The Titans are swiftly becoming a "brand" team for me.
The first selection of 2017 was Western Michigan WR Corey Davis, who I had in my Top-5 overall -- and I was a big fan of developmental TE Jonnu Smith coming out of FIU. In 2018, the Titans got another Top-10 player off my board in Harold Landry, as injury concerns pushed him into the second round -- and they snagged a versatile favorite of mine in Arizona S Dane Cruikshank.
The story doesn't change in 2018. The Titans got a third Top-10 player against my board in as many years, selecting the recovering Jeffery Simmons from Mississippi State at 19 overall. This time, they get a couple of my favorite Day 3 guys late, with Amani Hooker, D'Andre Walker, and David Long all grading out as positive value picks against my board.
Round 1, Pick 19: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
Round 2, Pick 51: A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
Round 3, Pick 82: Nate Davis, G, Charlotte
Round 4, Pick 116: Amani Hooker, S, Iowa
Round 5, Pick 168: D'Andre Walker, EDGE, Georgia
Round 6, Pick 188: David Long, LB, West Virginia
As I ripped through the grades I assigned for all 32 teams' classes, the Titans were the only team to not reach once against my board in the 2019 Draft. Highly efficient drafting that filled positions of need.
Best Pick: Mississippi State DT Jeffery Simmons
I wiffled-waffled on this one, unsure if the boom/bust potential of the Simmons' selection had enough risk in it to put this pick below the Brown selection one round later. At the end of the day, I love the idea of a team one game removed from playoff contention taking a huge home run swing: close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
With a high-risk pick in Harold Landry and now in Jeffery Simmons, the Titans have mouthwatering talent along their defensive front: on passing downs, Jurrell Casey, Simmons, Landry, and Cameron Wake is about as scary as it gets in the NFL. Landry needs to remain healthy and Simmons needs to get there -- it's unclear if he'd even be ready for a playoff run in 2019 -- but the Titans got great potential on the cheap.
Simmons could be the best player on that line, when all is said and done. His strength and quickness must return, but during his final season at Mississippi State, you saw utter dominance from Simmons, who isn't lacking in any physical or technical aspect of the game. If he hits, this class will be looked back on as a game-changer in Nashville.
Worst Pick: None
As I said above, I don't think the Titans reached once. Nate Davis is the only player I had ranked overall lower than his draft slot, but I had a mid-third on his grade and they took him in the middle of the third round, so there.
This was an excellent draft.
Best Day 3 Pick: Georgia EDGE D'Andre Walker
I nearly went with Hooker, but I think the need for a developmental player on defense was bigger at EDGE than it was at SAF (or even linebacker, with David Long), so Walker takes the crown here.
Walker, like many Georgia pass-rushers before him (Lorenzo Carter, Leonard Floyd), moved all over the formation for the Bulldogs. That hurts his evaluation, frankly: Walker's stance, step depth and discipline, and rush moves around the outside arc are underdeveloped, as he doesn't have the number of reps there that other 3-4 OLBs do. Walker was regularly asked to play the run, drop into coverage, stunt and twist -- and that versatility is fun, but it bites into his primary rush reps.
Walker needs to work on his stance, his snap timing, and his approach on the high side rush -- but so much of the "extra" stuff is already there. He has good hand-fighting, a great motor to work counters, sufficient bend, and some really nice quickness as well. I trust a coach like Matt Vrabel to get him right and turn him into a great subpackage player early.
Overall Grade: A
In case you missed it, I loved this class. Simmons' risk is unavoidable when you want a player of his caliber on a discount, but they got six players who can be subpackage players at the least and dominant starters at the most -- and against my board, they've been doing that for a couple years now. More like the Ben-nessee Titans...right?