Free Agent Grades: Tennessee Titans--Hasselbeck Leads Class

Photo: Matthew Hasselbeck, via My San Antonio

While there is always the possibility of another signing, we’ll take a look at what we have so far: 7 signings, 4 of which are new to the team.

As Heath Ledger’s Joker says,” Annd. Here. We….GO!”

1. Matthew Hasselbeck, Quarterback (former Seahawk)–A

Hasselbeck arrives to the Titans in order to both start the season and help tutor Jake Locker. The fit is great! Hasselbeck is a high-character, team player and after being in the NFL for over 10 years, he has much he can teach Locker.

This signing gets a positive grade. When considering the quarterbacks available and the teams desire to start a veteran over rookie Jake Locker (good move, in my opinion) there was no better option that Hasselbeck who may see a small career revival with a good offensive line in front of him and an elite RB to hand the ball to. I expect good things, but not necessarily a Pro Bowl.

2. Defensive Lineman Shaun Smith (former Chief)–B+

Smith, while an older defensive end, looks to add a stout presence to the interior of the Titans defense. Smith seems to have played most positions on the defensive line and most recently comes from the Kansas City Chiefs 3-4 defense, where was largely used as a defensive end. In the 3-4, ends are required to ‘two-gap’ which basically means take up space, and that’s exactly what he’ll do for the Titans—take up space.

This is a good signing as it adds a veteran presence to the line in order to help lead, as well as gives the Titans a chance at stopping the Texans Steve Slaton and the Jaguars Maurice Jones-Drew. I don’t expect a performance that gets people talking, but a solid level of play that improves the teams chance to win, and thus, the positive grade.

3. Left Guard Leroy Harris (Titans Free Agent)–C+

Harris returns to the Titans after a woeful 2010 put up by the entire offensive line. Personally, I’m looking for things to improve as the group gets more continuity….however, that’s not a guarantee. Harris has the ability to play all 3 interior positions in a pinch and did manage to play right tackle against the 49ers a few years back. While not the greatest guar, he can improve.

I give this a C grade as Harris does not personally impress me, but with the continuity maintained for the offensive line, this could turn into a B-grade easily. Harris is only 27 and still developing after basically 1 year of starting experience. Not an impressive signing but one that keeps the team from getting worse.

4. Tight End Daniel Graham (former Bronco)–A

I love Graham and he will impress many Titans fans. Graham is known for his blocking but remains an underrated receiver. He will probably make a few plays this year that catch your attention, but I doubt he does it game-in and game-out.

The Graham signing gets such a high grade from me due to the presence he adds to the locker room. Graham knows what it takes for a team to win a Super Bowl, he did it with the Patriots. He’ll come in and be a leader from the moment he steps foot on the field, which is looking to be August the 4th due to some wacky CBA rules. I would imagine Chris Johnson is the most excited about this, look for another big fantasy season from the electric back.

5. Fullback Ahmad Hall (Titans Free Agent)–C+

I like it, but I don’t love it. My reasoning is that Hall again adds continuity to what wasn’t exactly the best blocking in front of star Chris Johnson. Hall wasn’t the best available, that goes to Houston’s Vonta Leach, but he will come in here and be above average for a fullback.

The Titans need to upgrade this position either through undrafted free agency or the draft next year. They may be able to pull it off this season as many fullbacks should be available–this due to the unfortunate ‘death’ of the position in the modern NFL. Running the ball is what this team does best, why not strengthen the ability to do so?

6. Middle Linebacker Barret Ruud (former Buccaneer)–C+, with B potential

Ruud seems to me like he could be great, but if he really was great, he would have a HUGE contract, not a one-year deal. Ruud will likely start until he can get replaced, which might be soon. Terrible against the run, Ruud has made his money in the NFL off his coverage abilities. Those abilities aren’t the best….in fact, they rank 33rd-best for inside linebackers on Pro Football Focus. That’s right, this guys strength is 33rd-best in the NFL.

Don’t you miss Stephen Tulloch already?

7. Defensive End David Ball (Titans Free Agent)–C

Ball enters his third season with the team and luckily for him, there’s an opening for ‘Star Defensive End’. Jason Babin is gone, and while it’s unfortunate, it provides opportunity. Can Ball step up? Probably not with a 12.5 sack season, but he may end up being a solid, rotational guy.

This is my least favorite signing. It’s clearly a depth move and a lack of desire by the front office to keep Babin. I don’t really know what else to say, they know what they have and defensive line guru Jim Washburn didn’t really do anything with him, why should the next crew be expected to? I know, I know, he did get 7 sacks last season in 12 games, but how many of those were because Jason Babin drew the pressure away and he was given easy 1 vs 1’s?

1 sack vs Pittsburgh—not the hardest thing with Big Ben moving everywhere and the offensive line not being exactly, well good

1 vs Gaints–good job

2.5 vs Denver–starting right tackle Ryan Harris’ first game back from injury and he looked awful

1 vs Philly–good job

1 vs Washinton– c’mon this doesn’t count

.5 vs Jacksonville–ah, have you seen Eben Britton at right tackle? Sometimes he just goest the wrong direction.

The 30-year old 255-lber at defensive end will play a stop-gap rotational role. I suppose it’s not bad, but I rated it bad because it’s the direction this Front Office took–a band-aid.

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Tags: Ahmad Hall Chris Johnson Daniel Graham Dave Ball Jason Babin Leroy Harris Matthew Hasselbeck Ryan Harris Shaun Smith

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