Round 1 of the 2010 NFL draft is in the books. The Titans took Derrick Morgan with the 16th overall pick, but I thought I’d also share my thoughts on the 1st round picks of the Titans’ 2010 opponents, starting with the divisional foes.
Jacksonville Jaguars, Cal DT Tyson Alualu, 10th overall: Probably the biggest surprise pick of the night, as Alualu was considered at highest a borderline 1st/2nd round pick and a tweener between the 3-4 he played in in college and the 4-3 the Jaguars have (sensibly) returned to as their base defense. He’ll probably be the penetrating under tackle role, akin to what Jason Jones was doing this year before he got hurt. If Alualu works out as expected, the Titans interior offensive linemen will have their hands full over the next half decade or more dealing with him and massive run stopper Terrance Knighton, who had a fine rookie season. This pick also makes DT mainstay John Henderson pretty expendable, and he could be dealt as soon as tomorrow during the 2nd or 3rd round.
Houston Texans, Alabama CB Kareem Jackson, 20th overall: Another mini-surprise pick, as the Texans bypassed Kyle Wilson and Devin McCourty to take Jackson. It fit a clear need, as the Texans were thin at corner after losing Dunta Robinson and Glover Quin’s future may be instead at free safety. Jackson’s considered excellent in press coverage and very good in zone coverage, so he sounds more like a cover-2-type corner. He ran well at the combine, but that apparently didn’t match the tape and he’s considered more quick than fast. I’d guess Houston may be playing more zone this year.
Indianapolis Colts, TCU DE Jerry Hughes, 31st overall: The Colts replace the DE depth they lost when Raheem Brock left as a free agent. Like Alualu, Hughes was considered a 3-4 OLB/4-3 DE tweener, but the Colts are a team that won’t care about his lack of size as neither Freeney nor Mathis is very big. With Brock gone and Freeney and Mathis getting older and injured this past season, Hughes definitely fits a need and with great initial quickness and lack of size fits right in. For more, see the prospect profile Andrew did.
Oakland Raiders, Alabama MLB Rolando McClain, 8th overall: The Raiders get the best inside backer in the draft. McClain was the linchpin of Nick Saban’s national championship winning defense and comes in with a great reputation as a heady and smart player. Personally, I’m down on McClain compared to most people and thought he was a much better fit for a 3-4 team but he could have a Cushing-like impact for the Raiders with pursuit plays and adding pass rush up the middle. For an incredibly premature prediction, look for the Titans to try to single him up against Jared Cook and make him look silly like the Colts did with Clark against Cushing.
Pittsburgh Steelers, Florida C Maurkice Pouncey, 18th overall: That turnstile up the middle named Justin Hartwig the Titans used to get pressure against Ben Roethlisberger the last two seasons? Gone. Jason Jones is very disappointed to see this pick.
New York Giants, USF DE Jason Pierre-Paul, 15th overall: Week 3 seems like an excellent time to see a rookie pass rusher widely considered a project. Pierre-Paul should have no impact on the Titans-Giants matchup this season and we can revisit his career in another 4 years.
Denver Broncos, Georgia Tech WR Demaryius Thomas, 22nd overall and Florida QB Tim Tebow, 25th overall: I will be extraordinarily surprised if Tim Tebow is starting in Week 4 and beyond that will simply note I’m skeptical of his future development. Thomas is another project player who either caught bubble screens or ran fly patterns in college. His upside is Andre Johnson, but he’ll take a while to get there and certainly won’t be there in early October.
Dallas Cowboys, Oklahoma St. WR Dez Bryant, 24th overall: The draft’s most talented wideout, and also probably the player with the best draft night party. Bryant could end up looking like this draft’s Randy Moss or this draft’s R. Jay Soward; I’ll take a cop out and say he’ll be like most other wideouts and won’t have an immediate impact, so we can ignore him since we only see him ever 4 years.
Philadelphia Eagles, Michigan DE Brandon Graham, 13th overall: For a reminder as to what he’s capable of, see Andrew’s prospect profile. A good scheme fit for Philadelphia, he probably begins his career as a nickel rusher opposite Trent Cole. If either Roos or Stewart is unavailable Oct. 24, their replacement will need help and be worried, else not.
San Diego Chargers, Fresno St. RB Ryan Mathews, 12th overall: Well, contrary to many expectations, he’s not a Texan. Mathews is considered a near-ideal one-cut runner who does pretty much everything fairly well but nothing exceptionally. Philosophically, that’s not my cup of tea, but he’ll be much more explosive than LaDainian Tomlinson was in last year’s Week 16 matchup. That’ll make it just that much harder for the Titans to slow down the Chargers’ offense that cut them up.
Miami Dolphins, Penn St. DE Jared Odrick, 28th overall: Odrick should be a good player for the Dolphins but his impact as a rookie will be a rotational end with Randy Starks and Philip Merling. A worry for future years, but not so much for this season’s game in terms of presenting matchup issues.
Washington Redskins, Oklahoma OT Trent Williams, 4th overall: It’s difficult to overstate just how bad the Redskins’ offensive line was, but just think back to how the Texans’ was in the David Carr era and it’ll give you some idea. Williams is considered less polished than Russell Okung, who went 6th to Seattle, but should still be a fine player.
Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee S Eric Berry, 5th overall: Berry should be a good aid to the Chiefs’ pass defense, but doesn’t really help a rush defense that ranked 31st in yards allowed, yards per carry, and, for good measure, Football Outsiders’ rushing DVOA. Expect the Titans to pound the ball, pound the ball, and pound the ball some more in the cold the day after Christmas, which is just the formula you’d have expected without the Berry pick.
We’ll probably revisit this subject for the divisional opponents once the 2010 draft is completely in the books.