Should the Titans draft another UGA player?
The Tennessee Titans have a very valid reason for avoiding players from the University of Georgia in the 2021 NFL Draft.
9 times out of 10, a prospect shouldn’t be defined by the school they go to, good or bad. Every Alabama running back is not going to be Derrick Henry and every USC quarterback isn’t destined to be a bust.
This is different.
I want to start with the one quote from yesterday’s press conference with Titans GM Jon Robinson that sticks out in my mind. Emily Proud was the first person that I saw tweet it:
“The guy they vetted in the draft process isn’t the guy we saw in Nashville this season.”
On the surface that seems like a GM venting frustration about a player, but I think this goes deeper than that. Remember, this was the first time in NFL history when GMs and scouts couldn’t do in-person interviews with players and it really limited interaction between the player and the organization.
A byproduct of that is that you have to trust your regional scouts and their connections inside of teams (as well as your own connections), to get honest opinion’s on the character of a player. Since you can’t spend time at a pro day asking teammates, assistant coaches, and others about someone like Isaiah Wilson, you remove a level of security from your evaluation.
Long story short, that means that whoever the Titans trusted inside of the Georgia organization flat out lied to them. My money is on then offensive line coach and now Arkansas HC Sam Pittman who couldn’t help but since the praises of Isaiah Wilson.
Want proof of Pittman’s involvement? Look at my tweet from 5 months ago where Pittman outright says that he talked to the team and former UGA players like Ben Jones:
That was a mistake that they won’t make again, but it might not be the end of the problem. Kirby Smart took over the Georgia program in 2016. That means that the majority of the roster became Kirby Smart recruits heading into the 2018 season.
Here is a list of top-100 picks spent on Georgia players since that season:
2019 1st round: Deandre Baker, CB
-Cut by New York Giants after being charged with four counts of robbery with a firearm.
2019 2nd round: Mecole Hardman, WR
-Really nice rotational player for the Kansas City Chiefs.
2020 1st round: Andrew Thomas, OT
-Disappointing rookie season that included a suspension for missing a team meeting.
2020 1st round: Isaiah Wilson, OT
2020 2nd round: D’Andre Swift, RB
-Didn’t start until Week 10. The bad news? Out of 57 active running backs, only 2 players were drafted higher than Swift who had fewer rushing yards than Swift during their rookie seasons (minimum 100 attempts). The good news is that those two were Christian McCaffery and Mark Ingram, so there is still hope.
Putting it all together
Mix the Titans clear disconnect between the scouting staff and the coaches at Georgia for character checks, with the fact that no one has been happy about spending a top-100 pick on a UGA player since Kirby Smart’s recruits took over the roster, and I can’t see why it would be a smart move to draft a player from UGA this year.
The problem is, I like Azeez Ojulari and he is going to be one of the highest-rated EDGEs in this class.
However, there are just too many questions about the work ethic of the players that come out of Georgia recently and if I were the Titans I would let someone else make that mistake or prove me wrong before I trusted that staff again.