Yesterday we started a series in which we discussed the Tennessee Titans…and the best possible draft strategy for the three qb’s that may be their week one starter this season. With the draft now just ten days away, it looks like a three man race between Philip Rivers, Marcus Mariota, and Zach Mettenberger. Since coach Whisenhunt isn’t tipping his hand, we’ll do our due diligence and cover all three options.
Yesterday we discussed the Titans’ best course of action should they land a trade for Chargers qb Philip Rivers. Today we discuss rookie qb Marcus Mariota.
If Tennessee elects to keep their number two pick (for some strange reason) and select qb Marcus Mariota, then you have to completely throw out yesterday’s draft board and start from scratch.
For starters, The Titans now have a different allotment of picks. In addition, Mariota and Rivers have completely different styles, thus requiring completely different complimentary pieces.
By selecting Mariota second overall the Titans now have….
1 second round pick (#33), 1 third round pick (#66), and 1 fourth round pick (#100). We are only discussing the top four picks in this series.
Ok? Then let’s get to work.
The first thing Tennessee must understand is that every opponent on the schedule is going to stack the line of scrimmage, and dare Mariota to beat them with his arm. They must draft accordingly.
With the 33rd pick in the draft the Titans should select wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham out of Oklahoma. At 6’5, 237, Green-Beckham provides Mariota with a hard to miss target and much needed outside threat that can win one on one matchups when the safety starts to cheat up.
There are red flags regarding Green-Beckham, so much so that he’ll be available at pick 33 when he is clearly a first round talent. But when you are 2-14 and starting a rookie qb you can overlook some warts.
And let’s not forget, the Titans were scared off by the red flags of a young Randy Moss in the 1998 draft. They went with nice guy wide receiver Kevin Dyson instead.
But I digress.
Jan 1, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back T.J. Yeldon (4) runs the ball during the first quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2015 Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Mariota also needs to be protected by at least a semblance of a run game…something Tennessee did not have last year. Dexter McCluster stands to see an uptick in production given the style of the qb’s play, but another straight line running back will need to be added….making T.J. Yeldon out of Alabama a nice third round grab with pick number 66.
Current Titans rb Bishop Sankey underwhelmed in his rookie debut…averaging less than 4 yards a carry. Was it the line? Was it the early deficits? Whatever it was, it didn’t click. Yeldon adds straight line speed. A rb that can make a cut and go.
You would have to think that a form of the spread option would be implemented upon Mariota’s arrival. Yeldon provides a younger, cheaper, more athletic option to the soon to be released Shonn Greene. He’s also better fitted to run that style of offense, which is also a plus.
At pick number 100, Tennessee should then select Georgia wide receiver Chris Conley. One word to describe Conley.
Like, 4.35 in a 40 yard dash fast.
But it’s not just his speed, Conley is also a capable receiver. We discussed earlier the importance of punishing opposing defenses who continue to crowd the line of scrimmage. Coley, with his speed, can certainly blow the top off of a defense. All while giving Mariota a speedy receiver in the seams …similar to what he had at Oregon.
So, if the Titans plan on drafting Mariota, then they should forget about a right tackle early in the draft. Mariota’s elusiveness will have to be a temporary band aid. What he needs is playmakers….lots and lots of playmakers.
With these picks, Mariota would arrive with a true number 1 wide receiver with size and a nastiness to him. A complimentary straight line running back that succeeded against the best competition in college football, and a speedster specialized in creating downfield match up issues.
Tomorrow we will conclude this series by discussing the best draft scenario for current starting qb Zach Mettenberger.