by Adam Fournier, Ourlads’ Intern
The Tennessee Titans have had a rough couple of seasons and have not been in a playoff game since the 2008-09 season. The roughest season being the most recent one as the Titans finished with only two wins in 2014. While they have found some good players, some of their draft picks did not quite pan out and are the reason they are in this current hole. They have also failed in finding any true top tier players at their positions.
The biggest reason the Titans are in their current predicament is that they put their franchise in the hands of 2011 8th overall pick Jake Locker (Washington Huskies) , and it did not really work out. For a top ten pick, Locker’s play on the field did not live up to that status. He had his moments, but injuries really halted his career. His 2014 season was the final nail in the coffin as he was benched in favor of Zach Mettenberger (LSU Tigers) and finished the season on IR again. Locker called it a career in 2015 as he chose to retire ending his disappointing time in Tennessee.
The Titans have also had a few other players who failed to make an impact from the past few drafts. Rennie Curran might be the biggest flop from the past five years as he was a 3rd round pick out of Georgia who made no impact. Curran was drafted in 2010 and played very little in his rookie season. He was released after only one year with the team and never appeared in a game in the league after his rookie year. The bottom of the same draft made almost no impact with the exception of Marc Mariani, who did most of his damage as a return specialist. However, he had injury issues missing the entire 2012 and 2013 seasons and is no longer with the team. One player who is on the road to bust is 2013 top 10 pick Chance Warmack. When you draft someone as high as Warmack was, you expect a lot more than what they have gotten out of him so far. He improved a bit in 2014 but is still not quite at top 10 pick level. He still has time to figure it out, but will need to be a lot better in 2015.
While none of them are really top class, the Titans have found a lot of solid players on the defensive side of the ball who will be starting in 2015. Derrick Morgan, 2010 1st round pick, and Jurrell Casey, 2011 3rd round pick have been solid starters on the defensive side of the ball. Morgan spent his rookie year on IR but bounced back starting 56 games over the next four seasons. He recently signed an extension keeping him in Tennessee for the next couple of years. Casey has probably been the most productive player the Titans drafted in the past five years who is still with the team. He was voted as a 2nd team All-Pro in 2013 and has started 61 games in four years. He will be anchoring the Titans’ defensive line for the next few years as he signed a big extension before the 2014 season. Although no longer with the team, the Titans also got a solid production on the defensive side of the ball in Alterraun Verner and Akeem Ayers. Verner was the best value pick the Titans made in the past five years as he was a 4th round selection. He was the only player the Titans drafted in the past five years to make the Pro Bowl. Unfortunately for Tennessee, he moved on to Tampa Bay following the 2013 season. Ayers was not quite at that level, but he was a solid starter before being traded during the 2014 season to New England.
Their most recent draft is likely to play a big part in their 2015 season. Taylor Lewan, Bishop Sankey, DaQuan Jones, and Avery Williamson are all projected to start in 2015. Lewan was solid in his appearances his rookie year and is projected to start at left tackle in 2015. Sankey was nothing extraordinary but made a solid contribution starting nine games at running back. Williamson made a solid impact for a 5th rounder, starting 12 games as a rookie. Jones, on the other hand, did not do much in 2014 but is likely to get a big chance this year as the starter. Also the final pick in the draft class, Zach Mettenberger, saw some action at starting quarterback and was decent before his injury. However with the arrival of Marcus Mariota, he will likely not be starting for the Titans any time soon. Also worth noting, Mariota’s likely top two targets at receiver, Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter, were also drafted by the Titans in the past five drafts. All of these young players will need to step up in 2015 if the Titans are going to get out of the cellar of the NFL standings.