Titans 2013 Draft Recap
I try to do a post like this one right after the draft, but better late than never. Every year, the Titans draft a bunch of players I know something between way too much and hardly anything at all about, then I write pessimistic, idiosyncratic, and snarky things about them. For an example of what this has looked like in this past, here is last year’s post. This post also serves a purpose for me, in giving me a roughly contemporaneous record of what I thought the Titans should do in the draft. What I do my eventual six-year draft recap post in 2019, I’ll be able to look at this post and the others I’ve written about the draft class and compliment myself on how much more prescient, incisive, and smarter I was than the people who are much better trained, spend a lot more time on it, and whose job actually depends on them being right. In other words, if you complain about my comments in this post being somehow deeply unfair and non-charitable, you’ve missed the entire point.
#1-10: G Chance Warmack, Alabama
And with their first pick in the 2013 NFL draft, the Tennessee Titans completed their surrender. As far as surrenders go, this is much more Compiegne in 1918 than the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri in 1945. The levels of surrender were multiple. First, it was a surrendering of the idea that the Titans were at all capable of drafting and developing offensive linemen, even at the relatively easier interior line spots. This idea had been eviscerated by events, but people still clung to the idea. Second, it was a surrendering of the idea that paying running backs is enough to make a good running game, let alone an offense as a whole. Backs Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene count for a combined $14.5 million and change on the Titans’ 2013 cap. Shouldn’t that much money be able to produce a quality rushing attack without also spending a lot of money (e.g., $46.6 over 6 years on Andy Levitre) and a high draft pick? Third, it’s a surrender to the idea that the next year is all that matters. The selection of Chance Warmack was completely and utterly predictable. Ruston Webster and particularly Mike Munchak need to win in 2013 to not get fired. Right guard was the biggest hole on the roster. Warmack fills that hole well. Who cares if he’s a flippin’ right guard if he fills the biggest need on the team? Who cares if right guard is probably the third-most important position on the offensive line? Who cares if the Titans’ biggest problem may be their lack of elite defensive players? Who cares if the easiest and best place to find premium defensive players is early in the draft? Who cares if Alabama players come out of school beat to hell? Who cares about the recent track record of Alabama offensive linemen? And, of course, like Compiegne, the aftermath will be a denial that a surrender was necessary or otherwise even really took place. At least here the eventual struggle won’t end up with tens of millions of people dead. (If need be, see above re snark and unfairness.) I wanted Star Lotulelei with this pick.
#2-35: WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee
I wrote, but deleted a long rant about the Hunter pick, including particularly the trade the Titans made to move up and get him. If I were being fair, I’d say the trade conformed well to the Jimmy Johnson trade chart. Thankfully, I’m not. The trade chart, including particularly the discounting of a future pick by a full round, represents a completely unwise form of hyperbolic discounting that should be completely ignored by an intelligent front office. San Francisco made the trade because they realized the Titans were willing to value that future third-round pick as a mid-fourth-rounder. They were willing to do that because they’d done a bad job of building a team and were backed into a corner, looking at a roster and seeing a need for the guy to be their Paul Warfield on the 1972 Miami Dolphins. San Francisco did a much better job, and were able to destroy the Titans because of it. Blogfriend Chase Stuart declared the 49ers to be significant winners on this trade, and I concur 100% with his take.
As to Hunter the player, well, I made the Paul Warfield comparison for a reason, the fast receiver who gets thrown 2 play-action bombs a game. Mike Tanier has written often about how the effect of Warfield is hard for current eyes to locate in a 29-606-3 statline. As I wrote before the Titans selected Kendall Wright in the first round of last year’s draft, the Titans have a Kenny Britt dilemma. Hunter will be more useful when Britt is almost certainly plying his trade elsewhere in 2014, but I’m really looking forward to that 25-428-2 this year as A Total Gamechanger. I mean, just look at what other early second-round receivers have done lately! In a world where the Titans listen to me and don’t draft Chance Warmack, I wanted Larry Warford with this pick. With Warmack off the board, I would’ve preferred the player the 49ers ended up selecting with the 40th pick the Titans gave up, Tank Carradine, or playing cornerback roulette.
#3-70: CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, UConn
Instead, the Titans put their money on cornerback roulette with the next pick. A zillion and a half (actual number: 18) defensive backs went in the second and third rounds, and aside from Johnathan Cyprien (33rd to the Jaguars, WANT) and T.J. McDonald (71st to the Rams, DO NOT WANT), I didn’t have strong feelings about any of them aside from humbly requesting the Titans draft a player who was good in the slot if they didn’t see Alterraun Verner as their slot cornerback (which I thought then and believe even stronger now they do not). Wreh-Wilson seems like a good guy. Historically, though, the second round has been a much better spot than the third to play cornerback roulette, while Marquise Goodwin, Markus Wheaton, and Terrance Williams, fast wideouts all, went in the next 10 picks.
#3-97: LB Zaviar Gooden, Missouri
Or, “we don’t have a backup weakside linebacker and we need one.” See above re surrendering and drafting for 2013 needs, even relatively minor ones. I had mostly lost track of the draft board at this point and did not have strong feelings on whom the Titans should have selected here, aside from liking Alex Okafor enough that I would have been willing to overlook his Texas pedigree at this point in the draft. See above re need for good defensive players.
#4-107: C Brian Schwenke, California
Every year I’ve done this, I say all sorts of unkind things about most of the picks and then I say some relatively nice things about one or a few of the picks. So, nice things. This pick reminds me of how the Titans used to do things on the offensive line, before they started drafting guards in the top ten. Fernando Velasco had a decent enough year and is in place for 2013 on a restricted free agent deal, but they don’t need to commit to him. Schwenke wasn’t the first center off the board, but a lot of people liked him as the top center in the draft. May never make an All-Pro or even a Pro Bowl, but pencil him in as the starter for 2014 through 2022 or so. He was also the player I wanted the Titans to take in this spot.
#5-142: DE Lavar Edwards, LSU
I tweeted after Day Two of the draft concluded that the Titans seemed to like their defensive linemen more than I liked their defensive linemen. Well, they finally addressed the position here. I hadn’t watched Edwards particularly before the draft, but he was the third LSU defensive end off the board. Normally that would be a red flag, but Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery isn’t a bad pair to go behind. I had no issues with this pick and no particular priorities for what the Titans should do with it.
#6-202: CB Khalid Wooten, Nevada
As much as I didn’t try to distinguish the second- and third-round defensive backs, I spent even less time before the draft trying to distinguish the players who would be drafted later. I’m not sure I watched an entire Nevada game in 2012, and if I did I certainly didn’t pay enough attention to notice Wooten. I noted in last year’s post the Titans had at least in the past earned a certain degree of deference with their third day corner selections. I’m not sure that applies, especially now, but getting exercise over sixth-round picks is not my idea of a good use of time.
#7-248: S Daimion Stafford, Nebraska
The difference between the bottom of the seventh round and a priority free agent is minimal, so I’m not sure if a selection of Stafford meant the Titans liked Stafford or just thought he was a better option at safety relative to the UDFA options at safety relative to the other players at other positions relative to the UDFA options at those positions. The second half of the preceding sentence may make more sense if presented in graphical format, but it’s not important enough for me to make such a graphic. Unlike Wooten, I did notice Stafford in college and, well, he was a seventh-round pick for a reason. I thought getting a developmental strong safety type should be a priority for the Titans, but the draft sometimes falls in a way that you don’t get everything you want.
Just for the record, here were my pre-draft percentage chances of the Titans drafting a player at each position, along with the number of players the Titans actually drafted at each position:
QB: 10% (0)
RB: 40% (0)
WR: 25% (1)
TE: 20% (0)
OT: 30% (0)
OG/C: 100% for 1, 50% for 2+ (2)
DE: 85% (1)
DT: 70% (0)
LB: 80% (1)
CB: 90% (2)
S: 80% (1)
Obviously the Hunter pick threw me, as did their lack of interest in an upgrade at defensive tackle in a good year to do so. Aside from that, they picked the positions I thought they’d pick for the second year in a row.