For Whom the Draft Tolls?

Courtesy: Zimbio

January football fans can be split into two camps: Those that get to enjoy their teams in the present, and those that get to look forward to the future. Unfortunately, as the Raiders fell to the Chargers on Sunday, the Titans faithful got lumped into the latter category. Really, it’s no one’s fault but our own; had we not handed the Colts their first W of the year, we would be sitting pretty at 10-wins right now. So as it is, we wish all the playoff-bound teams the best of luck (except the Texans), and set our sights on something we can get excited about: The 2012 NFL Draft.

When it comes to Titans fans, we seem to split into three distinct groups: Those who feel we should draft a defensive end, those who believe we need an interior lineman above all, and the slightly smaller minority that feel we should go WR. While it may not be popular, I am firmly entrenched in the third and final grouping of those that feel we should draft WR in the first round. Allow me to explain.

All three of the aforementioned positions are positions of need. Ultimately, a high selection of any of those three positions works to our benefit. With that being said, it’s important to look at the draft process in its entirety, and not simply the first round.  It’s seems as though often times, people’s approach to the draft goes something like this:

“What’s our biggest position of need? Who’s the best player
at that position? Ok, that’s who we should draft in the first round.”

I understand this line of thinking, but find it to be a tad simplistic. The draft process is one of those things that tends to take on a life of its own. Often times, a run of selections at a certain position can make teams jump the gun, pushing unlikely selections up, and likely selections down  (The names Aaron Rodgers, Mark Ingram, Tyson Alualu, Donte Whitner, and Christian Ponder all come to mind). Year after year, WR seems to be one of those positions where players get pushed up between the season’s end and the start of the draft. The last three years have seen 11 Wide Receivers drafted in the first round, with names like Jonathan Baldwin and Darrius Heyward-Bey being drafted far higher than they initially graded out. Conversely, only 6 interior lineman were drafted within the same period*.  What this speaks to is the fact that there is more value to be found at the G/C position in later rounds than there is at the WR position.  Additionally, for whatever reason, it seems as though offensive lineman more often than other positions tend to be drafted later and spend a number of years working up to a starting position, as opposed to WR’s that are often thrown in the game from day one. I took a look at all 4 starting offensive lines from the AFC South as of Week 17, and given the round that each player was drafted, determined the average round drafted for starting o-lineman to be as follows:

Houston – 3.2

Indy – 5.8

Jacksonville – 3

Tennessee – 4.4

It is agreed upon by most fans and analysts that Houston has among the best offensive lines in the game. With an average draft position of having the player come out of the third round, it would seem to point to the caliber of player that is available at this position in the later rounds.

Additionally, most likely as a result of the inflation of draftees at the WR position, second-round receivers just don’t seem to work out. Last year saw Titus Young, who looks to be an exception, come out of the second, but we also saw Torrey Smith, Greg Little, and Randall Cobb get drafted, all fine players when utilized correctly, but it can’t be said that any of them change the complexion of their respective offense. Teams have even tried using two second-round picks in the same draft at the WR position, figuring that at least one of them would have to pan out.  Those teams, most recently, would be the Redskins in 2008 and the Browns in 2009. The Redskins drafted Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly. The Browns selected Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi. None of them panned out.

As to those who are of the mindset that we should get a defensive end right away, it is certainly an area we need to improve upon, but Derrick Morgan was essentially a rookie this season, and while he has not lived up to expectations by any means, it might be a season too early to write him off. We can certainly all agree that Casey and Klug look to be around for a very long time (Can we start using the term “Klugging up the middle”? Bit too much of a stretch?), and the Titans have historically developed lesser talents into overproducing for us on the d-line (Antwan Odom, anyone?), so it would seem as though we can get by for the year with what we have.

Ultimately, we can get the most value out of our draft by selecting a receiver in the first, and then going to the defensive end and interior line positions with the next few selections.

*Interesting side notes:  1 – Only two of the 6 interior lineman were drafted as true guards (Iupati, Watkins). 2 – No WR or G/C was drafted in the 1st Round of the 2008 draft. 3- The Titans are the only team in the AFC South to start a player at LT that was drafted outside of the 1st round (Michael Roos; 2nd Round)

Agree? Disagree? Make sure to sound off on our boards about it.  Share The Love & Spread The Hate.

 

 

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Topics: 2012 NFL Draft, AFC South, Blogs, Center, Defensive End, Defensive Line, Fansided, FanSided.com, Football, Guard, Offensive Line, Tennessee, Tennessee Titans, Titans, TitanSized, Titansized.com, Wide Receiver

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  • David Matthew Melville

    Would say a lot of valid points but could not disagree more. The simple fact is you grade your players and decide if you move up, down, or stay. Then when it is your turn to pick you take either a DE, a G/C, or a WR whoever has the best grade or potential unless there comes a player so highly grade that is better then anyone else (for example when Rodgers fell to the Packers). So keep the options open. I feel the way it is evolving right now that we should take a G/C but that may change a lot from until April. The best recievers look to be all gone by time we pick and I just don’t see a DE end to get excited about. There are a couple of G/C that should be available and would be day 1 starters.

  • JasonPeters

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. Don’t get me wrong, I do agree with you when you talk about grading players and going with the highest-rated available; that is a completely sound and correct way to approach the draft. As far as I can tell, though, when pick #20 rolls around, we will have a couple very good WR’s that may be available. Jefferey and Blackmon will be long gone, but there’s an outside chance Michael Floyd is available there, and if he’s gone, both Kendall Wright and Mohamed Sanu are very legitimate athletes to consider. I really like Sanu. Reminds me a lot of Britt, even down to coming out of Rutgers. Having Britt and Britt Jr.(Sanu) on the field with Cook, Johnson, and Locker would be absolutely devestating to opposing defenses.

  • David Matthew Melville

    Would say a lot of valid points but could not disagree more. The simple fact is you grade your players and decide if you move up, down, or stay. Then when it is your turn to pick you take either a DE, a G/C, or a WR whoever has the best grade or potential unless there comes a player so highly grade that is better then anyone else (for example when Rodgers fell to the Packers). So keep the options open. I feel the way it is evolving right now that we should take a G/C but that may change a lot from until April. The best recievers look to be all gone by time we pick and I just don’t see a DE end to get excited about. There are a couple of G/C that should be available and would be day 1 starters.

  • JasonPeters

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. Don’t get me wrong, I do agree with you when you talk about grading players and going with the highest-rated available; that is a completely sound and correct way to approach the draft. As far as I can tell, though, when pick #20 rolls around, we will have a couple very good WR’s that may be available. Jefferey and Blackmon will be long gone, but there’s an outside chance Michael Floyd is available there, and if he’s gone, both Kendall Wright and Mohamed Sanu are very legitimate athletes to consider. I really like Sanu. Reminds me a lot of Britt, even down to coming out of Rutgers. Having Britt and Britt Jr.(Sanu) on the field with Cook, Johnson, and Locker would be absolutely devestating to opposing defenses.

  • Titan Sized on Fansided

    Via TitanSized: JasonPeters 5 pts
    Thanks for taking the time to respond. Don’t get me wrong, I do agree with you when you talk about grading players and going with the highest-rated available; that is a completely sound and correct way to approach the draft. As far as I can tell, though, when pick #20 rolls around, we will have a couple very good WR’s that may be available. Jefferey and Blackmon will be long gone, but there’s an outside chance Michael Floyd is available there, and if he’s gone, both Kendall Wright and Mohamed Sanu are very legitimate athletes to consider. I really like Sanu. Reminds me a lot of Britt, even down to coming out of Rutgers. Having Britt and Britt Jr.(Sanu) on the field with Cook, Johnson, and Locker would be absolutely devestating to opposing defenses.

  • David Matthew Melville

    Excellent info and thanks for it. I really wonder if we need one that bad Washington did step up this year but I need to get up to speed on it. I am still in recovery on the almost making it not quite. I will say I am not sold at all on Jeffery. Spurrier receivers have a long history of busting and I don’t know I want to see his speed size numbers and more film of him. I don’t think Floyd or Jeffery will be there either especially now that Landry and Barkley now out of the draft. Still what I have seen is a WR usually one of those two in the drafts around where the Titans pick or DeCastro out of Stanford or Clemson’s Branch. I just feel DeCastro will grade out better but as I said a long way to go and I need to see some film of them (thank god for youtube)

  • Titan Sized on Fansided

    Via TitanSized: JasonPeters 5 pts
    Thanks for taking the time to respond. Don’t get me wrong, I do agree with you when you talk about grading players and going with the highest-rated available; that is a completely sound and correct way to approach the draft. As far as I can tell, though, when pick #20 rolls around, we will have a couple very good WR’s that may be available. Jefferey and Blackmon will be long gone, but there’s an outside chance Michael Floyd is available there, and if he’s gone, both Kendall Wright and Mohamed Sanu are very legitimate athletes to consider. I really like Sanu. Reminds me a lot of Britt, even down to coming out of Rutgers. Having Britt and Britt Jr.(Sanu) on the field with Cook, Johnson, and Locker would be absolutely devestating to opposing defenses.

  • David Matthew Melville

    Excellent info and thanks for it. I really wonder if we need one that bad Washington did step up this year but I need to get up to speed on it. I am still in recovery on the almost making it not quite. I will say I am not sold at all on Jeffery. Spurrier receivers have a long history of busting and I don’t know I want to see his speed size numbers and more film of him. I don’t think Floyd or Jeffery will be there either especially now that Landry and Barkley now out of the draft. Still what I have seen is a WR usually one of those two in the drafts around where the Titans pick or DeCastro out of Stanford or Clemson’s Branch. I just feel DeCastro will grade out better but as I said a long way to go and I need to see some film of them (thank god for youtube)

  • Titan Sized on Fansided

    I just can’t wait till we get into the actual offseason. Then we’ll be teeing off on all this stuff and once all the combines happen we can start posting some fairly accurate mock drafts. My view is that DeCastro will be long gone by 20. Right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes in the top ten. Making it to 20 would be hard. There’s also another lineman called Cordy Glenn from Georgia. He’s a possible first rounder. I haven’t watched any taped on him though. DeCastro is being called a first season probowler already.

  • Titan Sized on Fansided

    I just can’t wait till we get into the actual offseason. Then we’ll be teeing off on all this stuff and once all the combines happen we can start posting some fairly accurate mock drafts. My view is that DeCastro will be long gone by 20. Right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes in the top ten. Making it to 20 would be hard. There’s also another lineman called Cordy Glenn from Georgia. He’s a possible first rounder. I haven’t watched any taped on him though. DeCastro is being called a first season probowler already.

  • seagle1

    One of the most difficult things to predict is the draft. Its normally not difficult to figure out what the team needs but to assess when they will take players is one of the biggest crap shoots in the world. Who should the Titans take first? Whoever has the best chance to come in the quickest and turn into a good player for the longest. If that is a SS in the first, then so be it. The last thing I would want the Titans to do is go into the draft pressing and reaching for picks. Look, if Kenny Britt doesn’t get injured then I doubt that many people would say that WR is our biggest need. We only classify it as a need because he was lost for the season and we saw what the entire corp looked like, just like when he was injured last year and we saw.

    Personally, just speaking in terms of need, the Titans need a pass rusher, they ranked 31st in sacks last year. They need help on the D line and still need help at LB and of course in the secondary. It doesn’t matter who you have back there covering, if you can’t get to the QB you will get torn to shreds.

    Eagle

  • justinstewartphotography

    @seagle1 Agreed. My main thing is I trust the front office to make the right pick. They killed it this last draft.

  • JasonPeters

    @seagle1

    Agreed that we need a playmaker to rush the QB, but I don’t see one on the horizon that we would take at 20. I know Coples is coming out, but I can;t figure out where teams are gonna be drafting him. I’ve seen mocks that place him anywhere from the top 10, to the bottom of the second round.

    Also, the fact that Britt was injured this year is exactly what leads me to believe we ned to go WR. I think the difference between our offense with and without Britt was night and day. I love Britt, but if he can’t stay healthy, we need the same type of player to keep the offense rolling. If he can stay healthy, than we would have a very legitimate dual WR threat, which takes opposing defense out of the box and opens up the field for a healthy CJ, as well as gives a potential big-play offense to hang with the high-scoring teams.

  • seagle1

    One of the most difficult things to predict is the draft. Its normally not difficult to figure out what the team needs but to assess when they will take players is one of the biggest crap shoots in the world. Who should the Titans take first? Whoever has the best chance to come in the quickest and turn into a good player for the longest. If that is a SS in the first, then so be it. The last thing I would want the Titans to do is go into the draft pressing and reaching for picks. Look, if Kenny Britt doesn’t get injured then I doubt that many people would say that WR is our biggest need. We only classify it as a need because he was lost for the season and we saw what the entire corp looked like, just like when he was injured last year and we saw.

    Personally, just speaking in terms of need, the Titans need a pass rusher, they ranked 31st in sacks last year. They need help on the D line and still need help at LB and of course in the secondary. It doesn’t matter who you have back there covering, if you can’t get to the QB you will get torn to shreds.

    Eagle

  • justinstewartphotography

    @seagle1 Agreed. My main thing is I trust the front office to make the right pick. They killed it this last draft.

  • justinstewartphotography

    @JasonPeters@seagle1 We’ll have a better figuring of where players are going once the combines happen.

  • JasonPeters

    @seagle1

    Agreed that we need a playmaker to rush the QB, but I don’t see one on the horizon that we would take at 20. I know Coples is coming out, but I can;t figure out where teams are gonna be drafting him. I’ve seen mocks that place him anywhere from the top 10, to the bottom of the second round.

    Also, the fact that Britt was injured this year is exactly what leads me to believe we ned to go WR. I think the difference between our offense with and without Britt was night and day. I love Britt, but if he can’t stay healthy, we need the same type of player to keep the offense rolling. If he can stay healthy, than we would have a very legitimate dual WR threat, which takes opposing defense out of the box and opens up the field for a healthy CJ, as well as gives a potential big-play offense to hang with the high-scoring teams.

  • seagle1

    Let us not forget about free agency also. The WR position is one of the hardest to translate from college to pro which makes it hard to have success as a rookie. I do realize the need for another pass catcher but few teams are able to have two top tier WR on the roster, two first round picks at WR just doesn’t happen. I do trust our FO as well and let’s hope all picks work out. Yeah Coples looks like the best and if he tests well…he’ll be gone by 20.

  • justinstewartphotography

    @JasonPeters@seagle1 We’ll have a better figuring of where players are going once the combines happen.

  • seagle1

    Let us not forget about free agency also. The WR position is one of the hardest to translate from college to pro which makes it hard to have success as a rookie. I do realize the need for another pass catcher but few teams are able to have two top tier WR on the roster, two first round picks at WR just doesn’t happen. I do trust our FO as well and let’s hope all picks work out. Yeah Coples looks like the best and if he tests well…he’ll be gone by 20.

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