The 2017 NFL Draft is massively important for the Tennessee Titans, but head coach Mike Mularkey”s history is a tad concerning
Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Mularkey has been around the league for quite a while. Most notably, he’s had previous head coaching stops with Buffalo in 2004 and 2005, and Jacksonville in 2012. Add to that his 2016 season with the Titans and Mularkey has had four previous drafts in which he’s had a hand in acquiring the picks. That might not necessarily be good news for Titans fans.
There’s no doubt Mularkey is an offensive whiz. But his track record as a head coach when it comes to the draft is, well, disappointing. This is not to say Mularkey has always had a hand in how the sausage is made, but as head coach, we can assume he has some input.
“I do know that the coaches are the ones that ultimately spend the most time with these guys on a day in and day out basis. We have a type of player that we want, and I think it is very good for the coaches to have input into the guys that they are going to coach.
“They evaluate the players, and we take their evaluations into consideration and we try and make the best decision for the football team. I think it is really important that the coaches go spend time with these guys in the spring, at pro days, or workouts. Certainly some of those players have played for coaches that they know that are in free agency, so they can tap into those resources for information about players.”
So Robinson allows the coaching staff some say in who the team drafts. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s most certainly how things should work. As Robinson notes, the coaches work with these guys on a daily basis.
When you look at Mularkey’s previous drafts, however, the results are spotty, at best.
In 2004 in Buffalo, his first season as a head coach, the Bills took receiver Lee Evans with the 13th-overall selection. They then dealt their 2005 first-round pick, as well as their 2004 second- and fifth-round picks to Dallas for the 22nd pick. It was a big price to pay and in return, Buffalo selected quarterback J.P. Losman.
That didn’t exactly work out. With those picks, Dallas selected running back Julius Jones, tight end Sean Ryan and, in 2005, defensive end Marcus Spears. All spent at least six seasons in the NFL. Losman started 33 career games in five seasons in Buffalo.
The rest of that draft for the Bills netted defensive tackle Tim Anderson, tight end Tim Euhus, offensive tackle Dylan McFarland and receiver Jonathan Smith. Even ardent Bills fans couldn’t pick those guys out of a lineup. Somehow, though, the following draft was even worse.
Without a first-round draft pick, Buffalo’s first pick was speedy but limited receiver Roscoe Parrish. Then came tight end Kevin Everett in the third round, center Duke Preston in the fourth and defensive back Eric King in the fifth. Parrish appeared in 90 career games but caught just 134 passes. King played in 63 games, most of which came with the Titans.
Things were even worse in Mularkey’s one season in Jacksonville in 2012. The Jaguars first pick that season was receiver Justin Blackmon. Need we saw more?
You will notice a trend. In Mularkey’s three drafts as head coach before joining the Titans, a receiver was the team’s first pick. Of those, only Evans, who had 381 career receptions, wasn’t a bust. Though to be fair, Parrish was a second-round selection. Mularkey bucked that trend last season in his first draft as head coach of the Titans. Tennessee took All-Pro offensive tackle Jack Conklin. So there’s some hope.
This also is not to say Mularkey is completely to blame for those previous failed drafts. But as head coach, he certainly had a hand in them. Robinson should keep these things in mind in the Titans’ war room this year.