Saturday, April 23, 2005

2005 Draft Review-Day One

Today was the first day of the NFL draft. After a 5-11 mark, the Titans ended up with the 6th overall selection, the highest they picked since they chose Steve McNair 3rd overall in, oh, 1995. After the salary cup purge of this offseason, the Titans came in with a number of needs, most notably cornerback, where both starters, Samari Rolle and Andre Dyson, departed in the offseason, and wide receiver, where there were all of two on the roster. When it came to the sixth pick, the Titans choose the first defensive player taken, cornerback Adam "Pac-Man" Jones of West Virginia University. There were a number of players they could have chosen with this pick. Many, probably most, of the mock drafts and player ratings had Miami (FL) Hurricane Antrel Rolle (no relation to Samari) as the top cornerback in the draft. Rolle has a height advance over Jones of maybe three inches, and good, tall corners come at a high premium in the NFL. This makes me think the Titans' personnel staff saw some things in Jones, or maybe didn't see some things in Rolle. I don't know how much straight coverage Rolle played, whereas that was one of the things Jones was known for. I also neither heard nor saw much of the ball-hawking play-making special quality that made previous Miami defensive backs such a coveted quantity. Then again, maybe I'm just saying this because I predicted they'd select Jones over Rolle. I think the other serious possibility for the sixth pick was wide receiver, with Troy Williamson of South Carolina, who went to the Vikings with the next pick, or former USC wunderkid Mike Williams, who went to the Lions with the 10th pick (yes, that's 3 receivers in the top 10 in 3 years for Detroit). It was reported in The Tennessean that new offensive coordinator Norm Chow lobbied heavily for his former pupil Williams, but lost out.

The Titans traded their second-round selection, 37th overall, to the Detroit Lions for the Lions' 2nd and 4th round selections (41st and 113th overall). With the 41st pick, they chose the first Estonian ever taken in the NFL draft, offensive tackle Michael Roos out of Eastern Washington. This was a bit of a surprise; I had figured they'd choose a tackle out of the state of Washington, but I expected it to be Khalif Barnes of out of UW, who many people had as a first-round selection. Right tackle Fred Miller was one of the cap-induced departures, and they'd worked on making Jacob Bell, who filled in admirably for the injured Zach Piller last year, a right tackle. I think that plan is still in the works, and expect Jacob Bell to be the starting right tackle for the Titans. At the other tackle slot, though, Brad Hopkins is getting up there in age and cap number, and I'd be shocked if he was on Tennessee beyond the 2005 season. I think the plan for Roos is to spend a year grooming him as Brad's replacement and to see him starting at left tackle opening day 2006 and staying there for the next 10 years. The downside of the pick? You end up with another Todd Williams, someone who never sees the light of day. This would normally worry me, except a little tidbit I got out of this interview: his O-line coach at E.Wash. was none other than former Titan lineman Tom Ackerman. For them to be comfortable making this pick, I'd bet that not only did Munchak travel to Spokane, he also spent a few long distance minutes talking to Ackerman and got a lot of tape to look at. I'm cautiously optimistic with this pick, though I think if they had moved down another 5-10 slots, they probably could have still gotten Roos. One other thing about Roos: he's graduated already with a double major in Finance and Econ and twice made Big Sky All-Academic; the Titans have shown an occasional predilection for smarter players and Roos may fit that bill.

The Titans had two 3rd round selections, 68th overall and 96th overall, the latter a compensatory pick, and used both of them on wide receivers. The first went to Courtney Roby of Indiana, cousin of the late, great punter Reggie Roby. I don't have much interesting to say about him; were he a sixth rounder I'd say this is adding a body to the depth chart, but this guy seems to be one of the greatest receivers in the history of Indiana football. That probably sounds like damning with faint praise, and I don't want to be that unkind. Reading the scouting profile, he sounds like he'd max out as a number three-type receiver, or maybe a 2A/2B like Bennett and McCareins were behind Mason. With the 96th pick, they chose Brandon Jones of the Oklahoma Sooners. Jones was the third Sooner wideout selected, behind Mark Clayton (22nd) and Mark Bradley (39th). He certainly didn't put up the same stats Roby did at Indiana behind those two guys. He has a little bit of experience returning kicks and sounds like a deep threat more than an 8 yards on 3rd-and-7 guy, even if his 40 time isn't as good as Roby's. Then again, I'm basically pulling this out of my butt, so take it for what it's worth. One concern about Jones that the guys on the NFL Radio show raised is that at OU he never had the pressure of being a #1 receiver, and the recent history of the NFL is that it's tough to turn a guy who hasn't been a #1 into a #1.

Well, that's the first day of the draft. The second day should be a little bit more interesting, as the Titans have a number of picks... three in the 4th round (their own, the one from the Lions, and a compensatory), two in the fifth (their own and the one from Kansas City in the Carlos Hall Trade), and one each in the sixth and seventh (both their own). With those seven picks, I'd look for one quarterback, one wide receiver, one tight end, one offensive guard (guard/tackle or guard/center), a depth/special teams linebacker, and another defensive back. (Yes, I know that's six; I'm leaving them one wildcard selection.) I should be back tomorrow evening or Monday with a look at who the Titans choose on Day Two of the 2005 NFL Draft.

No comments: