of Kendall Wright. Receiver was not viewed as an immediate need, but the Titans apparently viewed him as one of the best values on the board. Wright is a perfect compliment to Kenny Britt, and the Titans now have two legitimate weapons in place which will ease Jake Locker’s transition whenever he takes over for Matt Hasselbeck.

Zach Brown is an elite athlete who fell down draft boards due to a lack of production in 2011 at North Carolina. He’s undersized and not very physical, but the Titans defense is one of the few units that tends to favor athleticism over size and Brown should fit right in.

Mike Martin could be a steal in the 3rd round. He’s limited athletically, but is a tough, physical player who can anchor a defensive line. He’ll have to fight for playing time on the Titans crowded defensive line, but he’ll force the coaching staff to find a role for him as part of the rotation.

If the Titans were drafting purely for need, cornerback is an area that should have been addressed earlier. Coty Sensabaugh adds depth, but he doesn’t even begin to replace Courtland Finnegan.

I love the selection of Taylor Thompson in the 5th round. He played defensive end at SMU, so we have no idea what lies ahead for him as a tight end, but he has all the physical attributes necessary to play the position at an elite level. He’s obviously a project, but his upside makes him well worth a 5th round selection.

Markelle Martin should provide some much needed depth in the secondary. He’ll likely backup Michael Griffin at free safety and play on special teams.

Scott Solomon will compete for a backup job at defensive end. While the starters are locked in, there’s very little depth at the position which should allow him to earn a spot on the roster.

This was a solid draft haul for the Titans, but don’t expect it to allow much improvement on their 9-7 record in 2011. This class was about putting the pieces in place to ensure a smooth transition from Hasselbeck to Locker. With the added weapons and offense and the depth added on the defensive side of the ball, the Titans should be able to avoid the typical dip in production when ushering in a new franchise quarterback.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2012, Titans Comments Off

Tennessee Titans select Zach Brown, Grade B

The Tennessee Titans clearly fell in love with Zach Brown’s athleticism. There’s no denying the fact that he can fly around the field, but he isn’t an true impact player in any aspect of the game at this stage in his career. I did give him a late 2nd-round grade based on his athleticism and potential, however, so I will still give the pick a solid B.

What I don’t like about this pick, however, is the fact that Lavonte David was still on the board. David doesn’t quite have Brown’s upside, but is far and away the better football player at this point in time.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Titans 1 Comment

Tennessee Titans select Kendall Wright, Grade A

The Tennessee Titans didn’t fill a need with this selection, but it’s a great value pick. I had Kendall Wright in the top 10 on my draft board, so the Titans obviously did a nice job getting him at 20.

Wright is an explosive deep threat and will complement Kenny Britt well in Tennessee. Jake Locker has to be feeling great about this selection.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Titans Comments Off

Draft Needs: Tennessee Titans

Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Tennessee Titans [full archive here].

Season Recap: The Titans improved in 2011 under new head coach Mike Munchak, finishing with a 9-7 record. Veteran QB Matt Hassleback did a good job of managing the offense and brought experienced leadership to the locker room. It hurt loosing star WR Kenny Britt for the season, along with Chris Johnson having the worst season of his career. Promising QB, Jake Locker looks poised to take the reins and with the return of Britt and Johnson, Tennessee could be a sleeper team in 2012.

Team Needs:
1. Defensive Tackle: The Titans lost Jason Jones to Seattle this offseason, making defensive line a priority. Jurrell Casey showed enough during his rookie season to hold down one of the spots, but there is still an opening next to him. Devon Still, Michael Brockers, and Jerel Worthy are options in round one.

2. Defensive End: Even though Kamerion Wimbley was recently signed, Tennessee needs more at the position. Jason Jones and Dave Ball are gone, meaning the Titans need more depth. Nick Perry should be available at the Titans selection.

3. Center: Eugene Amano is horrible. The Titans need an upgrade at the center position. Peter Konz, Ben Jones, and Phillip Blake are among the top center prospects in this year’s draft.

Posted on by Matt Peterson in Draft Needs - 2012, Titans 2 Comments

Titans looking to draft a receiver?

When healthy, Kenny Britt is a legitimate No. 1. But the Tennessee Titans may be looking for some insurance behind Britt, who is coming off a devastating season-ending knee injury.

The Titans have met with Michael Floyd and Alshon Jeffery, both of whom will be either 1st or 2nd round picks.

It may be tough for the Titans to land Floyd, who will likely be gone before the Titans are on the clock. Jeffery, however, could be an option in either the 1st or 2nd round.

It’s worth noting that both Floyd and Jeffery are considered possession receivers, and have to the ability to fight for the ball in traffic. Targeting this type of receiver makes sense if the Titans plan to use second-year quarterback Jake Locker for the majority of the 2012 season.

For more info, follow our Draft Visit Tracker, updated daily. 

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Titans Comments Off

2011 Draft Grades: Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans brought in a strong class of rookies, many of whom can contribute immediately. However, when your 1st-round pick is a reach of epic proportions, it really doesn’t matter what you did in the 2nd or 3rd round.

I thought the Titans learned their lesson after whiffing on Vince Young in 2006. You can’t take a raw college quarterback, throw him to the wolves, and expect him to succeed. It’s true that Jake Locker doesn’t come with Young’s character concerns and work ethic issues, but it doesn’t change the fact that he isn’t prepared for the NFL and may never be. His accuracy is well below NFL standards, and that’s one of the most difficult things to change about a quarterback at this stage in his career. No matter how hard he works, he may simply lack the skills to play at an elite level. Now does that sound like a top-10 pick to you?

I really like the addition of Akeem Ayers in the 2nd round. He should be able to win a starting job over Will Witherspoon as a rookie. If he doesn’t win the job, he’ll provide depth at both outside linebacker positions.

Jurrell Casey is overrated in my opinion, and I also don’t think he fills a glaring need in Tennessee. Taking a tackle in the 1st round (Nick Fairley?) would have been justifiable because they lack an elite interior lineman, but depth isn’t an issue. Casey just blends in with guys like Sen’Derrick Marks and Jovan Haye.

Colin McCarthy could prove to be a steal in the 4th round. He can play inside or outside linebacker in Tennessee and, at worst, should be a valuable backup due to his versatility.

Jamie Harper will have to win a job over Javon Ringer and Stafon Johnson, but he definitely fits the mold of what the Titans need for Chris Johnson’s backup. He’s a big, physical between-the-tackles runner who can pick up short yardage.

Karl Klug isn’t anything to get excited about but he has the ability to play both end and tackle in the 4-3 defense. That type of versatility is always key for late round picks making the roster.

Byron Stingily can play either guard or tackle and will improve a fairly weak second unit on the offensive line. He was a late riser in the draft process and may have the upside to develop into a starter down the road.

Zach Clayton is going to struggle to make the final roster cut. They simply have too many defensive tackles on the roster and there are at least five guys solidly ahead of Clayton on the depth chart right now.

Tommie Campbell is a developmental prospect at safety, but could make the roster due to the lack of depth at the position. The backup jobs at both free and strong safety should be open for competition this offseason.

The Titans 2nd through 7th round would, at worst, get a solid B, but the 1st round is what carries a draft and the Titans have to get a failing grade for taking a 3rd-round prospect 8th overall. If you take a quarterback that high, anything less than a Hall of Fame career is a disappointment and I can’t envision Locker even approaching that level of success.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2011, Titans Comments Off

Top 10 Draft Day Decision Makers

10. Thomas Dimitroff, Falcons
This Bill Belichick disciple rebuilt the Falcons in one draft, possibly even one draft pick, with Matt Ryan in 2008. What Dimitroff has accomplished in three drafts is impressive, and makes you wonder just how good he could make the Falcons in another three years.
Best 1st-round pick: Matt Ryan (2008)
Best late-round pick: Kroy Biermann (5th round, 2008)
Biggest bust: Peria Jerry (1st round, 2009)

9.  Mike Reinfeldt, Titans
Reinfeldt’s first two 1st-round picks (Micael Griffin, Chris Johnson) have already developed into Pro Bowlers, and Kenny Britt is poised for a breakout year in 2011. Reinfeldt has also started to get production from some late-round picks such as Jason McCourty, Gerald McRath and Alterraun Verner.
Best 1st-round pick: Chris Johnson (2008)
Best late-round pick: Jason McCourty (6th round, 2009)
Biggest bust: Chris Henry (2nd round, 2007)
Read more

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Falcons, Giants, Packers, Patriots, Ravens, Steelers, Titans 1 Comment

Draft Needs: Tennessee Titans

Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Tennessee Titans. [full archive here].

Season Recap – Things will be much different in Tennessee this offseason with Jeff Fisher departing after 16 seasons as the head coach. Along with Fisher’s outing comes the (eventual) release of QB Vince Young, who at times looked to be the next great. Former offensive line coach Mike Munchak takes over for Fisher and will be the man in charge of the rebuilding Titans.

Needs:
1. Quarterback
– Vince Young will not be on the roster next season and Kerry Collins will be 39 years old. QB is a very big need. With stars Chris Johnson and Kenny Tate in the prime of their careers, the smartest move would be to sign a veteran free agent and spend a season or two developing a rookie. Players like Seneca Wallace, Luke McCown, or Bruce Gradkowski could be possible mentors for prospects such as Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, or Andy Dalton. Before the start of the season, there will be two new capable QB’s on the roster. Read more

Posted on by Matt Peterson in Draft Needs - 2011, Titans Comments Off

Jeff Fisher’s departure could impact Titans draft plans

My immediate reaction to the surprising Jeff Fisher news yesterday was: does this mean Vince Young is staying? ESPN’s Adam Schefter quickly put an end to that possibility, at which point my mind turned to their draft.

The Titans have been a fairly well-run organization from top to bottom during the Jeff Fisher era, but owner Bud Adams does have an Al Davis streak in him when it comes to the draft; and particularly when it comes to quarterbacks. Adams was instrumental in the Oilers decision to draft Steve McNair in 1995 (a decision which worked out just fine) and played an even larger role in the selection of Vince Young in 2006 (a decision which didn’t work out so well).

Bud Adams has always liked big, mobile QBs

Throughout the past five seasons it often appeared as though Adams was Young’s only supporter, which undoubtedly played a role in the rift that grew between Adams and Fisher, ultimately pushing them apart.

So now that Fisher and Young are both gone, Adams is left with no quarterback and a young coach whom he can easily control. In other words, if Adams wants someone in the draft, he’ll get him.

Considering their desperate need for a signal caller and Adams affinity for strong-armed, mobile quarterbacks, Cam Newton suddenly looks like a very strong possibility.

I mentioned this on Twitter last night, to which @TitansMCM (of MusicCityMiracles.com) replied: “Not as long as [Mike] Reinfeldt and [Steve] Underwood are in charge… I think Bud learned his lesson [after drafting Vince Young]. The key word there is think.”

There’s a strong possibility that he’s right, and Adams will remain hands off. But as he eludes to, you just never know with an owner like Adams. For whatever reason he seems to trust a certain type of quarterback and it may be hard to pass up a Heisman winner who fits that mold perfectly.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, Titans Comments Off

10 teams looking for a new starting quarterback

Nearly one-third of the league could have new starting quarterbacks by September. Due to a greater demand than supply, it’s likely that not all of these teams find themselves a new signal caller, but here are the top 10 teams we’ve identified as most likely to have a new quarterback in 2011.

10. Broncos
It sounds as though Josh McDaniels was the lone Tebow support in Denver, and with him gone it seems likely that the Broncos will consider other options. John Fox has indicated that he likes Tim Tebow, but he also isn’t ready to commit to a starting quarterback. They’re unlikely to address this need in the draft, but signing a veteran is a strong possibility.

9. Raiders
Jason Campbell is still under contract but their other four quarterbacks (seriously, they have four other quarterbacks on the roster) are free agents. Keeping Campbell is a definite possibility, but you just never know what Al Davis as in mind. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of them trading up into the 1st-round (they already traded their own 1st-round pick) in an effort to land Cam Newton or Jake Locker.

8. Seahawks
Matt Hasselbeck is a free agent and may return, but he doesn’t have much left in the tank. They would certainly love to have Hasselbeck around to groom a young quarterback, but I don’t expect the Seahawks to commit to him as the starter. If he wants a guarantee that he’ll be a starter for the next year or two, he may need to go elsewhere.

7. Dolphins
Owner Stephen Ross has stated that he wants a creative, hurry-up offense in 2011, and that won’t be happening with Chad Henne under center. The Dolphins have grown tired of his slow development and seem ready to move on. Drafting a quarterback (possibly Newton) is a possibility, but they may prefer to bring in a veteran in an effort to turn things around quickly.

6. Bills
With the 3rd pick in the draft the Bills could have their pick of the quarterbacks, and Blaine Gabbert is a definite possibility. But the reason I don’t rank them higher is because I think they’ll strongly consider bringing Ryan Fitzpatrick back for another season. He was one of the biggest surprises of the 2010 season. The Bills may even draft Gabbert, or someone in the 2nd or 3rd round, and let them sit for a year behind Fitzpatrick.

5. Titans
Vince Young is as good as gone, and Kerry Collins is a free agent. However, I wouldn’t rule out Collins’ return. The Titans are in position to draft a quarterback (Gabbert, Newton or Mallett) and I suspect Jeff Fisher will prefer to keep Collins around to help groom their future franchise quarterback.

4. Redskins
After getting benched in favor of Rex Grossman, it’s hard to imagine Donovan McNabb returning to Washington. It’s equally difficult to image the Redskins sticking with Grossman for 2011. With the 10th pick in the draft Mike Shanahan is in position to select his quarterback of the future. Ryan Mallett and Newton are both strong possibilities.

3. Vikings
We know Favre won’t be back (and I actually believe him this time) and Tarvaris Jackson is a free agent. Joe Webb performed far better than anyone could have expected of a guy who was drafted as a wide receiver, but I can’t imagine Leslie Frazier sticking with him for 2011. The Vikings will either draft a quarterback (Newton or Mallett) or bring in a veteran (possibly Kevin Kolb).

2. Cardinals
Ken Whisenhunt wasn’t happy with the Cardinals quarterback situation entering last season and I’m guessing he’s even less pleased after seeing how it played out.  Drafting Blaine Gabbert is a possibility, but I suspect Whisenhunt would prefer to bring a veteran aboard, as he did last offseason. Either way, their opening day starter is definitely not on the current roster.

1. 49ers
Alex Smith and Troy Smith are both free agent and I would be very surprised if either returned.  I currently have them selecting Gabbert in my mock draft, but trading for Kevin Kolb is also possibility. Another option is signing a veteran, such as Matt Hasselbeck or Seneca Wallace, to keep the seat warm for whoever Jim Harbaugh choses to groom for the position.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, 49ers, Bills, Broncos, Cardinals, Dolphins, Raiders, Redskins, Seahawks, Titans, Vikings Comments Off