Sunday
Jun262011

2011 Draft Class - My Thoughts - 4th Round

4th Round - Pick #109

LB Colin McCarthy - Miami

McCarthy was our first of two picks in the 4th round, and at 6' 1" 238 lbs he fits the stereotypical mold. He has played both strong outside linebacker and middle linebacker at Miami (switching to MLB during his senior season). During his stay at Miami, he had 308 tackles (34 for losses). He was also known as a hard hitter.

McCarthy seems like a carbon copy of another middle linebacker we had, Ryan Fowler. Although Fowler was 2 inches taller and about 10 pounds heavier, in my eyes his playing style is very similar. This might lead to a faster starting role, but might also mean that he doesn't have real lasting potential at the position.

Positives

Quickness - Has the quickness and foot speed to cover the TE over long middle routes. 

Smart - He is rarely out of position and knows where he is required to be. He is not easily fooled on misdirection and counters.

Run Stuffer - He sheds the block and fills the hole well. He is a sure tackler, especially in the open field.

Negatives

Over pursuit - One of his strengths (aggressive nature) can lead to shooting the gap and being kept out of the play by over playing it.

Durability - He missed most of the 2008 season due to a shoulder injury. This might be the biggest concern for the Titans, especially on an already weak linebacking corp.

No "WOW" factor - He has a good core of fundamentals, but has a low ceiling of potential. We may have already seen the best out of McCarthy.

Overall

McCarthy will most likely be a special teams player with the potential to play one or two seasons as a starting LB. He seems more of a stop-gap at the position until we find a long-term solution. If he stays healthy we might see a flash or two of the positives.

4th Round - Pick #130

RB Jamie Harper - Clemson

Harper is a legitimate home run hitter. During his college career he had 1,311 yards on 311 carries and 12 touchdowns. He also had 50 catches for 398 yards and 3 touchdowns. He elected to forego his senior season for the draft.

At 5' 11" 233 lbs, he has decent speed for his size. In a backfield in true need for a real compliment to CJ, he has the chance to jump in and make a difference.

 

Positives

Great Feet - He has quick feet and can make the cuts in open field to earn precious extra yards. He keeps his feet moving in the pile.

Great Hands - Has the hands to be a true option out of the backfield, and with his ability to make the cuts can turn a simple screen pass into a long play.

High Potential - Rated very high coming out of high school, and keeps improving. Has the ability to be a star back in the right system.

Negatives

Vision - Misses open holes and runs into his line on occasion. This causes him to dance too much and not just explode through the hold.

Underachiever - He has a tendency to fall short of his potential. Plays big against bad teams, but struggles during crunch time.

Never "The Man" - He never carried the full load, and is a true unknown if asked to do so.

Overall

He could fit right in as a 3rd down back, as long as CJ stays healthy. However, even though he hasn't been asked to carry the load before, that doesn't mean he can't. At the same time, is this something we want to find out at this level? Let's see what he can do, but hold on to other options just in case.

Wednesday
Jun152011

2011 Draft Class - My Thoughts - 3rd Round

3rd Round - Pick #77

DL Jurrell Casey - USC

Casey is a young talent. He skipped his senior season at USC to enter the draft, but still has some impressive numbers for his time there. At 6' 1" 300 lbs, he has the size to be that run stuffer we have missed since Albert Haynesworth. He started 26 of his 38 games at USC. Among his stats are 138 tackles, 9 sacks, 22 stops for losses, had 3 forced fumbles, and recovered 4.

Casey is going to be yet another cog in the system that is our defensive line rotation. If he plays anywhere close to as big as his size he will free up our speedy DE's and LB's to put pressure on the opposing QB's. What he lacks in agility, he more than makes up for in sheer strength and bulk. He could use some "coaching up", but could have had 1st round draft potential if this class weren't so top-heavy with A+ talent. However, he still graded out as a 2nd round pick. I believe the Titans may have gotten a steal in Casey.

Positives

Strength - He is stout and can push the pocket to disrupt the play. His wide base and solid techniques will help against the run.

Solid tackler - This has been an area of concern both Lindsey and I have expressed, and he brings a solid foundation to build upon when tackling the runner.

Durability - Playing nose tackle and the interior of any defensive line tests any athlete, but he only missed one game. In the interior of our defensive line is where we have had the biggest problem keeping people healthy. It would be great to really count on a player to be there game in and game out.

Negatives

Lacks height for the position - Strange to say that 6' 1" is small, but he is just short of the desired height to really disrupt some of the taller QB's in the league.

Relys too much on his quickness - He's not fast, but is quick off the ball. Sounds like a positive doesn't it? However, that can lead to him being taken out of a play by a savvy OL. 

Struggles in locating the ball - He gets caught out of position because he overpursues or misidentifies who has the ball.

Overall

With the exception of his height, he can be coached out of all of his negatives. That being said, he will need to show the work ethic and intensity to move himself to the next level. He could be exactly what we needed in the defensive line; solid, disruptive, and constant. However, he could turn out to be just part of the rotation without any real potential met.

Wednesday
Jun012011

2011 Draft Class - My Thoughts - 2nd Round

2nd Round - Pick #39

LB Akeem Ayers - UCLA

Akeem AyersAyers is an outside speed rusher that will add nicely to last years 1st round pick Derrick Morgan. At 6' 3" 254 lbs, he could fit into a defensive end scheme, but I tend to think he fits into a starting role at outside lineback, replacing either David Thornton or Gerald McRath. 

Ayers fills a real need for the Titans. Although last year the Titans had 40 sacks (32 in 2009), the defense didn't get the same amount of pressure on the QB during crucial points in the game. Whether that had something to do with the poor game calling by the coordinator or poor execution on the personnel, having another force on the outside is something that should help the team during the 2 minute drill (especially the DB's).

Positives

Versatility - He has the speed and skillset to play outside linebacker in our tradition 4-3, but also can put his hand down at the line and get a quick jump at the line.

Coverage Skills - He has the ability to cover that TE and has good closing speeds.

Ball Hawk - He has a knach for being around the ball we it comes free. He scored 3 defensive TD's at UCLA. Known as a true play-maker.

Negatives

Tweener - Lacks the stoutness to be a run-stuffer at the line, which could be a problem matching up in the wrong situation.

Combine Numbers - He had a very disappointing 40 time at the combine (4.83) and only had 18 reps at the bench press. He played much bigger and faster than these numbers indicated.

Lack of 3-4 Skillset - He is not versatile enough to play in a 3-4 as an outside linebacker. If the new coaching regime moves in that direction, it could be very difficult for Ayers to compete for time on the field.

Overall

In the long run this could be the player to watch from the Titans draft. This guy could be the next Keith Bullock, and I tend to think he will be a Titan for quite a number of years.

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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