Tennessee Titans 2014 Draft: Aggregating Report Card Grades from Around the Web
After general manager Ruston Webster's third draft at the helm of the Tennessean Titans, the reviews have been rolling, and they've been...fair.
Webster followed what appeared to be a "take the best player available" approach to the draft and was able to find guys that will create competition on the roster or will be given time to develop and become major contributors in the future.
Things didn't always seem to fall the way the team would have liked, but Webster performed admirably with the picks he had.
Bishop Sankey, Avery Williamson and DaQuan Jones look to be the three guys expected to make the biggest impacts early, but we'll see how things shake out through the offseason.
Although it's best to wait at least three years before judging a draft, draft experts from sports news outlets all over have given out their initial thoughts of every team's draft.
Here is a look at the early grades from around the web for the Titans’ 2014 draft class.
Mel Kiper, ESPN: C+
Tackle wasn't the top need for Tennessee, but Taylor Lewan was my No. 5 prospect in the entire draft, and not only offers an immediate upgrade at right tackle, but could ultimately take over the left side from Michael Roos, who becomes an unrestricted free agent after the 2014 season. Can't knock the pick, especially when you consider Lewan is a really good run-blocker and moving the ball on the ground consistently could really help Jake Locker.
The way so many pundits and fans blasted the Titans for spending their first-round draft pick on a position that is not an immediate need, you would think Lewan wasn't one of the most highly touted prospects (subscription required) in the draft.
Michael Roos will be 32 by the end of the upcoming season, which isn't that old for the position, but his run blocking has begun to decline and his services would likely come with a hefty price tag if re-signed.
Lewan could compete with Michael Oher at right tackle this season and will certainly develop into one of the key pieces of the Titans' revamped offensive line for years to come.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: C-
I like Lewan as a player, but I think they had better options in the first round and I certainly think the second round is too high for a back. They rebounded and did some good things on the third day.
While Sankey was rated the top back by many draft experts, Pete Prisco seems to forget the Titans did not have a third-round pick in this year's draft and would have missed out on all the top talent at the position.
Leading up to the draft, I was with Prisco in believing the Titans could wait until the fourth and still find a quality back, but the other teams in the draft took more running backs than anticipated in the the third round.
More credit should be given for trading back in the round and gaining another pick in the fourth round.
Rob Rang, CBS Sports: B
Of Tennessee's Day Three picks, I'm especially high on Penn State defensive tackle DaQuan Jones, who is a wide-bodied run-stuffing presence with size to complement the smaller, quicker interior rushers already on the roster.
DaQuan Jones serves as the biggest steal of the draft for the Titans. Leading up to the draft Jones was being projected to go in the mid-to-late second round. To be able to pick him up in the fourth round at a position that is seemingly being underestimated for a team transitioning to a 3-4 defense.
Jones gives the team some much-needed size along the defensive line and is capable of playing at any of the three positions along the line. He will need some time to further develop his technique, but will compete for significant playing time early.
The Titans are going to have a lot of competition among its defensive linemen, but expect Jones to make his presence felt.
Chris Burke and Doug Farrar, Sports Illustrated: B
Willing to cut the Titans a little more slack than in the immediate aftermath of the Taylor Lewan pick. He probably can beat out Michael Oher on the right side, or the Titans can move on from Michael Roos and hand over the blindside. It’s still a surprising decision given what was on the board at 11, but perhaps there is vision behind it.
Chris Burke and Doug Farrar bring up another argument that draft experts seem to cite when analyzing the Titans' selection of Taylor Lewan. Burke and Farrar seem to think that there were other players on the board that the Titans should have taken.
Once Justin Gilbert, Eric Ebron, Anthony Barr and Mike Evans went off the board, I fully expected the Titans to go with the player on the top of their draft board.
Darqueze Dennard seemed like an option, but corner was only going to be an early selection if the coaching staff didn't like what they saw from their secondary during minicamps. There were no more elite pass-rushers available and the top receiving threats were off the board.
There appeared to be a groundswell of fans hoping for Johnny Manziel to be the pick, but he is far from a sure thing and offers similar risks to the ones plaguing Jake Locker so far in his career.
Should the Titans have reached for a talent or taken a player they're uncomfortable with?
Walter Football: B
The issue I have with Tennessee's class, however, is that it didn't find enough pieces for the 3-4. Rush linebacker and defensive end had to be addressed, but those areas were completely ignored.
The Titans failed to bring in any more edge-rushers or 3-4 defensive ends via the draft, and it should have been of greater concern to general manager Ruston Webster.
While the Titans have a lot of talent along the defensive line, there are a lot of question marks. Al Woods has mostly been a reserve in his career, we don't know how well several players will transition to playing in an odd front or, in the case of Derrick Morgan, standing up.
Players like Ed Stinson, Taylor Hart and Brent Urban were available in the latter stages of the draft to help fortify the position.
Evan Silva, Rotoworld: D
It's conceivable that half of Tennessee's six-man draft will wash out of the league before their rookie deals expire. The Titans have struggled to identify talent throughout Webster's tenure. I fully expect them to bring up the rear in the NFL's weakest division this year.
Evan Silva has been adamantly against all things Titans for some time now, and his draft grade, unsurprisingly, was the lowest draft grade given to the team.
He's gone on record stating the Titans have the least talented roster in the league, and supports his stance by proclaiming the Titans the worst in the definition.
I'm unclear as to why he has taken this stance on the Titans, but it appears unfounded. This was just Webster's third draft as general manager and the team has at least five starters out of the 15 picks from the 2012 and 2013 drafts.
While the Titans are certainly an average team, they are still just that...average. Fans should expect anywhere from 6-9 wins from the franchise.
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: C
Lewan, Michael Roos' soon-to-be replacement, and Sankey, Chris Johnson's replacement, took care of offensive necessities. But they could have used more early help all over their defense and gotten a good running back later. Mettenberger also isn't the right kind of QB to really push Jake Locker as much they needed one.
In talking about offensive necessities, it would have been nice to see the Titans bring a receiver capable of challenging for No. 4 receiver duties. The team let Damian Williams walk in free agency, making no attempt to re-sign him, and replaced him with Brian Robiskie.
The Titans could have a hole in its receiving corps in a year when Nate Washington's contract runs out. Having a quality No. 4 receiver who could improve to serve as the Titans' third wideout would have been a good move.
Lorenzo Reyes, USA Today
Their haul suggests close adherence to the "best player available" philosophy, and they got some good ones even if T Taylor Lewan (Round 1) and RB Bishop Sankey (Round 2) don't address pressing needs. DL Daquan Jones (Round 4) might be a steal, and it's awfully tough to argue with the selection sixth-round QB Zach Mettenberger even though he comes with a few warning signs. His skill set seems to fit new coach Ken Whisenhunt's offense far more effectively than incumbent Jake Locker's.
Reyes didn't actually provide a grade for the Titans' draft, but does a nice job of highlighting the positives of the team's draft.
I am not a big fan of the Marqueston Huff pick because of the amount of talent the team already has on the roster at corner. To me, there were other areas of need that the pick should have been used on.
Defensive line, linebacker and receiver top the list of positions Webster neglected.
John Glennon and Jim Wyatt, The Tennessean: B-
If there was a disappointment for me, it was that the Titans didn't find a way to snag quarterback Derek Carr after working him out extensively. Zach Mettenberger has potential, but he also has injury concerns. I'm still not sure if the Titans' quarterback of the future is on the roster. —Glennon
When the Raiders picked Fresno State's Derek Carr in the second round, the Titans went into a holding pattern. They should have taken Georgia's Aaron Murray in the fifth round, but he went to the Chiefs 12 picks later. —Wyatt
Much like with the Titans' first-round pick, I agree with Glennon and Wyatt, the Titans were disappointed to see their target taken before they had a shot at him. In this instance, Derek Carr to the Oakland Raiders.
After Carr, team brass didn't seem too enthused with the rest of the quarterback class before trading up in the sixth round to select Zach Mettenberger.
Mettenberger seems much more like Ken Whisenhunt's style of quarterback as a statuesque guy with a big arm who is capable of making all the throws.
He will be afforded the opportunity to develop this season and could start a few games should Jake Locker find himself benched due to injury for the third straight season.
Though he comes with some baggage, the pick was very low risk, with the a chance for a major reward. Before the draft, Mettenberger was projected to go as high as the second round by most draft experts.
The selection could prove to be a huge steal should he develop into a worthy starting quarterback.