The Overview of the Titans 09 Draft

PFC Titans Writer: Dan Johns

Overall I was very impressed surprisingly, with the Titans drafting this year.  I mean last years 2008 Titan draft had me cursing in anger at the television once the Titans first missed out on Texas WR Limas Sweed, who went one pick earlier to Pittsburgh; and then after the Titans passed on selecting both WR’s Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly and instead selected a “so-called” second round talent, in RB Chris Johnson, I was furious and couldn’t believe the Titans made such a first reach in the Draft.

My expectations were greatly turned around after Chris Johnson finished his rookie year with 1,228 yards and 10 total touchdowns.  On the other hand, if you add up all three rookie stats of the receivers I wanted in last years draft (Sweed, Thomas and Kelly) you would find a grand total of 24 catches for 202 yards receiving … If you want to get even more technical, Johnson, a running back, finished with 43 catches, which is nearly double of all three receivers total catches!

So safe to say that the Titans knew what they were doing when they shocked critics and selected Chris Johnson with the 24th pick overall.

Ok so now fast forward to the 2009 NFL Draft.  The Titans still need a big play wide receiver, but conventional wisdom tells you – the Titans don’t draft receivers in first rounds of Drafts.  In fact, the last time they did select a receiver in the first round of a draft, was back in 1998 when the then, Tennessee Oilers, selected Kevin Dyson.

But yet again the NFL Draft proved, that mocks nearly mean nothing.  As many teams like Oakland , Kansas City, Cincinnati and Minnesota made some questionable picks.  In fact I only notched 6 correct picks out of the 32 first round picks in my latest mock draft.  The Draft is rather complicated to mock when it’s all said and done; in fact my very own Tennessee Titans shocked myself and many of it’s fans, as they broke an 11-year drought and finally selected a receiver in the first round … albeit the guy who I predicted Tennessee should and will go after in my mock draft – WR from Rutgers, Kenny Britt.
Tennessee Titans Selections:

RD 1 (#30) – WR, Kenny Britt, Rutgers

This pick made my day.  I held my breath, as right before the Titans were to pick, ESPN cameras showed RB “Beanie” Wells talking excitedly on his phone.  I thought – “no not another running back, what is this all about?!”  Luckily, it was Arizona who was on the phone with Wells as the Titans locked up the big 6’4 215lb wide receiver from the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.  Britt finished his collegiate career at Rutgers with 178 receptions, 17 touchdowns and over 3,000 yards receiving.  He joins a Titans cast of young, many say “mediocre” wide receivers; and is thought to be an instant upgrade over them all.  His size alone has had some scouts claim he has a “Terrell Owens” type of a frame (body).  He possesses good speed and good hands.  Neither quality is great yet, but his upside certainly is high.

Britt should be teamed with starter Justin Gage (who has been Titans best receiver and most improved since joining the team in 2007).  Newly acquired Nate Washington who will serve as Tennessee ’s deep, speed threat will be best suited as the 3rd receiver in the slot.  Last year’s rookie receiver Lavelle Hawkins and Paul Williams will provide young depth to round out the group of receivers.  This was a huge position of need for the Titans for what seems far too long.

Although this group of receivers is very young and a lot more talented on paper than it has been in recent years, it still has room for improvement, as the Titans needed to add a veteran WR like Tory Holt or a game changing-playmaker like Anquan Boldin, both the Titans tried for but did not succeed in acquiring.

Pick Grade: B+

RD 2 (#62) – DT, Sen’Derrick Marks, Auburn

I wasn’t overly thrilled about this pick I must admit.  I personally, would have liked Michael Johnson or Jarron Gilbert a little bit more.  Nonetheless, the Titans went with a need at DT and took Sen’Derrick Marks who ad 6’2, 306 lbs can help rotate in and out of the now crowded defensive line.  See, the Titans knew that one player couldn’t replace the departure of Albert Haynesworth.  So instead they are using a committee method one would speculate.  They are pretty much set with Tony Brown and Jason Jones as the starters in the middle of that d-line.  Tony Brown is there most experienced DT and Jason Jones had a very productive rookie year, including a 3 sack performance against Pittsburgh late in the year.  Tennessee also went out and signed former Bucc DT Jovan Haye to rotate in and out and not to mention hard-hitting back up Kevin Vickerson is somewhere in the mix as well.

Only reason I would of took Michael Johnson the quick rushing DE from Georgia Tech, now drafted by Cincinnati, is because the current Titan DE’s aren’t getting any younger, that being Kyle Vanden Bosch and Jevon Kearse, who they will eventually need to look for their replacements.  Marks however, provides a solid pick for this late into the second round.  He probably could have been taken more in the middle of the second round.  Reiterating, Haynesworth can’t be replaced by just one player, so defensive tackle by committee seems like the way to go.

Pick Grade: B

RD 3 (#89) – TE, Jared Cook, South Carolina

The fact that Jared Cook even fell this far is amazing.  He was rated as the second best tight end in the draft by many scouts and experts.  The Titans must have been amazed as well that he fell this far and didn’t think he would fall any further late into the 3rd round, so the Titans trade their second round pick next year to New England, in order to move up some spots and select the 6’5 256 lbs tight end.  For his size, Cook is pretty darn fast.  In fact, he ran the fastest 40 time for a tight end since Vernan Davis.  Cook actually had several other records he achieved for a tight end at the 2009 combine as well.

This is the second straight year the Titans selected a tight end in the third round (Craig Stevens out of Cal in 2008).  However, with Alge Crumpler reaching the end of his career and contract, as well as Bo Scaife only signing his one year tender offer, the Titans could be thin at tight end in 2010.  So although Cook may not see a ton of playing time this year, look for him to be possibly the star tight end in Tennessee in a year or two.  This is what you call “a steal in a half”.

Pick Grade: A

RD 3 (#94) CB, Ryan Mouton, Hawaii

Well in my mind, besides wide receiver, cornerback was one of their biggest needs to address and they waited a little too long to address it; and even when they did, Mouton can be described as a reach in many peoples opinions.  I really thought they do cornerback second round after the Britt pick.  In fact D.J. Moore who has ties with the state of Tennessee , playing at Vanderbilt was still on the board.  I thought for sure that would be their next pick, however Moore ended up falling a long ways later to eventual Chicago .  Regardless, Mouton is a versatile corner back who was back a touchdown on special teams during his stint in Hawaii .  But this is a need the Titans should have addressed possibly sooner and perhaps could of went elsewhere in their selection of corner back.

Pick Grade: C

Other Titans Picks:

RD 4 – LB, Gerald McRath, Southern Miss: A solid addition to eventually take over for Bulluck and or Thornton.  Very fast linebacker who can play outside and inside.  Could put on more weight, but for being a thin LB, he can fly and blow up plays all over the field.       Pick Grade: A-

RD 4 – OT, Troy Kropog, Tulane: Kropog essentially takes over the backup tackle role that Daniel Loper used to fill.  This was offensive line coach Mike Munchaks pick, and was a very solid one at that, which provides solid depth; versatile and can play both backup tackle positions.        Pick Grade: A-

RD 5 – RB, Javon Ringer , Michigan State:  He was productive at Michigan State but the pick here doesn’t make too much sense.  The Titans are already set at the RB position so at the very most he is a capable backup and/or special teamer.

Pick Grade: C-

Jason McCourty, CB, Rutgers, Dominique Edison, WR Stephen F. Austin, Ryan Durand, G, Syracuse and Nick Schommer, S, South Dakota St. round out the bottom picks of the Draft for the Titans.  All players give them added depth to positions of need including cornerback, guard and wide receiver.

Best Pick In Terms Of Value: WR, Kenny Britt, Rutgers

Most Questionable Pick: RB, Javon Ringer , Michigan State

Biggest Steal: TE, Jared Cook, South Carolina

Players I would of liked to draft: CB D.J. Moore, DE Michael Johnson and DT Jarron Gilbert.

All in all this was a very solid draft for the Titans to build around.  I commend them for getting a wide receiver and adding quality depth throughout the draft.  Head Coach Jeff Fisher and GM Mike Reinfeldt did a pretty solid job in the war room in my eyes.  2009 Tennessee Titan Draft as a whole: Grade: B+