Tennessee Titans Draft Grades : The experts and me…


Post-draft coverage is just as bad as anything pre-draft. To me, it almost makes more sense to predict where these guys are going based on need than it does to guess how good these guys are going to be on the next level. Does that mean that I don’t watch and read the stuff? Of course not. In fact, it’s all I’ve done for the past three days. And what have I concluded about the Titans draft from all of it? Not a whole lot. The bottom line is that it’s all a crapshoot and it usually tends to be the “experts” slinging it. I’ve got my own opinions on this class (more on that later), but we here at TitanSized are obviously no experts either.  It’s almost pointless to try and evaluate anything right now (at least before any of these guys step foot on a field), but since we are contractually obliged to (do you know how much money I make from this?) we’ll go ahead and do it. So, first I figured I’d fill you in on what “they” are saying and then give you my thoughts. Whaddaya say?

Mel Kiper Jr. (Oh, how I loathe this man), ESPN: Mel “the draft Merlin” Kiper gave the Titans a C+ this year. He liked the Britt pick as well as the trade up to get Cook in the 3rd round, but wasn’t a big fan of Sen’Derrick Marks 2nd round or OT Troy Kropog in the 4th. I beg to differ Merlin…

Todd McShay, ESPN: McShay also liked the Britt and Cook picks (Cook was his choice for the team’s “best pick”), but he liked the Marks selection as well.

"DT Sen’Derrick Marks might be most effective in a rotation but was worth a second-round pick if he proves capable of disrupting things in the middle."

His least favorite pick the Titans made was CB Ryan Mouton in the third round. He felt there were better options still on the board and the the Titans reached for him.

Peter King, SI.com: King felt a little differently about WR Kenny Britt in the first round. He’s “not a big fan, at all” as he puts it. Dually noted Pete. He did however like the Marks pick and thinks he has a bright future on a young, talented Titans defensive line.

Terry McCormick, Nashville City Paper: TMcC, our favorite Titans beat writer, went through and graded each pick and gave the Titans an overall grade of B. Best pick: Kenny Britt in the 1st and RB Javon Stringer in the 5th whom he both gave grades of A. He had this to say about the RB out of Michigan State:

"If his production and play are anywhere near his college numbers, then this is the steal of the draft at pick No. 176. Chris Henry, you are officially on notice, and LenDale White, it might not be a good idea to get too comfortable just yet."

His least favorite? 6th round pick WR Dominique Edison out of Stephen F. Austin and 7th round selection S Nick Schommer from North Dakota State who got C grades. That late in the draft it’s as much about upside as anything else, so a if Edison and Schommer contribute in any way, then they were not wasted picks.

The Tennessean Staff: The general consensus amongst this crew (Jim Wyatt- B, David Climer- B, Joe Biddle- B and Gary Estwick- B+) was, as you can see, that the Titans had a pretty solid draft. The Titans filled every need they had and upgraded an offense that was rather one-dimensional at times last season.

My thoughts: Overall, I thought the Titans did indeed do a substantial job in trying to add even more playmakers to the offense. The selections of Britt and Cook will provide offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger and QB Kerry Collins with even more weapons to spread the ball around to and should help take some of the pressure off Chris Johnson to be the sole threat. We all saw what “Twitch” did in his rookie year, and the thought of having another playmaker on the outside (Britt, as well as the addition of Nate Washington via free agency) and down the middle (Cook) will surely make defenses who want to attack this team as a “run-first” offense think twice. Britt and Marks should see the field early and often next season, and Cook may be asked to contribute as well in order to clear up the TE situation moving forward. His development in particular will be very interesting to follow.

A lot of people projected the Titans to grab a linebacker or a corner in the first round of this draft. More specifically, most thought that the Titans would go anywhere but wide receiver. Well, the Titans certainly proved them wrong. In doing so, they also made a statement about the defensive side of the ball. After next season, the Titans will have as many as twelve players heading into free agency, with at least nine of those current starters. Except for defensive end and center (we won’t count punter), the Titans took guys in this draft that should help alleviate some of those losses if and when they occur. By not drafting a DE, the Titans have made it clear that not only do they think Vanden Bosch is back to full health, but that they also may be looking to lock him up to a long-term deal at some point. I love the Marks pick, and not just because he’s a former Auburn Tiger. I think he comes in and helps right away in a rotation with Jason Jones, Kevin Vickerson and Tony Brown. In watching Marks maybe a little more than most of the other guys in this class, I can safely say that whatever he lacks in size and strength he makes up for in heart and determination. This kid has got a motor on him and he plays every down to the end. Listen to his introductory press conference from a few days ago and you’ll see just how sound his football philosophy is. Some guys get it, others don’t. Sen’Derrick Marks get’s it, and I think both Titans and Tigers fans alike will be proud to have him reppin’ their name.

The fourth rounders were two of the Titans favorite picks of the draft. Troy Tropog should become Mike Munchak’s new pet project which we all know will go swimmingly. “Munch” is the best in the business at developing linemen, and Kropog has a chance to be another good one on a long list of late-round talents that blossomed under his tutelage. Kropog should eventually take over Daniel Loper’s spot in the OT rotation. There is a lot to like about LB Gerald McRath from Southern Miss as well. He played mostly inside in college, but the Titans feel that his lateral quickness and nose for the ball are exceptional and translate well to the NFL game. Expect him to contribute immediately on special teams while learning the position from Keith Bulluck and David Thornton. His development next season will be especially important given the uncertainty surrounding Bulluck and Thornton (both over 30) after next season.

The selection of RB Stringer in the 5th round means that there will be a shake up in the backfield of some sorts not only this off-season (they can’t possibly carry six RB’s on the roster out of camp), but also next year when LenDale White becomes a UFA. A lot will depend on White’s dedication this off-season and his production next year, but if he repeats or builds on last year, the Titans will have a tough time re-signing him. In all honesty, if he has another big year, it will make the Titans decision a lot easier to let him walk once free agency starts.

The late round bunch is full of upside as well, with the big, speedy, strong-handed WR Dominique Edison in the 6th round. He will be a project for sure, but he could be quite a find. The other 6th round selection, CB Jason McCourty from Rutgers is another guy with a nice blend of size and speed. He should be a part of the deeper packages in the secondary at some point, and his experience lining up against Kenny Britt for the past three seasons at Rutgers will be valuable for both of them, as well as the Titans. The 7th rounders, OG Ryan Durand (Syracuse) and S Nick Schommer (North Dakota State) are likely practice squad guys if they make the roster at all. As with Kropog, and most other offensive linemen the Titans draft, Mike Munchak plays a large role in the selection process. Both Fish and Reinfeldt trust his knowledge of the position enough to let him have a large say in the draft here, especially in late rounds. Don’t be too surprised if you see Durand on the field in a few years time.

So, what did we learn from all of this? Not much really. At least not yet. Truth be told, we probably won’t know the impact of this draft class for a couple of years. The Titans certainly hope that some of these guys play next season (Britt and Marks for sure) and have a considerable impact, but we probably won’t know what guys with a ton of upside like Cook, Mouton, McRath and Tropog have on this team for at least a year. Hopefully though, the Titans will do the job we’ve all become accustomed to with regards to developing players, then they should be in good shape when they go to draft in 2010.

In all honesty, it’s fun to look at this stuff. It’s just another part of the joy that the off-season brings to every fan (Raiders fans excluded): hope that next season may be the one. And as Titans fans, there is a lot to be optimistic about. Regardless of what you thought of the draft, they did address a lot of immediate needs that should (hopefully) be seen on the field next year. The projecting and unfounded analysis should be over for now, but it will start again once teams hit training camp this summer. Or maybe it has already started. Oh brother…

How would you grade the Titans 2009 Draft?  What was your favorite pick? Least favorite? What implications do you think it has on the upcoming season?