Tennessee Titans: 2014 NFL Draft Wrap-Up and Analysis
Even though the Tennessee Titans may have not had the most exciting draft, they were still very effective at adding depth to key positions.
The Titans balanced out their picks with three on defense and three on offense. They also addressed two major needs in quarterback and running back.
However, don't expect to see a lot of this draft class on the field in 2014. This draft was focused on the extended future and building backup plans on both sides of the ball.
Here is a complete wrap-up of the Titans' draft that included six total picks.
Here is a complete list of the 2014 draft picks by the Titans:
- Round 1, Pick 11: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
- Round 2, Pick 54: Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
- Round 4, Pick 112: DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn St.
- Round 4, Pick 122: Marqueston Huff, FS, Wyoming
- Round 5, Pick 151: Avery Williamson, ILB, Kentucky
- Round 6, Pick 178: Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
This was generally a very efficient draft for the Titans. They definitely made the most out of their low number of picks.
The Titans addressed their two biggest needs by taking Bishop Sankey and Zach Mettenberger. They also did a nice job adding depth at positions that could emerge as big needs as early as next offseason.
Best Pick: Zach Mettenberger
The fact that the Titans managed to somehow wait until the sixth round of the draft to get Mettenberger is stunning.
It wouldn't have been completely far-fetched if Mettenberger had gone as early as the second round.
The Titans got a complete steal here. There is very little risk involved with this pick as opposed to if they would have gambled on a quarterback in the first or second round.
The gamble of waiting it out paid off for the Titans, and now they look brilliant or lucky. Take your pick, but it's probably a little bit of both.
Mettenberger isn't ready to give Jake Locker any real competition for the starting role this season, but a little bit of development will put him in a good spot heading into next offseason.
Locker's option for 2015 wasn't picked up by the Titans, so he's entering a make-or-break year.
The last pick of the draft for the Titans ends up being the best one. They saved the best for last and were a little bit lucky that he fell through the fifth round.
Mettenberger's concerns off the field are the only things keeping this grade from being perfect.
Worst Pick: Avery Williamson
This isn't a knock on Williamson, but this fifth-round pick didn't fit a major need for the Titans. There were a handful of other positions that could have been addressed here that would've made more sense.
Adding an athletic tight end or wide receiver would have made more sense. Locker needs more weapons, and the depth chart isn't deep after Kendall Wright, Nate Washington and Delanie Walker.
Justin Hunter did have a solid rookie season, but second seasons are where you really judge how good a player can be.
With that said, Williamson does have a lot of things going for him. For starters, he comes with great leadership qualities and will offer immediate value on special teams. He has strong potential to develop into a top special teams contributor.
However, there's not much room for him at inside linebacker. I still like Colin McCarthy, Zach Brown and Moise Fokou to be leading candidates for roster spots.
You also can't forget the free-agency acquisition of Wesley Woodyard, who's most certainly a starter.
This pick was just puzzling when the opportunity was there to add another piece to the offense. If this was the worst pick of the draft, then the Titans still did pretty good overall.
Undrafted Free Agents
The Titans ended up signing 14 total undrafted free agents. Here's an overview of some of the biggest signings who will try to make the 53-man roster after training camp.
James Gayle, DE/OLB, Virginia Tech
Probably the top signing for the Titans in this group. James Gayle seemed to be a lock to get drafted somewhere in the middle rounds of the draft. The fact that he didn't get drafted is surprising.
Gayle has a good opportunity to make the team as a rotational player in limited snaps. He has edge-rushing abilities that make him intriguing.
Antonio Andrews, RB, Western Kentucky
The Titans added themselves another running back with Antonio Andrews, who led the nation in all-purpose yards his senior season at Western Kentucky.
It will be a tough road to make the roster due to the drafting of Sankey. Andrews will have to beat out guys like Leon Washington and Jackie Battle to possibly be a fourth running back on the depth chart. It's still a good signing by the Titans.
Hakeem Smith, SS, Louisville
Hakeem Smith didn't get nearly as much hype as the safety he played opposite of, which was Calvin Pryor. However, Smith has a moderate chance at sneaking onto the team. He earned all-conference in the American Athletic Conference for Louisville.
The Titans will need help at safety starting next offseason when the aging George Wilson's contract expires. This signing is a smart one to cover their bases.
Travis Coons, K/P, Washington
Travis Coons will battle Maikon Bonani to become the replacement of Rob Bironas. It wasn't surprising that the Titans got a kicker here. There isn't a lot of risk involved in finding your future kicker through undrafted free agents.
Coons has experience as both a kicker and a punter, so the Titans could end up seeing some value in him to be the new kicker in Tennessee.
David Wright, TE, Westminster (Pennsylvania)
Drafting a tight end was a moderate possibility for the Titans, but they decided to wait to get David Wright as an undrafted free agent.
Wright comes from a small school but has great size at 6'5". He will have to compete with Taylor Thompson for a roster spot. Thompson has struggled greatly in transitioning from defensive end to tight end, so it wouldn't be a big shocker if Wright beats him out for a roster spot.
Jamal Merrell, OLB, Rutgers
Smart pick here to sign an outside linebacker, as the Titans missed out on one in the draft.
James Merrell is probably no Anthony Barr, but he'll bring nice competition to a position that is going through major changes right now.
Derel Walker, WR, Texas A&M
Wide receiver is usually a popular position to focus on when signing undrafted free agents, and maybe the biggest one of note for the Titans is Derel Walker.
Walker was Johnny Manziel's No. 2 receiver at Texas A&M behind Mike Evans. Don't discount this speedy slot receiver from clawing his way onto the roster. Only having one year to really go on at Texas A&M probably caused him to go without being drafted.
What's Next for the Titans?
The Titans didn't have a flashy draft, but they did leave themselves in a better place than where they were just three days ago.
You see a lot of depth on this roster looking ahead. The Titans set themselves up to build off a 7-9 record from last season by drafting young talent that will shape this roster as soon as next offseason.
Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com loves the Titans' drafting of Sankey in the second round, and he believes that Sankey will be the main guy in their trio of running backs.
As for the immediate future, the Titans addressed a lot of that in free agency. Less luck in free agency would have forced the Titans to have thought more about the immediate future.
In the end, the Titans had room for flexibility in this draft. They didn't necessarily have to make the big splash that lands television ratings. That's why they took the best player available on their draft board by taking Lewan with their first-round pick.
Chalk this up as a very safe draft strategy by the Titans, and it will probably pay off in two or three years.
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