AFC Draft Recap - Tennessee Titans

Another team that the Jaguars will have to contend with is the Tennessee Titans, who split the season series with Jacksonville last year, and earned a playoff berth of their own. JagNation is going to take a closer look at what the Titans did in their draft.

The Tennessee Titans have completed their rebuilding process, and are a team that has bettered its record for the last two seasons following two dismal five and four win campaigns in 2004 and 2005 respectively. Tennessee began to take its step forward in 2006, as they were led to an 8-8 record by rookie quarterback Vince Young, and bettered that mark last season, as they finished 10-6 and earned a wildcard berth. Much of Tennessee's resurgence has been due to their complete roster rebuilding through the draft, and fine leadership from head coach Jeff Fisher.

In round one of last month's draft, the Titans made former East Carolina University running back Chris Johnson their first selection with the 24th overall pick. Johnson has blazing speed, as he runs in the 4.2's, and he can be a nice compliment to pounder Lendale White in the Tennessee backfield. NFL expert and Sirius NFL radio host Adam Caplan compared Johnson to the Eagles dynamic running back, Brian Westbrook, and although it appeared as if Tennessee reached a bit with their selection as Johnson was considered by most to be a second-round pick, Caplan applauded the move. NFL draft expert and former NFL scout with better than 35 years experience Tom Marino gave his scouting report on Johnson--

Has outstanding speed & run instincts. Tougher then expected inside.. As a receiver will line up in the slot, motion across the formation and come out of the backfield, but proved to be a real threat to take it to the house. Impressive hands.Dangerous return man who hit the seam and goes. Not as patient inside as he should be but ran hard. Not a big man by today's standards, was a marginal blocker and not big tackle breaker, but is without question the real deal.

In round two, Tennessee opted to fill a need at defensive end, in which they lost Antwan Odom and Travis LaBoy in free agency. The Titans selected former Eastern Michigan defensive end Jason Jones their selection with the 54th pick overall. Jones should compete for a starting job right away opposite fantastic pass rusher Kyle Vanden Bosch, and will have the benefit of playing with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.

Here's Tom Marino's take on Jason Jones–

Is a former tight end who was moved to a defensive tackle position at the midpoint of the 04 season. Looks like a basketball player. Needs to play outside. Is a very raw player who had a tendency to get his pads up off the go. Limited use of hands to shed (gets stuck on blocks). Has skills and was not out of place at the Senior Bowl workouts, but is no better then a developmental player at this time. Late selection but more likely a PFA.

As the Titans tried to fill a need at tight end, the team opted for former California University big man Craig Stevens with their third-round pick (#85 overall). Stevens should compete with veterans Alge Crumpler and Bo Scaife for reps right away, and could be the eventual starter. Stevens combines good size at 6'3", 254 lbs., with solid speed (4.6 40-yard dash), and has H-back potential.

This is what Tom Marino had to say about the former Cal tight end–

An impressive ball player. Has a good frame to add bulk and strength, runs well and is very solid athlete. I felt he had wide receiver type hands and the quickness and speed to threaten up the seam. As a blocker, wasn't either punishing or a big finisher, but was smart and efficient. Positions after contact (brings his feet around) and stays with blocks. Very good feet and balance. Solid H back prospect who should factor in the mid rounds (4th to 5th).

Tennessee went with a small school prospect in the fourth-round, as they selected defensive end William Hayes, formerly of Winston-Salem State (#103 overall). With an obvious need for another pass rusher, the Titans took the approach of quantity, as they chose their second end in the first four rounds, with the hopes that one of these players will work out. The Titans liked Hayes so much that they moved up 21 picks in round four to secure the 6'2", 258 lb. end. Tennessee head coach Jeff Fisher seemed a bit defensive about this selection among others–

"We're not concerned whatsoever. It seems like every year you have to remind people, ‘Why don't you grade this draft four years from now?' That's how you grade drafts, you grade in the future. You don't grade them now. These guys haven't been fitted for helmets yet. So it doesn't concern us whatsoever. This was a great weekend for this franchise. Mike and his staff did a great job, every pick that we made we were all very excited about it. With that being said the next step is to go coach them. If anybody wants to grade us, so be it."

Here's Tom Marino's take on William Hayes–

Impressive small college linemen who showed explosiveness on his take off, the ability to convert speed to power and close on the football. Has a pro body and very good athletic ability. Mike backer in his first two season of play. Needs to keep his pads down more consistently, but did meet blocks and play with leverage. Has good first step quickness as a pas rusher, but will need to improve in his ability to counter. Strong late round draft or priority FA potential.

With the Titans second of three fourth-round selections, they finally gave quarterback Vince Young another outside threat, in the body of former Cal wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins (#126 overall). Hawkins could compete for a starting job right away, as Tennessee has a receiving corps of Eric Moulds, Roydell Williams, Justin Gage, and Brandon Jones, all who have been unimpressive at this point in their careers.

This is what Tom Marino had to say about the former Cal wide receiver–

A skilled receiver who showed come immaturity in the past (will pout and isn't the toughest guy on the block. Has shown very good route running and catching skills. Was a dependable third down receiver working in the under zones and was adept working the sidelines. Gives you some added return potential. Lacks the deep speed to factor as a vertical threat, and doesn't process quickly (need to keep it simple) Late round draft potential / 6-7.

With their final fourth-round pick, the Titans selected the speedy former Purdue outside linebacker Stanford Keglar (#134 overall). Keglar stands 6'2", 240 lbs., and runs a 4.6 40-yard dash. Keglar could find some immediate reps on special teams while he gets to spell outside linebackers Keith Bullock and David Thonton from time to time.

Here's Tom Marino's take on Stanford Keglar--

Has a good looking well muscled body and impressive athletic skills to factor at the LB position, but I felt he missed an inordinate amount of tackles and wasn't a physical take on guy at the point of attack. Has the tool, but needs to continue to put it all together. I liked the way he took on blocks and worked to the football and did show a god effort on plays away, but will need to become more consistent in his overall play. Late draft or priority FA consideration.

Tennessee used their final pick in the 2008 draft in the seventh-round on former Washburn cornerback Cary Williams. Williams measures in at 6'0", 178 lbs, and runs a 4.53 40-yard dash. Williams should be able to contribute immediately on special teams. Many compare Williams to current Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan. Here's what Titans head coach Jeff Fisher had to say about the comparisons–

"There is a chance. We will wait and see. They are similar. I think Cary is just a little bit taller. I don't know that he has the change of direction that Cortland does, but that doesn't mean to say that he is not going to be a very good player. At that point, you are looking for people who can come in and fill a spot. We have a need for a gunner. We have a need for a guy that can cover kicks. Cary is a guy with speed that also returns and makes plays. I would assume his contribution will start in the area of special teams as we develop him at the corner spot much like we did with Cortland."

The Titans have been, and will continue to be second guessed about this years' draft, as they have appeared to reach for players whose value didn't seem to fit their selections by many experts and media outlets. Time will tell whether or not the Titans were geniuses or nincompoops, and their win/loss record should be directly reflective of this.

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