It’s been a long four years for Titans fans.
Mark down April 14 as a date when that might just change.
The Titans have won just 18 games since 2012. Go back another four seasons to find the last playoff berth. A myriad of reasons exist for this long seven seasons. Missing on Vince Young and Pacman Jones…two top six picks….hurt. So did the malaise that settled in during the final years of the Jeff Fisher era – too many in the organization got too satisfied. And the decision to hire Mike Munchak as head coach only exacerbated that. Munchak ranks as one of the better position coaches I saw during my time covering the NFL…..but he did not have the “it” factor to be a head coach. Jake Locker’s fragility and retirement could be a hallmark of the Titans’ drafts during this period….potential that for whatever reason did not work out. How many Titans picks of the last seven years did we say that about?
Maybe the tide turned April 14.
The trade announced Thursday morning with the Los Angeles Rams (doesn’t that sound weird) could just be the adrenaline shot the Titans franchise needs to get back into consistent playoff contention. The Titans got five top 80 draft picks for their number one pick (one of those picks will be somewhere in the third round next year). That’s a potential franchise-changing haul.
It comes at the right time for the Titans…their fans…the franchise. And it comes at the right time for this draft.
Covering the NFL Draft for Titans Radio for 17 years, it was interesting to learn how those who live the draft quantify the annual selections. I credit much of this learning to Mike Detillier, the author of the M&D Draft Report, who we had the pleasure to work with over the years. Some drafts are top-heavy, meaning franchise-changing talent in the top 10 or so positions. Some drafts are packed with consistent performers, meaning there may not be a lot of game changers at the top, but it’s build on quality players who will have long careers.
Look at the 2011 draft and top 11 picks like Cam Newton, Von Miller, AJ Green, Patrick Peterson, JulioJones, JJ Watt. Compare that with 2009 and late first and second round picks like Hakeem Nicks, James Laurinaitis, LeSean McCoy, Sen’Derrick Marks, Max Unger, and Connor Barwin.
2016’s draft looks like a 2009 kind of year. Simply, there does not appear to be an absolute game-changing player at the top of this draft. The meat here…is in the middle. The MMQB’s Peter King reported multiple general managers and scouts called players 15 to 60 on their draft board the same players. That is, they are solid NFL prospects. And how they will come off the board two weeks from today will depend on what teams like and what teams need.
And the Titans are heading toward the meat of this draft…its strength…with a lot of firepower. After the trade Thursday, The Titans hold six selections from pick 15 to pick 76. What if you could get that 2009 group of players with the first six picks of 2016? That’s a lot of quality talent. And for a team that needs help on the offensive line, at wide receiver, at defensive end, at linebacker, at corner, and safety….you need quantity AND quality.
The Titans got the chance to get that today.
So, if Jon Robinson and his scouting staff have done their work….and the players selected pan out (always a 50-50 crapshoot in the NFL)….this could be a franchise changing day for the Titans.
I bet I speak for a lot of Titans fans when I say…it’s about time.