Tennessee Titans: the biggest losers of Round 1
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Apr 27, 2012
The Titans must hope to get lucky drafting WR Kendall Wright. There's a first time for everything.
By Kerry J. Byrne
Cold, Hard Football Facts Dull Hood Ornament
It didn’t take long for the biggest loser to emerge from the first round of the 2012 draft.
The Tennessee Titans painted a big, navy blue “L” on their foreheads when they used the No. 19 overall pick to grab Kendall Wright, a Shiny Hood Ornament wide receiver out of Baylor. The great football philosopher Tom Petty once said that even the losers get lucky sometime. Must be the strategy Tennessee management employed when it made the pick: hoping to get lucky just once drafting wide receivers.
The team certainly can't be banking on a rich history of success. In fact, the team's track record when it comes to this team harvesting notable wide receivers is truly one of the great horror stories of recent draft history.
Now, rest assured: Wright was a mighty fine receiver in college. He caught an incredible 108 passes for 1,663 yards and 14 TD last season as the top batterymate of Heisman winner Robert Griffin III. He could prove to be the second coming of Jerry Rice.
But even then, even if he’s a home run, he will do little to improve Tennessee’s fortunes. The sad truth that NFL teams are slow to accept is that even the greatest wide receivers rarely make better quarterbacks in particular or better teams in general. Quite the contrary: great quarterbacks and great teams make receivers better. It’s one of the foundations of the Cold, Hard Football Facts Shiny Hood Ornament Man Law.
The evidence to support the Shiny Hood Ornament Man Law is now so overwhelming that it’s the equivalent of gridiron gravity. You can doubt it all you want. But you’ll become a believer the second you jump out a third-story window and pretend you can fly – or pretend you can build a winner around wide receivers.
No team in recent football history has crashed to the ground in a crumpled heap of broken limbs and bad draft picks more often than the Titans – which makes their Thursday night decision all the more disturbing. The Titans have been burned by Shiny Hood Ornaments more often than any team in football over the past decade. They still have not learned their lesson. It’s embarrassing, actually.
Here are the Cold, Hard Football Facts from our “Stats up the Wazoo” pre-draft look at each NFL team’s 10-year draft history.
The Titans drafted 15 wide receivers over the previous 10 years, more than any team in football. In fact, no team has drafted more players at any position (the Cowboys are tied, drafting 15 CBs over the same period).
The Titans also devoted 56 Value Points to those picks, the most draft resources any team has devoted to any position over the past decade (tied with the Bengals, who devoted 56 Value Points to linebackers).
Wright is now the 16th wide receiver the Titans have drafted since 2002 (among 97 picks). And they have now devoted 63 Value Points to the position – again, more draft resources than any team has devoted to any position since the 2002 draft.
Yet the Titans have got almost NOTHING out of the previous 15 receivers. Here are the total career numbers for each receiver drafted by Tennessee since 2002.
Did the Titans even look at their own history before they wasted a valuable No. 1 pick on Wright? It's truly a forgettable list. You, there, with the wing sauce on your wife beater. Yes, you! You're a hard-core football guy. And even your probably haven't heard of most of these guys.
Five of the 15 previous wide receiver draft picks failed to make even a single catch in the NFL. Britt, a No. 1 pick in 2009, is the only player close to producing a competent NFL career – and even then the team must have expected something better than an average of 34 catches, 588 yards and 5 TDs per season when they devoted a No. 1 pick to him.
The average CAREER numbers for these 15 players are stunning: 34 catches, 457 yards, 2.7 TDs. That’s not even a notable season for a receiver these days. But, remember, those aren’t season numbers. That’s the average career of the players to whom the Titans have devoted nearly 20 percent of their draft-pick assets over the past 11 years.
The lack of impact has been noted on the scoreboard and in the win-loss colum.
Tennessee has enjoyed just two playoff victories over this period and they’ve enjoyed just one season ranked in the top 10 in scoring: 5th in 2003 (27.2 PPG).
Wide receivers in the best of times have a high bust rate. Shiny Hood Ornaments simply cannot be counted on to deliver in the NFL, no matter how brightly they sparkled in college. Titans history itself is proof. Yet team management – over two different regimes now – simply cannot resist the allure of the Shiny Hood Ornament, even if the evidence that these are wasted picks are overwhelming.
It gets worse for the Biggest Losers of the 2012 Draft (so far). The Cold, Hard Football Facts tell us it is critical to draft for NEED. You need to utilize the power of the draft to fill the statistical holes that haunted you the previous season. We take a look at this effort each off-season with our "Fillabiltiy Index." It's our look at which teams did the best job addressing their statistical weak links from the year before.
The passing game was not Tennessee’s biggest statistical hole in 2011. In fact, the team was a respectable No. 14 in Real Passing YPA, No. 12 in Real Quarterback Rating and No. 14 in Offensive Passer Rating.
The Titans instead had a critical hole on the other side of the ball: they were No. 30 on our Defensive Hog Index, year after year one of the most important indicators of postseason success. Teams better in the DHI are 40-15 in the playoffs since we introduced the indicator in 2007.
No team in football last year was worse than Tennessee when it came to the all-important skill of pressuring the passer. The Titans forced a Negative Pass Play on just 6.3 percent of opponent dropbacks in 2011, dead last in the NFL. The Super Bowl champ Giants were third best in the NFL last year, forcing a Negative Pass Play on 10.7 percent of opponent drop backs.
The Titans defense, in other words, is a long way from Super Bowl caliber. And last we checked, Shiny Hood Ornaments make really bad pass rushers.
Wasted pick. Wasted day for the Tennessee Losers.
Read more: 2012 NFL draft, draft losers, draft winners, Kendall Wright, NFL, NFL Draft, Shiny Hood Ornament, Tennessee Titans, wide receivers
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