Versatility. Value. Safe. Smart. Foresight. Unsexy.
Those are a few words that come to mind when evaluating the 2014 NFL Draft class for the Tennessee Titans. Their first-round pick was an offensive tackle whom many projected to get drafted at No. 6. If this draft wasn’t as deep, Lewan could’ve easily been a top-five pick. The Titans filled a need when they selected the first running back of the entire draft at No. 54. DaQuan Jones and Avery Williamson were players who many had projected to go higher.
Then there’s Zach Mettenberger. The former LSU signal-caller was projected as a fringe first-rounder and Day 2 lock. Apparently, character issues dropped one of the top-rated pocket-passing quarterback prospects to Round 6. The Titans traded their original sixth-round pick (No. 186) and a seventh-rounder (No. 228) to move up and take a low-risk, high-reward chance on a potential franchise quarterback.
Below is the Titans’ 2014 NFL Draft class:
Round 1, Pick 11: Taylor Lewan, Offensive Tackle, Michigan
Round 2, Pick 54: Bishop Sankey, Running Back, Washington
Round 4, Pick 112: DaQuan Jones, Defensive Lineman, Penn State
Round 4, Pick 122: Marqueston Huff, Defensive Back, Wyoming
Round 5, Pick 151: Avery Williamson, Inside Linebacker, Kentucky
Round 6, Pick 178: Zach Mettenberger, Quarterback, LSU
Early reviews are mixed. Some fans felt like this was a quality draft from top-to-bottom. Other fans felt like the team exercised an extraordinarily safe and cautious approach. Some fans are turned off from the team taking on character risks (e.g. Lewan, Mettenberger). Others wanted more emphasis toward quarterback and wide receiver.
Here are a few of my thoughts:
- Someone on Twitter (can’t remember who) commented about why the San Francisco 49ers have such successful drafts: they draft with the mindset of 2-3 years down the road, rarely expecting immediate contributions (with the exception of first-round picks). That’s exactly what fans should expect from this draft. Don’t expect too much from most of these rookies during the 2014-15 NFL season. They’ll need time to adjust to the NFL game.
- Many people weren’t satisfied with this draft. I felt a big reason for that was because Tennessee exercised a “safe approach.” They passed on sexier prospects (e.g. Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater) to add a potential Pro Bowl-caliber left tackle who may not become an immediate fixture until 2015. The rest of the draft featured a slew of players who appear to have enough upside as quality starters or decent role players who” double as quality special-team contributors. However, I don’t expect any of the Round 2-6 talents to become All Pro-caliber talents.
- There’s a good chance that none of these players will crack the Week 1 starting lineup. That includes Lewan. Don’t panic. Lewan, Sankey and Jones should at least see significant action as role players. They’ll have opportunities to perform/produce.
- I’m not very high on Mettenberger, however, the value was way too good to pass on him when he fell into Round 6. There’s very little risk attached to taking him. Some experts felt his talents merited late first-round, early second-round considerations. Why not take a chance on his skill-set and see if Ken Whisenhunt can develop him into a franchise quarterback? Even if Jake Locker is the long-term answer, Mettenberger can be the “Ryan Mallett.”
- Don’t expect much from Marqueston Huff before the 2015-16 NFL season. He’ll likely spend his rookie season as a reserve defensive back and special-teamer. Very much like Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Wooten were this past season.
- The No. 2 cornerback job will come down to Coty Sensabaugh vs Blidi Wreh-Wilson. Maybe Tommie Campbell or Khalid Wooten can work their way into that equation. Campbell would really have to step up when compared to his previous training-camp battles where he came on the short end. Don’t count on it.
- Expect some intriguing undrafted free agents to compete for a roster spot at wide receiver, tight end, kicker, and even the interior offensive line.
- There are a lot of questions about which players will flourish in Whisenhunt’s offense and Ray Horton’s defense. Derrick Morgan, Akeem Ayers, Zach Brown and Jake Locker are a few examples of players who will have every opportunity to prove their worth to the new regime.
- Saw some people who were confused about the team neglecting to add a wide receiver. While they could’ve used somebody, their current depth chart consists of (but isn’t limited too) Kendall Wright – Justin Hunter – Nate Washington – Dexter McCluster (utilityman) – Michael Preston – Brian Robiskie – maybe Marc Mariani. An undrafted free agent could possibly win a job toward the back-end of the roster.
A nice draft. Are you satisfied with it? Answer in the poll below and discuss in the comments / social media.