Here are some of the ways the Titans can go with their first pick.
If the Tennessee Titans do plan on picking at number 5, there are a few options I think they can go with. These prospects might not be a need but are the best available players that the Titans can build around. As I have explained in my recent post, even though there are a few good options at wide receiver, like Corey Davis, Mike Williams or John Ross, I think the Titans will pass on this option as there are a lot of good quality wide receivers in later rounds.
There is a ton of defensive talent that will still be available at five and it starts with the big boys up front; my favorite position, the defensive line. There are two possible options for the Titans at that position, Solomon Thomas or Jonathan Allen. Both prospects dominated last year and are ranked seven & eight, respectively, on Matt Miller of Bleacher Report’s recent big board. I can see the Titans pairing one of these prospects with Jurrell Casey and can have book ends for at least four to six years.
My issue with drafting one of these defensive line prospects: will either player be able to make an immediate impact? The Titans have invested heavily at this position over the past few years. There is always room for dynamic game-changing players. If the Titans think that one of these prospects can be that, I have no issues with taking one off the board. Personally, if I had to choose between the two, I would select Allen because of his versatility to play all three defensive line positions.
If we continue to move to the next level of the defense, we move to the linebacker position. Only one prospect sticks out to me for the Titans to consider at pick five. Reuben Foster, the inside linebacker out of Alabama, is the total package at the position, which is why he is rated number three on Matt Miller’s big board. Foster draws similar comparisons to San Francisco 49ers linebacker, Navorro Bowman. This guy can do it all; he can blitz, he can cover, and most importantly he can tackle. He is a very complete player and one that has done it against top-tier competition.
As much as I would love for the Titans to take him, there are two areas of concern. First would be the recent incident at the combine, which resulted in his early exit. Being a leader might be viewed too highly as an important trait, but at the linebacker position, leading and directing is one major component. Foster will be drafted to be a game changer but also to lead the defense. If he is having issues in a difficult situation during the combine process, how will he react during a game. I understand that this is something super minor, but it is a concern of mine. The second, inside linebackers’ draft stock is much lower than edge rusher and taking him at five might be a stretch, even though he is a top three talent in this class.
Next up is the secondary, such a loaded position in this year’s draft, which as a Titans fan makes me smile. It is the biggest need for the Titans and there are great quality prospects in later rounds. I think there are three prospects that the Titans need to look at very closely. They go as follows: Jamal Adams, safety from LSU, Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore, safety and cornerback from Ohio State, respectively. Each rank on Matt Miller’s big board four, five and thirteen respectively. Adams is my favorite player in this year’s draft because of his versatility. In my first post, I talk about Jamal and why he could be a difference maker for the Titans secondary.
Hooker can play the entire field, and be the “true” free safety in this year’s draft. Malik had some jaw dropping plays throughout the year; he is a ball hawk with great range. The big concerns for me, is he is a one-year wonder? He has a small frame, which has led to injury concerns and leaves me wondering, can his body hold up?
Lastly, Lattimore, Matt Miller’s number two cornerback in this year’s draft. He has the ideal size and has the ability to really play in any scheme. My issue is that he has had some hamstring injuries that have affected him throughout his career. I am not sure that I really want the Titans investing a fifth overall pick into a guy who has injury concerns.
I think the last option the Titans should consider at five is O.J. Howard, the tight end out of Alabama, the number six prospect on Matt Miller’s big board. The Titans use two-tight end sets and Anthony Fasano departing to Dolphins via free agency has opened a need at the position. Howard is a complete tight end; he is a willing blocker, has natural hands and has speed, running a 4.51 in the 40 yard dash. Similar to inside linebacker, tight end draft stock is lower than other major positions like wide receiver. The last tight end drafted this high was Vernon Davis to the 49ers at number six.
Overall, the fifth pick can be viewed as a bonus pick and should select the best available player. If they plan to stick and pick, I would love to see the Titans draft Adams. I think my dream scenario would be for the Titans to trade out if they have a willing partner.
In my next article, I will be performing an in-depth analysis over the Titans options at number eighteen.