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Monday, 4 May 2015

Tennessee Titans: Grading Each Pick Of The 2015 NFL Draft

Marcus Mariota, QB - Oregon

Marcus Mariota is an enigmatic quarterback that offers head coach Ken Whisenhunt something that comes outside of his conventional comfort zone. A spread, quick twitch quarterback as opposed to Whisenhunts' normal pocket passer only approach. Mariota has some serious talent, his demeanour and leadership style already have Titans' fans reminiscing on those Steve 'Air' McNair glory days. 

Dual threat quarterbacks have been a staple in Tennesse, and after struggling to find a true franchise quarterback since McNair, the Titans' office decided to pull the trigger and take Mariota No.2 overall. Many disliked the choice when information dropped about the massive trade offer Chip Kelly proposed to try and acquire his old Alma Mater. I applaud the Titans' for staying true to themselves and picking the player they thought would 'dynamize' the stagnant offense from last season.

Mariota flying high with the ducks

Former starter Jake Locker has retired from the NFL and former LSU sixth-round draft pick Zach Mettenberger did not provide the spark the offense needed, so the Titans decided to go with a player who can open up a number of playbooks for them. Play actions, rollouts and options may become the staple of the Titans' new offensive make-up in 2015.

As one of the highly rated quarterbacks in this draft class, he was the number one quarterback on Mike Mayocks big board pre-draft, the Titans' may just have found that franchise cornerstone they have been lacking to break that visage of anonymity in the AFC South. Mariota provides a skill set that Whisenhunt has already said he will cater too, in order to make Mariotas' transition to the NFL as easy and as quick as possible.

Mariota is a player who can have a sandbox affect whilst playing, when that pocket collapses he showed a constant knack for being able to extend plays at Oregon, and if the Titans' offensive line remains as porous as last season, then he will need to use these skills to the best of his ability. 

The big knock on Marcus Mariota is that he is a 'system' quarterback. Regardless of systems, the person playing in the quarterback position still needs to be able to make the throws, Mariota was doing this with ease, poise and great decision making ability. His defensive playbook knowledge was put on display when he wowed Jon Gruden with his knowledge, Gruden then moved him to his top quarterback selection of the 2015 draft. Knowledge of defensive play books is key to recognizing the required reads quickly enough on the field.

So for Marcus Mariota it is Mahalo Oregon and Aloha Tennesee. The fan base seems to have overwhelming support for Mariota and the 2014 season starting campaign - "Suck for the Duck" seems to have come full circle, now it is up to this organization to get Mariota to reach his ceiling.

Draft Grade B+

Dorial Green-Beckham, WR - Oaklahoma State

Green-Beckham has two big names to live up to, his last name maks many think that he can be a combinaiton of AJ Green and Odell Beckham Jr. Whilst his limited sample size showed that he had some truly elite measurables and pass catching ability, his red flags off the field might concern a few of the Titans' faithful. However, Tennessee Titans scout Brandon Taylor said that he admires Dorials' character and his reformed behavior after being red-shirted at Oklahoma State after Missouri dismissed him.

Multiple drugs related offenses off the field had a lot of Titans' supporters thinking; "Oh no, not Kenny Britt all over again." Contrary to that thought, DGB as he is affectionately known, has shown remorse for his actions that led to his dismissal and said to Brandon Taylor that he will do anything to make sure that he doesn't make the same mistakes again. If anything the NFL is the home of second chances.

If we take away DGB's off-field indiscretions then he is a sure fire top 3 wide receiver from this draft class, having drawn comparisons from Mike Mayock, Brian Baldinger and Mel Kiper Jr as a player akin to a young Randy Moss, apparently the sky seems to be the limit for this young superstar in the making. 

At 6"5 and 237lbs he recorded 12 touchdowns whilst at Missouri as well as 883 receiving yards on 59 receptions. A very small sample size, but his strength and speed combination make him a red zone threat that will help Mariotas' development. DGB has already gone on record saying that he looks forward to working well with Mariota and feels that they will both bring the best out of one another. Having a big target is never a bad thing for a rookie quarterback who will need all the help he can get.

The expectation is that DGB can be that field stretching over-the-top Randy Moss type of guy that worked so well for the New England Patriots. For Titans' fans, they can only hope that is how it plays out, it has been a long time between playoff appearances.

Draft Grade A-

Jeremiah Poutasi, OT - Utah

Poutasi is a big bodied tackle, who is able to slide into the interior of the offensive line. In what looks to be a pure depth drafting after signing free-agent OT Byron Bell, Poutasi will be given time to develop into that slide protection blocker that Whisenhunt will need if he is to keep his new star quarterback off his back.

In college, Poutasi took 846 snaps and allowed only three sacks during his career, that is a very impressive stat-line. At 6"5 and 335lb, that is a some serious meat added to the Titans' offensive line. Health also is not a major concern with this draftee, playing in 36-37 matches and starting 35. Poutasi was also a second-team ALL PAC-12 selection in 2014.

The offensive line acquired a young talent at 20-years of age and he shows a lot of promise, the knocks against Poutasi however are that he has slow hands and does not show the quickness in his feet when required to move into protection. This could be a red-flag for Mariota' health.

Draft Grade C+

Angelo Blackson, DT - Auburn  

Angelo Blackson is a big bodied defensive tackle who is capable of drawing multiple blockers. At 6"4 and 318lbs, the Titans' added a big frame with wide shoulders to their defensive line. Defense is certainly a sore point for the Titans' and Blackson has a real chance to be a day one starter if he can prove why he was selected throughout pre-season training.

Stopping the run is one area that the Titans' needed to improve upon, adding Blackson to the middle of their defensive front adds the beef to eat up multiple blockers for the linebacker groups to get in at the running backs as well as the quarterback - something that was sorely missed last season.

Draft Grade B-

Jalston Fowler, FB - Alabama  

The surprise pick of the Titans' draft class. Fowler is a dynamic player who can be utilized in multiple positions. Having lined up as a TE, FB and HB as well as being a versatile special teamer. Fowler showed at Alabama what a good blocker can do for a running game. If not for Fowler than T.J. Yeldon would not have come off the board.

Adding that H-Blocker to the backfield is something that will help the development of both Bishop Sankey and Marcus Mariota. Not only with the added benefit of blocking for Mariota, he gives him a bonafide receiving threat as he leaves his college career with seven receiving touchdowns. The added bonus with Fowler is he is big, at 6"1 and 248lbs, he could play a vital role in the development of the new franchise quarterback.

Draft Grade B

David Cobb, RB - Minnesota 

David Cobb was a smart selection by the Tennessee Titans. Whilst he isn't a speedy, twitch runner, he provides that battering north-south style that veteran RB Shonn Greene has not been able to provide. With Cobb in the mix, the Titans' will be able to run a lot of full house sets, adding multiple ball catchers to help Mariota progress through his reads.

With this pick, the Titans' addressed a big issue on their offense, last season Bishop Sankey was almost non-existent. Cobb will be able to were down defenses running between the tackles. A smart choice as Whisenhunt reverts the Titans' back to a power run offense.

Draft Grade C+

Deiontrez Mount, OLB - Louiseville 

Deiontrez Mount comes in to fill a depth issue. Mount has an uphill battle to try and get playing time, but he has the height and speed combination to be a good situational pass rusher. His long arms are good for pass protection, but his tacking issues could have thrown up red flags in the Titans' war-room, but they drafted Mount regardless.

The Titans' needed bodies on defense and Mount will be sitting behind Brown and Gooden on the depth chart.

Draft Grade C-

Andy Gallik, C - Boston College

Before the NFL draft, the Tennessee Titans needed to address the middle of their offensive line. Brian Schwenke has proven to be unreliable and is developing slower than the coaching staff would have liked. This was a smart choice by the Titans'. Gallik is a potential starter in the NFL, at 6"2 and 306lbs he certainly has the measurables to be an NFL center.

Adding depth is always an intelligent move, with the numerous injuries the Titans' offensive line had last season, their lack of depth was exposed. The offensive line was attributed with over 50 teams sacks, if you want your quarterback to be a franchise quarterback, he needs some security and Gallik can provide that.

Draft Grade B- 

Tre McBride, WR - William & Mary

The slide of Tre McBride was interesting. McBride had plenty of suitors prior to the draft and was even expected to go as high as the fourth round on some big boards. The Titans' added depth at a skill position with not a great deal of talent. Now the Titans' have an extremely young and dangerous looking offense.

The William & Mary product could be spending some time with the special teamers however, before he gets a chance to play in the big leagues, for a depth addition, it was a smart move by the Tennessee Titans.

Draft Grade C 

The Tennessee Titans' had a lot of positions that needed to be addressed, most of these were on the offensive side of the ball. The Titans' defense last season was against the odds as they were on the field more than they weren't. Adding some key elements to the offense and altering the way in which offensive plays are called to suit these new draftees, the Titans' have changed the face of this offense in one draft class. 

The defense saw a lot of attention during free agency, whether or not it was enough attention remains to be seen. But, the changes that were made on offense are very refreshing for the people of Nashville, who have not seen so many risks taken during a draft process since the Oilers became the Tennessee Titans. This draft class, could prove to be the first stepping stone that helps this organization change its fortunes.

Overall Draft Grade - A


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