Sep 30, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Tennessee Titans outside linebacker Zach Brown (55) faces the Houston Texans offense during the game at Reliant Stadium. The Texans defeated the Titans 38-14. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

Tennessee Titans' Rookies Delivering Early, Again

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The Tennessee Titans had a pretty impressive draft in 2011, with every rookie but one contributing, and most in a big way.

QB Jake Locker, OLB Akeem Ayers, DT Jurrell Casey, MLB Collin McCarthy, RB Jamie Harper, DT Karl Klug, DT Zach Clayton, and CB Tommie Campbell all contributed. The only rookie that didn’t contribute was 6th round pick OT Byron Stingly.

That’s pretty damn impressive.

After such a killer draft, I warned Titans fans to lower their expectations for the next draft class. The 2011 is a hard one to follow.

But maybe I shouldn’t have.

The Titans are six games into the season and the Titans have already had major contributions from all of their rookies, save for 6th round pick FS Markelle Martin, who has been on IR all season due to surgery on his knee prior to the preseason.

Three of those rookies are already starting and contributing in major ways.

WR Kendall Wright is leading the team in receptions with 33, third in yards with 285, and tied for the lead with 2 touchdowns. Every game he’s getting better and showing why the Titans chose to take him with their first round pick.

OLB Zach Brown was a much criticized pick when the Titans took him over C Peter Konz, who was stil on the board halfway through the 2nd round. After three games, he supplanted OLB Will Witherspoon as starter. Though he still has room to grow, Brown is much better in pass coverage and should bloom his sophmore year, similar to what we’ve seen from OLB Akeem Ayers.

All that being said, he’s already recorded 34 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. That’s good enough for 6th on the team.

DT Mike Martin is eating up all of DT Karl Klug’s time on the field because of his early success. Martin has 24 tackles and 2 sacks. He’s been a terror for opposing offensive lines and continues to live up to and surpass previous expectations. He’s an exciting player who is a great compliment next to DT Jurrell Casey.

Those guys have done the most, but others have also seen plenty of play time.

CB Coty Sensabaugh has seen significant time in the backfield, apparently being higher on the depth chart than CB Tommie Campbell, who I thought would be one of the top-3 CB’s on the team this year. He’s still a developmental player though and hasn’t done much to impress early on.

Converted from DE, TE Taylor Thompson has seen more time on the field than I expected, though that has only amounted to 2 receptions for 12 yards.

September 30, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Tennessee Titans tight end Taylor Thompson (84) attempts to make a reception during the third quarter against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

Most of his work has been blocking. He did have a chance for a huge TD earlier in the season, but pulled up short and watched as the ball sailed over his head. There’s lots of promise for Thompson, but he’s going to take a little while to ripen.

7th round pick DE Scott Solomon has seen himself in the rotation at DE early and often due to the Titans lack of depth at the position and DE Dave Ball being on IR. Thus far it hasn’t been a fairy tale story with him. He has recorded only one tackle, though he’s played plenty of downs.

His thing is his strength, but he’s had trouble handling linemen thus far. Ideally, he wouldn’t be playing as many downs as he is this early on, but the Titans don’t have much choice. He may be more serviceable in the future, especially after a year or so of experience, but right now, he needs improved pass-rushing skills.

While this draft class may not have reached the same levels as the previous one yet, they’re well on their way. There’s plenty of season left. You’ve also have to applaud the front office. These guys just put together back-to-back impressive drafts.

Hopefully they keep that up for years to come.

 

You can find me on Twitter @JustinLStewart

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