When you bring up the Tennessee Titans and how they have fared in the NFL draft from year to year, you may not be very encouraged.
Recent misses by the front office — such as Isaiah Wilson and Darrynton Evans — are still fresh in the minds of fans, and so is the fact that the only blue-chip player from the last two drafts is Kristian Fulton.
But there is one recent class that has helped take the team to new heights, and that is the one from 2019. To say that this class is one of the best in franchise history is like saying that waking up is necessary to start your day.
In three days during the 2019 NFL Draft, Tennessee Titans GM Jon Robinson pulled off a class that would rival the best draft that any active GM has put together in their career.
Let’s take a look at the class itself and just how good of a spot the Titans are in because of it.
Tennessee Titans’ 2019 draft has produced five starters
When you look at the players from this class, not only do you see five starters, but some of them have become cornerstones for Tennessee Titans. Here is everyone that was selected that year:
- First round: Jeffery Simmons
- Second round: AJ Brown
- Third round: Nate Davis
- Fourth round: Amani Hooker
- Fifth round: D’Andre Walker
- Sixth round: David Long
All I can say about that is…wow.
As far as the first two selections go, not much more needs to be said there because we know how valuable Simmons and Brown have been for the Titans. Simmons already has an All-Pro nod and A.J. Brown is a Pro Bowler who is one healthy season away from an illustrious All-Pro selection himself.
Davis had a rough start to 2021, but rebounded after a midseason injury and once again showed that he will be an important piece to the right side of the offensive line for many years.
Hooker’s stock has skyrocketed from backup to playmaker since entering the league and he comfortably owns the second safety spot alongside Kevin Byard.
Long is doing the same thing for the linebacker core and has yet to truly get a consistent opportunity on the field. In 2022 he figures to be a key part of the defense and will finally be penciled in as the starter next to newcomer Zach Cunningham.
Walker, well, he did not exactly pan out, as he was off of the team in a year and never earned his way onto the field. But as far as the Titans themselves are concerned, they will not complain one bit. I personally was over the moon when I saw that the first three picks were such heavy hitters, but FIVE of them turning out so well is especially unheard of.
When you look at the best teams in the NFL right now, there are not many if any who can match a class like that. In fact, even when you look at the Cincinnati Bengals and their quick turnaround, Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Evan McPherson, Tee Higgins, and Logan Wilson were all keys to that development but they were drafted over the course of two years.
Other great teams such as the San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Buffalo Bills, and Kansas City Chiefs, what is one thing all of them have in common? All of them have major core contributors who were drafted and home-grown.
What about the Super Bowl-winning Rams? Well, let’s just say they took a different route this year, but that was one of the biggest all-in maneuvers of all time. Just look at what happened when the Houston Texans went “all-in” when they traded multiple premium picks for Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills.
The Rams are the exception to the rule, and usually, the teams that have prolonged success are the ones that draft well. With the 2019 draft and other valuable picks made throughout the Jon Robinson era, the Titans have shown that they can do that.
And that is not to mention other recently drafted players who are still waiting to get their shot. Monty Rice looks like he is on the David Long program of learning and waiting in the wings to take over.
Elijah Molden wasn’t used correctly in the first month of the season, but once the Tennessee Titans realized what he was good at, he was a consistent factor on a much-improved defense.
Caleb Farley, Dillon Radunz, and Rashad Weaver look poised to get much more playing time in 2022, and with the potential they have, the 2021 draft looks like it could be a real winner for the Titans as well.
While we have yet to see strong results in the past two years, take a step back and look at the big picture. The Titans have done a tremendous job, and their team is going to be in a good spot with the same guys at the helm.