Entering the NFL Draft, which begins Thursday night, the Tennessee Titans have three glaring needs that need to be filled. DT, OG/ C, and DB represent the Titans biggest needs. Of course we have other needs(S, LB, and WR), but these three positions represent the biggest area of need. Why these three positions? I’ll explain.
Let’s start with defensive tackle. Heading into the season we have Jurrell Casey and Sen’ Derrick Marks as the starters. Behind them we have Karl Klug and Shaun Smith. Casey came in as a rookie and really played well, finishing the season with 52 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He is a 6’1 wrecking ball of fury that should be a future in our D-line for years to come. Sen’ Derrick, out of Auburn was a 2nd round pick and has underachieved ever since being drafted. I’ve been waiting for the light to come on and so has everyone else and it hasn’t. I don’t think it will either.
The Titans brought in Shaun Smith as a free agent to help shore up the line and he didn’t help much. Advertised as a strong run defender when we signed him, he appeared unmotivated and we watched his playing time dramatically decrease as the year went on. Last but not least is Karl Klug, an undersized 2nd year DT out of Iowa. Klug blew everyone away last year with his non-stop motor and knack for making plays. He led the team, as a rookie, in sacks with 7 and also had 2 forced fumbles. Klug fits best as a pass rusher coming off the bench due to his lack of bulk. The Titans also have Zach Clayton who seems like a project at best. The need for a #2 starting defensive tackle is great and should be a priority for the Titans heading into the draft.
Now let’s move on to OG/C. The only reason I split these two positions because it is feasible that we could draft a center and move Amano back to guard or draft a center and move Leroy Harris or Fernando Velasco to guard. I’ve read more than a few writers say that the coaches are high on Velasco but it’s hard to tell due to his lack of playing time. Amano, in my eyes, is overrated and never deserved the 5 year $26.25 million contract given to him after the 2010 season. With the signing of Steve Hutchinson, who will play left guard, the line is already showing signs of being much improved heading into next year. If we add a young mauler to the interior line that can start from day one, we could easily have a top five offensive line in the NFL for years to come.
Let’s finish off with DB. It’s no surprise we lost Cortland Finnegan. He simply wanted too much money. What we also lost was a guy who could cover, drop into zone, blitz the passer and provide great run support, and he could do all of those things well. In the NFL, it is said that your nickel back is your 12th starter on defense. The league is slowly moving towards a pass first league and if you don’t have a nickel back that can cover the slot, you will have a long season. Very long! Having Chris Hawkins, Tommie Campbell, and Ryan Mouton as back-ups fighting for the 3rd cornerback spot doesn’t exactly strike fear in anyone. Mouton is coming off a torn Achilles and may not be 100%. Truth be told, for being a highly thought of former 3rd round pick, Mouton never really showed any glimpses of greatness before his Achilles injury. Hawkins bounced around the Ravens and Jags practice squads before signing with the Titans. Campbell, a former 7th round draft pick, is an intriguing prospect who may have the talent to fill the nickel position.
From the outside looking in, the biggest need to me is a solid #2 DT that can line up next to Casey and dominate for years to come. I know, everybody and their dog has us drafting a DE, and with all the mock drafts I’ve seen you would think a DE is the only position that we need. Heck we might as well copy what we did a few years ago and draft three DE’s in the same draft like when we took Antwan Odom, Travis LaBoy, and Byron Frisch!
Let me know what you think!
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