The 2012 Tennessee Titans draft was completed on April 28. The 2012 NFL Draft was the first draft from first-year general manager Ruston Webster since he was promoted to his current position. The Titans drafted seven players, five of which were defensive players. This doesn't include undrafted free agents.
Here's a brief preview of each draft pick and my overall feelings about Webster's first draft as the general manager.
The Titans used their first-round pick (20th overall) on Baylor University wide receiver Kendall Wright. Wright is an explosive playmaker who could be the perfect compliment to Kenny Britt. Ironically, the Titans used a first-round pick on Britt in 2009.
The Titans used their second-round pick (52nd overall) on University of North Carolina outside linebacker Zach Brown. The Titans also used a second-round pick on Akeem Ayers in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Wes Bunting, the director of college scouting for the National Football Post, claims that Brown should immediately become one of the NFL's best linebackers in pass coverage. Unfortunately, he's another linebacker who probably won't excel in run defense because he's a suspect tackler.
Colin McCarthy was a pleasant surprise for the Titans in 2011. I'm interested to see how they use Brown and what this means for William Witherspoon. Brown had 105 tackles with seven pass deflections, 5.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and three interceptions during his senior season in 2011.
The Titans used two of their picks on defensive linemen when they selected University of Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin with their third-round pick (82nd overall) and Rice University defensive end Scott Solomon with their seventh-round pick (211th overall).
Martin is a former wrestler who will join Jurrell Casey, Karl Klug and possibly Leger Douzable in a rotation of interior defensive linemen on a revamped defensive line. Martin's greatest asset is his strength as he can reportedly squat 700 pounds and bench press 500 pounds. Martin will hopefully improve an interior run defense that was far too soft in 2011.
I wouldn't expect Solomon to be anything more than a member of the practice squad. We'll see if he's ready to contribute in 2012.
The Titans also drafted two defensive backs when they took Clemson University cornerback Coty Sensabaugh with their fourth-round pick (115th overall) and Oklahoma State University free safety Markelle Martin with their sixth-round pick (190th overall).
Sensabaugh is the cousin of Dallas Cowboys safety Gerald Sensabaugh. Sensabaugh should figure into a committee of cornerbacks who could replace Cortland Finnegan as the nickelback (or play on the outside while Alterraun Verner plays nickelback). Those defensive backs include Ryan Mouton, Chris Hawkins, Tommie Campbell and Sensbaugh.
Martin will give the Titans more depth at safety. He could potentially challenge Jordan Babineaux for a starting gig by the end of the season. I wouldn't be surprised if Michael Griffin was parted with following the 2012 NFL season if management felt like Martin was an upgrade at a fraction of the cost.
The Titans used their fifth-round pick (145th overall) on Southern Methodist University (SMU) tight end Taylor Thompson. Thompson has never caught a pass because he spent the majority of his collegiate football career as a defensive end. The Titans not only liked him enough to draft him, they liked him enough to trade up 10 spots for him.
Personally, I'm somewhat surprised by this decision. The Titans signed Craig Stevens to a four-year contract this offseason and they already have another up-and-coming tight end with Jared Cook. Daniel Graham gives them a serviceable No. 3 tight end.
Thompson should either overtake Graham's spot on the roster or be placed on the practice squad while he learns the position in 2012. Maybe this guy can blossom into a nifty gadget for Jake Locker in a couple seasons.
Local Fan's Take
The Titans forewent an opportunity to take University of Wisconsin center Peter Konz with their 52nd pick. In fact, they neglected the offensive line throughout the entire draft. I'm guessing that they're satisfied with Fernando Velasco challenging Eugene Amano for the starting position at center. David Stewart, Michael Roos, Leroy Harris and Steve Hutchinson are the other offensive linemen who are expected to start.
The Titans drafted oodles of speed. They're normally successful with their first-round picks as long as they can avoid durability issues with injuries and behavioral matters. I'm in "Wait-and-see" mode with the rest of this draft. They acquired some players with good upside and it'll be up to the coaching staff (primarily defensive coordinator Jerry Gray) to get the most out of these projects.
2012 Tennessee Titans Draft Picks
Round 1, Pick 20: WR Kendall Wright (Baylor)
Round 2, Pick 52: LB Zach Brown (North Carolina)
Round 3, Pick 82: DL Mike Martin (Michigan)
Round 4, Pick 115: CB Coty Sensabaugh (Clemson)
Round 5, Pick 145: TE Taylor Thompson (SMU)
Round 6, Pick 190: S Markelle Martin (Oklahoma State)
Round 7, Pick 211: DL Scott Solomon (Rice)
Joshua Huffman graduated from Middle Tennessee State University as a marketing major in 2009. He's been a Middle Tennessee resident from 1986-88 and 2001-present. He lived in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin from 1988-01 and for approximately eight months in 2009-10 as he completed a 20-game volunteer position with the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers. His favorite sports organizations include the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cubs, Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans. He can be found on Twitter HERE.
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