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Titans address depth with stellar draft


For the first time in several years, the Titans weren't working from the ground up during a draft.

In fact, entering the 2020 draft, the Titans didn't have any major glaring holes to fill.

After moving on from the Marcus Mariota era, the Titans settled on Ryan Tannehill to be the core to build around.

Throw in the fact the Titans placed a franchise tag on Derrick Henry, and the core of the team that bulldozed its way to the AFC title game last season is returning.

So without any major fixes to address, how did the Titans' draft turn out this season?

***1. Isaiah Wilson OT (UGA)

This is really a no-brainer pick. Wilson, an offensive lineman from Georgia, gives the Titans some talent up front.

As a run-priority offense with a locomotive like Derrick Henry steaming out of the backfield, addresing the depth up front becomes a key component in building not only depth, but quality depth.

Wilson is listed as a 6-foot-7, 340 lb. offensive lineman who earned All-SEC second team honors.

Wilson was the 29th overall pick could be just the bully the Titans need to bolster the roster up front.

He was a two-year starter for the Bulldogs and played in 25 games, earning starting time in 24 of his career games.

After being drafted, Wilson said “I think the best part of my game is I am physical and I enjoy beating people up.”

That sort of mentality fits right in with what the Titans want to do with Henry in the run game.

Grade: A-

***2. Kristian Fulton CB (LSU)

Any time you can draft a national champion to help address the needs of your secondary, you've got a great pick.

Throw in the fact Fulton was graded as having first-round talent, the Titans scored a major second-round win with their selection of a ballhawk corner with true shut down talent.

Fulton is slightly undersized, listed at six-foot, 197 pounds.

The major reason the talented Fulton fell out of the first round could be due to his checkered past.

During the 2017, Fulton was suspended for the entire season after being caught tampering with a drug test.

Whatever the reason for the misstep, he responded with a solid 2018 season and an even better 2019.

He recorded 38 tackles last season, including 28 solo.

Fulton comes to Nashville as a versatile athlete who can fill any need at corner.

Grade: A

***3. Darrynton Evans RB (ASU)

With Derrick Henry emerging as arguably the best between-the-tackles back in the NFL, the Titans needed to address the depth to complement Henry in the backfield.

In the last two seasons, the Titans have leaned on the talents of Dion Lewis in 2018, but saw a noticeable drop off in production during 2019, tallying just 209 yards—a staggering 1,300 fewer than Henry.

Make no mistakes—Henry is the guy the Titans want carrying the ball on first and second down, but he needs someone to share the load with.

For that, the Titans looked to Appalachian State's Darrynton Evans.

This guy not only adds a capable-bodied back that can get into plus yardage, but is a guy who can be used for quick swing passes.

During 2019, Evans recorded 1,480 rushing yards and scored 18 touchdowns.

He also added 198 receiving yards on 21 catches and tacked on five more touchdowns.

Evans is a guy who not only can get the yards on the ground, but can give the Titans' offense a new level of dynamic, even when Henry isn't on the field.

Grade: A-

***4. Larrell Murchison DT (NCSU)

In the fifth-round, the Titans' general manager Jon Robinson turned his focus to adding more depth on the defensive line.

That pick came in the form of Larrell Murchison from NC State.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 297 pound, he's smaller than your typical defensive lineman, but can utilize his quickness as an edge rusher.

During 2019, Murchsion recorded 48 total tackles, 12 of which were for loss. He recorded 24 solo tackles and added 24 more assisted tackles.

As a third-day pick, this isn't bad by any stretch.

And with the way the Titans have been able to cultivate defensive talent over the last three seasons, he has a huge potential to grow even more.

Grade: B-

***5. Cole McDonald QB (HAW)

Last season, the Titans took a gamble signing Ryan Tannehill as a backup to Marcus Mariota.

The move proved to be a huge win after it became evident Mariota was unable to run the offense.

Since then, Mariota has moved on to the Las Vegas Raiders, leaving the quarterback role entirely in the hands of Tannehill.

Still, as evidenced in Super Bowl LII when backup quarterback Nick Foles went on to win the Super Bowl MVP, backup quarterbacks are proving to be worth their weight in gold as the NFL continues to evolve.

With Mariota's departure, that left a void in the backup role that Robinson had to address.

While Cole McDonald wasn't at the top of any Heisman or Davy O'Brien list, McDonald put up some solid numbers over the last two seasons.

In 2018, he threw for over 3,800 yards and had 36 touchdowns.

He upped his game in 2019 and eclipsed the 4,100-yard mark and had 33 touchdowns against 14 picks.

Listed at six-foot-three and 215 pounds, he has the size you'd want in a NFL quarterback.

Grade: B-

***6. Chris Jackson S (MU)

The Titans' final pick in the 2020 draft came in the form of another defensive addition, mainly giving the Titans more depth.

Chris Jackson worked as a safety/corner during his time at Marshall and finished his career as the all-time leader in passes broken up.

Due to his flexibility at playing either corner or safety, the Titans can flex him into multiple positions if he can make the final cut later this year.

Grade: B-

This was a great draft for the Titans. There weren't any flashy or sexy picks by Robinson—but for the first time in a long time, the Titans didn't need to make a splash with that kind of pick.

This draft was entirely about addressing depth and that's just what the front office did.

If the returning cast of talent is able to recapture the magic that led to the AFC title game last season, this could be a club that challenges Kansas City as the top AFC team for a second year in a row—perhaps even more so now with not just some depth, but quality depth at that.

Grade: B+


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