- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Perhaps I’m naïve, but I’m amazed at the degree of fan backlash over the lack of a splash factor in the 2014 draft.
Were people actually expecting the Titans to draft Johnny Manziel? I understand the intrigue and appeal, but he’s far from a sure thing. They overreached for a quarterback just three years ago. A groundswell begging for them to do it again doesn’t make a lot of sense.
I understand that first-round tackle Taylor Lewan doesn’t answer an immediate, screaming need. But he’ll be a long-term starter and I bet fans fall in love with his playing style very quickly.
As for splash -- did you find Jurrell Casey splashy and exciting when the Titans drafted him in the third round in 2011? I’m guessing not. Do you love the play and production of the Titans’ best defensive player now? I’m guessing yes.
The Titans have certainly drafted their share of duds. But a rush to judgment and a sense that a draft must include splash are misplaced. Avery Williamson might be an outstanding playmaking inside linebacker for years. Are we allowed to see if he pans out?
One reader via Facebook said of his Titans: “It seems we will always be nothing more than a ‘Great Value Brand’ team. No name brands ever!!"
If the picks are good and play well, Titans fans will know their names. Titans fans not knowing the names now isn’t a Titans problem, it’s a problem of the people who think name recognition is important right now. Many of the NFL’s best players weren’t brand names when they got drafted. They built their NFL brand in the NFL. (Exhibit A: Tom Brady.)
This could be an "A" draft. It could be an "F" draft. It can’t be judged now except on how they filled needs and how they measured up to analysts’ assessments of players.
On needs: They filled them pretty well, though I still say they need a young edge-rusher and they don't have a great fourth receiver candidate.
On measuring up to analysts judgments: Do we really care that much?