Tennessee Titans 2018 NFL Draft Review

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Titans 2018 NFL Draft
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The 2018 NFL Draft is finally complete and it’s time to evaluate at how well all 32 teams drafted. The Tennessee Titans made three trades but only ended up adding four players.  Let’s take a look at those trades:

Traded their first (25th overall) and fourth-round picks (125th overall) to the Baltimore Ravens; received Ravens first round pick (22nd overall).

Traded their second (57th overall) and third-round picks (89th overall) to the Oakland Raiders; received Raiders second round pick (41st overall).

Traded their fifth-round pick (162nd overall) and the sixth round pick (215th overall) they acquired from the Ravens back to the Ravens; received Ravens fifth round pick (152nd overall).

General manager Jon Robinson approached the 2018 draft a bit different than he has done in the past. He had been known to trade back, add picks, and then possibly trade up if absolutely necessary. However, it was clear that Robinson saw a few specific needs that he wanted to fill and pursued them aggressively.

Draft Summary:

  • First Round, 22nd Overall: Rashaan Evans, linebacker, Alabama
  • Second Round, 41st Overall: Harold Landry, edge rusher, Boston College
  • Fifth Round, 152nd Overall: Dane Cruikshank, safety, Arizona
  • Sixth Round, 199th Overall: Luke Falk, quarterback, Washington State

Titans 2018 Draft Grade: 8/10 B-

Tennessee Titans 2018 NFL Draft Review

The Best Player: Rashaan Evans

It’s tough to choose between Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry as the Titans best draft pick. Both players had been mocked to the Titans for a couple months. And both were considered first round talents by many scouts throughout the draft process. However, given Landry’s possible health concerns (that possibly led to his slight drop in the draft), Evans gets the edge.

Evans was an intense sideline to sideline monster for Alabama’s star-studded defense. His high motor, decisiveness, and awareness allowed him to rack up 13 tackles behind the line scrimmage in 2017. In fact, nearly 30 percent of his career tackles were for a loss. Evans gets downhill quick. He avoids and sheds contact with ease. The only area where his skills aren’t absolutely phenomenal are likely in coverage. However, even in coverage Evans should match up well with most tight ends and settles into short zones well.

The Titans desperately needed a new young physical force at inside linebacker and they got one. Avery Williamson departed in free agency. Wesley Woodyard is still one of the best 3-4 inside linebackers in the league, but he’s on the back nine of his career. Evans will come in and play every single down for the Titans.

The Head-Scratcher: Why Draft A Quarterback?

This is a question several Titans fans likely asked themselves after their favorite team selected Luke Falk of Washington State. Falk has a pretty cool story. He went from walk-on to the most productive Pac-12 passer of all-time. He set conference records in both career passing yards and touchdowns. However, Titans fans shouldn’t be worried about him taking the starting job from Marcus Mariota or anything.

As mentioned earlier, the Titans are going to have to pay Mariota a ridiculous amount of money very soon. They needed to bring in a cheap, but intelligent and gifted backup that could get the job done when called upon. Luke Falk fits that bill.

Falk was given full control of the Washington State offense under the tutelage of head coach, Mike Leach. He could check in and out of plays just about any time that he wanted to. And that requires some solid football intelligence. The Titans likely found a steal in Falk who, at the very least, should provide some solid affordable depth at the position.

The Surprise: Dane Cruikshank

It was rumored the Titans would be selecting a safety “earlier than expected” in this draft, but they traded away any chance at doing so. However, the Titans obviously felt like they got a steal in Dane Cruikshank, seeing him drop to round five. But what did they get in the Arizona safety?

Cruikshank is a rangy defensive back with incredible athleticism. He runs a 4.41-second 40-yard dash, can leap over small vehicles, and boasts agility similar to slot wide receivers. He isn’t some physical in-the-box enforcer, but he closes gaps quickly and makes tackles in space. But the most important attribute that Cruikshank brings to the table for the Titans might be his tight cover skills. He truly seems to be the perfect mix at safety that isn’t a liability against the pass or run game. And that’s exactly what the Titans need.

The Titans already have Kevin Byard, an all-pro safety that makes plays all over the field.  However, Johnathan Cyprien is bordering on a liability in coverage and hasn’t been elite against the run either. Cruikshank should be able to plug in and earn a significant role early in the 2018 season. Plus after 2018 the Titans don’t owe much money to Cyprien if they want to part ways there. It may make sense given they’ll have to re-sign Mariota to a massive contract around the same time. If Cruikshank can assume one of the starting safety roles it would save them a ton of cap space as he’ll be on a cheap rookie contract for four more prime Mariota years.

The Steal: Harold Landry

As mentioned earlier, the Titans grabbed a first-round talent in the second round.  The only worry is that Landry’s long-term health may be a concern.

Landry thrashed his way to the quarterback for 16.5 sacks back in 2016. His insane bend around the edge, play strength, and first step off the ball made him one of the fiercest pass rushers in the nation. However, in 2017 he suffered an ankle injury which ultimately sidelined him down the stretch.

The ankle injury shouldn’t be a problem long-term, but there were reports of greater knee and back issues that may have caused his drop in the NFL Draft. If Landry can overcome any health concerns though, the Titans just grabbed a sack machine. They desperately needed to add a pass rusher for current depth and to eventually replace Brian Orakpo and/or Derrick Morgan. This was likely the biggest steal of the entire first few rounds.

 

 

Bottom Line

The Titans draft looks like it was a success. Yes, they could have added a few more players here and there instead of trading up. And they probably still need to look at upgrading their interior defensive line and wide receiver depth. But Robinson looks to have done it again.  It’s clear he believed the Titans were just a few pieces away from competing for it all and he filled those needs. There’s not much more a team can ask of their general manager.  Only time will tell, but Titans look to be highly competitive entering 2018.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Evans Combine numbers were awful. Blaine Gabbert the backup QB beat him in every event when Gabs was coming out. Evans productivity was mediocre, four years and 150 total tackles. Many ILB put that up in a single season. SEC coaches named Skai Moore a UDFA to the All SEC Team ahead of Evans this past season. He skipped the Senior Bowl and refused to run a 40 or lift despite indicating he would several different times. His Wonderlic score was below 50%. But, hey, other than that…..

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