The Tennessee Titans have had a few hits in the NFL draft in recent history,
They have found mid-to-late-round gems in guys like Cortland Finnegan (seventh round, 215th overall, 2006), Jason McCourty (sixth round, 203rd overall, 2009), Alterraun Verner (fourth round, 104th overall) and David "Big Country" Stewart (fourth round, 113th overall, 2005), just to name a few.
They have also had success in the later rounds. They have seemed to have a lot of huge first and second-round misses with guys like Vince Young (first round, third overall, 2006), Adam "Pacman" Jones (first Round, sixth overall, 2005), LenDale White (second round, 45th overall, 2006) and Chris J. Henry (second round, 50th overall, 2007), just name a few of those as well.
The jury is also still currently out on Derrick Morgan (first round, 16th overall, 2010), Kenny Britt (first round, 30th overall, 2009) and Michael Griffin (first round, 19th overall, 2008).
With a history of up-and-down drafting, some might have expected the Titans to blunder in this year's draft as well. While it may take three or four years to truly find out one way or another, this year, on paper, seem to be a very good draft for the Titans.
Here are my grades for this year's draft.
First Round, 10th Overall: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
I could not tell you how angry and annoyed I was last year when the Titans passed on current Steelers guard David DeCastro in order to draft Kendall Wright. Wright ended up having a decent season last year, but guard has been a huge need for this team since 2009.
Finally, the Titans addressed their need. Or, to quote Chris Johnson on Twitter, "THANK GOD."
With both starters from last year gone, the Titans addressed one-half of that problem with the signing of Andy Levitre, so many people believed that it was unnecessary to draft a guard.
There's just one tiny, seemingly insignificant problem with that statement: Levitre can't play both guard positions at the same time.
That's where Warmack came in. Initially, I had wanted the Titans to draft the more versatile and athletic Jonathan Cooper out of North Carolina, who can play both guard and center. However, head coach Mike Munchak and general manager Ruston Webster stated that Warmack was going to be the pick even if Cooper was still on the board.
Warmack is an absolute mauler. He is a great run blocker, something the Titans have lacked in the interior offensive line over the past three seasons. He also is pretty solid in pass protection.
Some believe that the Titans could have traded back for more picks and selected Warmack, but with all of the other offensive linemen drafted in the first round, it's a very big possibility that Warmack would not have been available depending on who the Titans traded with.
Some consider this to be way too early to select a guard, but this was by far the Titans' biggest need, and Warmack is definitely capable of starting right away.
This pick gives the Titans quite possibly the best offensive line in football right now.
Second Round, 34th Overall: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
The Titans traded up with the San Francisco 49ers in order to select the athletic Hunter in exchange for a seventh-round pick later in this draft and a third-round pick in next year's draft.
Hunter tore his ACL in 2011 but bounced back and had a phenomenal year at the University of Tennessee. At 6'4", 196 pounds, he has a rare combination of size and speed and could end up being the vertical threat that Jake Locker needs.
Don't get me wrong. Overall, I thought this was a solid pick, but I have just three issues with it.
For one, even though some (including the Titans' front office) gave Hunter a first-round grade, I don't think the Titans really needed to trade up in order to pick up Hunter. I could be wrong about that, but I feel that Southern California wide receiver Robert Woods was more of a priority than Hunter. That's just my opinion though.
Secondly, the Titans were in a huge need for a defensive end who could also slide in at defensive tackle on passing downs. Florida State defensive end Cornelius "Tank" Carradine fit that bill perfectly and could have benefited the Titans' defense in the long-term.
Ironically, the 49ers selected him with the pick that the Titans traded.
Lastly, I overall just did not see wide receiver as an immediate need. Considering the amount of depth the Titans have at receiver, this pick shows me two things:
1. The Titans do not trust Kenny Britt health-wise or off-the-field issue wise.
2. Nate Washington is likely on his way out of Tennessee by way of trade or being released.
Still, even omitting those two, you still have Kendall Wright, Damian Williams and Lavelle Hawkins on the roster, all of whom have a lot of potential.
At the end of the day, this was still a solid pick, but I just feel that other needs could have been addressed with it.
Third Round, 70th Overall: Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, Connecticut
Cornerback was not a huge need for the Titans, but with the ineptitude in the slot and with the secondary as a whole just being horrible last year, this was a necessary pick.
I originally had the Titans drafting Darius Slay out of Mississippi State with this pick, but he ended up going early in the second round. Wreh-Wilson isn't at all a bad consolation prize, especially when some considered him a first-round talent.
He's a solid zone cornerback, and while he isn't exactly a playmaker, he's very capable of taking a No. 2 receiver on.
The Titans like to bump Alterraun Verner into the slot in their nickel packages, so it's very likely that Wreh-Wilson will get to play as the No. 2 corner in certain situations.
Of course, first, he'll have to beat out Tommie Campbell and Coty Sensabaugh for the No. 3 job, but, with his size and athletic ability, Wreh-Wilson will likely wrestle away that job.
Third Round, 97th Overall: Zaviar Gooden, OLB, Missouri
I had Gooden mocked to the Titans in the fourth round, but they decided to reach out to get him with the last pick of Day 2 of the draft.
Some people questioned this pick due to the fact that the Titans already have their future at linebacker set with outside linebackers Akeem Ayers and Zach Brown and middle linebacker Colin McCarthy.
However, the Titans have very little depth, and with the selection of Gooden, they are able to be more flexible defensively while also having depth.
Gooden is very similar to Brown in that he is a speedy linebacker. He ran a 4.47 40-time at the combine and actually had a solid Senior Bowl after having a disappointing season.
The Titans could use Gooden in passing situations which could open up the possibility of Ayers lining up at defensive end in such situations.
This was a solid pick in the third round, although the Titans probably could have gotten him in the fourth.
Fourth Round, 107th Overall: Brian Schwenke, G/C, California
A lot of people initially complained about this selection because Alabama's Barrett Jones was still on the board. Those people honestly are just buying into the Alabama hype, or they believe Jones would flourish next to Warmack.
Schwenke was the better pick here and probably should have gone in the third round.
Last season, Schwenke was the only California offensive lineman to not allow a sack or a quarterback pressure.
That speaks volumes of Schwenke's skills at pass protection, something that the Titans' offensive line struggled with last season.
Schwenke likely will have to battle Fernando Velasco, Eugene Amano, Rob Turner and Chris Spencer for the center position, but signs point to him likely starting.
The Titans may have gotten a steal with this pick.
Fifth Round, 142nd Overall: Lavar Edwards, DE, LSU
This was a little late to address the need at defensive end but better late than never.
Edwards was the main backup at defensive end for LSU behind Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery. Because of that, Edwards had a hard time showing his abilities. He still was a contributor last season as well as the two previous seasons.
The Titans needed depth at defensive end, and they certainly got it. With Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley being mostly pass-rushers, you could make the argument that Edwards is currently the Titans most complete defensive end.
Whether that's true or not, this was still a great selection considering the value.
Sixth Round, 202nd Overall: Khalid Wooten, CB/S, Nevada
I'm not too surprised that the Titans double-dipped at corner considering their struggles at the cornerback position.
Wooten has a good combination of size, strength, speed and is a solid tackler, something the Titans lacked last season, primarily in the secondary.
His biggest problem is reading the offense. Sometimes he struggles with anticipating routes which could lead to trouble.
He's also able to play safety and can return kicks as well. That versatility could benefit him down the road when it comes to making the final 53-man roster.
Wooten likely will start as a special teamer but could find his way onto the field and could end up battling for the nickel cornerback position.
Seventh Round, 248th Overall: Daimion Stafford, S, Nebraska
Some people saw safety as a big need for the Titans and felt that the position should have been addressed a lot earlier. I don't see it that way, but if you do, this was another case of "better late than never."
Stafford had two solid seasons at Nebraska and made his mark as a solid run-stopper as well as a heavy hitter in the secondary.
His biggest area of concern is over-pursuit. Sometimes he can be a bit overzealous in the run game and will completely overrun the play, missing the ball carrier.
With Bernard Pollard and George Wilson among the eight other safeties on the roster, it will be tough for Stafford to make the final roster, but he isn't exactly a long-shot considering how bad Michael Griffin was last season and how many unknowns they have at the position.
Based on value alone, this was a solid pick.
This was the best draft the Titans have had in years. They finally addressed a huge need at guard that they have had since Kevin Mawae's retirement after the 2009 season which ultimately lead to Eugene Amano moving to center, and they might have the steal of the draft with Schwenke in the fourth round.
The only really questionable pick was Hunter, only because of the feeling that they needed to trade up to get him. I think Hunter himself was a good selection for the team.
Wreh-Wilson and Wooten definitely can compete for the slot cornerback position, and Edwards could end up being the Titans' best defensive end.
Out of this draft, with the additions of Warmack and Schwenke, this may end up being the best offensive line in football by seasons end, and with Hunter, this could be one of the best receiving corps in the league, so long as Jake Locker stays healthy.
All in all, a great draft for a team that has struggled with drafting over the past few years.
Overall Grade: A-
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