Lessons Learned from Tennessee Titans', Ruston Webster's 2012 Draft Strategy
During the same offseason that saw Jeff Fisher's first draft as the head coach of a team other than the Tennessee Titans, Ruston Webster had his first draft as general manager of the Titans. Somewhat surprisingly, when we connect the dots and try to discern Webster's draft philosophy, it ends up looking not that much different than Fisher's.
The Titans will continue to take the athlete and trust the organization to develop the football player
During the Fisher years, the Titans famously took ultra-athletic players early in the draft, even if their film didn't necessarily justify the pick. Names like Tyrone Calico, Chris Henry, and Andre Woolfolk may cause groans from the fanbase, but the approach also yielded Chris Johnson.
This year, the Titans took Zach Brown in the second round. He was maybe the most athletically gifted linebacker in the draft, but Brown is also "somewhat allergic to contact" as Mike Mayock from the NFL Network put it.
In the fourth round, they took defensive back Coty Sensabaugh. He ran a sub 4.4 40 at the combine and his overall combine performance was one of the best at his position. He also only started for one season at Clemson and was graded as only as a sixth or seventh-round quality prospect by many analysts.
In the fifth round, they took defensive end Taylor Thompson, except they took him as a tight end. He played tight end at the Players All-Star Classic game in the pre-draft season, but otherwise did not line up at the position in his college years. He ran in the 4.5s with a 37" vertical at his pro day, which is outstanding for a 6'4" 260 lb. player.
Looks like a Fisher draft to me.
The Titans won't be swayed by positional need when they're on the clock
Any list of the Titans' greatest needs would have surely included cornerback, interior offensive line, and defensive end. When the team was on the clock at number 20, the best guard in the draft, David DeCastro, was still on the board. Defensive end Whitney Mercilus was still on the board. Instead, they went with wide receiver Kendall Wright.
In the second round, the Titans could have taken Peter Konz, the best center in the draft, or any number of quality corners. Instead, they took Brown, a linebacker. In the third round, they took Mike Martin, a defensive tackle. They finally took a defensive back in the fourth round. In the fifth, they took the converted defensive end Taylor Thompson, even though they have Jared Cook and the recent long-term signee Craig Stevens.
If the Titans board was stacked at all based on need, you wouldn't know it from their selections.
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