Do the Titans need to draft a running back?
Today the War Room takes on the Tennessee Titans. Just like yesterday, I'm going to focus on the biggest need areas for the team, with the caveat that I don't believe teams should draft a player just because they have a need at his position.
The Titans finished at 9-7 in 2011 and missed the playoffs largely because of deficiencies in two areas: run offense and pass rush. To be clear, I define "deficiencies" here to mean "giant black holes of suck."
The Titans, to their credit, clearly understand what is wrong with their team and spent the first week of free agency chasing Peyton Manning.
I'm being unfair. They have added Steve Hutchinson and Kamerion Wimbley, and both players directly impact their weaknesses, even if Hutchinson isn't much of an improvement over Jake Scott at this stage.
1. Defensive End
The Titans got just 6.5 sacks from the end position. That's a bad month for a guy like Mario Williams, who the Titans failed to snag after dallying with Manning. Wimbley is a solid stop gap and has had at least that many sacks each of the last three years, but he's not enough to turn things around. The Titans desperately need a play-making end who can help the secondary hold up. Stopping the pass is one of the keys to winning in the NFL, and a pass-rusher is the way to go.
What is the Titans' greatest draft need?
The Titans were bad running in all directions, but ranked 31st in runs up the middle. Eugene Amano graded out among the worst centers in football. Center isn't a premium position on the offensive line, so the Titans should be able to upgrade here without wasting a high pick.
3. Running Back
No one wants to hear it in Tennessee, but from what I saw of Chris Johnson, I'm not so sure he makes it back to elite status. The image that is burned in my mind is from his game against the Colts in Indianapolis. In the first half, a massive truck-sized hole opened up in the middle of the line. I was sitting directly behind it. I was certain it was going to be an 80-yard touchdown run. I was watching the game with Tom Gower of Total Titans, and he started to laugh. Shockingly, Johnson just danced into the hole and was taken down for a gain of three.
As Gower muttered incoherent curses, I was blown away. Two years ago, Johnson would have exploited that gap for a signature touchdown, but now he appeared scared of contact. It's just one anecdote, I realize, but he'll be 27 next year, and that's not too young for the Titans to consider adding another quality back.