Interesting draft theory for Titans
A couple weeks ago, a contrarian draft idea for the Titans was mentioned to me. I always appreciate people thinking outside the box- bonus if they can use some logic and NFL history to support it.
My guess is that the readers won’t like this but, here goes-
Titans draft a running back with one of their first round picks.
In 2005, the Titans weren’t very effective in the run game. Chris Brown was a good running back and Travis Henry was a pretty big free agent signing back then. The two of them only combined for 1186 yards rushing. The Titans drafted Lendale White in the second round.In 2006.
In 2006, the Titans had the same fine backfield. Travis Henry ran for 1211 yards in 13 starts. During this period, the team transitioned from Steve McNair to Vince Young at quarterback. A good runner was essential with a young quarterback at the helm. Henry provided that and they still had Chris Brown “just in case” as a quality backup.
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The following year, the Titans would watch Travis Henry “walk” and draft running back Chris Henry in the second round. It was White’s turn to carry the rock. He ran for 1110 yards, while Brown backed him up and added 462 of his own. There were tons of negative comments relating to White’s weight, but he did well. A running back that gets 1100 yards his first year as the lead back, is nothing to shake a stick at. The Titans did though.
In 2008, the Titans drafted Chris Johnson in the first round. CJ would run for more than 1200 yards his first year and more than 2000 his second year. CJ would wind up with one of the most impressive first three years of any running back in NFL history.
At each point, one could make an argument that the Titans were fine at running back and didn’t need to address it in the draft. The Titans had a wonderful offensive and defensive line, but they were getting older and they were losing players in free agency. At the time, drafting linemen would probably have been viewed as a better decision on draft day.
Whether it defied popular opinion and common draft logic or not, “hammering” the running back position every offseason worked well for them. In 2009, they even drafted another running back. In the fifth round, they selected Javon Ringer. While this pick was likely “best player available,” it’s worth noting that they drafted another.
Prior to this current draft, DeMarco Murray was the third best runner last season. Former Heisman trophy winner, Derrick Henry, looks like he will be a special back someday. The Titans are totally fine at running back. They are “set” with no pressing need. Their offensive line is one of the best as it was back then. Their coach wants to run the ball often, as the coach did back then. There are similarities.
I don’t subscribe to this draft theory of the Titans selecting another running back in the first round. I think the team has far more pressing needs that should be filled.
I enjoy this suggestion. It’s got a whole “no way! but wait” vibe to it that really makes it fun to think about. Now that the Titans didn’t sign or trade for a “big time” free agent wide receiver, the running game is sure to remain the focus in 2017. No one would “bark” about them drafting a running back if that running back runs for 2000 yards in year two. I see it. I understand the thinking. I don’t think it’s the best route for the Titans to take.
The running back market in the NFL is terrible right now. A year after running backs seemed “a dime a dozen,” Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson are struggling to find work. One of 2016’s big free agent running backs was Alfred Morris. He is a backup now.
I am thinking more like Javon Ringer, again, who was best player available. I wrote previously of Samaje Perrine falling to the fifth round in many mock drafts. He has risen in some mocks, while others have left him unchanged.
I see several very good prospects. The weak market dictates that if Titans general manager Jon Robinson wants to add a runner, he doesn’t need to overspend. Then there’s the draft with those pretty good prospects sitting there late. They’ll require minimal contracts as the NFL now slots salaries based upon where a player is drafted. I see quality, value, frugality…everything that I understand Robinson to be interested in. It’s all there for the taking.