Much has been and will be said about the 2012 NFL draft. We know what the biggest needs are for the Tennessee Titans. We know they need help at defensive end. We know they need depth at linebacker, offensive line, and safety. We know they could use more play-makers on either side of the ball. We know, or think we know, many things about whom the Titans need to draft. If you are looking for that sort of thing, we have had plenty of articles about the draft on Titan Sized – check them out.
This article is not about who we need to draft. It is about who needs to step up so we don’t have to use our picks on certain positions. Now, I realize that the team cannot operate with that mindset. The team has to bring in players that they feel can contribute in areas of need. This article is purely hypothetical, but since we are fans here, and not scouts or general managers, I think we are allowed to have a little fun and look at things differently.
Here is my premise: What three players could live up to their potential, thereby negating the need to bring in another player in their position? Example: Eugene Amano finally plays like a starting center in the NFL instead of like an incompetent matador – a matador so bad that he somehow makes all the other matadors worse simply because his level of ineffectiveness is like a black hole of failure.
Before you start yelling, I know: Amano isn’t going to get any better. I just wanted to use him as an example to illustrate my premise. Amano is bad and is going to remain bad in perpetuity. Yet, I am confident that there are a few players on the roster that if they were to play up to their potential, the team could have all sorts of fun with this draft. Here are my top three players that fit those qualifications:
1. Michael Griffin
Any surprise there? Griffin is an enigma. One game he can look like a Pro Bowl safety and then the next game he will look completely lost. He had his best year in 2008 when he had 7 interceptions, 11 passes defended, one forced fumble, and one interception returned for a touchdown. He had a Pro Bowl year in 2010 with 4 interceptions and two forced fumbles. Other than those two years, he has been average, if not worse. He goes for stretches of games where he completely disappears and he still makes way too many mistakes in coverage, which costs the team. Never doubt that Griffin has the physical skills to be a very good safety in the NFL. He has good size and speed, and has good instincts at times. His main problem seems to be mental. If he can get that taken care of, and revert back to his 2008 form, then the Titans will have no need to go after another safety in the draft.
2. Derrick Morgan
He was a first round pick and was expected to contribute in a big way from the get-go. He did, and then he was injured only a few games into his rookie season. Last year, his second season, he seemed to end stronger than he started, but he still did not have the kind of impact the team needs and expects. If he can start the 2012 season at 100% and play up to his potential, then the Titans’ need for another defensive lineman is severely diminished.
3. Chris Johnson
I won’t waste your time rehashing how bad C.J. looked last year. Suffice it to say, he was bad. The offensive line was bad as well, and that certainly contributed to his poor season, but much of the blame has to be on Johnson. He was out of football shape when the season started and he looked indecisive and slow for much of the season. If he can regain his form, then this offense can be a thing of beauty. Imagine a defense having to account for C.J. at his best, a healthy Kenny Britt, and an offensive line that is much improved over the line that took the field last year. Talk about picking your poison. And if Jake Locker wins the starting quarterback spot, then teams are going to have to be afraid of his legs as well as his arm.
Now, back to my premise: If the team knew, without a doubt, that these three players would step up in a big way, then they would not be required to draft a defensive lineman early, or a safety in the first few rounds. And they wouldn’t feel compelled to draft more weapons on offense. Instead, they could draft the best available players. They could draft guys that are ready to play now. They could draft players not just out of need, but in an effort to get the best guys on the roster.