Draft Grades for the Titans: Lots of A's, but One D

NASHVILLE – The NFL Draft is over, and the draft grades are in.

Here’s a look at what draft analysts are saying about the 2019 draft for the Titans.

Mel Kiper, ESPN
Grade: B

Top needs: Defensive tackle, tight end, outside linebacker
The Titans really don't want to be graded, do they? A year after only making four draft picks, they had just six this year, among the fewest in the league. They also took one of the biggest mysteries in the draft, as top pick Jeffery Simmons (No. 19) could take a redshirt year because of a torn ACL suffered in February. Based on talent alone, he might have been a top-five pick. But there's also the defensive tackle's off-field, which factor into the boards for every team. If Simmons gets healthy, he could be a steal in time. Right now, though, it's tough to say he's going to do much for Tennessee, which thinks it's a playoff team in 2019.
I liked the pick of wide receiver A.J. Brown in the middle of Round 2 (No. 51). With Marcus Mariota in a contract year, it's important to surround him with weapons to figure out whether they want to invest $100 million guaranteed. Brown could be a solid No. 2 receiver. Nate Davis (No. 82) started at guard for three seasons in college before playing right tackle as a senior. His best spot at the next level is inside. Amani Hooker (No. 116) is a solid deep safety who will contribute on special teams. D’Andre Walker (No. 168) is toolsy, but you wonder why he didn't produce at Georgia.
And so the Titans had 10 draft picks over the last two classes, which means it has to comb the undrafted free agent field for under-the-radar finds. Simmons is the most important prospect here, even if we don't know his true impact until 2020. This is a steady (and small) group of players I like.

Pro Football Focus
DRAFT GRADE: EXCELLENT

Round 1 (19): DI Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State
Round 2 (51): WR AJ Brown, Ole Miss
Round 3 (82): G Nate Davis, Charlotte
Round 4 (116): S Amani Hooker, Iowa
Round 5 (168): Edge D’Andre Walker, Georgia
Round 6 (188): LB David Long Jr., West Virginia
Day 1:
The Titans very quietly snagged one of the best players in the 2019 NFL Draft at No. 19 by selecting former Mississippi State defensive interior Jeffery Simmons. Off-field issues and an offseason injury likely pushed him out of the top 10, but Simmons’ play between the whistles is premier. He had a run-defense and pass-rushing grade over 90.0 this past season, and the big man finished as PFF’s No. 8 overall player in the class.
“On the field, he’s an extremely powerful man. He walks back guards, walks back centers. He has probably the best bull rush of any of these interior guys in this class… If you could build a defensive tackle in terms of size, weight, length, it would look like Jeffery Simmons.” – Pro Football Focus’ Lead Draft Analyst
Day 2:
Tennessee picked up another steal at pick No. 51 in former Ole Miss wide receiver AJ Brown. While he primarily worked from the slot in his collegiate career, Brown did have some success playing outside down the stretch of last season in wake of DK Metcalf’s injury and very well could play a hybrid slot/outside role in the NFL. He’s a monster after the catch, as well, with great speed and elusiveness.
31 picks later, the Titans continued to find value, selecting PFF’s No. 74 overall player in the class at pick No. 82, Charlotte guard Nate Davis. He allowed all of four pressures on 234 pass-blocking snaps this past season between tackle and guard. He’ll end up at the latter in the pros.
Day 3:
Tennessee finished what was already a great draft with two more outstanding picks on Day 3.
Iowa safety/cornerback Amani Hooker, PFF’s No. 44 overall player in the class, is a steal having come off the board at the top of the fourth round. His 91.1 coverage grade last season was the second-highest of any defensive back in the country.
West Virginia off-ball linebacker David Long Jr. is another value pick for Tennessee in the sixth round. He earned an 83.5 pass-rush grade across his 129 pass-rush snaps in 2018, ranking 10th among off-ball linebackers with 50 or more pass-rush snaps.

Chad Reuter, NFL.com

Grade: A

Draft picks: Mississippi State DT Jeffery Simmons (No. 19 overall); Mississippi WR A.J. Brown (No. 51); Charlotte OG Nate Davis (No. 82); Iowa S Amani Hooker (No. 116); Georgia OLB D’Andre Walker (No. 168); West Virginia LB David Long, Jr. (No. 188)
Day 1 grade: A
Day 2 grade: A
Day 3 grade: A

Draft analysis: If Simmons had not torn his ACL in February, he would have been picked much higher. Teams believe he has been a model citizen since his 2016 arrest. His physicality and aggressive play give him a shot at being special.
Tennessee found great value in Brown in the middle of the second round, adding him to Marcus Mariota's arsenal, which already includes Adam Humphries, Taywan Taylor and Corey Davis. Davis was projected to go in the third round as a guard, and he could compete for the spot opposite Rodger Saffold in 2019 or 2020. The Titans added depth with Hooker, Walker, and Long on Saturday, all three of whom could be starters within two years.

Dan Kadar, Super Bowl Nation
Grade: A-

Tennessee probably can’t get a full grade after drafting defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons with the No. 19 pick. A player with top-five skill, Simmons might miss the season after tearing his ACL.
When wide receivers dropped deep into the second round, the Titans got a nice steal with A.J. Brown. He might be this draft’s Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster. He can play inside or outside, and doesn’t hesitate to make plays in traffic.
Guard Nate Davis, taken at No. 82, is a dominant run blocker who gets low and overpowers linemen. It was a little surprising to see him in the top 100. The Titans got more value on Day 3 with Iowa safety Amani Hooker at No. 116. He could push for a starting job. Edge rusher D’Andre Walker and linebacker David Long were steals on Day 3.

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News
(29th rank)
Grade: D

Whom they drafted: DT Jeffery Simmons, WR A.J. Brown, G Nate Davis, S Amani Hooker, OLB D'Andre Walker, ILB David Long
The Titans drafted a little too much for 2020 with Simmons and Walker, and Davis was a bit of a reach. Being able to get Brown in the second round gave the usually wise-drafting Jon Robinson some redemption.

Andy Benoit, MMQB
Grade: B-

1 (19). Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
2 (51). A.J. Brown, WR, Mississippi
3 (82). Nate Davis, OL, Charlotte
4 (116). Amani Hooker, DB, Iowa
5 (168). D'Andre Walker, LB, Georgia
6 (188). David Long Jr., LB, West Virginia
Jurrell Casey is signed through 2023 and is not slowing down, so the first-round selection of Jeffrey Simmons is more likely about the Titans simply seeing value in a position where depth is crucial. Simmons, nursing a recently torn ACL, might sit out much of 2019, but he’ll be here when the contracts for defensive linemen Austin Johnson, Darius Kilgo and the recently signed Brent Urban expire. In sub-packages, the Titans present various rush concepts from disguised fronts. If Simmons becomes another version of Casey, he’ll be worth it.
The rest of Tennessee’s draft was about traditional need-filling. A.J. Brown is a plug-and-play receiver who will likely operate outside and from the slot. His style should fit this offense’s tight-aligned, multi-receiver route combinations. Guard Nate Davis is regarded by some as a mauler, which isn’t typically what you look for in an outside zone-blocking scheme, but new blood will be soon needed at right guard, where Kevin Pamphile is playing on an expiring deal. Amani Hooker is regarded as a smart, versatile safety, which works well in a Dean Pees-led scheme that features traditional coverages out of untraditional looks.

Nate Davis, USA Today
Grade: B+

Charlotte G Nate Davis was the pick of the draft in Round 3. (OK, I'm getting carried away. But make no mistake, Davis is a high-quality addition for a team that wants make its bones on the ground.) Ole Miss' A.J. Brown will arguably emerge as this draft's premier wideout after a stellar stint in Oxford and looks like a great value choice at No. 51. Last, but certainly not least, first-round DT Jeffery Simmons could be another cagey choice by GM Jon Robinson. Simmons' ACL injury may shelve him in 2019, but his ability was worth the investment of the 19th overall choice.

WalterFootball.com
NFL Draft Individual Grades:
19. Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State B Grade
This is a very interesting pick. If Jeffery Simmons hadn't torn his ACL, he would've been drafted in the top 10; perhaps even as high as No. 4 overall. There's also a video of Simmons hitting a woman when he was in high school, but he was defending his sister, and he has grown since. He has turned his life around, so this should not be an issue going forward. The only worry here with Simmons is that the Titans won't be able to use him in 2019, which might be a make-or-break year for Marcus Mariota. Shouldn't the Titans have gotten Mariota some help? Probably, but Simmons is such an outstanding talent that I can't grade this poorly.
51. A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss A+ Grade
This is another favorite pick of mine. A.J. Brown was a spectacular player at Ole Miss, unlike D.K. Metcalf. Brown would've been even more productive in school if the program wasn't such a mess at the very end. I thought Brown should've gone in the back end of the first round, so I absolutely love this value. Brown also fills a need across from Corey Davis.
82. Nate Davis, G/OT, Charlotte B+ Grade
Nate Davis played tackle at Charlotte, but he'll slide inside to guard in the pros. He'll fill a huge need for the Titans, who surrendered 11 sacks to the Ravens in a game last year. That cannot happen again, and Davis will help. Davis is a better run blocker at this stage, so he'll open some big running lanes for Derrick Henry. He fits the range in the third round.
116. Amani Hooker, S/CB/LB, Iowa A- Grade
Amani Hooker provides solid value in the middle of the fourth round, as I thought there was a good chance he could sneak into the back end of Day 2. Hooker is very versatile, as he can play safety, cornerback and even linebacker. He'll be a nice chess piece for the Titans' defense.
168. D'Andre Walker, DE/OLB, Georgia A+ Grade
I don't understand why D'Andre Walker fell to the fifth round, and if the NFL Network would stop showing promos of NFL100, we may have been told why. Walker was a terrific player over the past two years at Georgia. He can rush the passer well, hold up against the run and drop into coverage. The Titans had a big need at outside linebacker, and Walker should be able to fill it.
188. David Long, LB, West Virginia A Grade
I had David Long being chosen in the fourth round, so I love the value the Titans are getting at this selection. Long is undersized and needs to improve his tackling ability, but he's a speedy player who should do well in coverage. Long should provide a boost on special teams as well.

David Neal, Miami Herald
Grade: C

Rd. 1: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
Rd. 2: A.J. Brown, WR, Mississippi
Rd. 3: Nate Davis, G, Charlotte
Rd. 4: Amani Hooker, S, Iowa
Rd. 5: D’andre Walker, DE/LB, Georgia
Rd. 6: David Long, LB, West Virginia
Analysis: Ironic that with all the happy madness of the draft being in Nashville, the hometown team’s draft seemed about as “Meh. OK” as the hometown team.

Evan Silva, Yahoo Sports

Grade: B-

Overview: Ryan Tannehill and Kamalei Correa are also members of this class after the Titans acquired them for 2019 picks. I’ve struggled to get behind the process of the Simmons pick because GM Jon Robinson’s job could hang in the balance if the Titans don’t take a 2019 step after three straight 9-7 seasons. Simmons (ACL) is highly unlikely to contribute this year. Each of the next five guys Robinson took very well could, however. A poor man’s JuJu Smith-Schuster, Brown was the highest-floor wide receiver prospect in this class and promisingly rounds out Tennessee’s three-wide set with Corey Davis and Adam Humphries. Davis is a bully in the trenches, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him start at right guard in Week 1. Derrick Henry will love running behind him. Hooker earned 2018 Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year, then shined in Indy with a 4.48 forty and 6.81 three-cone time. A projected day-two pick, Walker’s fall was stunning as a player whose tape reminds of old Steelers OLB LaMarr Woodley. Long is going to be a core special teamer. I wanted to see the Titans get immediate impact out of the first round, but beyond that quibble I think Robinson took advantage of the capital he had.

Mark Maske, Washington Post
Grade: C

There might be a sizable payoff for taking DT Jeffery Simmons 19th, given that many believe he has top-five talent. But that payoff won’t come soon; Simmons is recovering from a torn ACL. In such a competitive division and coming off a non-playoff season, could the Titans really afford to use their first-rounder on a player headed toward, essentially, a redshirt season?

Eric Edholm, Yahoo Sports
Grade: A

Picks: Mississippi State DT Jeffery Simmons; Mississippi WR A.J. Brown; Charlotte OG Nate Davis; Iowa S Amani Hooker; Georgia OLB D’Andre Walker; West Virginia LB David Long Jr.
Best pick: Simmons
The Titans landed one of our favorite players in this class. Sure, his ACL will prevent his talent from being fully realized in Year 1. But in the long term, this feels like a home run. Had Simmons been healthy, we think he would have merited being taken in the top 10, just after Quinnen Williams and before Ed Oliver. Brown and Hooker were big hits for us, too, but Simmons is a rare dude. Credit GM Jon Robinson for having the conviction to draft him in what was a tricky spot mid-Round 1 for their immediate needs. We think this pays off in a major way in time.
Worst pick: Davis
And we didn’t hate the pick at all! It’s just more of a reflection of how much we loved the Titans’ picks for the most part. If we’re being nitpickers, Davis doesn’t read as an instant standout for us, even though – wildly enough – he should have a legit opportunity to start in Year 1 (or Year 2 at the latest). He’ll need a little work, but Davis is actually a nice prospect. Maybe they took him a hair too early? But we’re not even sure about that.
Overall: This has the makings of an excellent class. Simmons is a star in waiting to us. Brown could be the Week 1 starter as the “big slot” receiver. Davis could start or contribute now. Hooker, Walker and Long all have realistic chances to earn notable roles next year. Up and down, the Titans just kept uncovering talent and terrific value. It’s just hard to find much in the way of fault in what they did.

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports

Grade: C

Best pick: Taking defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons in the first round is risky because he's coming off a torn ACL, but he will pay off in a big way. The kid is a force.

Worst pick: Third-round guard Nate Davis is a project who will need time to develop. I didn't love that pick.

The skinny: I liked the pick of Simmons and second-round receiver A.J. Brown. Keep an eye on sixth-round corner David Long. He has some skills to stick. This draft will be judged by Simmons, which means it may take some time.

Darryl Slater, N.J.com
Grade: A

Analysis: Another terrific draft, presuming Simmons returns OK from his torn ACL. Brown is right there with Marquise Brown as an elite receiver.
• Titans (6 picks): DT Jeffery Simmons (1), WR A.J. Brown (2), OG Nate Davis (3), S Amani Hooker (4), OLB D’Andre Walker (5), LB David Long (6)

Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Grade: A

The Titans took care of their need for an interior disruptor quite estimably with Mississippi State’s Jeffery Simmons with the 19th overall pick. If Simmons wasn’t recovering from an ACL injury, he might have gone in the top five, and he’s worth the wait from a recovery perspective. And taking Mississippi receiver A.J. Brown in the second round gives Marcus Mariota one of the most prolific slot receivers in the NCAA last season. North Carolina-Charlotte guard Nate Davis merited a third-round pick—he’s undersized but technically proficient. But the pick I like the most in this particular draft is the steal of Iowa safety Amani Hooker in the fourth round. Tennessee already has Kevin Byard and Kenny Vaccaro in the back, and Hooker adds value as an occasional deep safety who can come down and thump receivers, allowing the Titans to move Vaccaro around.

John McClain, Houston Chronicle
Grade: B

They're content to wait on DE Jeffery Simmons, who's recovering from ACL surgery and won't play this season. WR A.J. Brown was a terrific second-round pick and should start as a rookie. G Nate Davis, S Amani Hooker and edge rusher D'Andre Walker should compete for playing time.

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