2009 NFL DRAFT
The Titans possess the 30th overall selection and at least six total picks in the 2009 NFL Draft, which will be held April 25-26 in New York. They currently hold one pick in the first, second, third, fourth, sixth and seventh rounds. The Dallas Cowboys own the Titans' fifth round pick as a result of the Pacman Jones trade in 2008. Additionally, the Titans are expected to be granted more picks in Rounds 3-7 as compensatory selections, based on net unrestricted free agency losses in 2008.
STOCKING THE ROSTER
The draft remains the primary source of roster talent for the Titans. At the conclusion of the 2008 season, there were 32 players on the team's 53-man roster or reserve lists who originally were drafted by the team. In particular, the four most recent drafts have supplied many of the current Tennessee players. The Titans selected
38 players from 2005 through 2008, a number that ranks third in the NFL in that period behind only Green Bay (43) and Tampa Bay (39). Of that group of Titans, 26 players were still on the roster or reserve lists at the conclusion of the 2008 season.
General manager Mike Reinfeldt has operated the last two Titans drafts. Under his watch, the team has selected several players who have made an early impact, including the following four players who were among the team's statistical leaders in 2008:
RB Chris Johnson (first round in 2008) -- Led the team with 1,228 rushing yards as a rookie and was named to the Pro Bowl.
DT Jason Jones (second round in 2008) -- Led all NFL rookie defensive linemen in 2008 with five sacks and added 49 tackles.
S Michael Griffin (first round in 2007) -- Started 26 games in his first two seasons and in 2008 was named to the Pro Bowl after tying for second place in the NFL with seven interceptions.
DE Jacob Ford (sixth round in 2007) -- Ranked second on the team and sixth among AFC defensive ends in his second season with seven sacks.
THE 30TH SELECTION:
The order of picks in the NFL Draft is determined by teams' winning percentages during the season. Teams with the lowest winning percentage pick first, and teams with the highest winning percentage select last. The only exceptions are the two Super Bowl participants, who draft in the 31st and 32nd slots. The Titans had the NFL's best record during the 2008 season, meaning they own the 30th pick, the final selection of the non-Super Bowl teams. Only once before have the Titans earned a pick as low as No. 30. That was in 2000 after they won the AFC and lost Super Bowl XXXIV. With the 30th of 31 first-round picks (there were 31 NFL franchises at the time), the Titans selected linebacker Keith Bulluck, who has played in all but one game since being drafted and is the team's third all-time leading tackler. With the 30th pick in the draft last year, the New York Jets selected tight end Dustin Keller, who recorded 48 receptions as a rookie. Other notable players selected recently with the 30th pick include running back Joseph Addai (by Indianapolis in 2006), tight end Heath Miller (Pittsburgh, 2005), guard Kendall Simmons (Pittsburgh, 2002), wide receiver Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis, 2001) and Patrick Kerney (Atlanta, 1999).
THE DRAFT AND TRADES:
More often than not in recent history, the Titans' draft is altered by at least one trade. The 2007 draft was the only selection process in the last seven years in which the Titans did not deal or acquire picks via trade. They changed position at least once in each draft from 2002-06, including the swapping of choices within the first three rounds for additional picks in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006. In 2002, the Titans dropped one spot in the first round and still ended up with defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth with the 15th pick. In 2003, they used additional picks to trade up on the second day of the draft to select safety Donnie Nickey in the fifth round. The Titans traded their first- and fifth-round selections in 2004 to the Houston Texans in exchange for three additional picks. They dropped down four spots in the second round in 2005 to acquire an additional fourth-round pick from Detroit. In 2006, Tennessee traded down in the second round to pick up an additional fourth-rounder from Philadelphia. They still managed to select running back LenDale White with their eventual second-round pick and used the fourthround selection on linebacker Stephen Tulloch. At a minimum, the 2009 draft will be affected by one trade. The Titans dealt Pacman Jones to the Dallas Cowboys during the 2008 draft. They received the Cowboys' 2008 fourth-round pick, but as a result of an additional trade stipulation, they will surrender their fifth-rounder in 2009 to the Cowboys due to Jones' NFL suspension during the season. Also in 2008, the Titans traded up in the draft for the first time since the Nickey trade in 2003. They jumped up 23 spots in the fourth round in a trade with Washington to acquire defensive end William Hayes.
IMPORTANCE OF "SECOND-DAY" SELECTIONS
The Titans currently hold four "second-day" draft picks and are expected to acquire more as compensatory selections. In 2008, the second day, or the Sunday of the draft, was altered to include Rounds 3-7. Prior to 2008, Rounds 4-7 were held on the second day. The Titans have found through recent years a number of "hidden gems" that have become productive players and starters on the second day of the draft. Since 1995, the franchise has found 20 regular starters (started 10 games or more in at least one season) through the years with second day selections. In the last five drafts, significant second-day choices who remain starters with the Titans include guard Eugene Amano (seventh round in 2004), tackle David Stewart (fourth round in 2005), linebacker Stephen Tulloch (fourth round in 2006), tight end Bo Scaife (sixth round in 2006) and cornerback Cortland Finnegan (seventh round in 2006).
2008 DRAFT REPORT
The Titans selected seven players in the 2008 NFL Draft. Their top pick was Chris Johnson, a running back from East Carolina. Johnson, who was chosen with the 24th overall pick, rushed for 2,982 yards during his college career and recorded an additional 1,296 receiving yards. At the NFL Scouting Combine in February 2008, he posted the fastest 40-yard dash of any prospect with a time of 4.24 seconds. Additionally, the Titans drafted defensive lineman Jason Jones (second round), tight end Craig Stevens (third), defensive end William Hayes (fourth), wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins (fourth), linebacker Stanford Keglar (fourth) and cornerback Cary Williams (seventh).
TENNESSEE TITANS 2008 DRAFT CLASS:
RB CHRIS JOHNSON (1st Round, 24th Overall, East Carolina): Johnson ranked third in the AFC, eighth in the NFL and third in franchise history among rookies with 1,228 rushing yards in the regular season. With an additional 260 receiving yards, his 1,488 yards from scrimmage ranked fifth in the AFC. He tied for seventh in the AFC with 10 total touchdowns (nine rushing, one receiving) and was named to his first Pro Bowl.
DL JASON JONES (2nd Round, 54th Overall, Eastern Michigan): In 13 regular season games (three starts), Jones ranked fourth in the NFL among defensive tackles with five sacks and added 49 tackles, 12 quarterback pressures and two forced fumbles.
TE CRAIG STEVENS (3rd Round, 85th Overall, California): Stevens played in every regular season game and posted one reception for nine yards.
DE WILLIAM HAYES (4th Round, 103rd Overall, Winston-Salem St.):Hayes played in eight regular season games and recorded 21 tackles, one sack, two quarterback pressures, one pass defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
WR LAVELLE HAWKINS (4th Round, 126th Overall, California): Hawkins played in 13 regular season contests and recorded seven receptions for 68 yards and seven kickoff returns for an 18.6-yard average.
LB STANFORD KEGLAR (4th Round, 134th Overall, Purdue): Keglar played in 13 contests and tied for fifth on the squad with 10 special teams tackles.
CB CARY WILLIAMS (7th Round, 229th Overall, Washburn): Williams was on the practice squad for 13 games, played in one contest and then was added to injured reserve on Dec. 19.