For Titans, experience counts in terms of which players to draft

Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 11:29pm

It was not exactly a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately approach.

After all, none of the eight players the Tennessee Titans selected in the 2013 draft have done anything for the franchise to this point. For the most part, though, what they did has a lot to do with the fact that they were picked.

Seven of those players were starters for more than half of the games they played in college — in some cases significantly more.

“Typically, that is what we are always going to be looking for,” general manager Ruston Webster said. “I mean, I would probably be a little less, you might say, an upside guy. I always try to think about, ‘OK, what’s the ceiling, what’s the floor’ in a player, and usually those guys who have played a lot and have production, have good floors.”

All told, the eight draft picks recorded a combined 237 college starts, an average of 29.6 per player. That was in 346 career contests, which means they collectively started 68.5 percent of the time.

First-round choice Chance Warmack, a guard from Alabama, and third-round pick Blidi Wreh-Wilson, a cornerback from Connecticut, each started 40 of 45 games during their careers. Even the seventh-round pick, safety Daimion Stafford, started 26 of 27 games in two years at Nebraska, and the previous numbers don’t take into account his two years of junior college football.

The lone exception was defensive end Lavar Edwards, fifth-round pick out of LSU. He was stuck for most of his career behind two players who were picked in the first three rounds of this year’s draft and started just 15 times in 52 career appearances.

“He made the most of his time,” Webster said. “He was productive when he did play. His traits — his size and speed — kind of fit what we are looking for at a defensive end at that time. He was a good fit that way.”

After Edwards, the one with the next fewest starts is second-round pick Justin Hunter, a wide receiver from Tennessee. He was a starter for 17 games but played just 28 games in a three-year career that included an injury-shortened 2011 during which he played just three times. He was a full-time starter as a sophomore and played with the first unit in all 12 games last season.

The rest of the class consisted of third-round choice Zavair Gooden, a linebacker from Missouri (36 starts in 49 games) fourth-round pick Brian Schwenke, a center from Cal (36 in 48) and sixth-round pick Khalid Wooten, a cornerback from Nevada (27 in 52).

“[It has been] three drafts now, since I have been the head coach, so you get the chance to bring in the kind of guys you want in free agency … so yeah we think we have definitely created in almost all the situations where we have upped the talent level,” coach Mike Munchak said. “This group of eight guys here will also do the same. I think [they] came in with a lot of talent, speed.

“I think the question is how quickly will they help us. But I think a lot of guys have the ability to do that right away.”

They also have a lot of experience — in college football, at least.

In case you missed any of The City Paper’s draft coverage:

• The Titans consider the decision to draft Chance Warmack 10th overall a power play. Click here.

• Warmack considers the Titans a perfect fit for him and his professional aspirations. Click here.

• Team officials considered the opportunity to add Justin Hunter to the passing game too good to pass up. So they moved up to make it happen. Click here.

• The 2013 draft continued the offseason efforts to overhaul the interior of the offensive line. Click here.

• A look at each of the eight members of this year’s Titans draft class. Click here.