The Titans raised some eyebrows with their draft, most of the matter surrounding both the pick of Taylor Lewan at 11, and the selection of the draft's first running back in Bishop Sankey. Who can the Titans expect early returns from with this latest class though? While this is obviously a tough call and the other picks may certainly outplay my expectations, here are my thoughts on who contributes early on in their careers.
1. Bishop Sankey (2nd round pick)
With the running back position in steady decline around the NFL, it remains one of the few positions that teams can get relatively immediate returns on their investments. Bishop Sankey may be in the running for rookie of the year when all is said and done (unless one of the rookie QB's lights it up). While the Titans won't regress to the strategems of yore and give Sankey the rock 30 times a game, he should still be the focal player in the rushing attack. With a retooled and ready offensive line to couple with the rookie back's well rounded skill-set, Sankey should be an immediate contributor on the Titans offense.
2. Taylor Lewan (1st round pick)
Many think the Lewan pick wasn't a "need pick". On the surface, this may be true. The Titans certainly weren't hurting for a left tackle with incumbent Michael Roos firmly entrenched in his place. That said, I still think Lewan has a great shot to beat out Michael Oher at Right Tackle. If he does, he may have the biggest impact of all the rookies in the Titans class. Much like how Chance Warmack played every single Titans offensive snap in 2013, Lewan could be a building block that helps bring around improvement both in the passing game and on the ground. At this juncture, I'd be surprised if he wasn't on the field day 1.
3. DaQuan Jones (4th round pick)
Jones was consensus good value in the 4th round. The Titans may be getting a more immediate impact than traditionally expected from 4th rounders however. While crowded, Jones enters a position group in flux while in transition to Horton's new defensive scheme. Jones has the skill-set to play either the 3-tech or the 0/1 tech (NT) spot. With a dearth of proven talent, my money is on the latter spot. If he is able to get a quick start in camp, Jones could see a ton of playing time ahead of the thus-far unimpressive Sammie Hill and Mike Martin.
4. Avery Williamson (5th round pick)
Many have said that we here at MCM are overrating the talents of this former Kentucky Wildcat. That may be true. More likely, though, he's exactly what he shows on tape; an ideal 2-down run stopping backer that the Titans have lacked in years. Stopping the run is fundamental in any defensive scheme, and Williamson is a perfect fit for Horton's downhill ILB spot. He would couple with some special athletes at the second level to give Tennessee a more balanced defense in 2014. While the "starter" moniker ultimately means nothing at this juncture, with the promise of a heavy rotation and plenty of sub-package sets, don't be surprised if Williamson sees plenty of snaps in 2014 for the Titans.
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