Tennessee Titans: Five players to watch for the Titans’ first pick
By Dave Bevan
Currently, the Tennessee Titans sit as the fourth overall pick in the NFL Draft. According to Zach Kempner of NumberFire.com, the Titans have a 7.92% chance of obtaining the first pick of the 2015 NFL Draft. The Oakland Raiders sit with the highest chance, 59.62%. As always, for these bottom teams in the league, it is a race to see who will receive the first pick. Whether the Titans receive the first pick or not, they will still have plenty of talent to choose from in this year’s stock.
But, where do you start? What areas do the Titans need to focus on first? Some argue the offense needs more weapons at wide receiver and a full rebuilding of the offensive line. Others want to see changes at defense. They want to see a standout player at linebacker, and/or defensive back. Even many believe Zach Mettenberger should be re-evaluated after this season. If the Titans choose to look in the other direction for a starter at quarterback, the primary focus at first could be to receive Marcus Mariota, or (maybe) Jameis Winston.
I for one believe that the Titans should focus on a defensive player first. They will be able to focus on an offensive lineman in the next round, and there will still be talent at wide receiver left too. Mettenberger will be just fine if he has an offensive line he can trust, and more talent to throw down field. But, the top defensive prospects coming into the NFL will be picked fast, so there will be no time to waste.
In past history, the Titans have not been successful in the results from their first pick. Especially when it comes to a top ten first round pick. Vince Young, Jake Locker, and Adam Jones all proved to be busts. Chance Warmack is possibly on his way of joining that group. It’s time to quit playing around. It’s time to get this right. Let’s take a look at few prospects the Titans need to consider in their first selection of the draft.
Leonard Williams – USC: Defensive Tackle, 6ft. 5in., 298 lbs.
One of the number one prospects on defense is Leonard Williams. Williams has been a huge focus since the beginning of the 2014 season. Coming into the 2014 college football season, Williams had recorded 138 career tackles and has added 71 this season. He has also added six total sacks and an interception this season. The Titans currently rank 29th in the league in total defense and 32nd in pass rush. Of course, by those statistics, it is a major area of improvement needed for the Titans. Williams could bring to the table what the Titans need on defense.
Williams is without a doubt one of the best pass rushers in college football. His explosiveness off the line is something that will catch the eye of all NFL teams. Williams will be one of those players who will go high in the first round. He is currently the projected 1st overall pick, and it’s possible the Titans might not even touch him. If the Titans go into the draft with the 4th or 5th selection, and the teams above them overlook Williams, the Titans could have the opportunity to get Williams. They would be stupid not to select him.
Randy Gregory – Nebraska: Defensive End, 6ft. 5in., 255 lbs.
Like Williams, Randy Gregory is another top defensive lineman prospect that will be sought after in the NFL. Gregory also has amazing pass rushing skills and is explosive off the line. In his two years at Nebraska, he has accumulated 115 total tackles, 16.5 sacks, and two interceptions. He will be on the eyes of every NFL team looking to improve on defense in the 2015 season.
Gregory is currently projected as the 7th overall pick in the draft. So, it is more likely that the Titans could get their hands on him than Williams. I like Gregory. He’s passionate in every play he presents and he would bring a good vibe to the defense in Nashville.
Jan 3, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers defensive end Vic Beasley (3) during the first half in the 2014 Orange Bowl college football game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
Vic Beasley – Clemson: Outside Linebacker, 6ft. 3in., 235 lbs.
A good outside linebacker who can be effective on the rush maybe one of the most needed investments for this Titans team. Vic Beasley fits into every bit of that category, and could be a great fit in Nashville. The Titans didn’t address their need for outside rushers to fit new defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s scheme in the 2014 draft. Instead, they looked for veterans in the free agent stock, which back fired, leading to an early release for Shaun Phillips. Let’s get this area right, please.
Benardrick McKinney – Mississippi State: Inside Linebacker, 6ft. 5in, 245 lbs.
Vic Beasley is not the only talented linebacker the Titans should consider. Some would say Dante Fowler Jr. from the Florida Gators, but I would say Benardrick McKinney from Mississippi State would have a better fit in Nashville. He is a dynamic athlete and has great size for his primary position of inside linebacker. His versatility might be what this Titans’ defense needs.
In his three years at Starkville, McKinney has recorded a whopping 238 total tackles, and has also added 7.5 sacks. He is currently projected as the 14th overall pick in the draft. If the Titans decide to invest in this area, why overlook McKinney?
Landon Collins – Alabama: Strong Safety, 6ft., 215 lbs.
How have the Titans become one of the worst defenses in the league? Inconsistency in the secondary has a lot to do with it, and should be an area to consider in investing new talent for the 2015 season. Blidi Wreh-Wilson is one of the most penalized players on this team, but it is an area he is cleaning up on the field.
Landon Collins could bring a lot to this secondary, and if the Titans want him, they will have to select him fast. He is currently projected as the 9th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Collins has great explosiveness and has one of the best ball skills I’ve seen this season in the SEC. In his collegiate career, Collins has racked up 166 total tackles, five interceptions, two forced fumbles, and six passes defended.
So, I went with a defensive outlook for the Titans’ first pick in the NFL Draft. Do you agree with my take on this? Should the Titans invest in the defense first? Or, should their focus be on the offense? If so, who do you see the Titans selecting with their first pick on the NFL Draft?