NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. analyzed the 2017 draft class for the Tennessee Titans, one thing stood out:
"The emphasis was to help out the quarterback," Kiper said of the Titans, and Marcus Mariota. "And they did."
Yes, Mariota got plenty of new weapons in the NFL Draft, beginning with Western Michigan receiver Corey Davis with the fifth overall pick. By the end of Day 2, the Titans also drafted a talented receiver in Western Kentucky's Taywan Taylor, and an athletic tight end in Florida International tight end Jonnu Smith, in the third round.
On a conference call Sunday, Kiper and fellow ESPN analyst Todd McShay said they liked what the Titans did. The team used the 18th overall pick of the draft to select USC cornerback/return man Adoree' Jackson.
"I like the direction," McShay said of the Titans. "I'll be honest: My first instinct when I saw Corey Davis go No.5 overall, I'm thinking, "that's kind of a reach.' I like Corey Davis. I had him right up there (with) … Mike Williams. I think Corey Davis at 5, I'm looking at it thinking it's a reach, not seeing the big picture. It turns out (the Titans) were right. The receivers came off the board a lot faster than we expected."
After the Titans took Davis, Clemson's Mike Williams went to the Chargers at pick No.7, and then Washington receiver John Ross went No.9 to the Bengals.
McShay said Titans general manager Jon Robinson had a good feel for the draft, and his needs.
"As a general manager, you have to look at the pairing," McShay said. "I think all along Jon Robinson knew that he would like to get a cornerback and a wide receiver, and what's the best shot to get the best pairing? It's not necessarily just the best player at 5. Corey Davis has some durability issues but it is not necessarily lingering, it is just something he has to work through now. I know a lot of people were saying, "Why didn't they take (Ohio State cornerback Marshon) Lattimore there?'
"… The pairing was always going to be favorable to taking a wide receiver first because the cornerback – the (CB) class had so much more depth. If it wasn't Adoree' Jackson it could have been Tre'Davious White, Quincy Wilson, so on and so forth. So to me (the Titans) saw the board, and they understood and managed it properly. They got the best or the second best wide receiver, depending on how you look at it, and they got one of the top three or four cornerbacks in this class and both are high impact players."
Both Kiper and McShay singled out Taylor when asked about Tennessee's class.
Selected 72nd overall in the third round, Taylor hauled in 253 passes for 4,234 yards and 41 touchdowns for the Hilltoppers.
Less than 24 hours after being selected in the first round, top draft picks Corey Davis and Adoree' Jackson arrive at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn, Jim Wyatt)
"Taywan Taylor is a very competitive, talented receiver," Kiper said.
"Really underrated," McShay added.
Kiper said Smith, selected 100th overall in the third round "will help at tight end."
And Kiper also likes California running back Khalfani Muhammad, who was taken in the seventh round.
"Muhammad has a chance to make that football team," Kiper said, "(and he) has some return ability in the kickoff return game."
The Titans ended up using six of their nine picks on offensive players. In addition to Davis, Taylor, Smith and Muhammad, the team drafted a pair of offensive linemen – Chattanooga's Corey Levin and Villanova's Brad Seaton.
On the defensive side of the ball, aside from Jackson, the Titans drafted UCLA inside linebacker Jayon Brown and Texas Christian outside linebacker Josh Carraway.
"I think they did a really good job," McShay said.
Top draft picks Corey Davis and Adoree' Jackson are introduced at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)