It seems like every year I get caught up in the all the hype and hoopla during the draft. As the draft progresses and as each Titans’ turn to be on the clock nears, I find myself looking to see what position of need will be addressed next.
I plead guilty for looking so much at positions of need and in the excitement failing to recognize that’s not the way things always work. It was certainly a case of making a decision based on value rather than need when Tennessee called Craig Stevens‘ name with the 22nd pick in the third round, the 85th selection overall.
Although the Titans had needs at receiver, d-line, corner and linebacker they invested their third round pick in Stevens, a tight end. While there was some need for another TE, it certainly wasn’t a priority at the beginning of the second day in the draft.
In my opinion, that means that Stevens was the player the Titans had graded highest on their board at that point. And if so, fair enough. Now that the heat of the moment has long passed, I no longer mind them selecting a player based on value. After all, I should be looking at long-term value here and how the selections will have panned out four years from now.
In the short term, I like the fact he’s rated as such a great line of scrimmage blocker. He can contribute right away there, filling the void left after the loss of Ben Hartsock. Let’s face it, there are questions about Alge Crumpler’s blocking and Bo Scaife is a H-back, not an inline blocking tight end.
There’s also the hope Stevens might develop into a decent receiving TE. He didn’t get that many passes thrown his way in college, but that’s primarily because Cal had DeSean Jackson and Lavelle Hawkins at WR. The scouting reports on him are certainly promising.
This is what Jeff Fisher had to say about Stevens:
“We had a number of players targeted and when we got to our pick and Craig [Stevens] was there, there was no question. He is a very, very productive tight end. He has all the characteristics height, weight, speed, can catch. He is in our opinion one of the better blocking tight ends to come out and he can do both. He gives us depth and he has the ability to play right away, contribute on special teams and do all those things. For where we were and the need, we thought Craig was just the perfect pick there. … He can stretch the field because he has the speed. Craig is a tough guy and he can run and catch and stretch the field. He is a complete tight end from that standpoint. He gives us the insurance and depth and will develop into a good player.”
“He has always been a dependable guy in the weight room and those kinds of things. He is one of those, you hate to use the blue collar, but that is what he is. What you see is a tough, hard nosed guy. That is kind of his background. He is a San Pedro kid who has worked his way up. Every year he has gotten better there. His upside is as a receiver. He has been a very solid player at both ends of the spectrum.”
I’m not uncomfortable with this draft pick now and I have a gut feeling I’ll like Stevens a whole lot more in a few years. Guys who can block have always been favorites of mine and if Stevens catches a few passes along the way, then that’s just gravy.