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Tennessee Titans Draft: Where Linebacker Zach Brown Fits on Defense

CHAPEL HILL, NC - OCTOBER 10:  Zach Brown #47 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts to making an interception against the Georgia Southern Eagles at Kenan Stadium on October 10, 2009 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Marlon MaloneyCorrespondent IApril 27, 2012

Again, the Tennessee Titans had the opportunity to improve the interior of the offensive line, in C/G Peter Konz, and again they said, "no thanks."

Instead, North Carolina linebacker Zach Brown was the choice with the 52nd overall pick of the draft. 

What Brown brings to the Titans' defense is truly elite speed for the position. Finding a linebacker capable of running the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds is a rarity that was apparently too much for the front office to pass up.

The consensus among draft analysts is that he is a bit soft.

He is a natural talent who broke the UNC indoor track 60-meter school record with a time of 6.72 seconds. He excels in coverage, with plenty of speed and size to stay with tight ends downfield, and he is a sideline-to-sideline run defender.

The knock against Brown is that he plays football more like an athlete than a linebacker. He lacks aggression and the instincts to diagnose the play in front of him.

Expect Brown to push Will Witherspoon for playing time very early in the season. Brown will likely be a situational player throughout the season as a nickel-coverage linebacker.

For those who were hoping Konz would be the pick, I offer up some explanations. Konz consistently missed games in each of his three seasons as a starter for Wisconsin with a strange array of injuries: a blood clot in his lungs, a sprained ankle and a dislocated ankle.

He also had an underwhelming bench press performance at the NFL scouting combine with only 18 reps of 225 lbs.

I, for one, never expected the Titans to draft an offensive lineman in the second round because they simply do not value the position that highly. Only starting left tackle Michael Roos has been selected that high among current O-line members.

Overall, the pick does fill a need, but may have been better served on Vinny Curry or Devon Still. 

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