The Titans’ history of drafting in the third round is not something they should be terribly proud of. Only six of the Titans’ third-round draft picks became starters. Several third-rounders became serviceable backups and some were not that serviceable. A few were absolutely terrible picks.
Really, you should reasonably expect most of your third-round picks to develop into starters and you hope that one or two will be more than just adequate. I’ve started a new poll on our home page, asking you to vote on the best third-round pick. When you look at it, you might ask, “Is that the best we have to choose from?”
Following is the list of third-round picks. Stats include only those accumulated as Tennessee Titans/Oilers.
1997 CB Denard Walker 4 years, 61 games, 56 starts, 7 INTs, 1 TD, 1 FR, 1 TD
1997 T Scott Sanderson
1998 DB Dainon Sidney
1999 G Zach Piller 8 years, 87 games, 58 starts
2000 TE Erron Kinney 6 years, 83 games, 68 starts, 178 receptions, 1,750 yards, 10 TDs
2000 DE Byron Frisch
2001 TE Shad Meier
2002 LB Rocky Calmus
2003 RB Chris Brown 5 years, 54 games, 29 starts, 643 rushes, 2,757 yards, 16 TDs, 74 receptions, 667 yards, 2 TDs
2004 DT Randy Starks 4 years, 60 games, 36 starts, 132 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 1 FF, 5 FR
2004 DB Rich Gardner
2005 WR Courtney Roby
2005 WR Brandon Jones 4 years, 51 games, 27 starts, 112 receptions, 1,380 yards, 9 TDs
2007 WR Paul Williams
2008 TE Craig Stevens
2009 TE Jared Cook
2009 DB Ryan Mouton
2010 WR Damian Williams
2010 LB Rennie Curran
Denard Walker was a good, but expendable, corner. He was replaced by a second-round pick, Andre Dyson.
Zach Piller was the type of physical guard you needed to matchup against the Ratbirds, Stillers and Jaguars in the old AFC Central Division and still against those teams after realignment. I’ll always remember his battles with Fat Tony Siragusa and Big John Henderson.
Erron Kinney set the Titans’ standard for inline blocking by tight ends, which was approached by Alge Crumpler. Craig Stevens, also a third-round pick, will be measured against the standard set by Kinney. Kinney was a lineman who wore a tight end’s number, making him eligible to catch passes. When Steve McNair wasn’t throwing to Derrick Mason or Frank Wycheck, Kinney was a dependable receiver. He caught a career-best 55 balls in his final year, before retiring with a bad knee. He gets my vote for the Titans’ best third-round draft pick.
When he wasn’t injured, Chris Brown was a pretty good back who was twice the team’s leading rusher. It always amused me that the Jaguars’ Fred Taylor was nicknamed “Fragile Fred” although he was a lot more durable than Brown.
Randy Starks turned into a real good football player. After he left Tennessee. I always thought Albert Haynesworth was a bad influence on Starks. Big Albert got away with being lazy and Starks followed suit.
Like many of Tennessee’s receivers, Brandon Jones was pretty inconsistent. He flashed ability on occasion and put up some decent numbers at times. Though still in need of help at receiver, the Titans let Jones walk after his contract expired.
Paul Williams was lucky to make the roster last year. It’ll take a miracle for him to remain this year.
Now that Crumpler is gone, Stevens and Cook will have expanded roles this year. Stevens will assume the duties of the primary blocking TE and we’ll see if Cook starts developing into the threat the Titans believed he could when they traded this year’s second-round pick for the Patriots’ third-rounder last year.
The worst of the third-rounders were Frisch, Gardner and Williams. It’s too depressing to write about them so I’ll leave on that note.