The NFL Draft is just days away. This is the time of year when “draft experts” put out their refined mock drafts, or make adjustments to old ones based off of recent developments. When as many negative as positive reports on prospective rookies come flying out, most of them smokescreens by teams wanting to draft those particular players.
Unless something dramatic occurs in these next 72 hours, the Tennessee Titans already know who they like and who they want. Who they get, though, is a different issue. The draft is wildly unpredictable, with overrated (by the scouts) prospects being taken high, and surefire ones falling down the draft board. With this in mind, it’s tough to know what the Titans are going to do on Thursday night.
Will they go DE in the first round, take the best player available, or trade up to get a player they feel is tailor-made for the Titans? The first-round pick is the one that is talked about the most on football sites, and in the media. What isn’t usually talked about are the rounds after the first one. These rounds are where the great teams separate themselves from the mediocre ones.
The Titans, over the past few years, have done a very good job of getting value in these rounds. Will it continue this year? With Ruston Webster and Mike Reinfeldt at the helm, I believe so. It will be interesting to see how they approach these rounds and it will most likely depend on how the first round plays out. It all starts with the second round pick…
So, why don’t I give some scenarios that could play out and which players might be of good value to us.
Titans draft a defensive lineman in the first round:
This means that one of our weakest spots, the pass rush, gets a boost. With the second-round pick, they could go in a different number of directions. They could stick with improving the defense and draft a cornerback. At this point in the draft, if we do plan on taking a corner, we should hope that Brandon Boykin from Georgia is still on the board. Boykin lacks ideal height, but people around the league have him graded higher than Janoris Jenkins, who at one point was considered a definite first-round pick. Boykin was a captain for the Bulldogs and also returned punts and kicks throughout his collegiate career.
Titans draft a cornerback in the first round:
Our secondary is fixed, but the pass rush needs to be shored up. Using their second-round pick on a DE would seem a given if this is the direction they choose to go. As Wes Bunting of NFP suggests, the Titans could go with Cam Johnson of Virginia. A solid college player who didn’t flash or break records, but has the tools to succeed. With the good defensive line coach that we have in Tracy Rocker, Johnson might be able to develop nicely for the Titans.
Titans draft a wide receiver in the first round:
Jake Locker gets another weapon, but defense is overlooked. Perhaps Tennessee believes they need to become an offensive powerhouse. They go receiver first, and in the second might go with an offensive lineman to round out the offense, and protect whichever guy is behind center. If this is how it plays out, hopefully Kevin Zeitler of Wisconsin falls to us. Zeitler is a big, nasty lineman of the mauling variety. Bunting describes him as a solid run blocker, with his weakness being pass blocking. The Titans offensive line last year was very good in pass blocking, but putrid in run blocking. Zeitler could step in immediately, and Leroy Harris can kick in to the center position.
Titans draft an offensive lineman in the first round:
The offensive line takes another step towards being ultimately better than last year, but defense is still an issue. Still, the Titans could choose to improve the defense in the later rounds, and might stick to the offensive side of the ball with the second-rounder. If they do so, they’ll go with a wide receiver. An underrated receiver who might be available is Chris Givens of Wake Forest. Greg Cosell, who is an analyst at NFL films and is well-respected by scouts and experts, believes that all Givens needs is more consistent hands. With time to improve in that area, Givens can help us later in the year, or even earlier should we need him, as he has the explosiveness to be a good receiver at the next level.
Again, these are all hypothetical situations, and just a writer’s take on what he hopes his favorite team does. My “expertise” obviously doesn’t compare with those in charge. I know one thing, though; The Titans are in good hands when it comes to the draft. It may not look like it on Saturday night, but time will reveal that our front office knows what it’s doing.