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Titans Draft Countdown: 'The Freak' Jevon Kearse Makes Quick Impact in 1999

Posted Apr 11, 2013

Draft Countdown is a look back at the past 20 years of drafts in Titans/Oilers franchise history in the 20 days before the 2013 NFL Draft.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The 1999 NFL Draft — the organization’s first as the Tennessee Titans — will forever be remembered for “The Freak.”

The Titans selected defensive end Jevon Kearse out of Florida with the 16th overall pick, and he delivered an immediate impact, earning All-Pro and All-Rookie honors in his first season.

Jevon Kearse chased and caught quarterbacks while former Florida teammate and 1999 NFL Draft classmate Zach Piller protected them. Click here for a slideshow from that year.

Kearse set the NFL official record for sacks by a rookie with 14.5 and recorded 36 sacks in his first three seasons to earn three straight trips to the Pro Bowl before missing most of the fourth season to injury. Kearse also forced eight fumbles in 1999 when he was named Defensive Rookie of the Year.

The energy, attributes, abilities and production of “The Freak” helped create the identity of Titans teams that went 56-24 and made the playoffs four times in his first five pro seasons. The Titans recorded 54 sacks in 1999 and 55 in 2000, finishing with 13-3 marks each season and advancing to Super Bowl XXXIV.

Kearse left the Titans as a free agent after the 2003 season and returned to Tennessee for 2008-09. He made 52 sacks and forced 22 fumbles in 83 starts of 88 regular-season games in his seven seasons with the Titans.

The Titans went back to Florida in the third round to draft guard Zach Piller with the 81st overall pick. Piller started 58 of 87 regular-season games in his eight pro seasons with the Titans.

Tennessee made one draft trade that year with New England, sending their 46th overall pick to the Patriots and receiving the 52nd and 117th overall picks. Tennessee drafted defensive tackle John Thornton with the second-round pick and cornerback Donald Mitchell with the fourth-round pick it acquired, and New England drafted running back Kevin Faulk.

Thornton started 35 of 51 regular season games and recorded 10.5 sacks in his four seasons with Tennessee. Mitchell recorded two interceptions (including one he returned 42 yards for a TD in 1999) and four fumble recoveries with the Titans. Thorton and Mitchell played as reserves in the Super Bowl.

The Titans have the 10th overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft on April 25 and are scheduled to have nine picks during the three-day event. Click here to visit Titans Draft Central.

The chart below shows the selections made by the Titans in 1999:

Round

Pick

Player

Position

College

Years with Team

1

16

Jevon Kearse

DE

Florida

1999-2003; 2008-09

2a

46

(Traded to New England)

 

 

 

2b

52

John Thornton

DT

West Virginia

1999-2002

3

81

Zach Piller

G

Florida

1999-2006

4a

114

Brad Ware

S

Auburn

None

4b

117

Donald Mitchell

CB

SMU

1999-2002

5

151

Kevin Daft

QB

California-Davis

1999

6

186

Darran Hall

WR

Colorado State

None

7

222

Phil Glover

LB

Utah

1999

2a-pick traded to New England for second-round (52nd overall) and fourth-round (117th overall) picks

2b-pick acquired with fourth-round pick (117) in trade with New England

4b-pick acquired with second-round pick (52) in trade with New England

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