In honor of Football Outsiders' annual look at the draft from six years on, here's my review of how the Titans' 2001 picks went:
Thanks to their superb 13-3 record, the Titans ended up picking at the bottom of the first round. They then traded their first round selection, #29 overall, to the Rams for Kevin Carter. The Rams used the pick to take another defensive lineman, NT Ryan Pickett out of Ohio State. Carter was clearly a better player than Pickett over the next couple seasons. Of course, he also cost quite a bit more. Since #29 is in the range where NFL draft picks are most valuable in a bang-for-buck perspective, this is a traded that obviously contributed heavily to the salary cap woes the Titans faced in 2004 and 2005. From a purely results-oriented perspective, the Titans' failure to reach the Super Bowl in the 2002-04 era makes this trade an overall push at best for the Titans. For a team sorely lacking in offensive weapons, either of next two picks, Reggie Wayne and Todd Heap, would have been a good selection. The Bengals also took Chad Johnson 7 picks later.
#2-60 Andre Dyson, CB, Utah
Previous Pick-Oakland-Marques Tuiasasopo, QB, Washington
Next Pick-Detroit-Shaun Rogers, DT, Texas
Previous CB-2-45-Fred Smoot, Mississippi State (Washington)
Next CB-2-62-Gary Baxter, Baylor (Baltimore)
Man, did Dyson take a lot of heat from Titans fans. I didn't think he was nearly as bad as he got credit for being. It's probably a toss-up between him and Gary Baxter who has had the best career out of any CB left on the board at this point, though Anthony Henry has some defenders. While he left the Titans after his rookie contract, he started from near the beginning of his rookie season and really wasn't that bad. He's also part of an excellent run of defensive players. The next four picks were Rogers, Baxter, Derrick Burgess, and Adrian Wilson. For the #60-64 overall picks, that's a serious grouping of defensive talent.
#3-90 Shad Meier, TE, Kansas State
Previous Pick-Oakland-DeLawrence Grant, OLB, Oregon State
Next Pick-Indianapolis-Cory Bird, SS, Virginia Tech
Previous TE-3-66-Sean Brewer, San Jose State (Cincinnati)
Next TE-4-119-Jabari Holloway, Notre Dame (New England)
Uh, yeah. Casey Rabach, Jonas Jennings, Anthony Henry, and Rudi Johnson all were selected in the next 10 picks. Any of these would have been a better selection than Meier in the 3rd round, of course. I kept thinking of Meier as a low-round pick who stuck around, not somebody who once had actual expectations. It does take some serious talent to manage a 9 catch, 31 yard game, though. I guess Sean Brewer may have been even worse.
#4-124 Justin McCareins, WR, Northern Illinois
Previous Pick-Arizona-Marcus Bell, DT, Memphis
Next Pick-NY Giants-Jesse Palmer, QB, Florida
Previous WR-4-116-Milton Wynn, Washington State (St. Louis)
Next WR-4-131-Cedric James, TCU (Minnesota)
Repeat after me: you can get good WRs in the later rounds. McCareins was a very good complementary WR for the Titans, and ended up fetching a second round pick when traded to the Jets in 2004. 3 useful years + a 2 round increase = very good value.
#5-159 Eddie Berlin, WR, Northern Iowa
Previous Pick-Oakland-Raymond Perryman, SS, Northern Arizona
Next Pick-NY Giant-John Markham, K, Vanderbilt
Previous WR-5-154-Darnerian McCants, Delaware State (Washington)
Next WR-5-162-Jonathan Carter, Troy (NY Giants)
Corollary to the above: not all WRs drafted in the later rounds are good. I don't see much talent drafted right after Berlin, whatever small consolation that may be.
#6-192 Dan Alexander, RB, Nebraska
Previous Pick-San Francisco-Menson Holloway, DE, UTEP
Next Pick-Indianapolis-Jason Doering, FS, Wisconsin
Previous RB-6-175-Dee Brown, Syracure (Carolina)
It helps when you make the team out of camp. The sixth round was pretty lousy this year. Highlights include Kevin Kasper, Cedrick Wilson, and David Martin.
#6-199 Adam Haayer, T, Minnesota
Previous Pick-Green Bay-David Martin, TE, Tennessee
Next Pick-New Engalnd-Leonard Myers, CB, Miami
Previous T-6-185-Mitch White, Oregon State (New Orleans)
Next T-7-201-Brandon Gorin, Purdue (San Diego)
The 7th round was better than the 6th, as the presence of Brandon Gorin shows. T.J.HousYourDaddy went 5 picks later.
#7-232 Keith Adams, OLB, Clemson
Previous Pick-Baltiimore-Dwayne Missouri, DE, Northwestern
Next Pick-Jacksonville-Marlon McCree, SS, Kentucky
Previous OLB-7-213-Anthony Denman, Notre Dame (Jacksonville)
Next OLB-7-239-T.J. Turner, Michigan State (New England)
Adams was a really good player at Clemson, and I thought he'd be a good NFL player. He ended up starting for the Eagles, but the Titans cut him in training camp. Marlon McCree would have been a nice pick.
OVERALL: the Titans had two nice picks in this draft in Dyson and McCareins. They also converted their first round pick into a good player, but at a substantial salary cap cost that probably wasn't worth it in the long run. The other picks were all misses, some part of the inevitable cost of drafting, some more of the sort you'd think would be avoidable. When looking to the Titans' current talent level, players from this draft would be the ones you'd expect to be the team leaders. By the time 2005 rolled around, everybody from this draft was gone. For a front office that built a remarkably talented team and then re-tooled on the fly to a certain extent, this draft marked the beginning of the end of the good times.