The Tennessee Titans, like every NFL franchise, probably weren’t expecting to land a potential stud in the late rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft.
But it’s quite possible they did.
David Long Jr, a linebacker out of West Virginia, was selected by the Titans in the sixth round of the draft.
Long, despite his 108 tackles as a junior in 2018, likely fell to the sixth round because evaluators felt he was undersized and lacked the length that most NFL teams look for in a linebacker. The former Mountaineer standout was also described as a “wild” tackler and someone who isn’t great in coverage (below average route recognition).
Sounds pretty typical of a sixth round selection, right? Long probably doesn’t sound like a future stud.
But I think he has the potential to be a solid player for the Titans. Maybe even a starter one day, depending on Tennessee’s future personnel decisions.
Long plays quick and he recognizes and dissects running plays incredibly fast.
So fast, in fact, that he had one of the top run-stop percentages among draft eligible linebackers last season.
New Titans LB David Long Jr. recorded a run stop on 13.4% of his run-defense snaps last year – that ranked tied for 8th-best among all draft-eligible LBs pic.twitter.com/mjgzAVJFE0
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 20, 2019
Instincts can’t be taught. And it’s clear that Long has great instincts when it comes to stopping the run.
Plus, let’s be honest — it’s not like West Virginia is known for their defensive excellence. There’s a great chance that Mike Vrabel, a former linebacker, will be able to help Long develop into a solid all around defensive player that can help the Titans win games for years to come.
Obviously there’s a chance that Long doesn’t develop like I think he will. Teams miss on draft picks all the time. The miss rate for writers who scribble about draft picks is much higher.
But I do believe Jon Robinson and company made a solid selection in the sixth round of the draft by selecting a player who has a lot of upside. Long might not end up being a Pro-Bowl caliber player, but he should become a reliable part of the Titans’ defense in the not-so-distant future.
Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports