Image via ESPN.com
Well folks, the 2019 NFL Draft has come and gone with Nashville putting on quite the show for the weekend. An estimated 600,000+ people made the journey to the Music City for a weekend-long football party. The city of Nashville, and the Titans did an excellent job of helping put on this fantastic football celebration. With the weekend past us, it is now time to take a look at how the Titans performed in the draft.
Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State, (1st Round, 19th Overall)
I personally love this pick by the Titans. Simmons was seen by many scouts as a top 5 overall talent in the draft. He is, however, coming off a left ACL injury in February so he will not be able to contribute right away. It is always hard to predict how someone will recover from an injury like this, but if Simmons can get back to his former self after recovery (and there’s no reason to think he can’t), the Titans will have gotten a steal for what some scouts called “the best player available in the draft.” According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Jeffery Simmons graded out over 90.0 on his run defense and pass rushing ability this past year. His disruptive play style will be highly effective when lining up besides Jurrell Casey and should help take double teams away from Casey while being a force in the backfield. Another concern with Simmons is his domestic violence incident in high school in 2016. As he was breaking up a fight between a girl and his sister, he was seen on video striking the girl multiple times. Since this incident, everyone associated with Simmons has called him a model citizen, on and off the field. It is important to note that the Titans have a female owner (Amy Adams Strunk), and I do not believe that the Titans would have drafted Simmons if there was any question about his character and lack of remorse for his actions in 2016. In fact, when Amy Adams Strunk was discussing Simmons at his introductory press conference, Simmons was moved to tears from the positive things that Strunk said about him since that incident.
A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss, (2nd Round, 51st Overall)
Another potential steal for the Titans. Arguably a top three WR in the class, the Titans got Marcus Mariota another playmaker with Brown. A.J. Brown leaves Ole Miss as the program’s all-time leading receiver. He averaged over 15 yards a reception in his college career, including scoring a TD every 6.8 receptions in 2017, with his collegiate high 11 TDs. He is a very versatile receiver who can line up on the outside as well as the slot. Brown should enter training camp as the borderline number three receiver, with the ability to work his way up to a starter alongside Corey Davis before Week 1. In Mariota’s contract year, Jon Robinson is giving Mariota all the weapons he needs to prove that he is the franchise quarterback.
Nate Davis, OL, Charlotte, (3rd Round, 82nd Overall)
The interior offensive line was a big need for the Titans coming into the draft, and Nate Davis may help solve the problem. A versatile player in college, Davis started his first three years at guard, before moving to tackle for his senior year. Davis allowed just four pressures on 234 pass blocking snaps this past season, and this is a big need for the Titans who surrendered 47 sacks this past season which was among the top ten most in the league. Nate Davis is also a phenomenal run blocker and should help open holes for Derrick Henry to run through.
Amani Hooker, DB, Iowa, (4th Round, 116th Overall)
The Titans traded with the Jets to move up five spots to snag Hooker. Jon Robinson said that at that point, Amani Hooker was their highest graded prospect on the board, and was a bit surprised that he was still available. Hooker was PFF’s #44 overall player, and his 91.1 coverage grade was the second highest of any defensive back in the country. Hooker is a solid deep safety, who can play some corner, as well as a little linebacker, so he should help provide tremendous depth to the Titans in their secondary. Looks for him to contribute on special teams as well.
D’Andre Walker, DE/OLB, Georgia, (5th Round, 168th Overall)
Tennessee addressed another glaring need in the 5th round here with D’Andre Walker. The Titans desperately needed an Edge rusher to help rush the passer, and they got just that with Walker. He is decent in pass coverage but excels at the ability to rush the passer and stop the run. He totaled 24.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks in his 2 years as a starter at Georgia. NFL.com had Walker going in the 3rd or 4th round, so Robinson got another steal here with Walker.
David Long Jr., ILB, West Virginia, (6th Round, 188 Overall)
Inside linebacker wasn’t really a need for the Titans, but Jon Robinson got another proven college player here. David Long Jr. was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 and totaled 108 tackles along with 19.5 tackles for loss and 7 sacks this past year. He was a very productive player at West Virginia, and while undersized, should provide an immediate impact on special teams.
With Delanie Walker coming off a season-ending ankle injury, and who will be 35 when the season starts, it was a bit surprising to see Robinson not try and take a shot at a TE in the later rounds. Jonnu Smith, the number two TE, has had his season cut short in back to back years with MCL injuries. While Smith was a productive player on the field, it is a bit concerning to see the same injury hamper him in back to back years.
Overall Grade: A-
I am giving the Titans an A- with their draft. Jon Robinson did an excellent job of finding value at each position of need and filling it with very productive players. The only reason I am not giving it an A, is the lack of bolstering their TE depth.