The Titans do draft DBs in the first round. The Titans have picked a defensive back with their first round pick in three of the last six NFL drafts, and there’s a very realistic chance that the trend continues this year. In that span of time Tennessee has drafted Pro Bowl FS Michael Griffin, Andre Woolfolk and Asteroid Jones. While the Jones experiment didn’t work out all that well, that debacle won’t (obviously) dissuade the Titans from picking a CB if the value is there when they pick at #30. Nick Harper’s age makes CB a position that Tennessee could certainly use some top flight talent at, and there could be some intriguing options still on the board when the Titans make their selection. This year’s crop of corners have seen their draft stocks rise and fall at astonishing rates, so there’s no real consensus as to which of these prospects will still be around when Tennessee is on the clock. Let’s take a look at who’s out there.
Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State - I know you read our wide receiver breakdown. Good. Now say Michael Crabtree out loud with us. Very nice. Even though Crabtree is a better prospect than Jenkins, they have one big thing in common. Neither of them will still be on the board when Tennessee picks. No reason to be upset on this one, though. Many folks project Jenkins as a safety, which isn’t too particularly attractive to the Titans.
Vontae Davis, Illinois - If two months ago you told me that Davis might really fall to the Titans I would have lauded you as a huge optimist. The notion that Vontae would still be without a team after twenty clubs had picked would have seemed absurd in February. The week of the draft, though, this is a surprisingly realistic scenario. Athletically, Davis has more ability and upside than any other CB in the draft. His strength and speed (top 40 time at the position during the Combine) are unmatched this year, but “character issues” are dogging Davis. The reports show a continued perception of Davis as someone who clashes with coaches and doesn’t always put out max effort. Some of these issues might look a little too much like Adam Jones for some people’s taste, but if Davis is available, he would be hard to pass up for the Titans.
Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest – Smith came into this draft as the most polished all around corner available. His ball skills are second to none, and his collegiate totals were very impressive. The big knock on Smith has been his lack of size, and a less than stellar performance at the combine has done little to quell the concerns of perspective employers. While Smith still stands out as one of the top prospects at playing the ball, continuing concerns about his tackling and run support abilities have hurt his stock in the last few months.
Darius Butler, Connecticut - Butler has probably helped himself more than any of the other cornerbacks in the last few months. Butler went from a relative unknown, to potentially being the second CB picked in the draft. While Butler doesn’t necessarily stick out as being the best at any specific aspect of the position, out of the potential first round cornerbacks, Butler seems to have the least amount of weaknesses. While Butler has limited experience as a kick returner, he has shown some potential, which could be attractive to a number of teams.
D.J. Moore, Vanderbilt - As opposed to Butler, D.J. Moore has seen his stock fall a bit in the last few months. Moore looked like a sure fire first round pick, but now has slipped into the late second round in some mocks. Moore is incredibly athletic and intelligent (he is a Vandy guy), but concerns about his closing speed weren’t helped by poor times at the combine and his pro day. Moore can keep up with opposing receivers’ routes very well, but if he does get beat, he seems to lack recovery ability. D.J. should still be a very effective CB in the NFL, but it looks like he’ll probably still be around in the second round.
Sean Smith, Utah - Sean Smith has been kind of an enigma. While he’s missing in most peoples’ first round projections, he’s been seen going in the top 32 in various drafts for the last few months. Smith is a converted receiver who only played the corner position for two years in college. Physically, Smith probably has more upside than any corner in this draft not named Vontae Davis, but still has a little bit of a learning curve, seeing that he’s still relatively new to the position. Smith’s weaknesses seem to be coachable, though, so (assuming he lasts into the second round) he might be quite a steal for whoever grabs him. It make take a season or two for him to get to that level, though.
A month ago, I liked the chances of the Titans picking a cornerback with their first pick a whole lot. Now I’m not so sure. All six of these guys looked were possible first round selections at one point or another in the last few months, but now it wouldn’t be surprising if only two of them went in the first 32 picks. Assuming Vontae Davis is off the board when Tennessee picks, I’d have to think that the Titans pass on a CB in the first round unless they really like Alphonso Smith or Darius Butler. A couple of these guys might still be around when Tennessee picks in the second round.
Do you think that the Titans take a CB with their first pick? Do you think that Tennessee could get an equivalent corner in the second round? If so, what do you think the Titans do with their first pick?
Topics: Adam Jones, Alphonso Smith, Andre Woolfolk, Connecticut, Cornerbacks, D.J. Moore, Darius Butler, Illinois, Malcolm Jenkins, Michael Crabtree, Michael Griffin, Nick Harper, Ohio State, Sean Smith, Tennessee Titans, Utah, Vanderbilt, Vontae Davis, Wake Forest