The Tennessee Titans entered the 2014 NFL draft off a 7-9 season and are beginning a new era after firing head coach Mike Munchak and hiring Ken Whisenhunt.. While the Titans have been a team struggling to find their true identity for a few years, 2013 wasn’t it either. Losing Jake Locker early in the season, the evaluation of their supposed quarterback of the future was once again stalled. Chris Johnson found little to no holes, and the offense as a whole failed to get rolling. Pro Bowl cornerback, Alterraun Verner left in free agency and the Titans found themselves with the eleventh overall pick, as well as five more picks throughout the draft with the focus on skill positions on both sides of the ball.
Best Pick: Zach Mettenberger
Jake Locker was the Titans 2011 eight overall pick, since then, expectations have failed to be met and injuries have been abundant. While this season is no doubt a make or break for Locker, Tennessee did the right thing in tabbing an insurance policy. In Mettenberger, the Titans get a quarterback that can immediately come in and push for a starting spot. While that won’t be the situation, it doesn’t hurt to have Locker know that the competition is there. While Mettenberger won’t surprise anyone with his mobility, he has an NFL skill set and the fall to the sixth round makes him an unbelievable value pick.
Worst Pick: Taylor Lewan
This offseason, the Titans went out and signed the well-known subject of the movie “The Blind Side,” Michael Oher. While Oher is likely best suited for the right side tackle position, Tennessee also has Michael Roos. With Roos being 32 years old, the depth situation does make sense, but is drafting Lewan at eleventh overall to have him sit really the situation the Titans wanted to get into? Tennessee got a great tackle in Taylor Lewan, a guy who has been tested by big defensive lines in the Big Ten. He has the ability to be an immediate starter, it will just be interesting to see how the Titans shuffle the pieces in place to make that happen.
While the Titans seemed to be more of a mess as a collective unit in 2013, the needs weren’t as glaring as they may possibly have seemed. Bishop Sankey, the second round running back selection, slots in nicely as a replacement to the now departed Chris Johnson. Sankey doesn’t only rely on speed, as did Johnson, and has the ability to wear teams down compared to what they got out of Johnson last year the Titans may have upgraded in Sankey. Skipping to round four, the Titans targeted defense with Daquan Jones and Marqueston Huff. Jones has the ability to develop into a special player. Jones possesses a lot of tools that could end up making him the pick of this draft for the Titans. While Huff hasn’t seen pro-level competition before he will have to adjust to the NFL level, but he does have the heart to push himself to get there. He should be able to contribute on special teams immediately. Avery Williamson, the linebacker out of Kentucky, poses a strong inside presence but is going to be susceptible to struggling as an all around linebacker at the next level. He has a great motor though and should be a strong asset to the special teams game out of the gate.
Final grade: C+
The Titans didn’t have to make a big splash anywhere in this draft, but they needed a strong collective effort. While the Mettenberger pick is great, it’s tough to point out another really strong selection. They failed to bring in anyone to help replace Verner’s ability, and with a stable of mediocre to developing wide receivers, they may have missed bringing in a playmaker in a wide receiver heavy draft. The Taylor Lewan pick will benefit more in the long run, but the Titans may have mixed a little bit of win now, with develop for later. Cody Hoffman could be a name that Tennessee goes after as an UDFA in the not so distant future as well.