The Titans’ draft class was small for the second straight year with only six players joining the roster. However, general manager Jon Robinson found a way to add impact players even with only a few picks. He addressed most of the team’s major weaknesses through his selections and set the team up to compete entering the 2019 season and for the future. Titans fans should be excited for all of the picks that the team made in Nashville last weekend.
1st Round: DT Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State
This pick isn’t overly exciting, considering that he most likely won’t make an immediate impact. Simmons tore his ACL in February during preparation for the draft. However, he was widely considered a top-ten pick talent-wise before the injury. Grabbing him with the 19th pick is a steal and he should be a major contributor for years to come. Simmons won’t make the Titans much better this year, but Tennessee’s defensive line needed an upgrade. For years, the unit has been Jurrell Casey and a revolving door of mediocre starters. Now, Casey finally has a running partner who can help him bring chaos to opposing backfields on the interior defensive line.
2nd Round: WR A.J. Brown, Mississippi
Tennessee stayed in Mississippi for day two with the shifty receiver Brown. The Titans haven’t given quarterback Marcus Mariota too many elite options since he was drafted in 2015. However, this offseason, Robinson seems to be going all in for his fifth-year signal caller. After signing slot receiver Adam Humphries, he added Brown to complement former fifth overall pick Corey Davis. Mariota is entering his contract year and now, he will finally have an arsenal that he can use to succeed. Robinson wants to give Mariota a fair shot to prove himself and Brown completes a solid group of receivers entering 2019.
3rd Round: OG Nate Davis, Charlotte
The interior offensive line was a major issue last season. Mariota took sacks from the middle game after game and running back Derrick Henry was hit in the backfield constantly. Robinson has quelled the concerns about this area with his work this offseason. Rodger Saffold was signed to play at the left guard position where he was an All-Pro two years ago with the Rams. However, after releasing Josh Kline, a hole opened up at right guard. Davis should immediately step in and compete for this position. Kevin Pamphile has a chance to start against Cleveland in Week 1. However, Davis is a bruising blocker who could open up big holes along the right side. I expect Davis to start immediately for Tennessee and shore up the offensive line for 2019.
4th Round: DB Amani Hooker, Iowa
If there was a group that the Titans probably didn’t need help at, it was the secondary. However, Hooker slipped into day three and fell right into the Titans’ hands. He played all over the field at Iowa. His normal position is safety, but he lined up at nickel corner and sometimes outside linebacker. Tennessee drafted Dane Cruikshank on day three last year to backup Kevin Byard, now Hooker should be a solid backup for Kenny Vaccaro. Tennessee knows firsthand that safety depth is important after Johnathan Cyprien tore his ACL last year. Now, an injury would only bring in a player who is inexperienced. However, Hooker has enough talent to play in this week and his versatility will allow him to contribute early for the Titans. I didn’t love this pick because the secondary is already so loaded, but the Titans were in best player available mode and they traded up to get their guy.
5th Round: EDGE D’Andre Walker, Georgia
In many experts’ mock drafts, Walker was a day two pick. Somehow, he fell all the way to the Titans in the fifth round. Pass rusher was an area of concern for the Titans after Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan moved on in the offseason. Harold Landry will start at one outside linebacker position, and now Walker will rotate with free agent addition Cameron Wake and last year’s undrafted find Sharif Finch. Walker may not be an elite-level pass rusher yet, but that group should be good enough for this year. Walker was solid during his time at Georgia with 13.5 sacks and 27.5 tackles for loss in his career. He is a high upside pick on day three and is a steal for Robinson and his staff.
6th Round: ILB David Long Jr., West Virginia
Robinson likes to draft players who produce and in the sixth round, he found one. The Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year last year had over 250 tackles in his three-year playing career in Morgantown. Long is undersized at just 5’11” and 221 lbs., but he has a lot of potential and is a solid sixth round pick. Long won’t play on defense early with Wesley Woodyard, Rashaan Evans, and Jayon Brown holding down the middle of the field on defense. However, he should contribute on special teams and with top special teamer Daren Bates in hot water, the Titans could need him. Long probably won’t ever be a starter in the NFL, but he was a good depth pick on day three.