Tennessee Titans 2012 NFL Draft Picks: Grades, Results, Analysis
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Check back regularly for scouting reports, analysis and grades of every player Tennessee takes.
Everyone had the Titans looking for a pass-rusher in the first round, but instead they made a play for Kendall Wright, the receiver out of Baylor.
Zach Brown was the surprise and somewhat nonsensical second round selection.
The Titans moved up in the fifth round and seem bent on taking athletes. They also traded back into the seventh round to finish up an insane weekend.
Overview of the Titans' Draft
The Titans got great value in round one.
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The Titans have seven picks in the 2012 draft.
2011 Record: 9-7
Team Needs: Defensive end, Center, Safety, Running Back
Popular Targets: Nick Perry, Whitney Mercilus, Fletcher Cox, Michael Brockers
1 (20): Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
3 (82): Mike Martin, DT, Michigan
4 (115): Coty Sensabaugh, CB, Clemson
5 (145 Trade): Taylor Thompson, TE, SMU
6 (190): Markelle Martin, S, Oklahoma State
7 (211 Trade): Scott Solomon, DE, Rice
Round 1, Pick 20: Kendall Wright, Wide Receiver, Baylor
It's a new dawn for the passing game in Nashville.
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The Titans pull off a bit of a shocker by taking Baylor wideout Kendall Wright. Wright is a talented playmaker who will provide a brilliant compliment to Kenny Britt and Nate Washington. He'll work underneath, and in the long run could prove to be a better version of Wes Welker.
Wright’s acceleration is a tremendous asset. He has the ability to get to full speed almost instantly. He routinely shows that his elite acceleration in and out of breaks creates separation from the defender, both before and after the catch. After bursting off the line of scrimmage, he is at full speed within a few steps, and eating up the initial cushion created by the defender.
The Titans need pass-rushers, but they took a serious step toward building an elite passing offense by taking Wright. He'll be productive in the slot immediately, and with Britt, Washington and Cook all occupying defenders, Wright could turn in a bevy of big plays off relatively short throws.
Jake Locker has been given everything a young quarterback can ask for. Now all he has to do is win the starting job.
This is a 'best player available' pick. Wright didn't exactly fulfill a need for the Titans, but he definitely gives them an instant identity. The Titans are now a team loaded with passing weapons, and in today's NFL, that's the best identity you can have.
Round 2, Pick 52: Zach Brown, Line Backer, North Carolina
Brown is athletic. So there's that.
The Titans went for raw athleticism over football ability in round two. They took the former track star turned line backer out of North Carolina. Zach Brown has a long way to go to be a dependable NFL starter, but he is certainly intriguing.
Elite athleticism. Rare speed for the linebacker position; also runs on track team. Very fluid dropping back in coverage. Plenty of experience in zone coverage; often plays four to five yards off the line of scrimmage and drops into coverage, essentially acting as an extra safety. Does a nice job keeping his eyes in the backfield and reading the quarterback. Experience lining up at inside and outside linebacker. Fairly reliable tackler. Has the speed to cause problems as a pass rusher off the edge.
I have to confess that I don't get this pick. Peter Konz was still there at center and was both a better player and a bigger need. The Titans still haven't improved their pass rush, but in taking a coverage linebacker, they've got a way to still shut down passing games. Brown probably has some elite upside, but the bust potential is off the charts with this pick.
At worst, Brown will probably be a good special teams player but never learns the game well enough to stay on the field. He fast, and he'll be interesting on third downs in pass coverage, but he was neither the best player on the board nor did he meet the Titans' biggest need. He's not exactly a reach, but he's not a value either.
Round 3, Pick 82: Mike Martin, Defensive Tackle, Michigan
Martin will be stoked to play for the Titans.
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The Titans addressed their defensive line by picking up the mammoth tackle out of Michigan, Mike Martin.
Strong, physical lineman. Elite lower-body strength gives him the base to anchor at the point of attack against the run. A strong bull rusher; does an excellent job staying low and leveraging his way into the backfield. Impressive motor; drew a lot of double teams in college but always fought through the whistle. May have the strength to play nose tackle in a 3-4 system. Hard worker on and off the field. A team leader who is respected by coaches and teammates.
This is a quintessential third-round pick. Martin has great size, and he's a great person. There's no upside, and he's not going to solve any problems, but he can clog the middle, play hard and do his job. He's the kind of player who can help make other players better. It's a good pick even if it doesn't solve a need.
Martin can only be so much, but you can't teach 'big'. Maybe he becomes a starter down the road. He's a low-risk, low-reward guy, but someone you want on your team.
Round 4, Pick 115: Coty Sensabaugh, Corner Back, Clemson
The Titans kicked off day three with a corner back. Coty Sensabaugh is a bit of an unknown, but could turn out to be a real player.
Can play zone if needed, but is better suited as a man cover corner than zone player due to his skill set... Excels in deep coverage, can stay in the hip pocket of receivers; has a good feel for routes and is usually in good position to make the play... Despite getting beat at times, has outstanding recovery speed which really helps him in man coverage... Very fluid when turning his hips to run with receivers; accelerates quickly and covers a lot of ground on the field... Very smart player with good pre-snap recognition skills... Had a standout senior season, was very consistent for the Tigers, which put him on the map.
The Titans lost Cortland Finnegan, and they didn't replace him today. That doesn't mean Sensabaugh won't turn out to be a good pick. For now, he's a special teams player. He doesn't have much experience, and still needs to grow as a player if he's going to be an NFL starter. Three years from now, this might look like a much better selection than it does today. It's still amazing that the Titans will go through this whole draft without dramatically improving their pass-rush.
Sensabaugh might have been a bit of a reach, but this is the round to draft defensive backs. The thought process is sound, it's only a question of whether or not they took the best corner on the board. He's a project, but he could develop into a real prospect in a few years.
Round 5, Pick 145: Taylor Thompson, Tight End, SMU
The Titans' erratic draft continues. They traded up to take Taylor Thompson, a defensive end from SMU, who they plan on converting to tight end.
Thompson was a late-round defensive end prospect, but has drawn interest from teams as a tight end. It’s difficult to project his future given his lack of playing time, but he has the measurables to be a force. As we’ve seen in recent years, experience is definitely not necessary to make an impact at tight end, and Thompson has reportedly looked good in workouts. Given his size and workout numbers, he’s definitely worth a flier in the mid rounds.
If a project player falls to you in the mid to late rounds, it's fine to take him. For the Titans to give up their seventh-round pick just doesn't make sense to me. Ironically, Thompson plays at their position of greatest need, but they don't plan on using him to rush the passer at all. What's the best case scenario for Thompson? Two or three years from now he becomes a starter. Maybe four years down the road, he's a star? It just seems like such a long shot for a team with other obvious needs.
If you want to draft a project tight end in the fifth round, I have no problem with it, but is it really worth trading up for? The Titans had no pressing need at tight end or for any kind of weapon. They've gone five rounds without getting a pass rusher. Maybe this pays off in two or three years, but I doubt it.
They took a project in round two, and then took a classic 'production player' in round three. Then they went back with huge projects in rounds four and five. The Titans' are collecting talent and athletic skill. If they can coach it all up, it'll be an epic haul.
If they can't, the whole draft could come up empty.
Round 6, Pick 190: Markelle Martin, Safety, Oklahoma State
The Titans land a safe safety.
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The Titans shored up the secondary with a safety in round six, Markelle Martin.
Martin is one of the better safeties in the 2012 draft class, and is in the running as the top free safety prospect. The quick and rangy Martin does an excellent job of patrolling the deep part of the field. He has good instincts and takes good angles to cover up receivers running deep. At times, he has been beaten by double moves, but generally he is skilled at not letting anybody get behind him.
Martin is a good open-field tackler. He also is a hard hitter who looks to make receivers pay for running across the middle of the field. He has the quickness and agility to cover a variety of receivers. He can match up on tight ends, slot receivers and running backs out of the backfield. Coming from college football's version of arena football, the Big XII, Martin is experienced against a variety of high-powered passing attacks. He had good games against some of the elite quarterbacks in college football over the past two seasons, including Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Landry Jones and Nick Foles.
I've said it several times, but the late rounds are prime 'secondary' time. The Titans aren't solving their pass rush this late in the draft, so they might as well restock the secondary. This is a good, solid selection.
This was the last pick of the draft for the Titans, and they made a good one.
Note: The Titans later traded back into the seventh round, using a 2013 pick.
The Titans are back to making picks that make sense. I think Martin was undervalued and in time can become a solid contributor. This is the kind of late round pick that ends up turning into a solid starter down the road.
Round 7, Pick 211: Scott Solomon, Defensive End, Rice
The Titans' draft surprisingly continued one pick longer than anyone could have guessed. They dealt a 2013 sixth-round pick for the right to select Scott Solomon.
Has been productive over the course of his career. Is one of the top sack, tackle and tackle for loss guys among the Rice program. However, missed the 2010 season with a right foot injury and will need to be checked out medically.
Impression: A better overall prospect in my mind than former Rice DL Cheta Ozougwu, who ended up being selected in the 7th round. He's a big kid who has some pass rush ability and the size to play the run. At worst looks like a guy who can come into camp and work his way into an NFL rotation.
The Titans waited all weekend to add a defensive end, and I suppose Solomon qualifies. He won't be an impact player anytime soon, so I'm not sure why they felt the need to reach into next year's draft to take him.
Obviously the Titans thought they weren't going to be able to get Solomon as a UDFA and moved up to get him. It's not a move that makes any sense to me.
Final 2012 NFL Draft Grades
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1 (20): Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor A
3 (82): Mike Martin, DT, Michigan B
4 (115): Coty Sensabaugh, CB, Clemson C+
5 (145 Trade): Taylor Thompson, TE, SMU D+
6 (190): Markelle Martin, S, Oklahoma State A
7 (211 Trade): Scott Solomon, DE, Rice D
FINAL DRAFT GRADE: C+
I'd actually grade this lower, but I do love the Wright pick. The Titans added a lot of talent, but I fail to see how they improved their football team. They had a glaring need at defensive end, and Solomon doesn't exactly fit the bill as a solution.
They traded up twice for players that would have been fine had they fallen to them naturally. They also showed a bit of indecision between raw productivity (Mike Martin) and untapped potential (Brown, Sensabaugh).