Up next in our historical analysis of the Tennessee Titans' draft: the sixth round. The sixth round, much like the seventh round, has few expectations attached to it. The Titans actually had fewer hits in the sixth round than in the seventh, but they did manage to find a few hidden gems.
Sixth-round draft booms
Jason McCourty, CB, Rutgers
McCourty had a rough start to his NFL career. He was victimized in the 59-0 Boston Massacre against the New England Patriots in 2009. He looked promising in 2010 before breaking his forearm in Week 3 and losing his starting spot to then-rookie Alterraun Verner. Resilient, McCourty won back his starting job in 2011 and proved exactly why he deserves it.
As teams looked to throw away from Cortland Finnegan, McCourty was targeted 117 times. However, McCourty only gave up one touchdown and 2.1 yards after the catch. He was also excellent in run support. McCourty's development is a large reason why the Titans felt comfortable letting Finnegan leave.
Bo Scaife, TE, Texas
This may be a controversial one. Scaife was not the type of guy to make SportsCenter's top-10 plays and he often struggled to produce in the clutch.
Having said that, Scaife was a phenomenal blocker and a large reason for why Chris Johnson ran for 2,000 yards in 2009 (along with Kevin Mawae and Alge Crumpler). He could generally make the easy catches and he was a starter for several years.
What more can one ask for out of the sixth round?
Jacob Ford, DE, Central Arkansas
Ford is a guy who really flourished in Jim Washburn's Wide 9 technique. Although he was a liability against the run, he had stunning speed and had a knack for getting to the quarterback. In his rookie season, Ford put up seven sacks. However, his production declined every year he was in the league; he had five sacks in 2009 and three in 2010.
He was a productive depth guy that found himself injured far too often. If he could stay healthy, he would make a fine addition to a team needy at defensive end. Even the Titans.
Sixth-round draft busts
Let me preface this by saying, once again, that nobody in the sixth round can really be considered a bust. However, there are players whom the team had relatively high expectations for who never panned out. They are likely to make this list.
Myron Rolle, DB, Florida State
Rolle was a guy whom everyone wanted to see succeed in the NFL. Rolle was a Rhodes Scholar who got a degree in medical anthropology known as a solid safety for the Florida State Seminoles, and the Titans' hoped that he could provide depth behind Michael Griffin and Chris Hope.
Unfortunately, Rolle lacked a nose for the ball and struggled in coverage. He never made the active roster and now sits on the Pittsburgh Steelers' practice squad.
Rusty Smith, QB, Florida Atlantic
Recently, I've been hearing some, including ESPN's Matt Williamson, suggest Smith would be "more than capable" of playing as a backup quarterback in the NFL. To that I respond, what good is a backup quarterback if he cannot play even mediocre football?
In his one start, Smith completed 20 of 40 passes for 200 yards, an abysmal five yards per completion. Against one of the worst pass defenses in NFL history, he threw three interceptions and finished the game with a 25.0 quarterback rating.
Smith should not be on an active NFL roster.
Joel Filani, WR, Texas Tech
You may be thinking, "Who?" My point exactly.
Filani, a pick in 2007, has bounced from team to team in the NFL, but has found himself unable to even land on a practice squad at this point. This should not be surprising, though, as the Titans rarely find good wide receivers in the later rounds.
As you may be able to tell, the Titans have actually had better luck historically in the seventh round than in the sixth. The seventh round gave the Titans Cortland Finnegan, Marc Mariani, Tommie Campbell and Cary Williams. The sixth round really only produced McCourty as a solid, reliable option.
A list of sixth-round draft picks since 2002 can be found below:
2011: Byron Stingily, OT, Louisville
2010: Rusty Smith, QB, Florida Atlantic; Myron Rolle, DB, Florida State
2009: Jason McCourty, CB, Rutgers; Dominique Edison, WR, Stephen F. Austin State
2007: Joel Filani, WR, Texas Tech; Jacob Ford, DE, Central Arkansas; Ryan Smith, CB, Florida
2006: Jonathan Orr, WR, Wisconsin
2005: Bo Scaife, TE, Texas
2004: Troy Fleming, RB, Tennessee
2002: Justin Hartwig, OG, Kansas