Todd McShay points out why the Tennessee Titans are lucky

Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean)
Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean) /

In Week 18 of the 2022 season, the refs in the Tennessee Titans game against the Jacksonville Jaguars screwed up a critical call that ultimately knocked the Titans out of the playoffs.

No one in Tennessee was under any misconception that a trip to the postseason would result in anything other than delayed disappointment, and pragmatic fans were actually hoping that the Jaguars would win that game.

Had the Titans won, they would have had the 20th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft instead of the 11th. Right now those are just numbers on a page, but in less than three months the difference in those picks will become very clear.

If you listen to Todd McShay and Mel Kiper, this is one of the worst drafts in recent history. In fact, McShay specifically said that less than half of the teams in the NFL will end up with players with 1st round grades on his board.

McShay was sharing an anecdote about a coach chewing him out for having a player in the first round of his mock draft. McShay responded by saying that there were 31 first-round picks and he only had 14 guys graded as first-round quality players, so there are going to be a lot of picks where the value isn’t there but a pick has to be made anyway.

"“I had a very prominent head coach call me and give me the business on a player who I had going in my mock draft a few weeks ago…I said, ‘I have a second-round grade on that player too, but there are only 14 first-rounders that I have right now. So, like, someone has to go beyond the 14th pick.'”"

The quick math here tells me that the Tennessee Titans are one of fourteen teams that has a chance to draft someone with their first-round pick that would be considered a first-round caliber player regardless of which class they were drafted in.

Why it is crucial for the Tennessee Titans to nail this pick

Ran Carthon and Mike Vrabel are going to spend this offseason building this team to be good in 2023. Whether the Tennessee Titans are good in 2024 or beyond that will be coincidental, because both have said repeatedly that this team will compete next year (and this a bar set by Amy Adams Strunk herself).

That means that the Tennessee Titans expect to be drafting in the bottom half of the first round from here on out, which is an absolute crapshoot. The teams in the NFC and AFC title games last weekend have drafted 7 players in the second half of the first round over the last five years. Those players are:

-Dax Hill, S (backup)

-Billy Price, iOL (bust)

-Brandon Aiyuk, WR (great)

-Jalen Reagor, WR (bust)

-Trent McDuffie, CB (good)

-George Karlaftis, EDGE (fine)

-Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB (bust)

And those are the best teams in the NFL missing, not just a random collection of teams.

Finding real first-round caliber players in the 17-32 range is just a very difficult, and sometimes impossible task. With Jon Robinson as the GM, it was about a 50-50 proposition on whether you were going to get a hit or a miss in that range.

Ran Carthon’s history with high picks is generally disappointing, but he has to hit on this one before he starts dealing with the more difficult picks in that danger zone.

Whether he goes with an offensive lineman, receiver, or just the best player available, this pick is going to be the first player that he puts his stamp of approval on and it is going to set the tone for the franchise going forward because this should be the easiest pick of his career if everything goes according to plan.