Recently, I wrote an article outlining the prospects that the Titans will be focusing on in the first round. Now, with the draft inching closer and closer, and with everything over other than pro days, mock drafts are reaching their final form.
So now we have a pretty good idea, not only of who will be available in the first round, but who will be available in the second round.
With that in mind (barring a huge fall by a higher-end prospect), who will the Titans be looking at in the second round? Here are eight that I think they'll be narrowing their sights on.
They'll be looking at Iowa State's Kelechi Osemele as well, but the chances that Osemele will available are not great, so I think the focus is on Kevin Zeitler.
Zeitler has been a great guard for Wisconsin and has already been very well coached on technique, so he's probably ready to jump right into the NFL. He's also a fantastic run-blocker, which is exactly what the Titans are looking for right now.
Zeitler had a hit-or-miss Senior Bowl, but boosted his stock with a strong combine performance. He had a very good 32 reps on the bench and solid measurements: he stands right at 6'4" weighs in at 314 lbs., and has arms just under 33".
He had a decent 10-yard split time of 1.75 seconds, but that's nothing too impressive. Not bad, just nothing special.
He looks good in drills though, and he has on-field production to match. He's a little slow at pass blocking, but if the Titans coaching staff can teach one thing, it's pass blocking.
While I prefer Zeitler to Osemele, I'd be willing to bet that the Titans, if they had their choice, would take Osemele because of his upside.
Although they both turned in 32 reps on the bench at the combine, Osemele is a little bit more powerful. He did those 32 reps with arms that are nearly 36" long. Oh yeah, did I mention he has ridiculously long arms? He does.
The huge reach advantage he'll have on defenders will allow him to get a hand on them almost every time.
He's also a little bit quicker than Zeitler, despite being 19 pounds heavier, and also has a proven record as a great run-blocker.
However, he's less of a finished product and needs good coaching to reach his full potential. The Titans can certainly provide that, but I'd be a little more concerned. In my opinion, you don't draft "boom or bust" guards.
That said, Osemele's floor isn't really very low, it's just a little lower than Zeitler's.
There was speculation last season that the Titans wanted to run more two-tight end sets, and the fact that they signed two more tight ends in free agency seems to lend some credence to that speculation.
Now, after the success that the Patriots offense had with a two-tight end offense, I'd expect the Titans to commit to it if they can get another good tight end. Dwayne Allen is certainly a good tight end.
Allen lost a little of his draft stock after a disappointing 40 time at the combine of 4.89 seconds. However, he's shown himself to be a fantastic blocker and has a reputation as a ridiculously hard worker, which is something the Titans look for in players.
Now, if a player at a position of bigger need, like guard or corner, is here, then I think the Titans will let Allen go. But if the prospects that they're high on are gone, then they might just grab Allen instead.
If the Titans don't re-sign Cortland Finnegan (which is looking more and more likely), or sign another free-agent cornerback, then they're gonna need another corner, if for no other reason than to have another guy in the nickel defense.
Stephon Gilmore looks like the fifth best corner in the 2012 draft class now that Virginia Tech's Jayron Hosley proved to be really undersized, and Virginia's Chase Minnifield showed that he was really, really weak.
Gilmore's play this season was inconsistent, but when he was doing well, he looked like a sure-fire first rounder. However, when he was off, he looked pretty horrible.
Still, a good performance at the combine has boosted his stock. He had a good 40 time of 4.44 seconds, an impressive 10'3" broad jump, and a 36" vertical. Pretty good overall.
Corner isn't the biggest need for Tennessee, but with the strength of this cornerback class, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Titans grab one anyway.
Bobby Wagner originally projected as a middle linebacker, but after the Senior Bowl, he looks like he may do just as well on the weak side.
He didn't participate in the combine, but that hasn't hurt his draft stock. He's now threatening Lavonte David as the consensus No. 2 weak-side linebacker prospect.
For the record, David is undersized and Wagner is a natural middle linebacker, which is why I think the Titans are unlikely to take either of them this high, but I think of the two, Wagner is the more likely pick.
Without combine measurements to go off of, we can only look at Wagner's on-field production, which was consistently great. He was especially monstrous against Auburn in the season opener.
I wouldn't be a big fan of this pick, since Nigel Bradham and Danny Trevathan could be picked up in the fourth round (and Florida State's Bradham might be the second best weak-side linebacker in the draft), but I'm sure Titan GM Mike Reinfeldt knows what he's doing.
Vinny Curry looked like a borderline first rounder after a good Senior Bowl, but his combine performance made him slip back into the second. And now he could feasibly fall to the Titans.
If the Titans don't end up with Whitney Mercilus or Nick Perry in the first round, then Curry is about the best you can hope for.
Despite his weak combine, Curry had a great Senior Bowl and was even better in his last two seasons. For the Thundering Herd, he racked up 40 tackles-for-loss and 23 sacks. Not bad.
He also has a long enough frame (6'3") to add a few pound and better fits the Titans system at defensive end. He's already 266 lbs., so he's not far off anyway.
It would shock me if Curry fell to the Titans, but if there's a run on quarterbacks in the second round, then it could happen.
The other defensive end that the Titans will look at in the second round (if they don't secure one in the first) is Virginia's Cam Johnson.
Cam Johnson has been steadily rising up draft boards since his great Senior Bowl week. He also had a better combine than Curry and could quite possibly be higher on the Titans draft board.
Johnson ran a respectable 4.75 second 40-yard dash and a 1.68 second 10-yard split. He didn't participate in the bench press, but a 35" vertical jump shows that he has a pass rusher's explosiveness.
He measured a little better than Vinny Curry too. He had a little more size, had slightly longer arms, and was the same height.
Of course, Curry has looked better up until this point, so if the choice is between the two of them, it's hard to say who the Titans would select.
Now that the Titans have franchised Michael Griffin, getting a safety in the draft isn't as critical as it was just a week ago. However, Griffin plays free safety, so if a great strong safety like Harrison Smith falls into their laps, they might take him.
Smith had a great Senior Bowl and rode the momentum into the combine. He had great measurements, coming in at 6'2" and 213 lbs., then had a great 10'2" broad jump.
He also looked great in the drills and received a lot of praise from NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, who knows his stuff.
Michael Griffin and Harrison Smith would greatly improve the Titans secondary, but since Jordan Babineaux looks likely to re-sign with the team, they may ignore the position for now.