The Titans began Day 2 of the 2014 NFL draft by trading back, sending their own second-round pick, 42nd overall, to the Philadelphia Eagles for the Eagles’ second and fourth round picks, 54th and 122nd overall. It’s not the third round pick they were missing from the Justin Hunter trade, but this is a good draft to have more picks in.
After they traded back, I thought that made it more likely they would go running back. And they did indeed go running back, albeit not the back I expected. Rather than Carlos Hyde, they selected Bishop Sankey out of the University of Washington. I watched three games specifically of Sankey before the draft and noted he had balance and a low center of gravity. Thought he’s listed at 209 pounds, I did not see him as a physical runner. Rather, he was only, or at least much more of a, perimeter runner. And for a perimeter runner, he doesn’t have elite speed. He was effective at times, but only on plays that were well-blocked. He does have some pass catching experience, though his pass protection work didn’t stand out to me one way or the other (by which I mean it’s not particularly good but he wasn’t particularly awful for a college back either).
One thing I wondered about, which is hard to judge from TV copy, is his vision; my Football Outsiders colleague Matt Waldman wrote an excellent column on that subject, where he noted Sankey was much more effective on man/gap-blocking plays than he was on zone runs. That’s a trait we’ve seen with other backs before, most notably Darren McFadden. Ken Whisenhunt’s offense in San Diego last year incorporated a mix of both styles, I believe, but I would guess this indicates either the Titans see something different or they’re going to man-blocking runs as part of their effort to go Full Steelers.
I would’ve been fine with Hyde, with receiver (Cody Latimer) or defensive line (Louis Nix) also options that would have made me happy.