The 1997 draft was the first for the Oilers/Titans franchise in Tennessee. Ten years later, the 2006 draft was the last one with Floyd Reese as the general manager. Which were the best and worst picks Reese made in those ten seasons?
The 2006 draft was the cutoff for this exercise, for several reasons. First, it was the final year of the Floyd Reese era, with 2007 being the beginning of the Mike Reinfeldt era. Second, if you agree with Tom’s view, six years out is the best time to properly evaluate a draft pick (see Tom’s recent article evaluating the Titans’ 2006 draft) so we won’t include players drafted in 2007 or later.
The best and worst picks by round, after the jump.
Round One – best pick – DE Jevon Kearse (1999) or LB Keith Bulluck (2000)
Take your pick. Kearse provided an immediate impact. Bulluck had the better, and more consistent, career.
Round One – worst pick – CB Andre Woolfolk (2003)
The poster child for Reese’s worst draft ever.
Round Two – best pick – CB Samari Rolle (1998) or T Michael Roos (2005)
Rolle probably contributed more early on but Roos should soon surpass him for career productivity.
Round Two – worst pick – WR Tyrone Calico (2003)
Deserves near equal space on the poster with Woolfolk.
Round Three – best pick – G Zach Piller (1999)
Played 87 games with 58 starts in 8 seasons.
Round Three – worst pick – DE Byron Frisch (2000)
Never played a game for the Titans (he later played one year each with the Cowboys and Giants.)
Round Four – best pick – WR Derrick Mason (1997) or T David Stewart (2005)
Mason spent his first three seasons as a returner, before having five very good years at WR for the Titans. He then spent seven more NFL seasons after being a salary cap casualty. Stewart has given the Titans six very good years with no sign of slowing down.
Round Four – worst pick – S Brad Ware (1999)
Never played a game for the Titans.
Round Five – best pick – G Benji Olson (1998)
Played 152 games with 140 starts in 10 seasons, all with the Titans.
Round Five – worst pick – LB Terna Nande (2006)
Appeared in one NFL game.
Round Six – best pick – DT Robaire Smith (2000) or OL Justin Hartwig (2002)
Neither were stars, but both of them gave the Titans some productive seasons, which is all you can reasonably expect from a sixth-round pick. Robeast had 11 NFL seasons. Five of them were in Tennessee, with 65 games and 29 starts. Hartwig played 8 seasons, four of them as a Titan. He had 47 starts in 50 games in Tennessee.
Round Six – worst pick – WR Jonathan Orr (2006), WR Darran Hall (1999), DB Lee Wiggins (1998)
The trio combined to appear in zero NFL games.
Round Seven – best pick – CB Cortland Finnegan (2006)
Finny played six years for the Titans, with 79 starts in 93 games. He earned first-team All-Pro honors and a Pro Bowl selection for the 2008 season.
Round Seven – worst pick – G Wes Shivers (2000)
Never played a game for the Titans; he later played in 3 games for the Falcons.
In many cases, the number of games played was a determining factor in who made or did not make this list, especially for the worst picks. Obviously, the less games played correlates with less production, and if a player did not contribute on the field at all, then the pick was a wasted one. If a pick didn’t play for the Titans but did play for another team, he did have at least a little talent. The number of games played, when indicated above, is regular season games. Obviously, all draft picks play in most, if not all, preseason games, unless injured.
Those are the best and worst draft picks by round in my mind. Are there any players the Titans/Oilers drafted from 1997 to 2006 who you thought were better or worse than the picks I selected? Or picks that you liked/hated more, either at the time or later on?
Here’s hoping that this year’s draft will yield a couple of picks that will belong on a “best picks list” with nobody on a “worst picks list” six years from now.