Will the 2008 Titan draft class produce immediately?

Outside of S/CB Michael Griffin, the 2007 Tennessee Titan draft class failed to consistently yield positive results during their rookie seasons. RB Chris Henry displayed a few flashes of brilliance, but overall, he didn’t make that much of an impact during his rookie campaign. Fourth-rounder Chris Davis contributed some on special teams, serving as the team’s punt returner, but his six fumbles (three lost) took a little luster off of his rookie performance.
Injuries sealed the fates of DT Antonio Johnson and DE Jacob Ford, who both missed the entire 2007 season because of season-ending leg injuries. WR Paul Williams, despite being healthy, failed to catch a single pass during his rookie year.
As for the remainder of the 2007 draft picks, C/G Leroy Harris and T Mike Otto remain on the roster but WR Joel Filani and DB Ryan Smith are no longer Titans.
In year two of the Mike Reinfeldt regime, the Titans could use some better first-year production from this year’s draft picks. Let’s take a look at each of the 2008 draftees’ chances of contributing as rookies.

Chris Johnson RB
Johnson is expected to provide the element of playmaking to the Titans offense next season. The pressure will be on him to perform well from day one, and based on initial impressions, he appears to be quite capable of being an impact player during his rookie year in the NFL.
Jason Jones DE/DT
Jones will get the opportunity to contribute at two positions during his rookie year. As a result of the free agent losses of Travis LaBoy and Antwan Odom, Jones will have every chance to produce as a rookie.
Jason, who also played DT in college, is also expected to contribute at the DT position as well. Replacing Randy Starks as a backup at the DT spot shouldn’t be too difficult, especially considering Randy’s poor performance last season.
I’m expecting good things from Jones next season.
Craig Stevens TE
Stevens will be competing for playing time on a Titan roster that’s full of TE’s. Newcomer Alge Crumpler and fourth-year pro Bo Scaife will receive the bulk of the playing time at the position.
Barring injury, I expect Stevens to contribute mostly on special teams in his rookie season. His blocking ability should also allow him some playing time in certain running situations as well.
William Hayes DE
The bright lights of the NFL are a long way from tiny Winston-Salem State. Hayes may struggle some while trying to adjust to the speed of the NFL game, but his talent-level has Jeff Fisher and Jim Washburn convinced that he will become a good player down the road.
Lavelle Hawkins WR
Considering the number of candidates competing for playing time at the WR position, it will be difficult for Hawkins to make an impact on the field during his rookie season. Hawkins should be viewed as a developmental prospect, with any production he is able to provide next season serving as the proverbial icing on the cake.
Stanford Keglar LB
Outside linebacker is a position of strength for the Titans, with veterans Keith Bulluck and David Thornton manning the fort. In his rookie season, Keglar will have the opportunity of learning from two of the best, while also contributing to special teams.
Cary Williams CB
The Titans have a history of getting production from seventh-round cornerbacks. Cortland Finnegan (2006) and Reynaldo Hill (2005) are recent Titan selections in the draft’s final round that have been able to overcome the odds and become contributors in the NFL.
Williams has a good size-speed combination and will get the opportunity to produce on special teams next year. With the advancing age of Nick Harper and the trade of Pacman Jones, Cary plays a position where the opportunity to get on the field during his rookie season is attainable.
Getting on the field will be the goal of each and every member of the 2008 Tennessee Titan draft class. Hopefully, they will be able to fare better than their 2007 counterparts in that department.
 

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