Well we’re going to give his 2008-2010 draft classes the Draft Grader treatment and, for those who haven’t seen this series, that means every pick in that time frame will get a grade between +2.0 and -2.0 (in 0.5 increments) that depends upon:
• Where they were drafted
• Their performance
• Their contribution (how many snaps their team got out of them)
• Other factors such as unforeseen injuries and conditions that could not have been accounted for
Let’s take a look at how the Titans drafted.
+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round
Rusty Smith wasn’t that guy.
+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!
Jason McCourty, CB (203rd overall pick in 2009): It’s hard enough to find a quality cornerback in the first round, so the Titans must be happy that they’ve found one in the sixth. Good enough that he made it easy for Tennessee to say goodbye to Cortland Finnegan, McCourty has earned a +16.1 grade in 1,763 career defensive snaps.
+1.0: The scouts nailed it!
Chris Johnson, RB (24th overall pick in 2008): 2011 wasn’t his best year, but the speedy running back has been among the league’s most productive rushers since entering the league. His 2,000-yard season in 2009 was something really special, and while he will never be the best running back in the passing game, there aren’t many homerun hitters in the league like Johnson.
Alterraun Verner, CB (104th overall pick in 2010): The Titans do have a knack of finding good corners don’t they? Verner had our 16th-highest grade of all cornerbacks in his rookie season, and while he was relegated to nickel duties (no shame given the talent in front of him) graded positively in 2011. Superb value once again.
+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor
Jason Jones, DT (54th overall pick in 2008): Wasted by the Titans at defensive end last season, Jones was one of the most destructive interior pass rushers in the league when Tennessee got him on the field at the DT spot. Something of a shame that the Titans were unable to get more out of their former second round pick.
William Hayes, DE (103rd overall pick in 2008): It didn’t quite happen for Hayes in 2011, but his work as a valuable member of their defensive line rotation over the three year prior makes him well worth the positive grade. In his 1,805 snaps for Tennessee earned a +6.9 grade with 96 combined sacks, hits and hurries.
Kenny Britt, WR (30th overall pick in 2009): It’s only really injuries and off field problems that stop this grade being any higher, with Britt dominating on the field. The 1,262 snaps are too low, but the +17.0 grade Britt earned in that time is that of a player with immense talent. Still just 23.
Jared Cook, TE (89th overall pick in 2009): Cook just about earns a positive grade on the back of an extremely strong finish to 2011 that showed what kind of mismatch he could be in the passing game.
Javon Ringer, RB (173rd overall pick in 2009): Tennessee didn’t draft Ringer expecting him to rival Chris Johnson, and they haven’t been surprised in that regard. If they weren’t so dependent on Johnson, they’d probably benefit from the work Ringer is able to in the passing game, an area he’s looked handy in.
Marc Mariani, WR/ KR (222nd overall pick in 2010): You don’t often expect to get much out of your seventh round pick, so the excellent rookie returning from Mariani was a real bonus for Tennessee. He was our top overall kick/ punt returner in 2010.
0.0: It could have been worse
Lavelle Hawkins, WR (126th overall pick in 2008): Until 2011 Hawkins had seen limited action in each year of his NFL career, before injuries helped him to a career high 560 snaps. While capable of doing something after the catch (13 forced missed tackles), Hawkins didn’t do much to suggest he’ll be breaking into the lineup in 2012.
Cary Williams, CB (229th overall pick in 2008): The seventh-rounder may have become a starter in Baltimore, but he managed just 48 snaps for the Titans.
Gerald McRath, LB (130th overall pick in 2009): Got his chance to start in 2010, and while he didn’t let himself down, a lack of impact plays meant he struggled to get on the field a year later. Not a million miles away from being a good pick, but his demotion prevents that.
Dominique Edison, WR (206th overall pick in 2009): A rookie preseason star, Edison got on the field for two plays and spent some time on the practice squad before the Titans moved on.
Ryan Durand, G (239th overall pick in 2009): The former seventh rounder got on the field for seven snaps before being waived during the 2010 season.
Nick Schommer, S (242nd overall pick in 2009): Waived once and for all before the start of the 2011 season, Schommer came close to cracking the starting lineup a couple of times, but in the end had to settle for five snaps on defense and three special teams tackles.
Derrick Morgan, DE (16th overall pick in 2010): Morgan gets something of a pass after an ACL tear as a rookie. He looked to lack some explosion as he worked his way work to full health which was a shame, because as a rookie he flashed big time ability in just 114 snaps. Let’s hope he regains that burst a year further removed from injury.
Damian Williams, WR (77th overall pick in 2010): There were some moments from Williams to get you excited, but not enough for you to be convinced he’ll be a star.
Robert Johnson, S (148th overall pick in 2010): The former fifth round pick got on the field for special teams in 2011 after spending his rookie year on the practice squad. Yet to see the field on defense.
Rusty Smith, QB (176th overall pick in 2010): You’ll excuse the pun, but the former sixth round pick looked extremely rusty when he saw the field as a rookie. Tennessee appear to hope he can be a long term backup.
Myron Rolle, S (207th overall pick in 2010): The Rhodes Scholar may want to rely on his smarts over his physical abilities. Spent a year on the practice squad before being waived.
David Howard, DT (241st overall pick in 2010): Waived before the start of his rookie year, Howard was a flier that didn’t even make the practice squad.
-0.5: That pick was not put to good use
Craig Stevens, TE (85th overall pick in 2008): While Stevens was expected to be something of an impressive run blocker, that has never really materialized. Instead he’s earned a -10.1 grade over four years for his run blocking, and picked up just 297 receiving yards in that time. You expect more out of a third-rounder.
Stanford Keglar, LB (134th overall pick in 2008): Just 45 snaps on defense and 13 special teams tackles as the fourth-rounder failed to catch on.
Troy Kropog, T (135th overall pick in 2009): The former fourth round pick never got on the field on offense and was cut after two years.
Rennie Curran, LB (97th overall pick in 2010): The third round player was waived a year after being drafted and has just four special teams tackles to his name as a Titan.
-1.0: What a waste!
Sen’Derrick Marks, DT (62nd overall pick in 2009): When you watch Marks you can’t help but wonder what it is he does. Somehow was promoted to the starting lineup this year and responded with a -9.0 grade that highlighted just how sub-standard a player he is. Just not a good use of a second round pick.
-1.5: The scouts/ coaches failed, big time!
-2.0: You just drafted the love child of Jamarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!
No Russell/ Leaf hybrids in this draft.
When you look at the Titans’ drafts, you notice that they tend to get an awful lot of game time out of most of their selections. Perhaps the greatest shame with some of the players selected is that Tennessee didn’t get the most out of them, with players neither used enough nor at the right spot and no longer with the club despite the talent they showed. Still, that shouldn’t take away from some joy in finding contributors from first round through to seventh.