Here are grades for the Tennessee Titans’ six picks in the 2020 NFL Draft.
OT Isaiah Wilson, Georgia: C+
Here’s my take on Isaiah Wilson: I think he’s a good player and a fit with the #Titans. But does he make them a better football team?
— Luke Worsham (@luke_worsham) April 24, 2020
Wilson is a really strong right tackle who has immense physical gifts. He towers over opponents at a whopping 6-foot-6-inches and 350 pounds.
However, at the end of the day, he’s a project. Wilson is far from a finished product as a player, and he admitted that on his conference call with the Nashville media after being drafted.
“I understand that I can improve on my technique,” Wilson said.
“The best is ahead of me, for sure, just based on how much I know I can work to get better.”
Additionally, the Titans just gave Dennis Kelly a $21 million, three-year contract extension, presumably to be the starter at right tackle. He may still start if head coach Mike Vrabel deems Wilson to not be ready when the 2020 season begins.
In some ways, Wilson made sense, but he was a head-scratcher in others. Several respected draft analysts felt that Wilson was more of a late second-round talent than late-first, so the Titans also arguably reached a bit.
At this point, there are more questions than answers with Wilson.
CB Kristian Fulton, LSU: B+
- Drafted: Second round, No. 61 overall
- Dane Brugler ranking: 60
- Justin Melo ranking: 28
Fulton was the player that a lot of people, including me, thought was the Titans’ best option in round one. Thanks to general manager Jon Robinson’s impressive ability to play the draft board, they were able to wait and pick him up in round two.
Coming into the draft, the Titans desperately needed a starting-caliber cornerback capable of playing both on the outside and in the slot. In Fulton, it looks like they found that.
He’s probably not going to become a true shutdown cornerback, but Fulton will join Malcolm Butler and Adoree’ Jackson to form a talented trio of corners in the Titans’ secondary.
RB Darrynton Evans, Appalachian State: A
- Drafted: Third round, No. 93 overall
- Dane Brugler ranking: 96
- Justin Melo ranking: 81
This pick gets the only “A” from me for two reasons: its value and Evans’ ability to take the Titans offense to the next level.
The Titans entered this offseason with a dire need for a No. 2 running back to complement Derrick Henry. It looks like they found that and more with Evans.
At Appalachian State, Evans played tailback, occasionally lined up as a slot receiver, and returned both punts and kickoffs. That versatility has the potential to add a new dimension to the Titans offense.
Not only will Evans be a viable second option if Henry gets hurt or needs a rest, but offensive coordinator Arthur Smith can use him as a weapon all over the field to make things difficult and unpredictable for defenses.
Evans’ 4.41 40-yard-dash time makes him one of the fastest players on the Titans’ roster, and certainly the fastest player that’s going to see legitimate playing time.
It’s rare for a team to find a transformative offensive impact player in the late third round. The Titans may have done just that.
DL Larrell Murchison, NC State: B-
- Drafted: Fifth round, No. 174 overall
- Dane Brugler ranking: 120
- Justin Melo ranking: 98
Murchison was a quality pick for the Titans, and they, apparently, really wanted him.
Robinson said on Saturday that Murchison was the last player he watched on Friday night “before closing the computer and going to bed.”
The Titans needed to add some defensive line depth in the draft, and they did so with Murchison. He is versatile, having played multiple spots along the defensive line at NC State.
He should develop into a good sub-package player.
QB Cole McDonald, Hawaii: C+
- Drafted: Seventh round, No. 224 overall
- Dane Brugler ranking: 260
- Justin Melo ranking: 213
McDonald has a huge arm, is really fast and put up awesome numbers at Hawaii. He also figures to make the Titans’ 2020 preseason games watchable.
However, due to an elongated throwing motion and a history of becoming erratic in the face of pressure, he’s a big project for the Titans and QB coach Pat O’Hara.
He has the tools and, thus, makes sense as a developmental player, but it’s going to take a lot of development for him to get to where he needs to be.
It’s fair to wonder whether he’ll even be able to beat out Logan Woodside in Training Camp to take over the Titans’ backup QB job.
CB Chris Jackson, Marshall: B-
- Drafted: Seventh round, No. 243 overall
- Dane Brugler ranking: N/A
- Justin Melo ranking: N/A
Proud of Chris Jackson and this incredible accomplishment. We named Chris our Tom Stark Award winner this year, an honor that goes to the defensive player who gives his all on and off the field. He’ll do the same for the @Titans. https://t.co/qg3Qh9tpmm
— John Doc Holliday (@DOCMUFB) April 25, 2020
Jackson was a big-time off-the-radar pick. He wasn’t a part of draft analyst Justin Melo’s big board, and analyst Dane Brugler of The Athletic listed him as the 80th-best cornerback in the draft.
That being said, this is exactly the kind of player teams should be taking fliers on in the seventh round.
He has the athleticism necessary to succeed at his position, clocking a 4.48 40-yard-dash time at Marshall’s pro day. He has good instincts, notching seven interceptions in college. And, he’s a high-character guy, winning Marshall’s “Tom Stark Award,” given to the defensive player “who gives his all on and off the field.”
Jackson may have to start his career with the Titans on the practice squad, but he can become someone they want to keep around.
Cover image: Chris Hanew / USA Today