Tennessee Titans: Reviewing Their 2012 NFL Draft
The Tennessee Titans had a strong first season under new head coach Mike Munchak, finishing with a 9-7 record and missing out on the postseason by the wrong end of a wild-card tiebreaker with the Cincinnati Bengals. In order to take the next step and make the postseason in 2012, a key for the Tennessee Titans was to add key contributions through the 2012 NFL draft.
Did the Titans make selections that should put them into position to contend for the postseason again this season? Read through the following slides to find out.
Evaluating the Picks
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Round 1, Pick 20: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 25
Wright may be the most explosive wide receiver in the 2012 draft class. He is small, but he has great speed and the lateral quickness to make defenders miss in space.
He is an open-field playmaker and can be a dangerous big-play threat at the next level. He is a good route-runner and natural hands-catcher who is ideally suited to be a slot receiver for the Titans.
Round 2, Pick 52: Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 34
There are few linebackers in the NFL who are better athletes than Zach Brown is. He remains somewhat raw and inconsistent as a football player, but he is an athletic playmaker with huge upside.
Brown has good size for an outside linebacker, he is a terrific athlete in space and he drops back into coverage well. He runs like a defensive back, but he must become more physical, tough and consistent as a tackler. Brown is a boom-or-bust prospect, but his ceiling is very high.
Round 3, Pick 82: Mike Martin, DT, Michigan
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 98
Martin is powerful, strong and a very effective run-stopper. He is short for a defensive tackle, but he is a good athlete who is a skilled penetrator into the backfield. He should be a good fit as a 1-technique defensive tackle in the Titans defensive front.
Round 4, Pick 115: Coty Sensabuagh, CB, Clemson
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 208
Sensabaugh is a rangy, instinctive and physical cornerback. He needs to become more consistent and fluid in coverage, but he has good upside and should contribute well on special teams.
Round 5, Pick 145: Taylor Thompson, TE, SMU
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 280
Thompson is one of the most intriguing projects in the entire draft class. He played defensive end at SMU but is converting to tight end. He has a tremendous combination of size and athleticism for the position.
Does Thompson have the hands and blocking skills to succeed as an NFL tight end? That is unknown, but he will be an interesting developmental player to watch.
Round 6, Pick 190: Markelle Martin, SS, Oklahoma State
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 89
Martin is a hard-hitting, playmaking safety. He was productive at Oklahoma State, but he is subpar in pass coverage. He is not an exceptional athlete for an NFL safety, and he has stiff hips. That said, he is very good in run support and should be a solid rotational safety and special teams contributor.
Round 7, Pick 211: Scott Solomon, DE, Rice
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 326
Solomon is somewhat small for a defensive end, but he is a solid pass-rusher with good strength and athletic ability. After missing the entire 2010 season with a broken foot, Solomon bounced back to have a productive senior season, and he has a high motor. He needs to improve as a run-stopper, but he has natural strength.
Evaluating the Trades
Titans head coach Mike Munchak
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The Titans traded Round 5, Pick 155 and Round 7, Pick 227 to the Miami Dolphins for Round 5, Pick 145.
The Titans liked Taylor Thompson’s potential enough that they felt it warranted giving up a seventh-round selection to move up to ensure the opportunity to select him. With a player like Thompson with unique potential, it is always tough to project where they will end up going in the draft. It is tough to evaluate this trade now, but Thompson has the potential to make it well worth it.
The Titans traded their 2013 sixth-round selection to the Minnesota Vikings for Round 7, Pick 211.
Having given up their earlier seventh-round selection, the Titans moved back up for the opportunity to select Solomon. The Titans needed to add a defensive end and had yet to do so in this draft, so this move made sense.
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The Titans got good value throughout the 2012 NFL draft.
Wright was solid value at the No. 20 overall selection, while Brown was a steal at No. 52. The Titans got solid value once again with Mike Martin in Round 3, and got a steal with Markelle Martin in Round 6.
Their only major reach was the selection of Sensabaugh. Sensabaugh is a solid cornerback, but there was still much better talent available at the position, including Georgia’s Brandon Boykin and Iowa’s Shaun Prater.
Thompson is a risky selection in Round 5, but he has more potential than the other tight ends who were available at that point. Solomon was a solid Round 7 choice.
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The Titans biggest needs coming into the draft were on the defensive line and at cornerback.
They went in different directions with their first two draft picks, but both players made sense for their roster. The Titans needed another playmaker for their passing offense, and Wright can be a big playmaker. Drafting another playmaker to start opposite Akeem Ayers at outside linebacker also made sense, and they got that in Brown.
That said, the Titans did pass up quality talent that could have addressed those bigger needs, in Round 1 with USC defensive end Nick Perry and Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still in Round 2. Nonetheless, the Titans did address those needs in Round 3 with the choices of Mike Martin and Sensabaugh.
Mike Martin should be able to start right away at defensive tackle, while Sensabaugh can add to the rotation at cornerback. Solomon can also add much-needed depth at defensive end, while Markelle Martin could be an immediate starter at strong safety.
One area where the Titans could have used better depth was on the offensive line, but overall, the Titans did a good job of addressing positions of need.
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Kendall Wright may not have been the best choice for both value and need in Round 1, but he will add another explosive playmaker to their offense, something the Titans can really benefit from at the wide receiver position.
Outside linebacker was also not a major need, but Zach Brown was hard to pass up in Round 2, and he has huge upside. Mike Martin should be an immediate starter at defensive tackle, while Coty Sensabaugh and Markelle Martin have the ability to contribute as rookies in the secondary.
Taylor Thompson is a developmental project, but he has big upside, while Scott Solomon is a solid defensive end prospect.
All considered, the Titans draft does not stand out in any way, but they added seven solid players and should improve at their positions of biggest need. Wright, Brown and both Martins should all help the Titans make another postseason push this season and for years to come.
Thanks for reading!
Throughout the month of May, I am reviewing one team’s draft each day, in the order of the original 2012 NFL draft order.
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