3 of 5
So, do these draft trends give the Titans a clear view on what position they should draft first? Not exactly. Here are my following observations:
- The fact that an average of almost five edge players are off the board before pick 25 reinforces my thinking that there is no way that Harold Landry will still be on the board for the Titans at that spot. He is the third overall edge at worst, with some teams possibly ranking him behind Bradley Chubb and Marcus Davenport. There were never less than four edge players taken before the 25th pick in any of the five drafts. This mean players like Josh Sweat or Sam Hubbard could feasibly be off the board by the time the Titans take the podium for the first time.
- One would think that ILBs Leighton Vander Esch, Roquan Smith, and Tremaine Edmunds would all be drafted by pick 25, but it appears unlikely based on past drafts; I had to go all the way back to 2006 to find an instance of three ILBs being taken before pick 25. That makes the Titans’ decision not to meet with LVE even more questionable.
- Out of Titans-centric needs, ILB, S, and G/C represent the best value at 25. You are getting the second- or third-best player at the position instead the fourth- or fifth-best edge player. This is also reinforced by past 25th picks; Shaq Thompson was the first LB taken off the board in his draft, and Jabrill Peppers was the third safety taken last year. This might also explain the Titans looking at players like Josh Jackson and D.J. Moore; if they have them graded out as the first- or second-best player at their position, they may feel more comfortable selecting that player than reaching on an edge.
- Despite the value, the fact that an average of four ILBs are drafted between picks 25 and 57 means that the Titans can expect there to be a run on ILBs after their first pick. So if the Titans opt to go for edge first round, there is no guarantee their favorite ILB will still be on the board at 57.
- These trends not only provide insight for draft strategy, but it gives us an idea of what to expect out of the Titans. The three most drafted positions in the first three rounds are edge, CB, and WR. These positions make up 43% of all players drafted in those rounds. I really think we see the Titans draft an edge and WR, hitting two out of those three. If they draft a CB with their first pick, they could feasibly go 3/3.
- It’s not shown above, but I also looked at the NFL careers of all 81 edge players drafted in the first three rounds of the past five drafts. Of the 29 players drafted in the first round, 12 of them had at least one season with more than six sacks. Of the 52 players drafted in rounds two and three, only eight players achieved this. This isn’t a perfect metric, as it doesn’t account for total seasons and non-sack stats like pressures, etc., but it does help shed a little light on the value of first round edge players vs. later rounds guys. The Titans may be “reaching” on an edge at 25, but it could be a worthwhile reach.