Dec 11, 2011; Green Bay, WI, USA; Oakland Raiders linebacker Kamerion Wimbley (96) during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. The Packers defeated the Raiders 46-16. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Tennessee Titans Draft Grades, off-season review, and 53 Man Roster Projection


June 1, 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright (13) leaps to catch a pass during OTA Titans training facility at Baptist Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-US PRESSWIRE

The Tennessee Titans had an interesting season in 2011. A team that did not do that well in 2010 (picked 8th in the 2011 NFL Draft) selected a rookie quarterback to be the heir apparent to their franchise, but he was held off by veteran Matt Hasselback, and despite a subpar season from sensational running back Chris Johnson, and an average to below average pass rush, the Titans stayed in playoff contention throughout the season. They might not be so lucky in 2012 if they can’t get more of a pass rush and more explosive on offense. What is in store for the Titans in 2012? Let’s take a look at the off-season to find out.

2012 NFL Drdaft

1st round pick-Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

In the first round the Titans selected the wide receiver from Baylor. Wright is an interesting case study–he’s shorter than ideal at 5’10 and lacks the speed of a Jeremey Maclin/DeSean Jackson type WR, yet he was still drafted with a top 20 pick. Wright was the best (draft-eligible) deep threat in college football last year. He is the epitome of a better on tape player because he is bigger and faster on tape than he showed in the pre-draft process–I’m interested to see what he becomes. I thought Wright was more of an early second round pick, but I don’t mind the pick, but I don’t love it. There were much better players still available to me.  B/B-

2nd round Zach Brown, LB, UNC

If Zach Brown is everything I think he is then the Titans might have the best young linebacker corps in the entire league. McCarth and Akeem Ayers flashed last year at MLB and SAM linebacker respectively.  There were a lot of concerns about Browns toughness and instincts leading up to the draft, but I think that was a bit over-blown. I had Brown as a top 25 player–and I think in the modern NFL players who can run and cover like Brown can are a valuable commodity. A

3rd round Mike Martin, DT, Michigan

I like this pick a lot, again. Both Zach Brown and Mike Martin were higher on my board than most boards–even though they are two different types of players. Brown is a better athlete than he is a complete football player as of today, while Martin is a better football player than he is a pro-typical athlete at the position. Martin is very functionally strong, and quick  and has a great motor. I think Martin can start in the league, and sooner rather than later for the Titans. Does this fill their biggest need? Perhaps not, but you can never have too much talent at defensive tackle. A-

4th round Coty Sensabaugh, DB, Clemson

I’m not the biggest fan of this pick. Anyone who follows the draft closely knows that there is a negative rap following players from Clemson–they are considered unprepared to enter the N.F.L. from a physical and mental stand-point. Sensabaugh fills a need, but I had players rated much higher than him here. He’s a great athlete who seems destined for special teams duty early on, and possibly for his career. C+

5th round-Taylor Thompson, TE, SMU

You are getting this as a late reaction if you’re a Titans fan, but you should like this pick. Based on what I heard from people  in the know, Thompson was a hot name and had a great chance of being drafted in round three–so this is good value from a league standpoint. In a bad Tight End Class Thompson, makes an intriguing option because he has legitimate NFL Size and athleticism. B/B+

6th round-Markelle Martin, S, Oklahoma State

For draftnik’s Martin was a hot name during the season, but the issue is really this–Martin was a well known name in a brutally weak safety class. Martin is a solid athlete and he made some big plays for the Cowboys, but is maddening inconsistency kept him out of being selected on day two. This is good value here for me though. He has pretty good starting potential and in the 6th round that’s more than you could ask for entering into the draft. A

7th Round-Scott Solomon, DE, Rice

I was not dialed in on Solomon and did not expect him to be drafted, but in the 7th round I never ding a team for taking really any player. 7th round players don’t usually last in the league and aren’t even always locks to make rosters. The Titans do not have a stocked roster at Defensive end so Solomon has a good shot at making the roster if he is as good as the Titans think he is.C+

Overall

This is two Titans in a row I thought the Titans did a very solid, under-rated job in the draft. I don’t think the Titans reached much to fill needs, especially on their board and they got good value with a lot of their picks. There is a combination of freak athletes (Thompson, Zach Brown) and good football players who aren’t quite the great athletes (Mike Martin, Markelle Martin). Just a good job overall. B+

 

Off-season recap

 

Offseason Moves:

Titans sign OLB Zac Diles
Titans cut G Duke Robinson
Titans re-sign DE Dave Ball
Seahawks sign ILB Barrett Ruud
Rams sign DE William Hayes
Titans sign DT Leger Douzable
Titans re-sign ILB Tim Shaw
Colts sign WR Donnie Avery
Titans sign DE Kamerion Wimbley
Seahawks sign DT Jason Jones
Titans sign G Steve Hutchinson
Rams sign CB Cortland Finnegan
Titans re-sign SS Jordan Babineaux
Titans franchise S Michael Griffin
Titans re-sign WR Lavelle Hawkins
Titans re-sign OT Mike Otto
53 Man Roster Projection
Quarterback (3): Jake Locker, Matt Hasselback, Rusty Smith
Running back (4): Chris Johnson, Javon Ringer,  Jamie Harper, Quinn Johnson
Wide Receiver (6): Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, Lavelle Hawkins, Damian Williams, Marc Mariani
Tight End (3): Jared Cook, Craig Stevens, Taylor Thompson
Offensive Line (9): Dave Stewart, Leroy Harris, Eugene Amano, Steve Hutchinson, Michael Roos, Byron Stingily, Ryan Durand, Kevin Matthews, Mike Otto
Defensive Line (9): Derrick Morgan, Sen’Derrick Marks, Jurrel Casey, Kamerion Wimbley, Dave Ball, Karl Klug, Mike Martin, Scott Solomon, Shaun Smith
Linebacker (7): Akeem Ayers, Colin McCarthy, Will Witherspoon, Zach Brown, Tim Shaw, Patrick Bailey, Zac Diles
Cornerback (6): Alterruan Verner, Jason McCourty, Ryan Mouton, Tommie Campbell, Terrence Wheatley, Coty Sensabaugh
Safety (4): Michael Griffin, Jordan Babineaux, Markelle Martin, Al Afalava
Kicker (1): Rob Bironas
Punter (1): Brett Kern
Positions of Strength:
Wide Receiver: With the addition of Kendall Wright the Titans have a really intriguing wide receiver group.If Kenny Britt can stay healthy this group is deep and solid.
Linebacker–I expect Ayers and McCarthy to be even better than they were last year. Will Witherspoon is good, and Zach Brown will thrive as a nickel linebacker to being his career.
Positions of Weaknesses:
Cornerback--Losing Cortland Finnegan hurts, the Titans will have to see some of their young player step up and fill the void. Is the next Finnegan on the roster. We’ll see.
Running Back–Especially the depth. I like Jamie Harper and Javon Ringer has some ability, but the truth of the matter is last year the Titans had nothing great at running back. Harper average 2.6 yards per carry, and Ringer just 3.1 yards per carry. If Chris Johnson doesn’t get back to what Chris Johnson is, this position looks scary in a bad way.
The Titans played well last year, but I think there are potential issues all over the field. Who is going to be the quarterback in 2012? Is Kamerion Wimbley’s addition enough to bolster an anemic pass rush. Will the running backs (and offensive line too) play better in 2012. How much will the losses of Cortland Finnegan and Jason Jones hurt the team?  I could see the Titans taking a step back this year–especially if Jake Locker wins the starting job before re-emerging in 2013 because I like the young talent on this team, but because a lot of the talent is young there might be some growing pains.
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