Will the 2008 Titan draft class produce immediately?

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Outside of S/CB Michael Griffin, the 2007 Tennessee Titan draft class failed to consistently yield positive results during their rookie seasons. RB Chris Henry displayed a few flashes of brilliance, but overall, he didn’t make that much of an impact during his rookie campaign. Fourth-rounder Chris Davis contributed some on special teams, serving as the teamís punt returner, but his six fumbles (three lost) took a little luster off of his rookie performance.
Injuries sealed the fates of DT Antonio Johnson and DE Jacob Ford, who both missed the entire 2007 season because of season-ending leg injuries. WR Paul Williams, despite being healthy, failed to catch a single pass during his rookie year.
As for the remainder of the 2007 draft picks, C/G Leroy Harris and T Mike Otto remain on the roster but WR Joel Filani and DB Ryan Smith are no longer Titans.
In year two of the Mike Reinfeldt regime, the Titans could use some better first-year production from this yearís draft picks. Letís take a look at each of the 2008 drafteesí chances of contributing as rookies.

Chris Johnson RB
Johnson is expected to provide the element of playmaking to the Titans offense next season. The pressure will be on him to perform well from day one, and based on initial impressions, he appears to be quite capable of being an impact player during his rookie year in the NFL.
Jason Jones DE/DT
Jones will get the opportunity to contribute at two positions during his rookie year. As a result of the free agent losses of Travis LaBoy and Antwan Odom, Jones will have every chance to produce as a rookie.
Jason, who also played DT in college, is also expected to contribute at the DT position as well. Replacing Randy Starks as a backup at the DT spot shouldnít be too difficult, especially considering Randyís poor performance last season.
Iím expecting good things from Jones next season.
Craig Stevens TE
Stevens will be competing for playing time on a Titan roster thatís full of TEís. Newcomer Alge Crumpler and fourth-year pro Bo Scaife will receive the bulk of the playing time at the position.
Barring injury, I expect Stevens to contribute mostly on special teams in his rookie season. His blocking ability should also allow him some playing time in certain running situations as well.
William Hayes DE
The bright lights of the NFL are a long way from tiny Winston-Salem State. Hayes may struggle some while trying to adjust to the speed of the NFL game, but his talent-level has Jeff Fisher and Jim Washburn convinced that he will become a good player down the road.
Lavelle Hawkins WR
Considering the number of candidates competing for playing time at the WR position, it will be difficult for Hawkins to make an impact on the field during his rookie season. Hawkins should be viewed as a developmental prospect, with any production he is able to provide next season serving as the proverbial icing on the cake.
Stanford Keglar LB
Outside linebacker is a position of strength for the Titans, with veterans Keith Bulluck and David Thornton manning the fort. In his rookie season, Keglar will have the opportunity of learning from two of the best, while also contributing to special teams.
Cary Williams CB
The Titans have a history of getting production from seventh-round cornerbacks. Cortland Finnegan (2006) and Reynaldo Hill (2005) are recent Titan selections in the draftís final round that have been able to overcome the odds and become contributors in the NFL.
Williams has a good size-speed combination and will get the opportunity to produce on special teams next year. With the advancing age of Nick Harper and the trade of Pacman Jones, Cary plays a position where the opportunity to get on the field during his rookie season is attainable.
Getting on the field will be the goal of each and every member of the 2008 Tennessee Titan draft class. Hopefully, they will be able to fare better than their 2007 counterparts in that department.

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13 Responses to “Will the 2008 Titan draft class produce immediately?”

  1. Tom Gower Says:

    Good post, Drexel. Hopefully the 08s will have a rookie year more like the 05s than the 07s.

  2. adam Says:

    I have a feeling, and it is nothing more than a feeling, that this draft will be more like 2005, or at least more like 06 than 07. I was initially confounded by some of the selections both this year and last. But a month removed from the draft last year I was more hopeful than optimistic about the draft class. I would say I’m failrly optimistic about this class from what little I know of them.

  3. Scott Says:

    One thing that gives me some hope for this draft class are the DE and DT additions (Jones, Hayes and even Booker). The statements that Jim Wasburn has been making about the defensive line and the enthusiasm the DTs and DEs are showing provide some grounds for optimism. In Friday’s Nashville City Paper, he said: “Weíve got some young guys here that like football. Iíve had some guys here that didnít like football. I had some guys last year that didnít like football. But these guys like it, and thatís refreshing to me.” If Washburn is excited about the new linemen he has to work with this season, and he believes their is a new enthusiasm that has been lacking in other years, that is a great sign.

  4. Bobert Says:

    I’m not sure we have the huge holes that make playing rookies a necessity. It’s unlikely that any of these rookies will start this year, barring injury. That’s a good thing. We had a good team last year, and while we lost some players, we also brought in some nice vets. I expect Harris and Paul Williams to get some playing time this season, too. Williams might really surprise. He’s got loads of talent. We’ll see if he’s learned enough during his redshirt season.
    But our rookies are backups learning the trade. Johnson will contribute in a lot of special packages and such. I think he’s the one most likely to make a really noticeable difference. But Griffin played well last year, so we did get first round production out of the last draft class. I think Stevens will play more than you suggest, too. He’s an excellent blocker, and that could get him on the field pretty early. He may even be a starter at some point, though I think Crumpler will be the official starter.

  5. jeff Says:

    Call me crazy, but I see the lack of impact from last year’s rookies as testament to the quality of the Titans drafts in previous years.
    Rookies getting signficant playing time generally indicates one of two things: either the team had a ton of injuries, or their veteran starters weren’t good enough to hold off the rookies. Neither was a problem for the Titans in 2007.
    Two or three rookies should receive significant playing time this year….four, at the most. Any more than that will indicate serious problems with the rest of the roster.

  6. Drexel Perry Says:

    Considering the losses on the DL, I think it’s big if the Titans can get some production out of Jones/Hayes.
    Sure, it is great to have Kearse back in a Titan uniform but at this point in his career, it is anything but a given that he’ll be able to suit up for the entire season.
    Depending on guys like Ford and Johnson to contribute is also risky, considering that both of them are only a year removed from serious leg injuries. It’s great if they step up this year, but I think the likelihood of that occurring is anything but a foregone conclusion.
    In terms of a rookie class producing for a winning team, take a look at the Giants class from last season, with guys such as Bradshaw, Boss, Smith and Ross making big contributions during their Superbowl run.
    Sure, the Titans don’t have a lot of holes. However, if they can get a few of this year’s rookies to contribute, even as part-time players, their chances of winning in a tough AFC South will be enhanced.
    As always, thanks for the comments guys. This is a real good discussion, with good points from all of you.

  7. jrtitans Says:

    Excellent analysis—that really says a lot.
    I will mention this–all of these guys(except Kegler) seem to be great CHARACTER guys which is a good thing.
    I like it when I hear Johnson talking about his goal is the superbowl and has his bar set at A D Petersons performance. Big Play Hayes went to Jevons defensive camp so you know he has to be happy to be here.
    I really like the positive talk.. Fisher and Reiny are happy(given).. Washburn is happy ( good)…Dinger is here ( yeah)…a lot of dead weight is gone and Bulluck said we are a playoff team.
    I didnt hear of any injuries in training camp so its all good. Especially when your hear less than good news out of INDY.
    GO TITANS!

  8. jerry t Says:

    Titans have much better depth now in every position
    and speed. It’s like this in every sport you need a supporting cast which is the bench, titans have that
    chemistry now where if a player slacks a rookie steps
    up and get the job done. these are not you’r every day rookies they have a upside their good, practice and
    gelling with one another will make them produce early
    & johnson will be rookie of the year. GO TITANS….

  9. Drexel Perry Says:

    jrtitans,
    While everyone is raving about Jacksonville and Indy, the Titans will have to go under the radar to prove the critics wrong.
    jerry t,
    I’m also excited about the prospects of this year’s rookie class.
    As always, thanks for the input guys.

  10. Matt Says:

    our rookie class’s contributions are magnified by the fact that we play in the hardest division in football. while the colts appear to be the favorite to win the afc south again, we are going to battle alongside jacksonville to dethrone them. when we play indy, our pass rush is the most important part of the game (imo), and if we can get production out of kearse, johnson, jones, hayes, or ford or some combination of them it could change the game.
    against jacksonville we have to stop the run – so when haynesworth gets tired or hurt, someone has to step in. same situation with our new d-linemen.
    when thinking about our draft, i automatically look at our rivals’ drafts too. if harvey and groves can produce in jacksonville, look out. but houston had an interesting draft…
    duane brown might work out and anchor a texan o-line that has outright sucked in the past. then they picked steve slaton and frank okam (dt, texas). slaton is probably too small, but maybe he can do some damage catching the ball out of the backfield. okam on the other hand strikes me (and many others) to have the physical ability to play in the nfl and be a star, but lacks the work ethic or mentality to actually do it. if he can get his mind right, then they would add to their already stacked d-line.
    the marcus howard and mike hart picks from the colts will be fun to watch as well.
    point is…it could be the contribution of our divisions rookies that decides who goes to the playoffs because of how good the afc south already is.

  11. jerry t Says:

    AFC South is the best in all of football matt, I agree
    our other rivals had a good draft, and so did our titans
    VY has the ability to dominate this up coming season
    all he needs to do is his homework and every thing
    else will develope into a great season it’s all on his shoulders he knows this.I like k bullock attitude this
    season he’s focused it will wipe off on some of the
    other players especially the rookies…thanks drex p
    football means alot to me.TITANS ALL THE WAY..

  12. barry stricklin Says:

    from what i have heard of these new guys ,the titnas might have some players ,but, it will take a while for the new players to learn from the vets, and maybe they will bring us some wins.

  13. Joey Anglin Says:

    I am looking forward too the 2008 and 2009 end games to see the Titans deliver a Stunning Winner of the SUPER BPWl. Go Titans.

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