Tennessee Titans 2018 NFL Draft: Production matter for pass rushers

PULLMAN, WA - NOVEMBER 07: Hercules Mata'afa
PULLMAN, WA - NOVEMBER 07: Hercules Mata'afa /

Why college numbers do matter for the Tennessee Titans biggest need in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Production matters, it just does whether you want to admit it or not. Sure there are outliers, but the Tennessee Titans shouldn’t bet on that when they are on the clock in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Marcus Mosher does a lot of work with the draft and produced an interesting graphic about productive EDGE players:

The first thing to note is that there are several All-Pro players on that list including JJ Watt, Mario Williams, Jared Allen, DeMarcus Lawrence, Von Miller, Khalil Mack, Demarcus Ware, and Justin Houston are just the ones I know off the top of my head.

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Something else that is interesting is that this analysis doesn’t judge level of competition. For example Jared Allen is from Idaho State and Khalil Mack is from Buffalo, neither of which play a super difficult schedule.

That means that while you may think that Marcus Davenport is out of place because of his level of competition, you would be wrong.

Another big note is that the only player not on this list that should be is Hercules Mata’afa. The only reason he wasn’t listed was because he was listed as a “DT” in college, but he would fit this metric based on production and athleticism.

So that means there are four EDGE prospects that deserve first round consideration based off of what you can project from this combination:

1. Bradley Chubb, NCST

2. Harold Landry, Boston College

3. Marcus Davenport, UTSA

4. Hercules Mata’afa, Washington State

I have been pounding the table for Mata’afa for a while and I think any of these guys at 25 would be amazing.

I don’t think there is a chance in the world that Chubb is there and Landry is looking more and more like a easy top-20 prospect. Now it comes down to who wants to take a chance on Davenport or Mata’afa.

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One player is coming from a small school, though with outstanding production and really good athletic testing it is easy to see how he could make an easy transition to the NFL.

The other is switching from DT/5-tech to EDGE, though he is one of the most explosive and consistently disruptive front seven players in this draft class. The team that gets him whether in the first or second round will get a really talented player if he is the player you see on tape.

So as the draft process goes forward, those four names and the linebackers the Titans bring in are the most interesting storylines to watch and they are probably among 5-8 names that Jon Robinson will be looking at with the 25th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.