Tennessee Titans Full 2012 NFL Mock Draft
There are a lot of questions surrounding who the Titans will choose with the 20th pick in the draft. They've been connected to a lot of different players in other mock drafts, ranging all the way from the likes of the freakishly athletic defensive end Whitney Merciless to Baylor's speedy receiver, Kendall Wright. Obviously, no one knows for sure, but we've all got our guesses. Here's how I think it could play out.
Round 1: S Mark Barron, Alabama
The only safety that the Titans are currently set to have is Robert Johnson. Obviously there will be some re-signings, the most likely of which is Jordan Babineaux, but that still leaves a lot of empty space.
SS Chris Hope won't be returning after a season where he was easily replaced by the free -gent signing of Babineaux. FS Michael Griffin has served his time and will be looking for a sizable paycheck, one that the Titans probably won't be willing to pay. His drop-off in recent years and overall disappointing play could have them looking for another answer.
Barron is this draft's best safety and could be a solid rebuilding block for the Titans safety position. Even if Griffin is brought back, Barron could start at SS and Babineaux could play a rotational role again. This pick just makes sense.
Other possible choices: DE Whitney Mercilus—Illinois, DE Nick Perry—USC
Round 2: C Ben Jones, Georgia
According to ProFootballWeekly, C Eugene Amano had his worst year yet, allowing 4.5 sacks and combing for four penalties worth 31 yards (two holding calls and two false starts). It's no secret that the Titans offensive line disappointed this year.
The Titans' front office has spoken of getting younger on the offensive line. This is the perfect chance to do so. Drafting Jones would allow the Titans to move Amano back to guard, a position at which he's much better suited, and to let OG Jake Scott go via free agency.
With a new center, the Titans should be able to turn around the leagues second worst run game in no time. Center has been a hole in the line since the departure of Kevin Mawae.
Other possible choices: DE Vinny Curry—Marshall, DE Billy Winn—Boise State
Round 3: WR Juron Criner, Arizona
This isn't a need pick, this is a BPA pick. The Titans aren't starved at the wide receiver position, but when Kenny Britt goes down, there's a noticeable gap in level of play. Criner doesn't have the speed you'd like to see, but he is a playmaker.
Watch this video. The guy goes up and gets the ball every time. He's also the slipperiest 6'2", 220-pound receiver you'll find.
Criner improved his draft stock at the Senior Bowl, the same way that he impressed me: with those hands.
The biggest ding against this guy is his speed, but if you watch the video, you'll see he often finds a way to get behind the defense. If Criner falls the the 84th pick, it's gonna be hard for the Titans to pass on him.
Other possible choices: DE Cam Johnson—Virginia,
Round 4: DE Tyrone Crawford, Boise State
There should be a lot of talented defensive ends hitting the free agency market this year and I expect the Titans to bring in someone who is a proven pass rusher. That being said, they will still be looking for help at the position.
Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray would love Crawford. He's got great size (6'4", 276 pounds), and though he probably won't be a starter right away, he has the potential to develop into a solid player later down the road. Draft scout Wes Bunting of the National Football Post likes what he sees in him.
In Crawford's senior year, he recorded 6.5 sacks and lead the Broncos defense with 13 tackles for a loss. There's also talk that he could stand up and play some linebacker, which certainly helps in Gray's defensive scheme.
Other possible choices: OLB Keenan Robinson—Texas
Round 5: OLB Emmanuel Acho, Texas
Recognize the name? That's because his brother, Sam Acho, was drafted last year by the Arizona Cardinals and had a great rookie year. Emmanuel is a pretty versatile player and has been projected at a few different positions. His athletic ability and versatility automatically puts him on the Titans' draft boards.
The hardest thing to guess is where Acho will go. His brother was drafted in the middle of the fourth round last year. Emmanuel has been rated anywhere from a third-rounder to a fifth-rounder. On the off-chance the Titans get a fourth-round compensatory pick, I could see them taking him with that.
This would be a great pick for the Titans. They could put him opposite Ayers, solidifying the linebacker core for at least, the next four years.
Plus, we all know how much Bud Adams loves his Longhorn players.
Other possible choices: CB Casey Hayward—Vanderbilt
Round 6: QB Kellen Moore, Boise State
One of the most talked about players goes to the Titans. Analysts have all kinds of beef with Moore, from his size to his arm strength.
Some even go to make fun of his young boy-like features. Bleacher Report's own Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) loathes the guy, and took to Twitter on Jan. 28 to share his feelings:
"Bottom line, final word, let's end this: Kellen Moore isn't an NFL QB. Stats don't matter, folks. His accuracy % all system. Undrafted."
I disagree. The Titans certainly aren't looking for a franchise quarterback, that's why they took Jake Locker. Moore will be brought in to eventually be Locker's backup. Once Hasselbeck retires, which won't be too long from now, the Titans will have Locker and Rusty Smith.
Have you seen Rusty play? It was a joke when he was drafted and an even bigger one that he's still a Titan. Moore is easily a better quarterback and will take his place on the roster, as the Titans will most likely release Smith before the 2012 regular season.
Using their sixth-round pick, the Titans invest little to nothing in a player that can be no worse than Rusty Smith.
Other possible choices: OG Josh LeRibeus—Southern Methodist
Round 7: CB Asa Jackson, California Poly
One of Wes Buntings Top Ten Best Small-School Cornerbacks, it'd take a little bit of luck for him to fall to the Titans in the seventh round.
Jackson's a fast defender with good ball skills. The biggest knock on him is the lack of competition he faced. He does a great job of finding the ball in the air and has a lot of potential to grow at the next level. With the likelihood of Cortland Finnegan leaving via free agency, the Titans get another small school guy as a possible future replacement.
Hopefully he carries the same chip on his shoulder that Finnegan does.
Follow on Twitter @JustinLStewart