The Tennessee Titans haven’t made much of a splash in the last two drafts in terms of their first round picks. Having a top 10 selection in 2013 and then pick #11 in 2014 is not exactly ideal for a franchise that feels like it’s good enough to be ‘winning now,’ but the Titans have got something going right now, something brewing that could shake up the AFC South a bit.
When you look at the Titans’ roster, it’s clearly being built to be tough in the trenches. Specifically on the offensive and defensive lines, Tennessee has invested three first round picks, a second round pick, a couple of third round picks, and a heck of a lot of money to upgrade their lines.
In the last two seasons, they have used their top picks on left guard Chance Warmack and offensive tackle Taylor Lewan to fortify the offensive front. They also signed guard Andy Levitre away from the Buffalo Bills last year, making him one of the richest guards this league has ever seen.
The Titans’ defensive front seven as a whole is going to see a lot of change this year, mainly because of a switch to the 3-4 base alignment. They are going to try and use guys like Akeem Ayers, Shaun Phillips, and Kamerion Wimbley off the edge and other players like Zaviar Gooden, Zach Brown, and newly acquired Wesley Woodyard and Avery Williamson from those inside linebacker spots.
And those players all have versatility to move around the formation as well.
What I really like about the Titans is that they are supplementing those selections and free agent pickups by going after talented offensive and defensive ‘skill’ players with their other high picks. In 2013, they took Justin Hunter, a receiver out of Tennessee with their second round pick and this year they may have come away with the offensive rookie of the year.
The running back position is not glamorous like it once was in the NFL. Backs are not being phased out of the game, they are just no longer the focal point so drafting a player like Washington’s Bishop Sankey is a lot like the Packers drafting Eddie Lacy last year in the second round in the fact that it’s gone a bit too far overlooked at this point.
Sankey was a beast at Washington, and a lot of fun to watch. He’s a back that can really do it all in terms of carrying a full load and catching passes out of the backfield. He also has very solid straight line speed, vision, and durability.
Even being the 54th overall player selected in the draft, Sankey was this year’s first running back off the board, and the circumstances are in his favor with the Titans to be not only an instant contributor, but a guy who can rack up a big number of carries immediately and be a rookie of the year candidate.
The Titans let go of Chris Johnson knowing there would be some changes at the running back position, and obviously Sankey was plan ‘A’. Their plan worked to perfection. They were able to land a ‘steal’ in Taylor Lewan with the 11th overall pick, and another one with Sankey at 54.
Getting this type of playmaker for their offense is huge, especially since the Titans are counting on a bunch of other former high picks on offense to finally start figuring things out, namely Jake Locker and Kendall Hunter.
What can get this team back into playoff contention? Young players stepping up and making plays. Sankey is about to lead that charge.