Thoughts on roster construction, plus links

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Before the draft, I wrote a post wondering if the Titans had room for all their draft picks, and speculated the Titans would look to get rid of some of their draft picks by moving up, because they didn’t have room for all of them.  Of course, those wacky folks at Baptist Sports Park then went ahead and not only kept their draft picks, they traded one of the most valuable commodities the NFL has, a second round pick, from next year’s draft to draft another player who’ll beat out somebody who was good enough to play on last year’s 13-3, #1-seeded team.  Does this make any sense?


I admit, I didn’t phrase what was going on in the light most favorable to Messrs. Reinfeldt and Fisher-I think there is a method to the madness, and Cortland Finnegan in a pre-draft interview shed some light on the subject.  Paraphrasing (I’m afraid I lost the link to this), he said that if he hadn’t been drafted by the Titans, there’s no way he would have signed there.  First, the Titans tend not to be the bigger spenders on undrafted free agents-if you’re getting one bite at guaranteed money, you want as much as possible.  Second, despite Drew Bennett, Ahamard Hall, and a couple other guys, the Titans don’t tend to keep undrafted free agents.

Finnegan thus highlights one of the thinks about the NFL you don’t really think about-if you’re a player, you’re better off going undrafted than being drafted in the 6th or 7th round, especially if you’re taken by a team (like this year’s Titans) where it’ll be very difficult to win a roster spot.  Finnegan’s choice of the Titans or another team as an undrafted free agent was $5,000 versus $15,000; Nick Schommer’s choice is being listed as a draft pick and getting $45,000 or so in bonus then getting cut, or getting a $10,000 bonus and the chance to pick his best shot of making an NFL roster and getting the $385,000 salary he almost certainly won’t get with the Titans.  Jason McCourty, Dominique Edison, Ryan Durand, Nick Schommer-you may be draft picked, but from the Titans’ perspective, you’re a better alternative to an undrafted free agent, in quality terms, but your chance of making the team isn’t that much greater.

For now, though, they’re all on the team, and they’re competition for the other guys who are looking at the 53-man roster and where they stand on the depth chart.  If Lavelle Hawkins doesn’t want to work this training camp, Edison will be more than happy to take his spot.  Ditto Tuff Harris-Nick Schommer would be glad to fill the spot for a safety who plays primarily special teams and went to school in a state bordering Canada.

The second part of the formula, the undrafted free agents, is a little interesting-Drexel broke these guys down a while back, so I won’t repeat that.  What’s interesting is, if you paid attention to who signed when, two guys signed Sunday night, and the rest a couple days later.  This isn’t the Titans’ usual secrecy-instead, it was a simple numbers game.  The Titans, when I wrote that post before the draft, had 67 players on the roster.  They then drafted 11.  That’s 78.  You can take 80 to camp-any guys in excess of that total have to beat out somebody on the team before the draft to stay there once the rookies get signed (unsigned rookies don’t count against the 80-man limit).

Those two guys who were signed immediately: WR Dudley Guice and DT Mitch King.  Guice, I really don’t have much to say about.  On Mitch King, here’s the really interesting thing: he received a $20,000 signing bonus, among the highest for undrafted free agents this year.  Curiouser and curiouser, the means of roster construction-I’ll have another post on him.  The third guy who has a chance of making it to camp is P A.J.
Trapasso-Craig Hentrich is around for another year, but the Titans will
want somebody else to do a lot of the camp work, so Trapasso will have
an excellent opportunity to show off for other teams.  That’s really a
win-win for both parties, except for the roster space lost.

Now that I’ve basically told you these guys won’t make the team, time to show a little love:
Wes Bunting of National Football Post had some nice things to say about G Ryan Durand.  Interestingly, he never spoke to the Titans in the run-up to the draft, another thing he has in common with S Nick Schommer per the Fargo Forum, whose annoying website I won’t link to as a matter of principle.  Like his high school coach, Durand’s grandparents were pleased by his selection, so please don’t forward this post to them or point out that not contacting players you’re interested in is a practice unusual with draft picks and common with undrafted guys.

I’d also like to thank David Batcheller for passing along the link to this North Dakota State football highlight video-Nick Schommer is #29 for the Bison.  He has INTs at 2:04 and 3:10 (nice diving grab), a hit at 4:10 (I think that’s him), another INT at 4:30, and decleats a receiver at 5:13.  Ah, the joys of FCS highlights.

Back to reality-I wouldn’t be surprised to see Durand end up on the practice squad, but his and Schommer’s odds of making the 53-man roster are slim to none, but they’ll both be part of the most intense training camp competition for jobs the Titans have had in some time.  And that’s just the way the front office wants it.

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2 Responses to “Thoughts on roster construction, plus links”

  1. Wes Says:

    Thanks for the nice post. A few more things to consider. Injuries – it seems like every year two or three players who seem likely to make the 53 man roster end up on IR – so there may be a few more spots available than it appears.
    Two – what is the plan for the season? Will Fisher use a five sider receiver set( I don’t think so but who knows). Clearly they are thinking of lining Johnson up in the slot this year, so might there be two back sets with White and Johnson in at the same time? Also, with the loss of Haynseworth will there be more blitzing and what does that mean – we need an extra linebacker or safety? Without knowing the big picture, it is hard to see how the last ten slots or so will go.
    Finally, can you set up a pool we could all enter and try and predict the make-up of the team at the various cut dates. Sort of Survivor for camp?
    Again, nice post.

  2. Tom Gower Says:

    Wes,
    Thanks for commenting.
    I wish I knew the answers to your questions-I agree the last 10 spots will depend a lot on what the Titans want to do, both offensively and defensively. The defensive line logjam looks particularly interesting, with 5 DEs and 6 DTs who seem like they could have a chance at making the team. I’ll have posts looking at these questions, and I’m sure Andrew and Drexel will as well.
    I’ll also think about the pool idea, and the best way to handle that. The cutdown to 75 is too random, so that’ll have to be either the guys who get cut to make room for the draft picks or the 53-man, and probably just the 53-man.

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