Opportunity Cost of Tennessee Titans drafting Jeffery Simmons

NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 25: Jeffery Simmons of Mississippi State is announced as the first round pick of the Tennessee Titans during the NFL Draft on April 25, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 25: Jeffery Simmons of Mississippi State is announced as the first round pick of the Tennessee Titans during the NFL Draft on April 25, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Let’s apply a little economics to the Tennessee Titans draft class.

Like many GMs across the NFL, Tennessee Titans GM Jon Robinson uses a lot of numbers to inform his decisions on draft day.

While analytics are used frequently and people try to quantify the qualities that predict the upside of products, one of the most overlooked values in the draft is opportunity cost.

Opportunity cost refers to what you give up by making a specific decision. For example, let’s say that I run to the bus stop to catch a bus, but I miss it because I am a minute late. That means that the opportunity cost of leaving a minute earlier is that I have to wait 15 more minutes for the next bus to arrive.

Maybe that example isn’t great, so let me just explain what I am going to do in this series of articles.

I am going to look at a player like Jeffery Simmons and replace him with a different player. Then I will go through the draft class and ask if the combination of those two players is better than what the Titans actually got in the draft.

Enough talking, let’s get into the opportunity cost of drafting Jeffery Simmons at 19.

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Round 2: Jeffery Simmons & A.J. Brown VS Marquise Brown & Trysten Hill

The theme of this list is swapping positions. Every team has a list of needs on draft day and they do their best to find players in the best tier group available that fits their needs.

Sometimes you just can’t pass on a value, but more often than not you see teams reach a little bit for need because that is how you end up with a complete team and not just a collection of guards, tight ends and kickers.

I think this scenario favors the way Jon Robinson did it originally. Brown is electrifying, but he is definitely not a safe prospect. There is a good chance that at the end of 2019 both Brown and Simmons have played the same number of games.

Any scenario was going to be tough to unseat A.J. Brown and his value on Day 2.

Round 3: Jeffery Simmons & Nate Davis VS Cody Ford & Khalen Saunders.

This one is tougher. The Titans get a guaranteed starter from day 1 in Cody Ford, completing their offensive line. The best DT available (based on draft position) at pick 82 was Saunders who is an intriguing player and fits Robinson’s 3rd round criteria.

It ultimately comes down to boom or bust with these two combinations, the safer pick is the Ford/Saunders option, but if Nate Davis can develop quickly and into just an average RG as a rookie then Simmons beats Saunders by a mile.

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Round 4: Jeffery Simmons & Amani Hooker VS Darnell Savage  & Renell Wren

This one is easy. Simmons and Hooker were both BPA picks, Simmons just happened to fill a need. With the 2019 NFL Draft class lacking a star safety this leans towards what Robinson did hard.

Round 5: Jeffery Simmons & D’Andre Walker VS Montez Sweat & Armon Watts

The DT market dried up pretty quickly, but just having Sweat is so compelling. Ultimately the Titans choose to get a potential star and a potential starter instead of option B which was a potential star and a potential depth player.

Round 6: Jeffery Simmons & David Long VS Jahlani Tavai & Isaiah Buggs

Another easy pick. There were only two LBs in this class worth top-50 picks and they both went in the top-10. Without a chance to get one of those, it really didn’t make sense to even think about LB until Day 3.

Opportunity cost analysis:

The Titans decided to fill their 4th biggest need with their 1st pick. At the time that pick looked really foolish, but when you look back at the other combinations that they could have had, it looks like they made the best possible choice even without knowing the future.

Sure, you could argue that maybe the Cody Ford option was better but at the end of the day you are picking between a pair of boom or bust players with high ceilings and safer picks with lower ceilings.

The more I read and the more I talk to people, the less concerned I am about character with Simmons. He seems to just be a good kid who made a (horrible) mistake, and if it ever happens again there will be consequences but as for now he has earned a second chance.

Looking at just talent alone and the way the draft played out for the Titans, it was always going to be difficult to present a situation better than what Jon Robinson came away with.