NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- When the Tennessee Titans start selecting players on April 27, college production is likely to be paramount.
The Titans clearly showed a preference for experience at wide receiver last season. Fifth-rounder Tajae Sharpe came out of UMass with a nation-best 111 receptions as a senior and as the school’s all-time leading receiver.
Their top second-round pick last year, outside linebacker Kevin Dodd out of Clemson, didn’t start a game until his senior year. He was trapped behind some high-quality people. Their third second-round pick, Heisman Trophy-winning running back Derrick Henry only started 17 games.
Still, Dodd and Henry were hardly one-year wonders at big, successful programs. Dodd played in 39 games; Henry in 41.
Sixth-rounder Aaron Wallace only started 12 times at UCLA in 49 games.
But overall, the first draft class chosen by GM Jon Robinson averaged 32 starts and 43 games in college.
My sense is the Titans value an extensive college resume. Clearly they are not wary of productive players out of places like MTSU, UMass, Southern Utah and Southern Miss, so long as they played a lot and produced a lot.
Robinson has said he’s not big on projects, which would scratch someone like 2012 fifth-rounder Taylor Thompson, who played defensive end at SMU but was drafted as a tight end.
I don’t think Robinson’s Titans will be drafting players like 2009 third-round cornerback Ryan Mouton, who played just 24 games at Hawaii, 2015 second-round receiver Dorial Green-Beckham (25 games at Missouri) or 2013 second-round receiver Justin Hunter (28 games at Tennessee).
I don’t see him falling in love with a Chris Henry or Paul Williams either.
Henry, a 2007 second-round running back out of Arizona, played in 35 college games, but averaged just 7.7 carries per game before gaining attention with a big combine performance. Williams, a third-rounder in 2007, played in 38 games for Fresno State, but averaged less than two catches a game.
Those guys were raw and/or inexperienced, and from what we know so far, Robinson seeks polished production.
That could be a factor when considering these guys for either of the Titans' first-round picks, fifth and 18th, if Tennessee still holds them when it’s time to make the picks.