The NFL world is abuzz with draft grades and analysis. The Tennessee Titans are no exception. The first-round selection of Taylor Lewan is hotly debated, excitement is in the air for Bishop Sankey, and Nashville is already wondering if Zach Mettenberger will be the starting quarterback for the team in 2015.
Lost in the shuffle is the questionable decision to draft Wyoming defensive back Marqueston Huff in the fourth round. There’s no doubt that Huff is a great athlete and has a wealth of potential. Really, there’s no doubt that the Titans needed to address secondary depth at some point in the draft.
In Huff, the Titans have a player with experience at cornerback and free safety. He’s an athletically gifted prospect who displays good range. His fluid movement allows him to run with receivers and tight ends alike, and he’s speedy enough to prevent offensive big plays at his expense.
As a Wyoming Cowboy, Huff recorded six interceptions and 20 pass deflections in four seasons. He also demonstrated solid ability in run support.
Needing pure cornerback depth and an heir to Bernard Pollard’s spot at strong safety, I don’t understand selecting a “project” player whose professional position still remains a mystery.
Then again, maybe that’s a part of the genius of Ray Horton. Scheme versatility is valued over positional polish, and having players that can slide around to multiple spots saves reserve space on the roster. I can understand that – sure – but, philosophically speaking, don’t you want your first four-round selections to make contributions quickly? Don’t you want your developmental players to fall to the fifth-seventh rounds?
Tennessee traded with Philadelphia to slide back in the second round, and pick up an extra fourth-round pick, which they used on the Wyoming product. Likely, he won’t make an impact for several seasons.
If that’s the case, though, just where exactly will Huff find room to excel? Jason McCourty is supplanted as the team’s No. 1 cornerback. The coaching staff is behind Coty Sensabaugh and Blidi Wreh-Wilson to cover the other side of the field.
If he plays safety, it will probably be at free safety, where Michael Griffin has been entrenched since 2007. No. 33 isn’t going anywhere. Would the Titans give him a crack at the strong safety position?
If I had to guess, Huff will be used in Horton’s delayed blitz scheme, where his physicality in run support and athleticism in coverage will be valuable. Basically, he can hit or cover or both. Still, given the team’s biggest need, how do you justify not selecting a pass-rusher at any point in the draft?
Instead opting for versatile offensive linemen, versatile running backs, and versatile secondary support.
Is the fourth-round investment worth the payoff? Though Huff will get a chance to make an impact on special teams right away, we won’t know his worth as a defensive back for years.
Marqueston Huff is a great talent who will be given every chance to succeed as a defensive Swiss army knife for the Titans. But, could they have found such talent at a lower cost?