Tennessee Titans Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington – Round 2
After releasing the declining Chris Johnson, the Titans had to come away from the 2014 NFL Draft with a starting running back. They were able to do so by making Bishop Sankey the first running back drafted in the 2014 NFL Draft. The 5-foot-9, 209-pounder should immediately become Tennessee’s featured runner and the team’s lead back on first and second down.

Sankey has deceptive speed with a second gear to rip off yards in the second level. He also is a strong runner who picks up yards after contact and is a good receiver. Sankey was one of the best running backs in college football in 2013. He averaged 5.8 yards per carry on the year for 1,775 yards with 18 touchdowns. The junior also tracked down 25 receptions for 298 yards and another score. Sankey averaged five yards per carry and totaled 1,439 yards with 16 touchdowns in 2012. He also caught 33 passes for 249 yards.

The Titans have a good plan for Sankey. Veteran Shonn Greene can share the load with some of the short-yardage situations, while Dexter McCluster can serve as the third-down back. The veterans should help keep Sankey fresh. Sankey should get the majority of the Titans’ carries and is a favorite for Rookie of the Year honors.

Most Likely To Bust

Marqueston Huff, S/CB, Wyoming – Round 4
I really liked Tennessee’s draft, so it was hard to make a selection as a potential bust. Huff was another quality pick, but he could have the most bust potential of any of the Titans’ picks because he is a tweener cornerback and safety. Huff also is making a big jump in competition from Wyoming, and the majority of smaller school players are unable to adjust.

In college, Huff started at cornerback for two seasons before moving to safety. The 5-foot-11, 196-pounder had solid production as a corner, but didn’t show a lot of ball skills. He produced more as a safety.

The Titans let Alterraun Verner leave in free agency, so adding a defensive back for depth made sense. Safeties Michael Griffin and Bernard Pollard are good starters, so Tennessee is set there, but a versatile defender like Huff provides nice flexible depth on game days at corner and safety while also being a special teams contributor. I don’t think Huff is likely to bust, and I think he’ll be solid depth, but of all Tennessee’s 2014 picks, Huff is most likely to bust.

Potential Boom Pick

Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan – Round 1
The critics are too short-term oriented; Tennessee’s front office did a masterful job in the 2014 NFL Draft. In a great draft class, the Titans were in a good position to land a difference-maker with the 11th overall-pick, but did even better to come away with one of the top talents in the 2014 NFL Draft. Lewan was rated sixth on this writers’s big board, and through sources with the Titans, I learned that he was sixth overall on their draft board as well. Multiple teams have told WalterFootball.com that they had Lewan graded higher than the first two picks of the 2013 NFL Draft, Kansas City’s Eric Fisher and Jacksonville’s Luke Joeckel.

Lewan is the future franchise left tackle for Tennessee, and the Titans showed great long-term planning by taking him even though they have Michael Roos for another season. The 6-foot-7, 309-pound Lewan is very experienced after starting at Michigan for four years. He is a quick, long and athletic tackle who can handle speed rushers. Lewan also is a strong run-blocker and better in the ground game than many first-round left tackle prospects. The former Wolverine plays with a mean streak, and that seems to be an attribute that is getting harder to find. Lewan’s development will also be aided by learning behind Roos for a year rather than getting thrown into the fire.

In the long term, Lewan could be one of the top tackles in the AFC and a Pro Bowler. With Lewan, Andy Levitre, Chance Warmack and Michael Oher, the Titans could have one of the top offensive lines in the NFL for years to come.

Future Depth Player

Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU – Round 7
The majority of teams had Mettenberger as a second-round talent, so Tennessee landing him in the seventh round was a major steal. Mettenberger fell in the draft because of off-the-field concerns and a positive drug test before the 2014 NFL Draft. He also had a late-season ACL tear, but sources said the injury didn’t play into why their teams went with other quarterbacks. It was the off-the-field incidents that sunk Mettenberger, including ugly episodes from his days at Georgia.

That being said, WalterFootball.com knows some teams which drafted quarterbacks that had Mettenberger rated ahead of Vikings first-rounder Teddy Bridgewater. With the Titans issues at quarterback, landing a talented backup with upside in the seventh round was a great value.

The 6-foot-5, 224-pound Mettenberger is a a strong-armed pocket passer who can make all the throws. As a senior, he completed 65 percent of his passes this season for 3,082 yards with 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Mettenberger showed massive improvement under the direction of new offensive Cam Cameron, formerly of the Ravens, Dolphins and Chargers. Mettenberger’s experience in a pro-style offense should help him, plus he is a good fit for new Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt.

Mettenberger landed in a great situation in Tennessee. Starter Jake Locker is in a career year and has had issues staying healthy. If Mettenberger is pressed into the lineup, it will be because of injuries, but if he plays well, he could become the Titans presumptive quarterback of the future. If Locker stays healthy and is able to sustain the good play he flashed in 2013, Mettenberger will simply be a quality depth player for Tennessee.

Walt’s 2014 NFL Draft Grades:

11. Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan: A- Grade
Taylor Lewan, or one of Michael Oher or Michael Roos will have to play guard in 2014. Lewan, of course, will be the left tackle of the future once Roos moves on, so this pick makes a ton of sense. Lewan was also arguably the prospect available, as Mel Kiper promised that he would not escape the top six. There are some character issues with him, but there’s no doubt that Jake Locker’s protection has improved tremendously. There are no now excuses for Locker.

54. Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington: B Grade
Bishop Sankey has made history by becoming the first running back in a draft ever chosen after pick No. 37. I did not think Sankey was going to be the first back off the board, but he makes sense for a team that just lost Chris Johnson to the Jets. The Titans didn’t have a viable starting running back on the roster, so that has likely changed.

112. DaQuan Jones, NT, Penn State: A- Grade
It’s about time the Titans secured some new pieces for their 3-4. I don’t like their scheme change because they don’t have 3-4 personnel, but DaQuan Jones will really help. He’s a talented nose tackle who should see a decent amount of action as a rookie. He could have gone earlier than this, so I like this pick a lot.

122. Marqueston Huff, S/CB, Wyoming: C+ Grade
There were better options available for the Titans at this juncture, but it’s not a terrible pick. I would have liked Tennessee to pick a pass-rusher or a more natural cornerback, but secondary help is needed. I had Marqueston Huff in the fifth round, so it’s a bit of a reach.

151. Avery Williamson, ILB, Kentucky: C Grade
This is too early for Avery Williamson, but I can’t say I’m surprised that the Titans are picking an inside linebacker out of the SEC. The position was a big need, especially with a new 3-4 scheme being installed. Wesley Woodyard was signed, but depth is needed.

178. Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU: A Grade
Tennessee fans have to love this. Zach Mettenberger was viewed as a second-round prospect prior to the torn ACL, positive drug test and other medical issues. That’s a lot, so Mettenberger deserved to drop, but he should have gone in the fourth round. He could develop into Tennessee’s future starter.

2014 NFL Draft Team Grade: B . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

Tennessee Titans Season Preview

Fantasy Football Rankings - May 23

2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 21

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

NFL Picks - Feb. 12