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Reviewing past Tennessee Titans drafts: 2005

Come next weekend, plenty of journalists will be writing analyses of how teams did with their picks.  Personally, I’d prefer to wait a few years to see how players chosen with those picks actually performed to judge a draft.  Thus, a six year wait, which means it’s now time to write about the 2005 draft.  As a special bonus feature, I was blogging about the Titans in 2005, so for the first time I’m able to link to what I wrote about the Titans picks before their play biased my opinion.

Facing another year of salary cap hell, the Titans were severely limited in what they could do in free agency in 2005, signing only a relative unknown oft-injured defensive end named Kyle Vanden Bosch from the Arizona Cardinals.  Fortunately, like they did in 2004, they had a whole boatload of picks to address needs.  They had all seven of their own natural selections, received compensatory picks in the third and fourth rounds, and acquired an extra fifth rounder from the Chiefs for DE Carlos Hall.  During the draft, they also moved back in the second round, picking up an extra fourth rounder when the Lions moved up to draft Shaun Cody.

As for the players chosen with the picks, well, after the jump:

#1-6 CB Adam “Pacman” Jones, West Virginia
Previous Pick: RB Cadillac Williams, Auburn (Tampa Bay)
Next Pick: WR Troy Williamson, South Carolina (Minnesota)
Previous CB: None
Next CB: Antrel Rolle, Miami-FL (Arizona)
With the sixth pick, the Titans had a desperate need in the secondary and their pick of the top three corners on the board.  There was Pacman Jones, a gifted athlete and return man with a checkered past and non-ideal size.  There was Antrel Rolle, a big guy from a big school who might have to move to safety.  Between them was Carlos Rogers, a guy with good size but who may not have been an elite corner.  The Titans (reportedly at the behest of Jeff Fisher, and with a clean character bill provided by TE coach George Henshaw, whose son played with Pacman at West Virginia) picked Pacman and got to ride the roller-coaster for two years.

I won’t try to sum up Pacman’s tumultuous Titans tenure in this post, but it combined stretches of superlative play and some of the best punt return heroics since Billy “White Shoes” Johnson wore the Columbia blue and white with a million headaches off the field.

Obviously given Pacman’s minimal post-2006 value the Titans would like this decision over, but the funny thing is, the knocks on Rogers and Rolle were both true.  Rolle was a mediocre corner and eventually moved to safety, where he’s still not great in coverage.  Rogers has been a good player, but no more than that.  Of course, in an ideal world, the Titans take Aaron Rodgers or DeMarcus Ware here.

#2-41 OT Michael Roos, Eastern Washington
Previous Pick: FS Josh Bullocks, Nebraska (New Orleans)
Next Pick: LB Kevin Burnett, Tennessee (Dallas)
Previous OT: #1-19, Alex Barron, Florida St. (St. Louis)
Next OT: #2-52, Khalif Barnes, Washington (Jacksonville)
Originally the Lions’ second round pick, acquired when Matt Millen wanted to move up four spots.  When I first heard the Titans were taking a tackle from Washington state, I thought it would be Khalif Barnes.  I thought Barnes was a decent prospect, if not a sure-fire one who might have to move to right tackle and wouldn’t necessarily be the guy the Titans would need to replace Brad Hopkins.  I was a little skeptical when the Titans drafted Roos, relying on hope and that his line coach at Eastern Washington was former Titans center Tom Ackerman.

Obviously, the pick has worked out beyond my wildest expectations.  I listed Patriots G Logan Mankins as the best OL taken in the 2005 draft, but I don’t think the Titans would exchange draft fates with the Patriots.  Roos has started since day one and played at a high level, with 2008 his best year in my eyes.

#3-68 WR Courtney Roby, Indiana
Previous Pick: QB Charlie Frye, Akron (Cleveland)
Next Pick: QB Andrew Walter, Arizona State (Oakland)
Previous WR: #2-61, Vincent Jackson, Northern Colorado (San Diego)
Next WR: #3-83, Chris Henry, West Virginia (Cincinnati)
The Titans were in desperate need of wideouts in the 2005 draft, with only Drew Bennett and Tyrone Calico on the roster.  Courtney Roby was the first one they took, and was a phenomenally valuable college player at Indiana who never quite delivered in the pros.  Vincent Jackson sure would’ve been a useful player to have, huh?

#3-96 WR Brandon Jones, Oklahoma
Previous Pick: LB Daryl Blackstock, Virginia (Arizona)
Next Pick: CB Dominique Foxworth, CB, Maryland (Denver)
Previous WR: #3-83, Chris Henry, West Virginia (Cincinnati)
Next WR: #4-114, Jerome Mathis, Hampton (Houston)
The addition of bodies at the wideout position continues with this compensatory pick.  I was a minor fan of Brandon Jones as a Titan, and suspect there were issues out of the public eye why he never became a better player.  I’m not sure he was ever quite the same player after his ACL injury as a rookie.  I’m a big fan of what the Titans did in this draft, throwing mid-round picks at wideout and hoping one of them sticks, but that includes living with the fact that most of them, like Jones, don’t become the player you need.

#4-108 DB Vincent Fuller, Virginia Tech
Previous Pick: G Dan Buenning, Wisconsin (Tampa Bay)
Next Pick: RB Marion Barber, Minnesota (Dallas)
Previous DB: #4-104, Travis Daniels, LSU (Miami)
Next DB: #4-115, Marvel Underwood, San Diego St. (Green Bay)
In an ideal world, Fuller develops into a starting-caliber player and the Titans either don’t sign Chris Hope or, more likely, don’t spend a first-round pick on Michael Griffin.  That said, he’s still been a valuable player for the Titans.  Getting somebody you value enough to keep on the roster for six years, even if he’s never been a regular starter, is absolutely a good use of a fourth-round pick.

#4-113 OT David Stewart, Mississippi State
Previous Pick: RB Ciatrick Fason, Florida (Minnesota)
Next Pick: WR Jerome Mathis, Hampton (Houston)
Previous OT: #4-105, Ray Willis, Florida St. (Seattle)
Next OT: #4-126, Todd Herremans, Saginaw Valley St. (Philadelphia)
Yea, Matt Millen, thou name shalt be praised!  With their second pick acquired in the trade with the Lions, the Titans get their second starting offensive tackle.  I’m sitting here just laughing at the thought that that actually happened, but it’s partly a testament to some great scouting and drafting by the Titans.

It took Stewart a year and a little bit to get into the lineup, as the Titans for some bizarre reason insisted on playing Jacob Bell at right tackle.  After another Zach Piller injury, the Titans did what they should have done in the first place, playing Bell at left guard and inserting Stewart at right tackle.  I’m not sure Stewart’s quality of play has consistently matched his reputation as a mauler, but he’s still been an extraordinarily solid right tackle and a tremendous value for a fourth-round pick.

#4-136 WR Roydell Williams, Tulane
Previous Pick: DB Matt Giordano, Cal (Indianapolis)
Next Pick: DT Ronald Fields, Mississippi St. (San Francisco)
Previous WR: #4-131, Fred Gibson, Georgia (Pittsburgh)
Next WR: #5-140, Airese Currie, Clemson (Chicago)
The final pick of the fourth round, a compensatory selection.  If you’ve never heard of Airese Currie, you’re not alone, as I had absolutely no recollection of his existence either before sitting down to write about the ’05 draft.  The Titans complete their restocking of WR depth with Roydell Williams.  In trying to recap his career, I’ll try to ignore 2007, when the Titans treated him like he was their top wideout even though that made absolutely no sense.  I never saw Roydell as more than Just A Guy at best, but he wasn’t absolutely terrible and the Titans got a couple years of use out of him.

I’ll also note that Roydell and Roby were the only two receivers selected in 2005 after the second round who played at least one game in the NFL in 2010.  It wasn’t a very good year for the Titans to have to stock up on wideouts,  but sometimes that’s just how life works out.

#5-142 RB Damien Nash, Missouri
Previous Pick: DB Donte Nicholson, Oklahoma (Tampa Bay)
Next Pick: C Junius Coston, North Carolina A&T (Green Bay)
Previous RB: #4-130, Darren Sproles, Kansas St. (San Diego)
Next RB: #5-158, Justin Green, Montana (Baltimore)
It wasn’t as desperate of a need as wide receiver, but running back was another serious positional need for the Titans.  Chris Brown was the only tailback on the roster before the draft.  Ideally the Titans would’ve addressed the position before the fifth round, but even with a passel of picks, the Titans still had a passel of needs.  Nash would never do anything with the Titans, and before the 2005 season began, they’d give up their 2006 third-round selection to the Bills for Travis Henry to share the load with Brown.

#5-150 OT Daniel Loper, Texas Tech
Previous Pick: LB Adam Seward, UNLV (Carolina)
Next Pick: C Drew Hodgdon, Arizona St. (Houston)
Previous OT: #4-126, Todd Herremans, Saginaw Valley St. (Philadelphia)
Next OT: #5-153, Adam Kieft, Central Michigan (Cincinnati)
The mid-round offensive line lottery continues.  I speculated at the time of the draft Loper’s eventual fate would be to replace Jason Mathews as the swing backup at offensive tackle and guard.  Not to toot my own horn too badly, but score one for me.  Unfortunately, Loper didn’t end up being good enough to play regularly and had a pretty lousy game in his final contest for the Titans, their 17-6 playoff loss to San Diego.  In an ideal world, he would have started at right guard and the Titans don’t have to go out and sign Jake Scott, but of course we aren’t in an ideal world.  He was better than a number of other fifth-round picks, but not great.  With the Titans hitting on Roos and Stewart, Loper didn’t absolutely have to be more than he was.

#6-179 TE Bo Scaife, Texas
Previous Pick: DT Anthony Bryant, Alabama (Tampa Bay)
Next Pick: DT Mike Montgomery, Texas A&M (Green Bay)
Previous TE: #5-144, Jerome Collins, Notre Dame (St. Louis)
Next TE: #6-198, Joel Dreessen, Colorado St. (NY Jets)
Bo Scaife may be the worst position player ever to receive the franchise tag.  He absolutely received a huge career  boost when the Titans drafted Vince Young and he could use that rapport.  I don’t much like him as a player.  He was still very useful and vastly exceeded what you’d expect from a sixth-round pick.  This was a particularly lousy tight end draft, especially after the Steelers took Heath Miller at the end of the first round.

#7-218 CB Reynaldo Hill, Florida
Previous Pick: OT Jon Dunn, Virginia Tech (Cleveland)
Next Pick: CB Adrian Ward, UTEP (Minnesota)
Previous CB: #6-205, Derrick Johnson, Washington (San Francisco)
Next CB: Ward
Try to ignore for a minute, if you can, the mental image of Hill getting targeted and beat repeatedly.  Just try to let it go.  He’s not on the Titans any more, and we don’t have him to kick around.  By this point of the draft, we’re into the seventh round and expectations are, or at least shouldn’t be, very high.  In terms of his on-field productivity, Hill is average or a little above based on reasonable draft slot expectations.  Difficult as that may be to believe, yes, that’s really true.  Check out Pro-Football-Reference if you don’t believe me; Hill had 11 career AV and that’s exactly what the average for the 218th overall pick is.  That expected value is also skewed high because Broncos C Tom Nalen was also 218th overall.  If you look at the five previous picks and the five subsequent picks, you end up with under 10 career AV.  Yes, difficult as it may be to believe, Reynaldo Hill was a GOOD seventh-round pick.

And that’s how the Titans draft went in 2005.  They whiffed on a couple picks, most notably Pacman at the top of the draft, but also made some tremendously valuable picks that helped with the re-stocking process.  For more on my contemporaneous reaction to the picks, see my posts on first day picks and second day picks.  For more on the 2005 draft in general, check out the 2005 draft retrospective I wrote at Football Outsiders.  See also the previous posts in this series: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004, and come back next April for my retrospective look at the 2006 draft.

UPDATE (4/25, 2005 CT): Thanks to Andrew for pointing out I’d mistakenly credit the knee injury from Stover’s horse-collar to Jones instead of Roby.  Jones just tore his ACL by happenstance.