Tennessee Titans

Report Cards Grades for Tennessee Titans' Undrafted Free-Agent Signings

Chad MintonCorrespondent IMay 14, 2014

Report Cards Grades for Tennessee Titans' Undrafted Free-Agent Signings

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Tennessee Titans have agreed to terms with 13 undrafted free agents, including a running back, kicker and a tight end.

    All of these players will have tough battles trying to make the 53-man roster, but the Titans were efficient in filling their remaining needs after the draft.

    It will be interesting to see if the Titans can end up finding any value out of these players for the regular season.

    Here are complete grades on each undrafted free-agent signing.

Antonio Andrews, RB, Western Kentucky

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    This signing makes sense as the Titans are in search for a possible No. 4 running back on the depth chart behind Bishop Sankey, Shonn Greene and Dexter McCluster.

    Andrews set an NCAA record for all-purpose yards in a two-year span by amassing 5,770 from 2012 to 2013. He's the classic prospect that does a lot things well, but not necessarily anything great.

    Versatility is what you're getting out of Andrews, as he's a powerful runner that can also contribute by catching the ball out of the backfield.

    His NFL combine results didn't help Andrews' cause in the draft, which included a shaky 40-yard dash time of 4.82 seconds, according to NFL.com.

    This is still a wise signing by the Titans that could pay off if Andrews can impress coaches in training camp. One more reliable running back is needed on this roster.

    Grade: B+

James Gayle, DE/OLB, Virginia Tech

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    Perhaps the best undrafted free-agent signing is James Gayle, who offers value at both defensive end and outside linebacker.

    The Titans failed to draft an outside linebacker despite it being a need. There were many who believed that the Titans would draft UCLA's Anthony Barr in the first round, but he went two spots earlier at the ninth pick.

    Gayle isn't quite on the same level as Barr, but he is a solid pass-rusher. The problem is that he's limited in other areas of his game outside of simply rushing the passer.

    However, Gayle is a ultra-competitive player who has the tools to make this team as a special teams contributor at the very least.

    He's not an ideal size for the position and dealt with a torn labrum last season. He feels it was the reason he didn't get drafted:

    So I don't get drafted because of a torn labrum I played with all year. I didn't even miss a series in the ECU game when I dislocated it.

    — James Gayle (@JGayle99) May 10, 2014

    Gayle's best shot at making the Titans is at defensive end, as the Titans are thin at this position after Derrick Morgan, Ropati Pitoitua and Kamerion Wimbley.

    Both Wimbley and Morgan will also see time at outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense.

    Gayle has the best chance out of all the team's undrafted free agents of making a moderate impact in 2014. Great signing here for the Titans to fill a big need.

    Grade: A+

Hakeem Smith, SS, Louisville

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    Another productive undrafted free-agent signing for the Titans by adding depth to safety with Hakeem Smith.

    Smith tallied three interceptions last season for a very successful Louisville squad, but he was overshadowed by Calvin Pryor in the secondary.

    The Titans will need help at this position next offseason if George Wilson isn't retained, so this addition was one that was a minor need in the draft.

    Smith has an outside chance of getting onto the final roster if he can beat out 2013 draft pick Daimion Stafford. This was a smart signing that will add some competition to training camp behind Bernard Pollard and Michael Griffin.

    Grade: B

Derel Walker, WR, Texas A&M

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    Derel Walker was the best wide receiver signed out of the undrafted free agents for the Titans.

    Wide receiver is another position that wasn't addressed in the draft, and that didn't come off as too much of a surprise.

    However, there is always plenty of talent that goes undrafted at wide receiver. In the case of Walker, he capped off his Texas A&m career with his strongest season. He finished with five touchdowns in 2013 as Johnny Manziel's No. 2 option alongside Mike Evans.

    The Titans may have gotten away with robbery here in finding their No. 4 or No. 5 receiver on the depth chart. Walker will have to contend with incumbent Titans receivers like Michael Preston and Marc Mariani for a roster spot. The other three receivers signed by the Titans will also be in the conversation in training camp.

    Walker looks to have the best chance out of all of them, as he faced tougher defensive competition in the SEC and still put up respectable numbers.

    Grade: B+

Jaz Reynolds, WR, Oklahoma

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    Off-the-field issues is what probably caused Jaz Reynolds to go undrafted. It certainly couldn't of been because of his physical abilities, which are prototypical for the next level.

    Reynolds has a disjointed collegiate career at Oklahoma, but maximized his potential in 2011 when he hauled in 715 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

    His productivity gradually decreased in his final season with the Sooners when he managed just 216 yards on 14 receptions.

    A recent interview with The Oklahoman's Jason Kersey included Reynolds saying, "I just wanna get picked up by a team so I can get a shot and show teams what I’ve got." He also went on to mention how humbling his senior season was as he wasn't a big part of the offense.

    If Reynolds can stay focused on football, then his raw talent can maybe earn him a spot on the practice squad. 

    Grade: C

Josh Stewart, WR, Oklahoma State

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Josh Stewart is one of four undrafted free-agent wide receivers for the Titans as they search for replacements of Damian Williams and Kenny Britt.

    Stewart's size and slow 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine is what likely caused him to settle for being signed as a free agent.

    He was worth taking a chance on by the Titans, who need all the competition at this position that they can get when training camp rolls around. Stewart offers value as a kick returner as well, as he managed two punt return touchdowns last season.

    Stewart was considered one of the top free agents available at wide receiver, according to Gil Brandt of NFL.com. The strongest part of his game is his ability to make defenders miss in open space, so a role as a slot receiver is his best chance.

    Grade: B

Eric Ward, WR, Texas Tech

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    Eric Ward rounds up this year's class of wide receivers signed as undrafted free agents for the Titans. He's reached a deal with the Titans, according to LubbockOnline.com.

    Ward came up just short of 1,000 yards in 2013 for a high-octane Texas Tech offense, and he has speed to burn that gives him a shot at the next level. He's a player who thrives off racking up yards after the catch, which helped him be among the leaders in the Big 12 in this respective category.

    It will be difficult for Ward to find his way onto the Titans roster due to size that doesn't translate well to the NFL and the fact that the Titans have a lot of competition at this position already.

    Grade: C+

Travis Coons, P/K, Washington

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Travis Coons became the kicker we expected the Titans to find in free agency, but he wasn't among the top kicker prospects coming into the draft.

    However, Coons did finish his collegiate career at Washington on a high note, finishing 15-for-16 on field-goal attempts.

    His competition for a roster spot will come against another kicker with virtually no NFL experience, Maikon Bonani. 

    Coons has a better chance than any other Titans undrafted free agent of making the final roster. We'll see Coons plenty in the preseason to see if he ends up becoming the replacement of Rob Bironas. Not an easy act to follow.

    The Titans had to get a kicker at some point, and Coons seems like a respectable choice. It's also worth pointing out that Coons has experience as a punter as well, so the Titans are getting a versatile contributor to special teams with Coons.

    Grade: B+

Gabe Ikard, C, Oklahoma

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The second undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma for the Titans comes in the form of center Gabe Ikard.

    Center has some questions on the depth chart behind Brian Schwenke, so Ikard should get some serious consideration for a roster spot.

    Ikard was the fourth-rated center prospect, according to CBSSports.com. Not too shabby for the Titans to get such highly-rated prospect at any position this late in the process.

    The biggest strength in Ikard's game is his surprising quickness for the position, and he will be best suited in a zone-blocking scheme, according to Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com.

    The Titans sign this prospect at a very nice value and could get a really great return on him.

    Grade: A

Jamal Merrell, OLB, Rutgers

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The Titans got themselves what you could call a specialist at blocking kicks with the signing of outside linebacker Jamal Merrell.

    Merrell had an impressive seven blocked kicks while at Rutgers, so this guy definitely has special teams value written all over him.

    An kidney injury in 2013 kept Merrell from probably reaching his full potential as a senior, but he is a solid tackler, which could lead to a roster spot on special teams.

    Grade: B

Ri'Shard Anderson, CB, Syracuse

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    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    The Titans kind of addressed cornerback in the draft by drafting Marqueston Huff, but he's more of a safety than a cornerback.

    Ri'Shard Anderson becomes the lone cornerback signed as an undrafted free agent. He had one interception as a senior and considers the Titans the best situation for him to make a 53-man roster, according to Nate Mink of Syracuse.com.

    The Titans are pretty loaded at cornerback even with the loss of Alterraun Verner, so I don't see there being much room to add an undrafted free agent at this position. 

    Grade: C-

David Wright, TE, Westminster (PA)

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    There's probably not much widely known about the Titans' single tight end signed, but David Wright's highlight video above will clear things up.

    Wright's highlight video shows a guy who has decent hands and good blocking ability. He looks like a very balanced player.

    The Titans really need another tight end to emerge alongside Delanie Walker, so Wright could end up surprising people in training camp. Don't count this guy out just because he comes from a tiny program.

    Grade: B+

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