With free agency nearing its end and the NFL draft coming quickly, rosters are starting to take shape. Still though, there’s a good amount of uncertainty in how teams will look when the season begins in September. The epitome of that uncertainty lies in the clutches of the NFL draft.
A bevy of mock drafts have come out since last season ended, almost all having a different outcome for the first round. The Titans’ 20th pick has been a revolving door in most mock drafts, with players being thrown around from under the radar receivers to notable cornerbacks.
But what exactly is the best scenario for the Tennessee Titans and what do they really need?
Free agency kind of cleared up some skepticism in regards to a few areas of need but added concerns to other areas. The signing of Kamerion Wimbley boosted the pass rush but is far from having fixed it. Steve Hutchinson’s signing plugged one hole in an offensive line that stands to be upgraded.
The losses of Cortland Finnegan and Jason Jones need to be offset from within the organization. The front office brought in Leger Douzable to take Jones’ place, or at least soften the blow of his departure. Replacing Finnegan will be tough but the Titans’ current corners Alterraun Verner and Jason McCourty have shown that they’re capable of matching Finnegan’s presence.
So then, what exactly should the Titans be looking for on draft day? What they lack is an elite pass rusher on the defensive line, whether it be inside as a tackle or outside as an end. With the Wimbley signing and Derrick Morgan coming on at the end of last season, not to mention Jurrell Casey and Karl Klug’s emergence, perhaps pass rusher isn’t the direction, especially when the draft doesn’t feature standout defensive ends that might drop to #20. Crazy things happen on draft day and hopefully this year is the same as all others.
The man in the picture above is probably the best case scenario for the Titans. That man is David DeCastro. A less than mediocre offensive line was the biggest cause for concern coming off of last season. After being one of the most dominant lines for the past few seasons, the crew was one of the more enigmatic in 2011. They couldn’t open up holes, nor could they hold their blocks in the running game for more than a minuscule amount of time. For the most part, they were able to keep their quarterbacks clean but towards the end of the season some regression was evident.
The main culprits for the failures of the offensive line were center Eugene Amano and guard Leroy Harris. Amano received a handsome contract after overachieving as a guard for a few seasons but his transition to the center position was anything but smooth. He consistently graded out as one of the worst centers in the league by Pro Football Focus. Harris showed potential in 2010, but couldn’t put it together in 2011. Harris has played well when inserted at the center position, as has backup Fernando Velasco, whom many (me being one of them) believe should be given a shot at a starting job.
Drafting DeCastro narrows the gap to becoming the dominating offensive line of 2010. While there are no sure things when it comes to drafting players, DeCastro seems to have it all. From his 6’5/310 lbs frame, he generates great power and can pull out to the flats as well as any offensive lineman in this draft. Along with being regarded as one of the best offensive lineman in the nation last year, he can easily handle the complexity of being an NFL offensive lineman. Having a Stanford education helps with that.
It’ll be hard for the Titans to pass on him should he fall to the 20th pick.