When the casual NFL fan is asked about the Tennessee Titans, two things usually come to mind. The Music City Miracle…and coming up a yard short in the Super Bowl. The only problem with that is…
That was 15 years ago.
Today’s Titans are mostly unknown, with few to no bankable stars. Their recent lack of success scares networks away, further exacerbating the problem.
That beloved 99 Titans team was led by stars like Steve McNair, Eddie George, and Frank Wycheck. But it was rookie sensation Javon Kearse, and his record breaking season, that pushed Tennessee into the realm of the elite.
For a while there, Titans fans were getting spoiled to the good fortunes the team enjoyed on draft day. Once the 99 era came to an end, Tennessee struggled…winning 9 games in 2004 and 2005 combined.
Then in 2006 Vince Young was drafted….and the team immediately returned to respectability. Young’s rookie of the year campaign brought the Titans to within a game of making the playoffs. Tennessee finished 8-8.
In 2007, free safety Michael Griffin was taken in the first round. Not only did Griffin play in every game, he’s only missed two games in his 8 year career with the Titans. He too, made an immediate impact. In 2006, Tennessee was last in the league in defensive yards allowed. In 07, Tennessee was 5th…and Griffin had everything to do with it.
Coincidentally, the Titans returned to the playoffs that season.
In 08, Tennessee struck gold again, drafting rb Chris Johnson with their first pick. CJ, and his ability to score from anywhere on the field, pushed the Titans back into the realm of the elite. Tennessee sprinted to a 10-0 start, and earned the best record in the AFC at 13-3.
If not for an ankle injury that sidelined him in the second half of the divional round, I have no doubt the Titans would have beaten the Ravens. He was killin’ Baltimore in the first half.
But I digress.
Tennessee has not made the playoffs since then, and judging from the draft picks that followed, it’s easy to see how their momentum came to a screeching halt.
Dec 15, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt (18) during warm ups prior to the game against the Arizona Cardinals at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
In 2009 wr Kenny Britt was selected in the first round. Now in St. Louis, Britt’s tenure in Tennessee can best be summed up by the fact that he spent more time injured and in court than on the field.
In 2010, de Derrick Morgan was selected. Yes, he was re-signed this year. But I chalk that up to great timing. Tennessee couldn’t afford to lose a body at that position when the free agency pool was so thin. Morgan has been mostly up and down, and has not single handedly change a game.
In 2011, qb Jake Locker was selected. Ok…moving on.
In 2012, wr Kendall Wright was selected. While he’s been solid, and victimized by poor qb play (see 2011), his body of work speaks to that of a complimentary receiver. Not a number 1. That’s not a knock on Wright, he is talented. He just doesn’t present the type of threat that would ever warrant game planning for.
You need your number 1 receiver to do that.
In 2013 offensive lineman Chance Warmack was drafted…and he too has been up and down. Coming into this season though, Warmack appears to be in the best shape of his career. That’s an encouraging sign.
In 2014, offensive lineman Taylor Lewan was drafted. We only saw a sample size of Lewan as a Titan last year, but as a die hard Michigan fan I can honestly say that I watched all of his college games.
And he’s the real deal.
If he remains healthy, Lewan has the talent and nastiness to be an anchor of the line for the next decade. His signing could ultimately be the one to reverse the curse. That is…if Tennessee gets this one right.
The good thing for the Titans? It will be almost impossible to mess this one up.
With the number 2 pick, you are guaranteed to get one of the best prospects in the country. In addition to that, you also have the first pick in the second and third rounds. You can stand pat and take the best players on the board, or you could leverage the picks to acquire more.
And what a draft to have those options. This year is not only deep with talent, it also features a qb prospect that warrants interest from other teams.
It’s the perfect draft slot in the perfect draft. Right place…right time.