One of the most important aspects of the NFL Draft is knowing your identity and drafting accordingly. Two franchises that have played that strategy well in recent years are the Tennessee Titans and Atlanta Falcons. Both teams made that Playoffs in 2008 and then barely missed a season ago. Defense was an issue in Music City and the ATL in 2009, and both addressed that issue by drafting an All-American defender from our Swampland Footprint.
The Titans needed a quality defensive end with the departures of Kyle Vanden Bosch and Jevon Kearse during the offseason. The perfect fit fell to Tennessee with the #16 pick in Georgia Tech pass rusher Derrick Morgan. Many NFL pundits thought Morgan would go to Jacksonville at #10 overall, but the Jaguars’ surprise reach for Cal’s Tyson Alualu opened the door for their division rivals to grab the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. The Titans also added a much-needed return man in USC’s Damian Williams, a tackling machine in Georgia linebacker Rennie Curran, and some secondary help (including Florida State Rhodes scholar Myron Rolle).
The Falcons added one of the best defensive athletes in the draft with their selection of Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon at #19 overall. The super-productive tackler was a three-time All-Big 12 choice and will help the Atlanta pass defense with both his coverage and blitzing skills. General manager Thomas Dimitroff was also able to add quality depth in the third round with a pair of SEC standouts—Kentucky defensive tackle Corey Peters and Alabama offensive lineman Mike Johnson.
Both Atlanta and Tennessee have a good understanding of the draft and were able to address specific needs with their top picks. Both Morgan and Weatherspoon should be instant starters on teams ready to make a solid run at getting back to the postseason. By sticking to their conservative game plans and not reaching in the draft, both organizations have given their respective fan bases a lot to be excited about in 2010.