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Recapping the Tennessee Titans’ 2014 draft picks

I hope to have a broad-scale overview post that looks at the draft more conceptually in a day or two, but in the interim here’s a basic overview of the players the Titans selected in the 2014 NFL draft. Links in player names are to the post I wrote when they were selected.

Selection: 1st round, 11th overall
How they got the pick: Their own 1st round pick
Player they selected: OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan. See also my next-day reaction.
Why they chose him: Lewan was the consensus best player on the board, a natural NFL left tackle who brings a nasty attitude in the run game.
Why he might be a bad pick: He has some flaws in pass protection that may just be a part of who he is as a player. While he brings a nasty attitude in the run game, he’s not a particularly physically effective run-blocker. Off-the-field issues, including pending (misdemeanor) charges from a fight.
Likely role: Unless they part with Michael Roos (possible) or are willing to bench Michael Oher (I’m doubtful), swing tackle in 2014, moving to starting left tackle in 2015.

Selection: 2nd round, 54th overall
How they got the pick: Traded their own 2nd round pick to the Eagles (also received 4th round pick)
Player they selected: RB Bishop Sankey, Washington
Why they chose him: Need for running back. Sankey was the first running back to be selected, which means the Titans got the player they considered the best back in the draft. The Titans weren’t alone in considering Sankey the best back in the draft. Highly productive runner, notably on the perimeter, who is also an experienced pass-catcher.
Why he might be a bad pick: While some considered Sankey the best back in the draft, others saw a player whose perimeter runs all came when he had excellent blocking and a player who was not physical running between the tackles. He also may not have the vision to run zone plays effectively.
Likely role: Committee back with Shonn Greene (mostly) and Dexter McCluster (occasionally) in 2014, likely committee back with TBD in 2015 and beyond.

Selection: 4th round, 112th overall
How they got the pick: Their own 4th round pick
Player they selected: DL DaQuan Jones, Penn State
Why they chose him: Good-sized defensive lineman (6’3 7/8″, 322) who could line up at any spot, including the bulk to play nose tackle and the length to play defensive end.
Why he might be a bad pick: Might just be a two-down player who can only soak up blockers and make plays on runs right at him. May not be a penetrator or pass-rusher or even an effective pursuit player. Took until his fourth season to become more than a generic starter.
Likely role: Rotational run-stopper in 2014 and likely beyond, with the possibility for a larger future role based on his development as a player.

Selection: 4th round, 122nd overall
How they got the pick: Received from Eagles for moving back in 2nd round
Player they selected: DB Marqueston Huff, Wyoming
Why they chose him: Versatile defensive back who played both corner and safety effectively for the Cowboys. Good cornerback size at 5’11, 196 pounds, plays physical, and excellent long speed (4.47 40).
Why he might be a bad pick: Tweener who lacks the instincts to be an ideal free safety, the bulk to be an ideal strong safety, the lateral movement skills to be an ideal slot player, and the ball skills to be an ideal cornerback.
Likely role: Core special teams player in 2014 with a chance to be the nickel or dime back, with the possibility for a larger future role based on whether he finds a position that fits his skill set.

Selection: 5th round, 151st overall
How they got the pick: Their own 5th round pick
Player they selected: LB Avery Williamson, Kentucky
Why they chose him: Highly productive collegiate linebacker who brings more physicality in the run game than their current collection of linebackers.
Why he might be a bad pick: Might just be a two-down player who must be protected in pass coverage. While a physical run-defender, he may just be a flow-and-chase linebacker who lacks the ability to take on and defeat blockers.
Likely role: Core special teams player in 2014 with a chance to play a situational role as a linebacker in run situations, with the possibility for a larger future role if he develops like past Wildcat linebackers Wesley Woodyard and Danny Trevathan, who faced similar questions about their limitations coming out.

Selection: 6th round, 178th overall
How they got the pick: Traded their own 6th round and 7th round picks to the Redskins
Player they selected: QB Zach Mettenberger, LSU
Why they chose him: Big, tall, strong-armed quarterback with the ability to make every throw. Showed great growth in his game his senior season and was a highly productive passer in the SEC. Obviously talented player who on a pure talent basis would have been selected earlier.
Why he might be a bad pick: Statue in the pocket with questionable accuracy. May have to be in a specific and highly limited situation to be successful, requiring a strong run game, excellent protection, a passing game oriented around intermediate and downfield throws, and with receivers with the ability to make contested catches. Fall in the draft was caused by red flags, including multiple potential medical issues and multiple off the field issues.
Likely role: If healthy and he keeps his nose clean, QB3 in 2014, with future role depending on those conditionals, his development, and Jake Locker’s 2014 performance.

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