Tennessee Titans: How Michael Oher Signing Affects 2014 NFL Draft
The Tennessee Titans and former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher have agreed on a four-year, $20-million contract. This includes $9.5 million worth of guaranteed monies.
A $20-million contract suggests that Oher won’t compete with Byron Stingily for starting right tackle. Stingily would remain as the go-to reserve offensive tackle while Oher joins a starting group that includes Michael Roos – Andy Levitre – Brian Schwenke – Chance Warmack – Oher. Oher replaces David Stewart, the nine-year veteran who was released a few days ago because of injuries and a $6.4 salary cap number.
Are the Titans making a mistake? Oher doesn’t have the greatest reputation as a starter. He has never missed a game and can play through injuries. He’s a versatile player who has experience at each tackle position.
The problem is that he has never lived up to his projected potential as the No. 23 pick of the 2009 NFL Draft. He averages approximately five false starts per season. He’s considered as a liability in pass protection. Not what one wants from a team whose quarterback has Jake Locker‘s injury history with Charlie Whitehurst waiting in the wings.
Rotoworld was exceptionally critical of the signing. According to them:
"We have to believe Ozzie Newsome is chuckling at this one. Oher, 28 in May, never got better during his five-year stint in Baltimore, struggling mightily in spot duty at left tackle and performing at a well-below-average clip on the right side. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 68 tackle in 2013, among 76 qualifiers. Oher was a dead-last 76th in run blocking with eight sacks allowed. He’ll replace David Stewart at right tackle in Nashville…"
We’ll see if Oher is the long-term solution. What it does mean is that drafting an offensive tackle with pick No. 11 becomes less likely. Titans management isn’t paying Oher to ride the bench. They’re not cutting him before he ever steps on the field. Although Oher is a risk and Michael Roos is aging, this team has immediate needs for role players and starters.
Take Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan off your mock drafts. Below are some positions and players to keep an eye on. They’re ranked based on what / who I feel are the best-to-worst options.
1) Trade Down into 15-20 range, Acquire Round 3-4 pick
2) Pass-Rush Specialist (Anthony Barr IF available. Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack are gone before No. 11)
3) Defensive Lineman (Aaron Donald, Ra’Shede Hageman)
4) Best Player Available from 5a – 5c
5a) C.J. Mosley (No. 11 is a bit high for ILB)
5b) Eric Ebron (No. 11 is a bit high for TE with suspect blocking skills)
5c) Cornerback (Darqueze Dennard or Justin Gilbert IF team isn’t happy with Coty Sensabaugh or Blidi Wreh-Wilson)
6) Best “Outside” Wide Receiver Available (Justin Hunter with Drafted WR play outside, Kendall Wright / Dexter McCluster play slot)
Lots of options. Combine that with a deep draft and the lack of a Round 3 pick, the Oher signing makes the trade-down option even more enticing.
Ebron is a fascinating option because he’d give them that pass-catching threat on third downs and someone who complements Delanie Walker and his balanced skill-set. Not a fan of drafting him at No. 11 though.
I’ve seen people mention Sammy Watkins to form a super-group at wide receiver. That seems unreasonable because of how much receiver talent this draft has. The Titans don’t have the luxury of using a Round 1 pick at wide receiver, ESPECIALLY if they don’t trade down.
Are you satisfied with the Oher signing? How does it affect the way you view the 2014 NFL Draft? Give us your take in the comments, Twitter or Facebook.