A year ago, the Titans got excellent pass-rush production out of Karl Klug, a rookie defensive tackle drafted out of Iowa in the fifth round.
He credited much of his ability to operate effectively in the crowded middle of the field to his background as a wrestler.
The Titans took two more players with wrestling backgrounds in this year’s draft, points out David Boclair of the Nashville City Paper. Both second-round outside linebacker Zach Brown and third-round defensive tackle Mike Martin have wrestled and say it helps them as football players.
“It’s close quarters, and it happens fast, very fast. In wrestling, that’s all it is. Being able to have leverage, being able to be athletic and shoot on guys and work your hands. Especially in the pass rush and even the run, you have to shoot your hands, you have to get guys off of you, and you have to make plays.”
And from GM Ruston Webster: “To me, wrestlers do have that natural leverage, and they understand leverage and they understand how to use their hands, and typically they are tough guys. That’s why I think that you see it more in guards and centers and defensive tackles.”
Klug had a team-high seven sacks as a rookie, accounting for a quarter of the team’s total. I'd love to see him and Martin wrestle each other, but the Titans would never endorse such a risky sideshow.
If the Titans can get anything close to Klug's first-year production out of their two new wrestlers, maybe next year’s draft class will all be former grapplers.