Tennessee Titans 2011 NFL Draft Grades


The Titans shocked a lot of people when they took Jake Locker with the 8th overall pick, but even as surprising as the choice was, Locker was only one of many picks that on paper appear to be great. Obviously, the Titans will need to see this class on the field before we make any real “grades” on their picks, but I think overall, the Titans had one of the more underrated drafts in the NFL.

1. First Round, 8th overall: Jake Locker, QB, Washington

Locker was supposed to be the number one pick in the draft last year, and he didn’t fall too far this year. He has definite accuracy issues, but that can be fixed with work on his footwork. Locker is an incredibly gifted athlete with all of the physical tools needed to make it as a starter in the NFL, and probably a pretty good one. John Elway said of all the quarterbacks in this draft, he thought Locker played the most like him. That’s pretty high praise from a Hall of Famer, and arguably the greatest of all time.

People continue to say that Locker was a huge reach, which is not true. He could have easily gone 10 to the Redskins (or Jaguars, who traded up), and he reportedly would not have lasted past the Minnesota Vikings at 12. Where could the Titans move to and still get him? This was a good pick, and one that was much needed by the Titans.

Pick Grade: A

2. Second round, 39th overall: Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA

This guy was a durable starter at UCLA who will probably wind up starting for the Titans at SAM linebacker sooner rather than later, but he has the versatility to play all over the field. This was a guy who was a potential top 20 pick before, and who fell to the 2nd round where the Titans got a nice steal. The Titans will be able to use him in a variety of different ways, both at linebacker and potentially with his hand in the dirt on passing downs.

Pick Grade: A

3. Third Round, 77th overall: Jurrell Casey, DT, USC

Compactly built defensive tackle with a high motor who will impact the Titans’ defensive tackle rotation right away. Very quick defensive tackle, and at 6’1″ 300 pounds he is built like a boulder, and is about as tough to stop as one. He is the type of player that Titans fans have grown to love along the defensive line, and he will fit in perfectly. I really like this pick for them.

Pick Grade: A

4. Fourth Round, 109th overall: Colin McCarthy, LB, Miami

If this were baseball, the Titans would be 4-for-4 right now. McCarthy is an excellent addition at the inside linebacker position, and he could wind up starting for the Titans if they lose Tulloch to free agency. This is a very underrated player with toughness, leadership skills, and the physicality needed to play inside linebacker in the NFL. Not only that, but he can come in immediately and contribute on special teams, and he has the versatility to play any of the three linebacker positions if needed. He has great instincts for a young player, and was one of the more underrated linebackers in the draft.

Pick Grade: A

5. Fourth Round, 130th overall: Jamie Harper, RB, Clemson

Jamie Harper was one of my more underrated running back prospects, so consider the Titans 5-for-5 at this point. Harper is a big, big running back prospect at 5’11” 233 with excellent speed for his size. Will he be another Chris Henry, or can he come in and build a fine rotation with Chris Johnson and Javon Ringer in Tennessee? This is an offense predicated on the run, and Harper can come in and contribute right away. This is another great pick by the Titans.

Pick Grade: A

6. Fifth Round, 142nd overall: Karl Klug, DL, Iowa

Aside from the fact that Klug is an Iowa player and touches a soft spot, this could not be a more perfect place for him to go to. Having watched him for the last few years, I can tell you that Klug fits the blue-collar, hard working mentality that the Titans look for in a defensive lineman perfectly. He is a bit undersized, but the Titans will find the best place for him, and they have made smaller defensive linemen into disruptive forces like Jason Jones. I really like this pick a lot, and have to say the Titans are batting 1.000 still yet, 6-for-6.

Pick Grade: B+

7. Sixth Round, 175th overall: Byron Stingily, OL, Louisville

This is a risk/reward pick in the sixth round, but that is a good place to take them if any. Stingily is not a guy who is going to come in and start right away, and he has some injury concerns as well. However, he is an athletic offensive lineman who had a growing reputation leading up to the draft. He could turn out to be a solid pick at this juncture of the draft.

Pick Grade: C

8. Seventh Round, 212th overall: Zach Clayton, DT, Auburn

I was wondering where Clayton would land, because he is one of the more underrated guys in this year’s draft. While Nick Fairley was making play after play for the Tigers, Zach Clayton was clogging gaps and creating the play for him. He had a fantastic showing at the Auburn pro day, is a great athlete, and a high motor/high character kid with a ton of upside at this point in the draft. This was a great pick by the Titans.

Pick Grade: A

9. Seventh Round, 251st overall: Tommie Campbell, DB, California (PA)

In the later rounds of the draft, you are looking for two things. Guys with high upside, and guys who can help your special teams. At 6’3″ 201 pounds, Tommie Campbell is a high upside pick who is also going to contribute on special teams.  He has 4.31 speed in the 40 yard dash, and had a very productive career at a lower level school after transferring from Pittsburgh. Solid pick here.

Pick Grade: B

Overall Draft Grade: A

I love what the Titans did, and I do not think the Jake Locker pick was a reach based on where he was slated to go if not to the Titans at 8 overall. They got their guy, and they added great talent to the defensive side of the ball. This was a very good draft for the new regime, and one that I grade as one of the best on paper so far.

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