The 2016 Draft for the Titans was a foundation year. General Manager Jon Robinson layed the ground work by putting emphasis on both sides of the lines.
Tennessee focused on bolstering a run game through the combination of offensive tackle Jack Conklin and Derrick Henry.
On the other side, the Titans drafted pass rusher Kevin Dodd, and versatile defensive tackle Austin Johnson. The Titans made a statement by asserting an initial identity which many teams do not have.
That being said, the Titans roster remains with glaring holes in the back part of their defense; starting with the linebacking core and going all the way back to the secondary. The Titans only drafted one linebacker, that being seventh round pick Aaron Wallace out of UCLA. Wallace can possibly step in immediately as a backup but is not seasoned enough to be relied on to start.
The same can be said to the secondary players that the Titans selected. Tennessee put more importance on their secondary, using three of their ten picks on players for the back end of their defense.
Safety Kevin Byard was the selection in the third round while CB Leshaun Sims was picked in the fifth round. CB Karlan Reed was the dark-horse pick in the seventh round. The Titans could really benefit from Byard or Sims stepping into a major role but that cannot be expected immediately.
Both players were highly productive and have shown enough talent to believe they can develop into solid starters. However, that still does not answer the need of Tennessee getting the elite player at the second level. Selections such as Byard or Sims can be an average or above average starters but are not Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman, or Joe Haden.
As a result, the back end could very well be the choice early in the 2017 Draft. The Titans have solid veterans such as Rashad Johnson, Jason McCourtey, and Parrish Cox holding down starting roles. A year from now the veterans will be a year older and a perfect time to develop one of the top secondary prospects.
In addition, the Titans are expected to win at least a few more games in 2016, thus putting them in a later, more reasonable range for a cornerback, safety, or linebacker. In the modern passing league that is the NFL, being able to shut down or at least limit the opponents firepower is a must.
The Patriots, the Broncos, the Panthers, and other perennial powers are able to do it. The Colts are considered to have one of the weakest defenses of all playoff teams, but they still have elite corner Vontae Davis to shrink the field in half.
We just finished the grueling process that is the NFL Draft, although it is never to early to project ahead. Some of the best prospects coming out at linebacker and secondary include cornerback Desmond King from Iowa, cornerback Jourdan Lewis from Michigan, linebacker Reuben Foster from Alabama, and Ben Boulware out of Clemson.
Keep those positions and names in mind as we head into the Draft next year.