The place to start is with Zach Brown. Cosell's comments echoed something I heard from other people and noticed in some videos myself: he simply doesn't play as physical as you'd expect. This is especially curious given that he was a Maryland state champion as a wrestler in high school. The Titans have shown a bit of a propensity in recent years for wrestlers (Mike Martin and Karl Klug were, and there may be others I'm not remembering offhand), and there are a number of attributes like hand usage that apparently translate pretty well. It's also pretty hard to be a good wrestler and not be physical, so how does a very good wrestler like Brown not play physical football?
Respected Packers writer Bob McGinn, who's well-connected around the league, put together a couple interesting pieces collating his notes from scouts about top prospects, and a couple of them offered hypotheses about Brown, who ended up McGinn's fifth-ranked outside linebacker. Anonymous scout quotes should always be taken with a tablespoon or more of salt, but one noted he wasn't a coward, he just didn't play physical. That obviously makes him an imperfect player, but, well, that's what you have. Another noted Brown has always been able to get by on his physical talents, and may not have had to develop the right kind of work ethic yet. He played physically at the Senior Bowl, so he may understand it, and Brown is far from the first young man in his early twenties to have that problem; a number of them, but by no means all, do learn their lesson, and if that's accurate, Frank Bush will be trying to impart that on Brown.
On to Kendall Wright. I dumped most of my more interesting material on Wright in the morning-after post back in April, including McGinn's scouting quotes. One thing I didn't hit in there is K.C. Joyner wrote a stats piece for E$PN In$ider ranking the receivers based on their efficiency on routes of various depth, and Wright came out tied for fourth, with very good YPA metrics on short, intermediate, and vertical passes. It's worth noting, though, that he had the great good fortune to play with RG3, who had even better overall YPA metrics.
Mike Martin was the subject of a couple interesting quotes in the relevant McGinn compendium, where he ranked eighth among defensive tackles. The general tone seems to be that some of the scouts were more with my impression and Cosell's initial take on him. One scout noted he was relatively short for a defensive tackle, measuring in at 6'1 3/8" at the Combine. Beyond hand usage, one thing wrestlers learn is leverage; while the trenches at the line of scrimmage don't necessarily allow the same space for grappling as a wrestling mat, Martin has some experience not necessarily being the taller man. Note as well that Jurrell Casey was another short player for the position, measuring in at 6'0.5" at the Combine. Most teams, even 4-3 teams, look a lot more for taller players-the Bengals are maybe the exemplar in this regard, and selected my object of desire at defensive tackle Devon Still, who's 6'5".
I don't really have anything on Coty Sensabaugh as a prospect, but I'm seriously remiss in not having linked this article on his draft day experience and some background on him as a person, including the tragic death of his older brother.
Finally, for this post, Markelle Martin. He came out as McGinn's sixth-ranked safety, but that says more about the safety class than the level of affection for him. Speed and agility were recurring concerns, so if you're looking for reasons for optimism, there are none to be found there. Judging from this interview, though, he seems like a good guy even though not being able to work out before the draft must have been insanely frustrating.
One of the key things that Munchak said during OTAs was something like "we want to build a team to beat our 1st opponent: New England." So who on last year's team could cover a Gronkowski? Anyone? Anyone? Zach Brown fits that bill for pass coverage. The Titans are planning a more explosive offense. So combine that with a pass-happier league and more elite TEs. That makes it a must to have a LB that can cover. They didn't draft him to tackle RBs. They drafted him to cover TEs and rush the passer.
Nothing was written on Taylor Thompson for obvious reasons, but he seems to be the most intriguing prospect to a lot of people/columnists. I don't expect much out of him this year except on special teams and we've got the blocking Stevens and rising pass-catcher Cook.
Nothing on Scott Solomon either. I see him being "the next Dave Ball." Good, solid contributor that makes the team; but nothing outstanding. Will like his hustle and effort. But gotta have the quickness and speed at DE, which he doesn't have.
Huge expectations for Wright by next year. Comparison I've heard that I agree with, is Steve Smith of the Panthers. I'll take it!
I've always liked Mike Martin. When the 3rd Rd started, I thought "man, I wish Mike Martin would be there for us." I was super-pumped when we got him. He's just relentless, and a OL nightmare. OL may get him in the first half, but he just keeps coming back for more, and by the 4th Quarter he's wearing you out and making key stops.
Someone else not in this draft class, but I like to see "1st year playing time" is Robert Johnson. Could be a surprise this year. Really liked him at Utah.
Could write more, but probably boring you by now. Go Titans!
@Mark from Madison Where did you read Munch say that about building a team to beat the Patriots? That would make sense since not only are they the opening day game, but they were AFC champs. Any road to the Super Bowl would likely have to go through them.
@dragak1981 It seems like an interview I heard on Sirius NFL Radio. But why not have that strategy? Why only focus on beating the guys in your division? You try to beat everyone on your schedule and NE is the toughest opponent.
Also, look at the standard NE has set with the 2 TE set. Colts are trying to follow suit with their draft picks of Fleener and Dwayne Allen. Sure they're good sure targets for Luck, but more and more teams will convert to this offensive attack.
@Mark from Madison I fully agree with you Mark! If the Titans can beat the Patriots, they should have a relatively (key word) easy time with their division (Colts and Jags not too good...Houston really good). Also, with the Titans moving into the passing era and out of Fisher Ball they definitely need those two receiving threats at tight end...lets hope Thompson can develop. If he can develop into that receiving threat, he can be an excellent all around tight end. I read that he is already showing lots of progress in blocking which the coaches attribute to his time as a DE. And that is Cookie's weak point....
@Mark from Madison Thanks for the comment, Mark.
I actually did have a Taylor Thompson article saved, but it disappeared behind a paywall between late April and now. Pity.
Mike Martin looks like he is going to be a beast...that is one big strong man and the wrestling background gives him even more of an advantage.....I think Zach Brown will figure it out...his background in wrestling and track I think will lead to him having a great work ethic...those are two sports you simply have to work...football may have just come easier since he is so athletically gifted...i do think Witherspoon starts over him though at this point.
@dragak1981 Thanks for the comment; we'll see just how high Martin's ceiling is, but a reasonable downside for him is still a very useful player. We'll see about Brown's future and present; I was reading something recently that noted once a coach loses trust in an aging player, it's virtually impossible for him to ever regain that trust. I think Arian Foster's long TD catch and run in Week 7 may have been that moment for Witherspoon.
@ThomasGower I think you are right about Witherspoon on that one...his playing time went WAY down after the first Houston game...they seemed to increasingly use their nickel defense and kept him on the sidelines. Being another year older does not help his case and if Brown can manage to NOT screw up, the job could very well be his.