Tennessee Titans Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell
May 28, 2013

Solid Starter

Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, Connecticut – Round 3
The Titans landed four potential starters in the 2013 NFL Draft, so on paper the team did a tremendous job on draft weekend. For a solid starter, I was torn between picking center Brian Schwenke or Wreh-Wilson. However, Wreh-Wilson has a better chance of cracking the lineup early and could be a starter by the beginning of his second season.

One reason why Wreh-Wilson could develop into a starter quickly is his intelligence and ability to adapt. He played in a variety of schemes at Connecticut, which developed his overall skill set as a corner. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder has the size to matchup against big receivers and is a nice scheme fit for Tennessee. Some felt he merited a late first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.

The Titans never adequately replaced Cortland Finnegan after losing him in free agency in 2012. Starting cornerback Alterraun Verner will be a free agent next offseason, so Wreh-Wilson should be a starter before long.

Most Likely To Bust

Zavier Gooden, OLB, Missouri – Round 3
I really like what Ruston Webster did this offseason and think he is a good general manager, but I really hated this pick. Gooden was an underachiever in college who never played up to his great athletic skill set. In fact, he got worse each season as a starter.

Gooden finished seventh on Missouri in tackles last year with only 62 stops. The senior also had one interception, four tackles for a loss and one pass batted, but no forced fumbles or sacks. He looked completely overmatched in the SEC. Gooden had 80 tackles, two interceptions and one sack in 2011. His best year came as a first-year starter in 2010 when he had 85 tackles, three sacks, two picks and a forced fumble.

It wasn’t a surprise that Gooden was a workout warrior at the Combine. He is very fast, but he lacks instincts. Basically, the Titans used a third-round pick on a backup linebacker. They already have their starting trio in Akeem Ayers, Zach Brown and Colin McCarthy. Tennessee lacks depth at defensive end and Texas’ Alex Okafor was available. There were even better college linebackers available with Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene and Penn State’s Gerald Hodges.

Gooden looks like just a backup and special teams contributor. I think this Titans’ draft class is going to look very good years from now, but I think the one glaring mistake will be Gooden.

Potential Boom Pick

Chance Warmack, G, Alabama – Round 1
The Titans had to improve the interior of their offensive line this offseason, and they came away with a potential stud guard in Warmack. He is a perfect fit in Tennessee’s offense and will immediately improve the physicality up front.

Warmack should pay quick dividends as a rookie. He could be a road-grading blocker for Chris Johnson. At the very least, Warmack will improve Tennessee’s run blocking significantly. He also will make the interior pass protection better for Jake Locker. Warmack’s excellent pass blocking has been overshadowed because he is such a great run-blocker. He should make a difference for Tennessee from the beginning.

Taking a guard in the top 10 has was poor value in the NFL draft for a long time, but that was before the rookie wage scale. It is conceivable that Warmack could become one of the best guards in the NFL during his rookie contract. Considering the massive dollars given out to veterans like Carl Nicks, Andy Levitre, Davin Joseph and Jahri Evans, that makes Warmack a nice salary cap value for the Titans.

Tennessee had to get Locker and Johnson some help. Warmack and Levitre should be a huge upgrade at guard in 2013.

Future Depth Player

Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee – Round 2
I’m cheating a little bit by claiming Hunter as a depth player. He could easily be slotted as Tennessee’s boom pick or solid starter, but early on, he’ll be behind Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright on the depth chart. The Titans will still get plenty of use out of Hunter in three-receiver sets with Wright moving inside to the slot.

I had Houston taking Hunter in the first round of my final 2013 NFL Mock Draft. The Texans were going to take him if DeAndre Hopkins didn’t fall to them. Hopkins landed with Houston, but Hunter got the opportunity to prove that he should’ve been the pick after the Titans traded up to keep him playing football in Tennessee.

Sources told WalterFootball.com that they loved Hunter’s upside and gave him a first-round grade. He has the speed to stretch defenses vertically along with the size to work the short and intermediate parts of the field. Hunter is filled with potential and should be faster in 2013 after being another year removed from his 2011 knee injury.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Hunter pans out for the Titans. That could lead to Britt being expendable after his off-the-field issues along with age and wear-and-tear. Hunter and Wright could have the upside to be a dangerous one-two combination with both having the ability to burn defenses downfield.

Hunter should be a nice red-zone weapon for Jake Locker in the short team. The 6-foot-4 receiver has leaping ability and a big wing span which let him be a real mismatch on fade passes. Hunter will start out his career as a depth player, but he certainly has the ability to be more than that.

2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:

10. Chance Warmack, G, Alabama: C Grade
It’s one thing to draft Jonathan Cooper in the top 10 because he can play center as well as guard. It’s another to go with Chance Warmack, who can’t be anywhere but guard. Once again, this is way too early to select a guard, but I’m not giving the Titans as poor of a grade as the Cardinals because they didn’t have much of a choice. The front office needed to do something to help Jake Locker and Chris Johnson in order to keep their jobs, and Warmack is the best offensive talent on the board. It would have been nice if Tennessee could have traded down, but that may not have been possible.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

34. Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee: A- Grade
I love this move, as Tennessee surrendered a 2014 third-rounder to move here. Justin Hunter should have been taken in the first round. He’s unbelievably athletic and has tremendous upside. The Titans had to find some weapons for Jake Locker because if he doesn’t succeed, the coaching staff and front office will be fired.

70. Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, Connecticut: A Grade
There was some talk that Blidi Wreh-Wilson could sneak into the end of the first round, so you have to love the value here. The Titans were said to consider Dee Milliner at No. 10, but Wreh-Wilson isn’t a bad consolation prize, as he will help fill a huge need at cornerback.

97. Zaviar Gooden, OLB, Missouri: B Grade
The Titans had to find some linebacker depth, and they’re getting a pretty good talent in Zaviar Gooden. I had Gooden around this range – in fact, I mocked him to Tennessee’s early fourth-rounder for weeks – so I like this pick.

107. Brian Schwenke, C/G, California: A- Grade
The Titans continue to bolster the interior of their offensive line, turning last year’s glaring weakness into a strength. I like Brian Schwenke a lot and feel like he should have gone a round earlier.

142. Lavar Edwards, DE, LSU: B Grade
Tennessee had very little depth at defensive end going into the 2013 NFL Draft, so this pick makes sense from a needs standpoint. Lavar Edwards is also in the right range as a fifth-round prospect.

202. Khalid Wooten, CB, Nevada: B Grade
No surprise that the Titans drafted a second cornerback because their pass defense was so woeful last year. They liked Wooten, which is why I mocked him to Tennessee in the seventh round.

248. Daimion Stafford, S, Nebraska: B Grade
I expected the Titans to draft a safety earlier, but better late than never. Daimion Stafford fits the range, so this is a solid choice.

2013 NFL Draft Team Grade: A- . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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