University of California, Defensive End Leonard Williams has been the consensus number one pick in most 2015 NFL Mock Drafts for the Tennessee Titans, even before we got see him at the NFL Scouting Combine last month. ESPN Draft expert, Mel Kiper Jr. Had him going to Music City as early, as his pre-combine 2.0 Mock Draft.
Following a top-notch performance in Indianapolis, the 6 foot 4, 302 pound Junior has been a fixture at the top of Kiper’s Big Board, and almost to a man, most experts have penciled him into the Titans, opening day lineup.
Most Titans fans, who have stuck with this team through its longest down-spell, and a 2-14 season in 2014 seem to be very excited, and more-importantly, energized with the possibility of Williams joining fellow Spartan, Jurrell Casey in Nashville.
ESPN Insider, Todd McShay has Williams selected for Tennessee in his Post Combine Mock 3.0 Draft. He gave us the following analysis:
The Titans have three options with this pick: (1) take Mariota (or Winston if Tampa takes Mariota No. 1); (2) take the best player in the draft in Williams, who is also a great fit in Tennessee’s hybrid 3-4 defensive scheme; (3) accept an offer to trade down if they get a good one while on the clock. I’ve got them going with option 2, in part because I’m not sure Mariota’s skill set is what head coach Ken Whisenhunt is looking for from his quarterback (he’s had success with prototypical pocket passers in his career). Williams is an athletic, versatile and productive difference-maker who could be a Richard Seymour type at the next level as a 5-technique defensive end. If the Titans aren’t going to draft a quarterback to match points with Luck and the Colts, they better get an impact defender who can help slow them down. Williams is that.
At NFL.com, the story is the same. All four 2015 NFL Mock Draft experts, Bucky Brooks, Charles Davis, Daniel Jeremiah, and Lance Zierlein have done up-to-date Mocks, and to a man expect for the Tennessee Titans to select Leonard Williams.
Brooks had this to say:
"Dick LeBeau would welcome the presence of a young, athletic defender with exceptional hand skills and quickness. Williams can play multiple positions along the front line, giving the Titans a dominant defender to build around."
The only question that has surfaced, is that Leonard is not the edge pass rusher, that truly makes the Dick LeBeau 3-4 defense work.
A few analysts have broached the subject that the Titans might choose to get Jurrell Casey some help on the D-Line during Free Agency, and draft one of the edge rushers who will be available when they pick at two.
Edge pass rushers available who the Titans could be interested in, are:
All are top-notch OLB’s and would more than likely flourish in the Dick LeBeau/Ray Horton system. Shane Ray dropped in the rankings after the Combine because of a below average performance in the bench press, and some questions about his size.
Vic Beasley had a great Combine, and moved up in most Mock Drafts.
A good 2015 NFL Free Agency period by the Titans could change the draft strategy that General Manager, Ruston Webster, and Head Coach, Ken Whisenhunt take to Chicago on April 30th.
If they take care of some of the defensive problems in the next month, they could well come to the Draft looking for a deal from teams wanting a Quarterback, and are interested in Marcus Mariota, assuming he is available.
The only team that could possibly turn the Oregon standout into an opening day quarterback, is the Philadelphia Eagles, and his former head coach, Chip Kelly. The Eagles draft in the 20th position, and would probably not trade up that far to take Mariota.
But hey…!! I’ve seen crazier things during the NFL Draft!