(image credit: Kirby Lee - USA Today Sports)
Written by: Joseph Yun
The Tennessee Titans have turned into mid level AFC contenders after losing so many key pieces through the past couple of off-seasons. The 2021 NFL Draft was a chance to restock the AFC South winning roster and make another deep run into the playoffs.
Did the Titans do exactly that? What did they get right? What could’ve gone better?
- If Farley proves that he’s beyond his health issues, he has a chance to be one of the steals of the 2021 draft. The Titans have traditionally been one of the more conservative organizations when it comes to injuries so Farley will be brought along slowly until he’s ready. He was graded out to be one of the “Big Three” cornerback prospects in the class and would’ve been a top 15 selection if he was fully healthy. Farley will probably start off as the nickel before eventually moving to the outside to replace longtime veteran Janoris Jenkins next season. The Titans got excellent value and a building block in the corner room alongside rising sophomore Kristian Fulton. Virginia Tech defensive backs under former DC Bud Foster have had a lot of success in the NFL so that factor helps. He was well worth the hype even as a first year corner after converting from receiver so the possibilities are limitless.
Blitzalytics Grade: 8.03
Blitzalytics Big Board: 13
- Well, the Isaiah Wilson selection from the 2020 draft turned out to be less than ideal. Radunz will move over to man the right side after starting at left in college. He’s undersized at just 301 pounds so he will have to gain weight. The pressure isn’t there to immediately start with the free agent signings of Kendall Lamm and the return of perennial swing guy Ty Sambrailo. Both players could in theory hold the fort down at right tackle until Radunz is deemed ready. He was one of the best tackles in the draft so this is a great pick but what downgrades it is the transition to right from left is a tricky one. I like this pick as his play style reminds me of former Titans great David Stewart, who had a take no prisoners mentality despite underwhelming physical traits. The Lewan-Radunz bookends could replicate the success of the Roos and Stewart combo of yesteryear. What helps his case is that he has been training with former veteran standout tackle Joe Staley who recently retired after a storied career with the 49ers. Radunz finished as OT8 on my board.
Blitzalytics Grade: 7.83
Blitzalytics Big Board: 56
- The Titans needed a receiver at this juncture but got sniped by several teams ahead of them for one. Rice seems like a consolation selection but he wasn’t the best linebacker on the board that team could have taken at 92. With the news that Rashaan Evans’ fifth year option wasn’t going to be picked up, the selection makes sense afterwards. However, Rice will be fortunate to crack the two deep as a rookie in 2021. He’s a carbon copy of what Evans brings to the table as a linebacker. He’s a true inside linebacker and could command the green dot as soon as 2022. A C grade for the thought process (good) but execution (horrendous). Rice was LB13 and ILB10 on my board.
Blitzalytics Grade: 6.81
Blitzalytics Big Board: 115
- The beauty of the draft is in its inherent dichotomy. If Rice is seen as a questionable reach at best, then Molden can be viewed as a great value pick at 100. He’s a versatile cornerback who has experience as a safety so he can be used all over the secondary. Yes he’s undersized and appears to have maxed out his frame but he has the talent. I expect him to start as a slot corner who can move over to safety in certain packages to begin his rookie campaign. If all goes right, he can profile as a Budda Baker type of utility defensive back. A steal for GM Jon Robinson. It wouldn’t surprise me if he became an instant nickel starter from the jump. He graded out as CB6 on my big board. Molden has the potential to become a Honey Badger lite for the Titans if all goes right.
Blitzalytics Grade: 7.37
Blitzalytics Big Board: N/R
- An interesting selection to say the least, given the receiver talent that was perceived to be ahead of him on the board (namely, Tylan Wallace and Amon-Ra St. Brown among others). I won’t knock the selection as many have but it bears monitoring. Fitzpatrick had to go through a succession of mediocre to subpar quarterback play while at Louisville so his production can be viewed as a success to a degree. He’s a good route runner with plus hands along with the physical attributes to be a good second banana to emerging superstar AJ Brown in time. He’s an ideal Titans type of receiver that plays a very physical brand of football so I can see why he was the choice. I had him graded out as WR25 that was projected to go in the fifth round so it’s not too damning of a selection.
Blitzalytics Grade: 7.07
Blitzalytics Big Board: N/R
- This was another A grade selection on the field wise but with the recent off field allegations, I have to downgrade it to a B. Weaver won’t wow anyone with his athleticism but he can play within the confines of what he does have. He’s a stat monster with 14 sacks, 81 tackles, six passes defensed, and 28 tackles for loss over his last two years of on field play. He’ll likely fit in as a third rotational pass rusher behind big ticket signing Bud Dupree and the promising Harold Landry. The Titans definitely have spent premium assets on EDGE players with middling results so anything Weaver can produce as a rookie will be welcomed with open arms.
Blitzalytics Grade: 6.44
Blitzalytics Big Board: N/R
- Well if anything, the Titans’ special teams units will be improved with McMath’s propensity for speed. The production just wasn’t there for him as he sat behind some high caliber receivers in his time at the Bayou. He’ll likely end up as the deep ball specialist replacement for the departed Kalif Raymond in year one while playing the majority of special teams reps. Anything more than that would be gravy for him. There is a chance that he develops into a WR4 down the road at some point given his physical traits but this is a pure ST selection. Even in that lens, there were better options such as Dazz Newsome and Demetric Felton at the time so the low grade.
Blitzalytics Grade: 6.78
Blitzalytics Big Board: N/R
6.215 Brady Breeze S Oregon
- Another special teams oriented selection as Breeze will need to impress on that unit immensely to even merit consideration to make the 53. He has a tough road to hoe with longstanding veterans such as Amani Hooker and Dane Cruikshank occupying roster spots. Breeze isn’t the greatest athlete but is a physical player that could be developed into something resembling a backup safety. The former Duck flashed a ton during the last two games of his career in 2019 so there are tools. He opted out of the 2020 season. I would have gone in another direction such as EDGE Quincy Roche, OL Trey Smith, or even a safety James Wiggins with this selection. There were better players that fit more needs at the time of the selection.
The Titans did fairly well to find players that fit their needs plus physical profiles that they desire. Caleb Farley presents a sizable risk to his acquisition due to his significant medical file. If he hits and stays healthy, it can be a class that can go from a good class to transition into another era to a class with star potential. Radunz fits as a potential Day 1 starter at right tackle. Molden can help Farley anchor the secondary as it rapidly changes. Weaver is a good option piece that can assist in giving the main two EDGE rushers a blow when they need it. The two receiver selections were the only criticisms that I can find as more impact Day 1 players could've been selected. The organization’s special teams units were improved with Breeze and McMath’s additions. It helps that they could be developed slowly at their positions if things break right. Overall, it’s a class that can help ease the transition into deep contention if several other transactions are enacted (i.e. a receiver who can help right away like a Julio Jones, DeDe Westbrook, or even Golden Tate).
Overall Class Grade: B