by Tommy Lawlor – ScoutsNotebook.com
1 – DE Derrick Morgan – Georgia Tech
3 – WR Damian Williams – USC
3 – LB Rennie Curran – Georgia
4 – CB Alterraun Verner – UCLA
5 – FS Robert Johnson – Utah
6 – QB Rusty Smith – Florida Atlantic
6 – SS Myron Rolle – Florida State
7 – WR Marc Mariani – Montana
7 – DT David Howard – Brown
Tennessee needed to beef up their pass rush and they got lucky when Ga Tech DE Derrick Morgan slid a few spots and was available at pick 16. Most people expected him to go in the Top 10 or just there after. Morgan has tremendous potential. He was inconsistent at times and that may have affected his value (although we’re only talking a few spots, there is a real financial difference in going at pick 10 vs 16).
The Titans lost Kyle Vanden Bosch in free agency. They needed a young rusher off the edge and Morgan is a real good answer. He’s got enough size (6’3, 266) and toughness to play on the left side, but is athletic enough to play on the right side. Tennessee can figure out where he fits best or they can move him around. Morgan should fit the scheme well and offer immediate impact. He will be important in a division where Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub are starting QBs. If you can’t get to the QB, you’ll have a tough time beating those teams.
Next up was the 3rd round and USC receiver Damian Williams. Vince Young needs weapons to work with. Last year he got Kenny Britt and that looked like a good fit. Now Williams joins the mix. He can play on the outside or as the slot receiver. Williams has excellent RAC ability and that should fit the offense well. Williams can also contribute as a PR. I think Vince will like him as a receiver. Williams is pretty polished. He knows how to get open and has good hands. He runs good routes. He’s the kind of rookie who should adjust quickly to the NFL and be ready to contribute early on.
Tennessee had another 3rd round pick and used it on LB Rennie Curran. He was a tackling machine at Georgia. Curran played like a star, but size concerns (5’11, 235) affected his draft value. Now he’s a Titan and gets to play for a team that generally does well with LBs. The recent suspension of Gerald McRath means that Curran might get to compete for a starting job as a rookie. Rennie is a tough, instinctive player that will constantly be around the ball. He’s not a great athlete or big playmaker, but there is a need for guys who can be in the right position and make tackle after tackle. The Titans had luck with another undersized mid-round pick in Stephen Tulloch. He plays on the inside. Curran might eventually get some looks in there, but will be on the outside for now.
The Titans threw me a curveball when they took CB Alterraun Verner in the 4th round. He made a ton of plays at UCLA, but I just didn’t think he was good enough to go in this range. Verner looked a bit stiff and upright to me. Tennessee likes their CBs to be playmakers and they draft accordingly. Verner did pick off 13 passes in college. He broke up 43. He knows how to play the ball and make things happen. Maybe he pans out in their system, but I see this pick as a reach.
Onto the 5th round where Tennessee took FS Robert Johnson from Utah. The Titans got great Safety play in their amazing 2008 season, but just the opposite in 2009. Johnson isn’t there to challenge for a job immediately, but the Titans have to let the incumbents know they can’t play that poorly again without being challenged for their jobs. Johnson is an intriguing prospect. He has good size, pretty good athletic ability, and he was productive. Why was he only a 5th rounder? The athletic ability didn’t always show on the field. There were times when he could look herky-jerky and stiff. Still, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Johnson be one of the late round Safeties that plays in the league for 6 to 8 years. High character guy with some ability.
The Titans had 2 picks in the 6th round. They started by taking QB Rusty Smith from FAU. Last summer I was curious about where Smith would end up going. He showed good potential in his first 3 years. As a Sophomore Smith looked like a real player to watch. He threw 32 TDs vs only 9 INTs. His numbers weren’t as good in 2008. He really struggled in games against decent opponents. As a Senior he had the bad luck to get hurt about midseason. That hurt his draft value. Smith played in the Texas vs The Nation AS game, but didn’t have a strong showing. Smith looks the part of a pocket passer. He’s 6’5, 230 and has a good arm. He has some NFL potential, but faces an uphill battle to make it in the league. Smith was a good value pick in the 6th.
The other pick in the 6th round was SS Myron Rolle. Myon was a huge star coming out of high school. He went to Florida State with huge expectations. Myron never lived up to the hype. He was a good player for 3 years. He just never became the star player, the difference maker he was expected to be. Rolle headed for England after becoming a Rhodes Scholar. That cost him his Senior year at FSU. All would be forgiven if he had a good Senior Bowl and/or Combine. Neither of those things happened. Welcome to the 6th round. Myron has good size. He’s smart. He is okay athletically. The problem is that he never established himself as a top player, top athlete, or top playmaker. He’s solid, but that’s it. I’m very curious to see how he handles the NFL. Will he get down on himself because of his draft status or will that motivate him?
The Titans had a pair of 7th round picks and decided to go small school. They started with Montana WR Marc Mariani. I have to confess that I only watched a few Montana games this year. You could see right away that Mariani was really good for the I-AA level. He posted huge numbers (80-1479-13). He projects to being a slot receiver. Mariani also has PR ability. He has good hands and good RAC skills. I guess you could think of him as a lesser version of Damian Williams.
The final choice landed DT David Howard from Brown. I did not get a chance to watch him play this year. He has okay size at 6’3, 293. He had a strong Junior season (6.5 sacks, 2 FFs), but his numbers fell as a Senior. Brown had a good showing at his Pro Day. The Titans saw enough potential to take him as a developmental prospect.