Friday
May272011

2011 Draft Class - My Thoughts - 1st Round

If you read my previous post you know that I can't grade this class until they at least have the opportunity to play a down in the NFL. That being said, let's walk through the 2011 Titans draft class.

1st Round - Pick #8

QB Jake Locker - Washington

Jake LockerLocker seems to have all the physical tools you would need in an NFL QB. He's 6' 3" 231 lbs., and has excellent toughness. His ability to create offense with his legs, as well as his arm, will give him an earlier opportunity to make a significant impact.  

This was a real surprise selection for the Titans. Almost all of the pundents had DT Nick Fairley from Auburn or DE Robert Quinn from North Carolina being picked at that spot, and if they had a QB it was almost always Blaine Gabbert (if he was available). Well, Gabbert was not only available, so were Fairly and Quinn. The thing that put Locker over the top is not only his desire to work hard, but his execution of that desire. He's a smart kid, and has his head on straight. He is a true "Boy Scout" and that is what the Titans needed. He does what is expected and has a desire to learn. I'm not saying he is a saint, but I think this kid is just what the draft doctor ordered.

 

Positives:

Hard worker/Character - already shows the work ethic to succeed at the top level. His character is what gives him the edge over previous "head cases."

Running ability - rushed 454 times for 1,939 yards and 29 TDs at Washington. He might just have the crowd chanting "VY? Who's that?" He is fast (4.3 speed), strong (rarely seen arm strength), and durable; just what you need in a running QB.

Can throw on the run - His accuracy is actually higher when he is on the move than in the pocket. That could fit right in to an offense where the offensive line struggled last year.

Negatives:

Interceptions - Threw 35 interceptions in college, not a huge number (he started all 4 years), but it was the interceptions he threw that has me a little worried. Some say this is a "mechanics" problem, or a "decision making" problem. Let's just hope he is as coach-able as it seems he is.

Accuracy - Scouts saw this as a red flag (53.9% completions), but the Titans obviously saw beyond this hurdle. He tends to force the ball, and has a tendency to lock on to his primary target without going through his progression.

Could he have already peaked? - He had a stellar Junior year at Washington, only to follow it up with a mediocre Senior year. 

Overall

This kid has huge upside with only slight risk. I find it intriguing that the Titans suffered through the Pacman fiasco (million dollar talent and 2 cent brain), and didn't seem to learn their lesson because we took yet another head case in VY. Maybe now the Titans have learned that talent, although very important, can't supersede character. This guy has the tools and the mentality to get the job done. It's going to be exciting to see him implement the coaches philosophy. Also, the issues around his "mechanics" is not the same thing that was said about VY. Yes, it was the same words, but it is definitely a tweak that can be made without completely tearing him apart (unlike VY).

Wednesday
May042011

Grading The Draft - 2008

I don't think it is fully fair to grade a draft where the players haven't played a single down in the NFL (one of same reasons I think the rookies are paid far too much money). However, that being said, I do believe that you can grade out the draft from 3 years ago.

I have struggled with mathmatical formulas on making a draft a less subjective thing, but the more I try the more I come across the distinct realization that judging the performance of a draft class is anything but exact. If anyone out there thinks they have the perfect way, I am all ears.

So here goes (through my inexact "scientific" manor).

1st Round:

Chris JohnsonChris Johnson - RB - East Carolina

Grade: A

This has to be the surprise of the draft. Who would have guessed that we would take yet another running back after our history of recent failure in drafting someone in that role, and with LenDale White (at the time) as our heir apparant to the job. 

However, look at the stats for CJ so far:

Season Team   Rushing Receiving Fumbles
  G GS Att Yds Avg Lng TD Rec Yds Avg Lng TD FUM Lost
2010 Tennessee Titans 16 16 316 1,364 4.3 76T 11 44 245 5.6 25 1 3 2
 
2009 Tennessee Titans 16 16 358 2,006 5.6 91T 14 50 503 10.1 69T 2 3 3
 
2008 Tennessee Titans 15 14 251 1,228 4.9 66T 9 43 260 6.0 25 1 1 1

 

That's almost 4,600 yards in 3 seasons in rushing alone. This was the slamdunk no one saw coming.

 

2nd Round: 

Jason Jones - DT - Eastern Michigan

Grade: A-

 Another pleasant surprise. He hasn't put up huge numbers, but he has been a definite presence in the middle. Let's just say this... he is no Albert Haynesworth, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. He may be a little lean (276 lbs.) for that huge run stuffer we desire, and he does seem a little injury prone. I think that can be attributed to the fact that he doesn't have the mass to take the pounding that is inflicted on interior linemen. He hasn't played a full 16-game season yet, although he did start 15 last season. I initially thought of him as a solid A, but his durability is such an issue I had to drop it to A-.

Season Team   Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
  G GS Comb Total Ast Sck SFTY PDef Int Yds Avg Lng TDs FF
2010 Tennessee Titans 15 15 39 34 5 3.5 -- 3 -- -- 0.0 -- -- 3
 
2009 Tennessee Titans 7 0 15 9 6 4.0 -- 5 -- -- 0.0 -- -- 0
 
2008 Tennessee Titans 13 3 31 24 7 5.0 -- 2 -- -- 0.0 -- -- 3

 

3rd Round:

Craig Stevens - TE - California

Grade: B-

He is a solid player and has shown some definite promise. He is used far too often on blocking downs to show his pass catching abilities. In 2009 he didn't even have a catch, but played in 12 games. However, that was the year that CJ gained over 2,000 yards. He is a solid blocker and can catch the ball when given the chance, and in 2010 he did have 2 TDs. He has sat behind Bo Scaife and Alge Crumpler which is another reason his numbers are on the miniscule end. I think 2011 will be the season that will make or break him with the Titans. 

Season Team   Receiving Rushing Fumbles
  G GS Rec Yds Avg Lng TD Att Yds Avg Lng TD FUM Lost
2010 Tennessee Titans 15 13 11 122 11.1 28 2 -- -- -- -- -- -- --
 
2009 Tennessee Titans 12 2 0 0 -- -- 0 -- -- -- -- -- -- --
 
2008 Tennessee Titans 16 2 1 9 9.0 9 0 -- -- -- -- -- -- --

 

4th Round (3 picks):

William Hayes - DE - Winston-Salem State

Grade: B-

Hayes has been a real surprise and has better numbers than Jason Jones. However, until last season, his durability was in question as well. Once again, his mass may be a little light for the defensive line. He is 272 lbs., but an extra 5 or 10 pounds might give him that extra cushion he needs. He didn't start any games in 2010, and this could be the sign that with players like Derrick Morgan coming back and rookies Jurrell Casey, Karl Klug, and Zach Clayton in the mix, he will get plenty of competition and may be on the bubble of training camp cuts (if we have training camp).

Season Team   Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
  G GS Comb Total Ast Sck SFTY PDef Int Yds Avg Lng TDs FF
2010 Tennessee Titans 14 0 32 25 7 1.5 -- 0 -- -- 0.0 -- -- 1
 
2009 Tennessee Titans 16 11 51 31 20 4.0 -- 0 -- -- 0.0 -- -- 2
 
2008 Tennessee Titans 8 0 13 10 3 1.0 -- 1 -- -- 0.0 -- -- 1

 


Lavelle Hawkins - WR - California

Grade: D

"Hawk," quite possibly, is one of our biggest disappointments as of late. He is one of those players that shows plenty of talent during the preseason, but just doesn't bring it when it counts. He was also supposed to be the new return man, but never could get out of his own way. He has now been supplanted in that job by Marc Mariani, and is always in danger of being cut. Several times he has been on the list of inactive players, but not because of injuries. I am of the opinion that he will not be on the 2011 roster unless he shows some significant improvement.

Season Team   Receiving Rushing Fumbles
  G GS Rec Yds Avg Lng TD Att Yds Avg Lng TD FUM Lost
2010 Tennessee Titans 6 0 5 61 12.2 24 0 -- -- -- -- -- -- --
 
2009 Tennessee Titans 10 0 7 110 15.7 32 0 -- -- -- -- -- -- --
 
2008 Tennessee Titans 13 1 7 68 9.7 19 0 -- -- -- -- -- -- --

 


Stanford Keglar - LB - Purdue

Grade: D+

Although Keglar was a good special teams player, he never surfaced beyond that. He seems to have all the physical attributes, but not the talent to take a starting role. On September 5, 2010 the Titans waived him and he was signed by the Texans.

Season Team   Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
  G GS Comb Total Ast Sck SFTY PDef Int Yds Avg Lng TDs FF
2010 Houston Texans 10 0 4 3 1 0.0 -- 0 -- -- 0.0 -- -- 0
 
2009 Tennessee Titans 12 0 6 5 1 0.0 -- 0 -- -- 0.0 -- -- 0
 
2008 Tennessee Titans 13 0 12 10 2 0.0 -- 0 -- -- 0.0 -- -- 0

 

Round 7

Cary Williams - DB - Washburn

Grade: F

Williams only showed slight glimmers of talent in a few preseason games, but overall was a huge disappointment. He was waived the same year he was drafted, but resigned to the practice squad. He returned to the active roster in December 2008 only to be placed on IR. He was cut from the squad again in 2009 (due to the signing of a punter), but again was resigned to the practice squad. He was once again signed to the active roster on October 2009, but was waived again in November yet again to be resigned to the practice squad. That is where the Ravens eventually found him.

Season Team   Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
  G GS Comb Total Ast Sck SFTY PDef Int Yds Avg Lng TDs FF
2010 Baltimore Ravens 13 0 6 5 1 0.0 -- 0 -- -- 0.0 -- -- 0
 
2009 Baltimore Ravens 5 1 8 8 0 0.0 -- 0 -- -- 0.0 -- -- 1
 
2009 Tennessee Titans 4 0 12 7 5 0.0 -- 1 -- -- 0.0 -- -- 0
 
2008 Tennessee Titans 1 0 0 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 0.0 -- -- --

 

*NOTE: Another player was picked up during the draft due to a trade with the Seahawks: Bryce Fisher. Another overall bust for us on the defensive line. 

After reviewing this draft class, it appears this is a tale of 2 drafts. The top half of the draft is a productive group with flashes of greatness, but the bottom half of the draft is a mere footnote of Titans history.

Overall Grade: B+ to A- (it's my blog, I can do that if I want)

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