NASHVILLE – The idea was simple.
This is the 22nd season since the Houston/Tennessee Oilers were re-branded as the Tennessee Titans, which means the franchise has gone through 22 drafts as the Titans.
Twenty-two has meaning in football. It is the number of players needed to have an entire offense and defense and the term “All-22” refers to the coaches’ game or practice film, which shows what all 22 players on the field did on a particular play.
With that in mind, we set out to create an All-22 for the Titans with one player from each draft class, 1999-2020.
It is important to note that this is not an attempt to identify the best from each draft class. The task is to build the best possible lineup with just one player from each year, based on what those players did during their time with Tennessee.
That distinction makes for some difficult decisions because some years (1999, 2006 and 2019, for example) there are multiple players you would gladly take. Conversely, there are others (2012, 2015 come to mind) where there is only one real option, which then affects the choice in other years.
Like any draft, you can’t get everyone you want.
What we came up with is a group that includes 11 first-round choices, two from the second, five from the third, three from the fourth and one from the seventh. And, in this case, we went with four defensive linemen and three linebackers because for the majority of the 22 years the Titans’ base scheme was a 4-3.
So, here it is, our Tennessee Titans All 22 drafts lineup:
QB: Marcus Mariota (2015, first round) – In four-plus seasons, he had moments of brilliance and is the only quarterback drafted by the Titans to win a playoff game as a starter.
RB: Chris Johnson (2008, first round) – Set a franchise record with 2,006 rushing yards and an NFL record with 2,509 yards from scrimmage in 2009. Only Eddie George and Earl Campbell rushed for more yards for the franchise.
RB: Chris Brown (2003, third round) – Led the team in rushing in back-to-back seasons (2004-05) and averaged 13.1 yards on 25 receptions in 2005.
WR: Kenny Britt (2009, first round) – Never led the Titans in receptions but did lead them in touchdown receptions once (2010) and tied for the team lead another time (2012).
WR: Kendall Wright (2012, first round) – One of only two players (Derrick Mason and Delanie Walker are the others) with at least 90 receptions in a season during the Titans era. Wright had 94 in 2013.
TE: Jonnu Smith (2017, third round) – It feels like the best is yet to come, but he already is fifth among tight ends drafted by the Titans in career receptions.
T: Michael Roos (2005, second round) – The guy missed one game in his first nine years and was a first team All-Pro in 2008.
G: Nate Davis (2019, third round) – Was not the most productive of last season’s rookies, but once he settled in Derrick Henry and the run game got going.
C: Eugene Amano (2004, seventh round) – A role player for four seasons, he eventually developed into a starter who held the job for four years.
G: Chance Warmack (2013, first round) – Never lived up to the expectations for the No. 10 overall pick, but no one else from his draft class contributed much.
T: Isaiah Wilson (2020, first round) – If you’re going to pick one player from this year’s group before any of them have played a game, it might as well be the top choice
DE: Jevon Kearse (1999, first round) – The first selection of the Titans era and still one of the most exciting players this team has seen.
DT: Albert Haynesworth (2002, first round) – His 2008 season was as dominant as any this franchise has experienced.
DT: DaQuan Jones (2014, fourth round) – Underrated, but has been one of the Titans’ most consistent and reliable players for years.
DE: Jurrell Casey (2011, third round) – Disruptive, dynamic and destined to go down as one of the all-time fan favorites.
LB: Keith Bulluck (2000, first round) – Led the team in tackles six times in seven years, yet somehow, he is one of the more underappreciated Titans ever.
LB: Stephen Tulloch (2006, fourth round) – Determined to make every tackle, which helped him compensate for his physical limitations.
LB: Rashaan Evans (2018, first round) – After leading the team in tackles in 2019, he is positioned to become a fixture on the defense.
CB: Alterraun Verner (2010, fourth round) – A well-earned reputation as one of the smartest players, put it all together with 2013 Pro Bowl season.
S: Michael Griffin (2007, first round) – His 25 interceptions in nine seasons are the most by any player of the Titans era and tied for eighth in franchise history.
S: Kevin Byard (2016, third round) – Has led the team in interceptions each of the last three seasons and after four seasons is among the Titans/Oilers all-time top 20.
CB: Andre Dyson (2001, second round) – Undersized but highly competitive, was a starter all four seasons with Tennessee and is one of two Titans cornerbacks with at least six interceptions in a season (2004).
• The defensive line if probably the strength of this lineup, although Casey is out of position a little bit at defensive end. He always was dynamic and versatile enough, though, that he could handle it.
• Based on win-loss record, Vince Young would have been a better choice than Mariota at quarterback (Young also was Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2006), but no one else from the 2015 draft was deserving of a spot, so Mariota got the call.
• The wide receivers are not an eye-popping pair, which speaks to this team’s struggles to draft effectively at that position. At least the big, strong Britt and the short, speedy Wright complement each other well.
• Tight end likely offered the most interesting options with guys like Bo Scaife, Jared Cook, Craig Stevens, Erron Kinney and even Ben Troupe. In the end, none of those guys were a ‘must have’ from their respective classes, which led to Smith.
• No fifth or sixth-round picks made the final list but some were considered, including Scaife (sixth round, 2005), linebackers Avery Williamson (fifth round, 2014) and Jayon Brown (fifth round, 2017), guard Jacob Bell (fifth round, 2004), defensive lineman Karl Klug (fifth round, 2011), center Justin Hartwig (sixth round, 2002), defensive tackle Robaire Smith (sixth round, 2000) and cornerback Jason McCourty (sixth round, 2009).
Give it a try and comment below with what you would do differently.