Editors’ Note: As part of our ongoing post-draft coverage, we’re doing our very best to leave no stone unturned and bringing you draft recaps from each and every NFL franchise. Make sure you’re ready for your dynasty league rookie draft by staying up on all these articles, checking out our rookie SWOT series, rookie draft guide, rookie rankings, rookie draft cheat sheet and mock draft rooms. There are simply no better resources out there for dynasty fantasy football enthusiasts.
The Tennessee Titans finished last season with a 3-13 record, placing them fourth in the AFC South. The offense struggled, averaging just 18.7 points per game, ranking twenty-eighth in the NFL. The defense was even worse, allowing 26.4 points per game which ranked thirtieth in the league. The Titans are currently rebuilding, and they should gradually improve as their young players develop.
The Titans made a splash this off-season when they made a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles to acquire DeMarco Murray. The deal included both teams swapping their fourth round picks allowing the Eagles to move up thirteen spots in the fourth round.
One of the biggest block buster trades of the entire off-season occurred when the Titans dealt their first round pick which was No. 1 overall along with their fourth (No. 113) and sixth round picks (No. 177) to the Los Angeles Rams for a bevy of picks. The Titans came away from the deal with the Ram’s first round pick (No. 15), two second round picks (Nos. 43 and 45), and their third round pick (No. 76) of the 2016 draft. The Titan’s haul from this deal bleeds into the 2017 draft as they own the Ram’s first and third round pick.
Rick Flair has always been my favorite pro-wrestler, because he’s a kiss stealing, wheeling dealing, son of a gun. When I imagine the Titan’s front office during the off-season, Rick Flair comes to mind because they were very aggressive about getting deals done to make sure they got the players they wanted. They made a deal with the Cleveland Browns by swapping first round picks to move up six spots in the draft to No. 8 overall. The deal also consisted of the Titans sending their third round pick (No. 76) and their 2017 second round pick in exchange for the Browns sixth round pick (No. 176).
First Round – Jack Conklin, OT Michigan State
[am4show have=’g1;’ guest_error=’sub_message’ user_error=’sub_message’ ]
Titan’s quarterback Marcus Mariota was sacked 38 times last season, equating to 9.8 percent per pass attempt. This was the second highest sack percentage in the league trailing only Colin Kaepernick. Conklin is slotted to start at right tackle this season due to Byron Bell, the incumbent starter, suffering a gruesome knee injury during the first practice of OTAs. This pick tells us that the Titans are willing to invest heavily in the offensive line to keep Mariota upright and to help establish the run-game, which is encouraging for Mariota’s long-term fantasy value.
Round Two – Kevin Dodd, DE/OLB Clemson
Dodd blew up during his junior season, recording 12.5 sacks (fourth in the nation) and 24 tackles for loss (second in the nation) to help the Tigers make it to the National Championship Game. He is going to provide depth on the edge as an outside linebacker during the first couple years of his career with the hopes that he eventually develops into a consistent starter. Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo, who combined for 11.5 sacks last season, are currently the team’s starting outside linebackers, leaving Dodd picking up the scraps as a situational pass rusher. Don’t expect him to be very productive during the first couple seasons of his career because opportunities will be limited for him, but he should eventually earn a larger role within the defense. Being drafted to a team who runs a 3-4 defense and having to play outside linebacker deflates his value in IDP leagues because he’s not going to consistently get enough tackles to make him worth starting in IDP leagues.
Round Two – Austin Johnson, NT Penn State
Johnson is an underrated defensive lineman that makes his money shedding blocks and stuffing the run. He’s also very good at getting after the quarterback as an interior pass-rusher. The starting defensive linemen for the Titans are Jurrell Casey, DaQuan Jones and Al Woods which means Johnson is going to provide much needed depth to keep the starters fresh. He’s most frequently going to lineup as the team’s nose tackle, controlling the interior of the defensive line, but he’s also athletic enough to play defensive end as a five-technique. His snap count is going to be sporadic from week to week and it might be a few years before he becomes reliable in fantasy. You should consider fading Johnson in your drafts unless you’re in leagues that require you to start defensive tackles.
Round Two – Derrick Henry, RB Alabama
Injuries have always been an issue for DeMarco Murray, causing him to only have one full 16-game season during his five year career. The Titans want to transition into a run-heavy offense and having multiple running backs on the roster that are capable of carrying the load only helps offense stick with the run-heavy ideology they are trying to establish. If the injury bug bites Murray they can plug in Henry and not have to drastically change their game plan. He also adds an element as a short-yardage and goal line back.
Henry rushed for 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns while leading the nation in both categories last season. He’s almost impossible to tackle in the open field because his 6’3” and 247 pound frame is a load to bring down when he’s running at full speed. Not many athletes can carry that amount of weight and run a 4.54 40-yard dash. This is still a great pick for the Titans, even though they have other needs to fill on the roster, because Henry will make things easier for Mariota by helping the team establish the run game. According to DLF’s rookie ADP, he is the seventh player coming off the board and he’s also ranked second on DLF’s rookie running back rankings. Consider it a steal if he falls to you in the back half of the first round.
Round Three – Kevin Byard, S Middle Tennessee State
Byard had 318 tackles and 19 interceptions while finishing fourteenth all-time with 377 interception-return-yards during his four-year collegiate career. Although he has the ability to rack up tackles in the box score, one of his key weaknesses is his inability to deliver hard hits onto unsuspecting ball carriers. Versatility is one of strengths since he can play both strong and free safety which could allow him to see the field sooner than expected. Right now, Da’Norris Searcy and Rashad Johnson are currently plugged in as the two starting safeties while Byard contributes as a role player coming off the bench. I advise placing him on your watch list just in case he earns a starting role during training camp.
Round Five – Tajae Sharpe, WR Massachusetts
Last season Sharpe caught 111 receptions for 1,319 yards and five touchdowns while owning a 42.69 percent market share of the team’s passing offense. He is an excellent route runner who can separate from defenders by quickly getting in and out of his breaks. Sharpe lined up with the first team offense during mini-camp, allowing him to showcase his skill-set in front of the coaching staff. Expect the depth chart to change before the season starts, because head coach Mike Mularkey was employing a motivational tactic by making blue-chip prospect Dorial Green-Beckham play with the second team offense during camp.
He currently ranks twelfth in DLF’s rookie wide receiver rankings and he has a rookie ADP of 23.60, which means he’s falling anywhere between the late second to the middle of the third round. This is fair value for Sharpe considering he was one of the most productive wide receivers in college football last season and his efficient route running might allow him to sneak into the starting lineup.
Round Six – Sebastian Tretola, OG Arkansas
Tretola is a very strong powerful athlete who is a very good run blocker. He was drafted to provide depth at guard with the hopes that he develops into a starter for the Titans. Unfortunately, this pick is innocuous to dynasty owners because guards don’t have a role in most fantasy leagues.
Round Seven – Aaron Wallace, OLB UCLA
Wallace recorded 65 total tackles and seven sacks during his senior season while playing less than 60 percent of the snaps. He didn’t make an impact for the Bruins until his senior season and his lack of experience may hinder his ability to make the team. He’s a highly athletic developmental prospect who was drafted to provide depth for the line backing corps. Fade him in your IDP leagues and let him hit the waiver wire because the odds are highly unlikely that he gets enough playing time in the near future to become fantasy relevant.
Round Seven – Kalan Reed, CB Southern Mississippi
Since he was the last player picked in the draft he took the honor of being this year’s Mr. Irrelevant, but in reality he probably wishes he was an undrafted free agent so he could try out for the team of his choice. Reed is a highly athletic cover corner who led Conference USA with four interceptions. Even if he makes the team he’s still not going to get enough playing time to make an impact in IDP leagues.