How Will the Tennessee Titans Use Their Rookies in 2014?

Marlon Maloney@@marlonmaloneyCorrespondent IMay 15, 2014

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 09:  Running back Bishop Sankey #25 of the Washington Huskies celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter against the Colorado Buffaloes on November 9, 2013 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. The Huskies defeated the Buffaloes 59-7.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The reviews are in for the Tennessee Titans' draft last weekend, and they are decidedly lackluster. The Titans' 2014 draft falls short on providing much immediate impact, with the majority of the team's picks appearing to be developmental talents.

While I wouldn't expect to see a lot of playing time from the 2014 draft class, they should still be able to provide the team with a bit of help for the upcoming season.


2014 Draft Picks by Round 

Taylor Lewan, Offensive Tackle

The Titans' selection of Lewan with its first-round pick came as a surprise to many after it seemed as though the team had already filled any gaps at the position with the free-agent signing of Michael Oher—still a confounding signing in my opinion.

With Lewan in the fold, the Titans now have two tackles being paid like starters and a rookie who is likely ready to start right away. 

Head coach Ken Whisenhunt will allow the four-year starter from the University of Michigan to compete for a starting role, per The Tennessean's John Glennon:

If he earns it, he will start. He'll be the backup left tackle starting (offseason work) and then we'll move him around. We're going to play him at different spots, get him reps, kind of get him started that way to see what he can do.

If Lewan does earn a starting role, it will either cause Oher to be benched for a year or result in the premature departure of Michael Roos via trade or, more likely, release. Otherwise, he can spend his first season in the NFL providing superior depth on the offensive line.


Bishop Sankey, Running Back

The Titans made Sankey the first running back to come off the board with the 54th overall pick of the draft, and while the position is being devalued, he will be given every opportunity to contribute offensively.

When the Titans released Chris Johnson late in free agency, the plan to field an offense that utilizes a running back-by-committee approach became evident. 

The three-headed backfield will be a blend of specialties with Shonn Greene providing the hard-nosed running between the tackles and Dexter McCluster providing a receiving threat out of the backfield.

Sankey provides a great mixture of his two running mates' talents and should be able to win the starting job by opening day. McCluster is likely to just receive a handful of carries out of the backfield with his diminutive frame, and Greene's knees are becoming a growing concern after having two knee surgeries in a year.


DaQuan Jones, Defensive Tackle

The addition of Jones in the fourth round adds more size to a defensive front in a state of transition. The Titans defensive line roles for each player have not been defined as of the writing of this article, but at 6'4", 322 pounds, Jones has the size and agility to play at all three positions on the line.

The situation at defensive line is log-jammed with more players, but fewer spots to play in. It will be difficult for Jones to win a starting job over the other players on the Titans roster, but I expect him to contribute in a rotational role.


Marqueston Huff, Defensive Back

Huff spent the first three years of his career at the University of Wyoming playing cornerback, but switched to free safety during his senior year. Like his fellow fourth-round pick on the team, Huff provides Whisenhunt with a guy that is capable of playing multiple positions, per the Titans' official site:

We've got some established guys at safety that will play. We've got some young guys who are competing at corner. So, we'll obviously give him an opportunity at corner with the idea that he can work some in at safety, too, and see where he becomes a better fit.

It's a trait that cannot go understated with the team's plans on playing a hybrid 3-4 defense; the need for extra roster spots on game day is paramount. 

I don't think we'll see Huff making many, if any, plays on defense in 2014, but he will be special teams contributor and depth at two positions.


Garry Jones/Associated Press

Avery Williamson, Inside Linebacker

Before the draft, one of the Titans' minor roster issues was its dearth of "Mike" linebackers for the new defensive formation. Free agent-signee Wesley Woodyard has been advertised as someone capable of filling the role, but he is better suited for the "Will."

Zach Brown, Zaviar Gooden and Colin McCarthy all figured as better "Will" options as well. Williamson gives the Titans a downhill, attack-the-running-lanes inside linebacker.

I still expect to see Woodyard manning the "Mike" position, but Williamson will provide depth and contribute on special teams during his first year.


Zach Mettenberger, Quarterback

Mettenberger is a guy many draft experts had touted as having a second-round grade. He fell for various reasons (off-field issues, injuries, maturity), but the Titans took him with the intention of redshirting him his rookie campaign.

However, with the injury history of incumbent quarterback Jake Locker and the paucity of playing time handpicked backup Charlie Whitehurst provides, it is paramount that Mettenberger be prepared to play.

I expect him to enter the season third on the depth chart, and remain there. Should Locker suffer another long-term injury, Mettenberger is likely to be the one inserted into the starting lineup over Whitehurst.



In the end, Sanke is the only player selected that we should fully expect to regularly see on the field on Sundays. As I stated before, this draft will not have too great of an impact on the 2014 Titans, but several players should have expanded roles for their sophomore seasons. 


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