With training camp a day away, fans are eager to see what is in store for the 2009 version of the Tennessee Titans.
Camp gives many fans their best opportunity to see the team up close and in action, and camp marks the first chance for fans to actually see the Titans’ rookie class and how it progresses as the regular season draws closer.
Let’s take a look at how this year’s rookies could fit into the equation as the Titans get ready to open training camp.
Kenny Britt (18)
(first round, wide receiver, Rutgers)
The former Rutgers star appears to have all the tools to become a standout at the position for years to come. However, with most wide receivers, it is a steep learning curve from college to the NFL.
Many believed Britt would open as the No. 3 receiver in the pecking order, and that still could happen, but hamstring injuries slowed Britt during OTAs, and allowed holdovers like Chris Davis and Lavelle Hawkins to get needed work.
Britt can still figure prominently in the mix, but will have to show polish and precision in his route running. The most likely scenario is Britt in the running for the fourth spot, the same way Tyrone Calico did in 2003, with his role being expanded as his learning accelerates.
Sen’Derrick Marks (72)
(second round, defensive tackle, Auburn)
Marks’ quickness compares favorably to that of departed Albert Haynesworth, though he doesn’t possess that kind of size or strength.
Marks, who came out a year early from Auburn, can earn himself a spot in the defensive tackle rotation, but likely ranks no better than fourth at the current time behind Tony Brown, Jason Jones and Jovan Haye. If he appears overmatched early on, the Titans also have the luxury of shifting Kevin Vickerson ahead of him to give him time to learn.
Jared Cook (89)
(third round, tight end, South Carolina)
Despite having Alge Crumpler, Bo Scaife and Craig Stevens on board, the Titans appear eager to get Cook’s size and speed combination on the field. They were giving him plenty of reps during OTAs, and Cook responded with a number of nice catches. Of course, that was without pads on in a controlled environment.
However, if Cook can transfer what he showed in off-season work into training camp and preseason, he could quickly earn himself time in certain packages as a rookie.
Ryan Mouton (29)
(third round, cornerback, Hawaii)
Rookies usually make their initial impact on special teams, and to be more specific, that is what the speedy Mouton was drafted for. He should compete immediately for the kickoff return role with veteran free agent pickup Mark Jones and be in the mix for the dimeback role.
Essentially, Mouton is a faster version of Chris Carr, and the Titans hope he can contribute in sub-packages and as a returner right away.
Gerald McRath (51)
(fourth round, linebacker, Southern Miss)
Playing on coverage units on special teams will be McRath’s initial calling card, but the Titans are high on him long-term. With Keith Bulluck slated to be a free agent after the season, could McRath be the next in line as his successor?
Troy Kropog (70)
(fourth round, offensive tackle, Tulane)
The general rule for Titans rookie offensive linemen is to sit, listen and learn in that first season. The Titans are high on Kropog, but he will likely have to wait his turn, potentially as an inactive most Sundays early on.
Javon Ringer (3)
(fifth round, running back, Michigan State)
Ringer was a workhorse at Michigan State and a potential steal with a fifth-round compensatory pick. However, he won’t see much action unless Chris Johnson or LenDale White is injured. Ringer does have a chance to unseat Chris Henry as the team’s third running back and can help himself be active on Sundays by grasping a special teams role.
Jason McCourty (30)
(sixth round, cornerback, Rutgers)
McCourty will battle Mouton, Cary Williams and DeMarcus Faggins for a backup cornerback spot. He has the size (6-0, 193) and decent cover ability. If McCourty shows something, he could easily shoot up the depth chart and be the Titans third or fourth corner right out of the gate. McCourty also has some experience as a return man, but is probably not the frontrunner in that sweepstakes.
Dominique Edison (19)
(sixth round, wide receiver, Stephen F. Austin)
Edison looks more polished than your usual late-round pick from a lower level school. That said, he is still most likely a project who figures more likely to be a back-of-the-roster or practice squad player early on, barring a strong performance in camp. That said, opportunity will be there, as the Titans aren’t yet sold on Chris Davis, Lavelle Hawkins and Paul Williams as backup receivers.
Ryan Durand (77)
(seventh round, guard, Syracuse)
Durand is the typical late-round Mike Munchak project, a la Eugene Amano and Mike Otto. Sometimes those guys pan out and become quality players. Keep an eye on Durand, who might land on the practice squad, for future years, not 2009.
Nick Schommer (39)
(seventh round, safety, North Dakota State)
Schommer’s bread and butter no doubt will come on special teams. If he is to make the 53-man roster, then he will have to unseat either Donnie Nickey or Tuff Harris in the process.