The Mike Munchak era has come and gone in Tennessee, making way for the next sheriff to trot into town. But what will the next head coach have to work with on the field? In this week’s cover32 Titans Top-5, we look that the five best Titans draft picks during the Munchak regime.
5. Jake Locker, Eighth pick of the first-round, 2011
Some may see this as a stretch considering he has only played in 23 of the 48 possible games since he was selected out of Washington. However Locker’s impact on the team was displayed this season when he was out of the lineup with two bad injuries. The Titans struggled to take care of the football in his absence, losing games many believed they’d win under Locker. The Titans were 4-3 under Locker in 2013, placing them on pace for a playoff berth. In those seven games, Locker threw for 1,256 yards, completing over 60-percent of his pass attempts and tossing eight touchdowns to just four interceptions.
Add all of those together and you have the fifth best Titans draft pick during the Mike Munchak regime.
4. Kendall Wright, 20th pick of the first-round, 2012
Kendall Wright certainly looks the part when he walks off the bus. The 5-foot-10, 200-pound wide receiver out of Baylor was the second offensive piece to the plan that was going to weaponize the offense and help out the 2011 first-rounder Jake Locker. In his rookie season Wright was a late bloomer, starting the final five games of the season. Despite only starting those five times, he finished with 64 receptions for 626 yards and four receiving touchdowns. Wright had a better sophomore campaign, though he battled some nagging injuries and spotty backup quarterback play. Wright helped his team this season with 94 catches, eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark, but only catching two touchdowns.
Wright has a bright future with the Titans and will be a key cog in the wheel for a new head coach.
3. Karl Klug, 142nd overall pick, fifth-round, 2011
Who is Karl Klug? How did he make this list? Klug is the guy that every team wishes they had. He does all of the dirty work in the trenches, doesn’t complain and helps his line-mates find some space by taking double teams. Klug has an entire five starts, though he as played in all but one career game in his three year career. Klug has accumulated 41 total tackles, but has also sacked opposing quarterbacks 12.5 times.
Not too bad for a fifth-round pick out of Iowa is it?
2. Akeem Ayers, 39th overall pick, second-round, 2011
Ayers flew up draft boards in 2011 after having a big senior season at UCLA. The Titans grabbed him in the second-round of Munchak’s first draft and got himself and the Titans a gem. Ayers has played in every game since entering the NFL, starting all but four of them. This season Ayers made the move from inside linebacker to strong-side linebacker, even at the cost of his own personal statistics. The UCLA product has 224 total tackles, nine sacks and two interceptions for Tennessee.
Ayers could be a mainstay for a defense that was very good and could get better with some help from the offense.
1. Jurrell Casey, 77th overall pick, third-round, 2011
Who wouldn’t want to draft Pro-Bowlers in the third-round of the draft? Mike Munchak grabbed Casey out of USC, believing he would make an immediate impact on the defensive line-which he has. Casey had a great 2013 for the Titans. The 300-pounder had 54 total tackles and 10.5 sacks in fifteen games for the Titans. Casey was voted to the All-Pro second team for the first time in his career, a roster he should become very familiar with before his career comes to a close.
Casey is the kind of player that coaches build entire units around. Something the new Titans head coach should consider.
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